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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

J. C. (Colin) Davis is a British historian, whose work often focuses on the Utopian thinkers of the 17th-century. He has been described as a 'historian of political and religious thought and a brilliant and provocative iconoclast.[1] The book Liberty, Authority, Formality: Political Ideas and Culture, 1600-1900 was written in honor of Davis at the time of his retirement as professor.[2]


Professor Colin Davis was born in Yorkshire into a fisherman's family. He received his education at the University of Manchester and after a brief period at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office he moved to New Zealand to teach at the University of Waikato. He worked and studied at a number of different universities around New Zealand before setting up the School of History at the University of East Anglia, Norwich.[3] He retired in 2004.[4]


Published in 2001, Davis' comprehensive study Oliver Cromwell was described as the best analysis we have of Cromwell's religion and its politics by the Journal of Modern History.[5] Davis' 1986 work Fear, Myth and History: The Ranters and the Historians was particularly noted for questioning whether the radical, nonconformists known as the Ranters ever existed per se, being rather a myth created by conservatives to endorse traditional values by comparison with an unimaginably radical other.[6] Other works by J. C. Davis include Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 (1983),[7] and a biography of Gerrard Winstanley co-authored with J. D. Alsop for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.[8]


  1. ^ R. Hutton's review of J. C. Davis, Oliver Cromwell (London, 2001), H-Net Book Review, H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online, August 2001.
  2. ^ Liberty, Authority, Formality: Political Ideas and Culture, 1600-1900
  3. ^ de Lario, Damaso. 'An Appreciation of Colin Davis', in Morrow, John, Scott, Jonathan (eds.) Liberty, Authority, Formality. (2008) Imprint Academic. ISBN 9781845401351.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Publishser's description of Davis' Oliver Cromwell
  6. ^ E P Thompson's review of Fear, Myth and History: The Ranters and the Historians
  7. ^ Review of Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700
  8. ^ biography
This page was last edited on 2 July 2019, at 00:19
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