I met the historian Christopher Hill once, last summer. I went with BBC producer Fiona Maclean to interview him in his Warwickshire home for a programme about poetry and revolution.
He took us into his garden on a bright summer afternoon and
questioned us closely on how much time he had on air. He ascertained
that he had a quarter of an hour. He then vanished upstairs and
re-emerged staggering under a huge pile of books.
The tape recorder was switched on and he spoke, uninterrupted except
by an infernal bee, referring to and quoting freely from his books for
an hour. He spoke about Shakespeare, Andrew Marvell and above all John
Milton, and their relationship to the English Revolution.
He spoke with such power and persuasive passion that we wondered, as
we made our dazed way home, whether we should devote our whole 50
minutes to him alone...Christopher Hill’s great genius as a historian is not just that he can
think himself back 300 years, and translate what often seem quaint and
absurd religious discussions into the politics of the time...
Paul Foot, How history comes alive, Socialist Worker, 9 September 1993
- Paul Foot is being remembered at a special memorial meeting at this year's Marxism festival from 10-14 July in central London - for details of the Foot meeting see here