M. S. Anderson

Writer of history textbooks


Matthew Smith Anderson, historian: born Perth 23 May 1922; Assistant Lecturer, London School of Economics, 1949-53, Lecturer 1953-61, Reader 1951-72, Professor of International History 1972-85; married 1954 Olive Gee (two daughters); died London 8 February 2006.

M. S. Anderson, Professor of International History at the London School of Economics, 1972-85, was one of the most successful and influential historical textbook writers of his generation.

Thanks to his reading skill in Russian and several other languages, his treatment of Europe covered East as well as West, whereas previous books had often had (as he once mildly remarked) "a strong French emphasis". His own zest for facts was reflected in telling nuggets of out-of-the-way information (for example, that "coins bearing the head of Charles I were handed down from father to son in the Shetland Islands for use as a remedy against skin diseases, until at least the later 1830s"), although such nuggets were always accompanied by firm and even-handed central judgements.

Matthew Anderson was an authentic Scot. Born in Perth and educated at Perth Academy and Edinburgh University, after Second World War service in the RAF between 1942 and 1945 (as navigator, bomber crew) he returned to Edinburgh, completed his degree, began his doctoral thesis, on "British Diplomatic Relations with the Mediterranean, 1763-1778", and became an Assistant.

His departure in 1949 to an Assistant Lectureship at the London School of Economics thus marked a real uprooting, although he never ceased to feel a great debt to his Edinburgh teachers, above all Richard Pares. On Pares's advice, Anderson began learning Russian, and, after completing his thesis in 1952, embarked on his first book, Britain's Discovery of Russia, 1558-1815 (1958). Another of his Edinburgh teachers, Denys Hay, invited him to undertake the 18th-century volume in Longman's History of Europe, and thus led him to discover his métier.

Europe in the Eighteenth Century, 1713-1783 (1961) became a recognised classic, translated into French, Spanish and Italian, with new editions in 1976, 1987 and 2000, each embodying substantial alterations and additions. A briefer volume for Oxford University Press, Eighteenth-Century Europe, 1713-1789 (1966), also proved highly successful, especially in its North American and Spanish editions. By the time of his death, these two volumes together had sold not far short of 150,000 copies. Anderson had indeed "rescued the 18th century from long-undeserved neglect".

In 1972 appeared The Ascendancy of Europe: aspects of European history, 1815-1914. Two other less general books also secured wide readerships: The Eastern Question, 1774-1923 (1966) and Peter the Great (1978). Altogether he published 11 books with the needs of students in mind, and in every case his publishers (most often Longman, now Pearson Education) found themselves dealing with an academic who not only wrote superbly saleable copy, but even delivered it ahead of the date laid down in his contract.

He also published some 20 learned articles, and contributed two chapters to the New Cambridge Modern History and many more to multi-authored volumes, as well as writing in later years personal diaries and memoirs not for publication.

Important though writing always was to him, between 1972 and his retirement in 1985 his growing responsibilities at the London School of Economics took priority. Not only was he much concerned in building up the International History Department (of which he was Convenor in 1972-75), but from 1973 until 1981 he was heavily involved in the work of the school's Publications Committee, while in 1981-85 he chaired the Graduate School Committee, arguably the school's most important committee.

Anderson was never happier than when walking with his daughters in Scotland. Golf was a pleasure from boyhood. In middle age, he took up photography and collecting books concerned with Russia, while in retirement he became an accomplished bread-maker and gardener. His musical memory was as accurate, extensive and rewarding as his memory for historical facts.

Daniel Waley

News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

£10000 - £20000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week