Friday, 20 April 2012

A Short Q&A with Professor Ian Gentles.

Professor Ian Gentles is the author of a new biography of Oliver Cromwell. To compliment my review I asked him a few questions

Q. What made you write another biography of Cromwell?

A. I wrote this biography because the publisher invited me to.  In addition, I am fascinated by Oliver Cromwell, and believe that I understand the 'inner man’ better than most historians, especially his religion, which is of such key importance in understanding him. Finally, I believe I had some original information and insights to impart.  Through my research in the Close Rolls (NA, C 54) I turned up material on his personal finances of which no one else was aware.  I am also the first person to draw public attention to the "Fleetwood Chest", his wedding gift to his daughter Bridget, now held in the Collins Barracks Museum in Dublin.  I believe also that I have successfully interwoven his political and military careers and shown how they were interconnected, and influenced each other.

Q Are you aware that Prof john Morrill and his team are working on a new critical edition of the collected works of Oliver Cromwell.

A. Yes, I know about the forthcoming critical edition.  John Morrill is a good friend of mine, and we have discussed many aspects of Cromwell's life. The critical edition will be most welcome since WC Abbott's edition is unsatisfactory in many respects.

Q How do you see the current historiography on Oliver Cromwell

A.It is striking that new material on Cromwell is being turned up all the time.  In particular Patrick little has written about the Protectorate, as well as Cromwell's daughters' marriages, his interest in horses, and music, and his sense of humour.  Andrew Barclay has written a valuable study of Cromwell's early life, in which he has solved the puzzle of how Cromwell managed to get elected for the borough of Cambridge in 1640.  Both Little and Barclay have kindly shared with me their research findings in advance of publication.  Blair Worden is preparing a keenly-awaited intellectual biography of Cromwell.

Q What are you working on now.

A.This summer I am writing the biography of Col. Thomas Pride for the History of Parliament, and preparing a keynote address to the Midwest Conference on British Studies on the state of play in Civil War studies.  My longer-term project is a book on Ireland and England in the 16th and 17th centuries, with particular attention to the plantations of the 1650s.

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