John Morris Roberts CBE (14 April 1928 – 30 May 2003) was a British historian, with significant published works. From 1979 to 1985 he was vice chancellor of the University of Southampton, and from 1985 to 1994, Warden of Merton College, Oxford. He was also well known as the author and presenter of the BBC TV series The Triumph of the West (1985).
Roberts was born in Bath, the son of a department store worker and educated at Taunton School. He won a scholarship to Keble College, Oxford, and took a first in Modern History in 1948. After National Service, he was elected a prize fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he completed a doctoral thesis on the Italian republic set up during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Times Literary Supplement described him as "master of the broad brush-stroke". In 1953 he was elected a fellow and tutor in Modern History at Merton College, Oxford, and in the same year went as a Commonwealth Fund fellow to Princeton and Yale, where his interests broadened beyond European history. He returned to America three times as a visiting professor in the 1960s. From 1979 to 1985 he was vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton where he felt obliged to make unpopular cuts (Classics and Theology). In 1985 he wrote and presented the thirteen-part BBC series The Triumph of the West, and was later historical advisor to the series People's Century. From 1985 to 1994 he was Warden of Merton College, Oxford until his retirement, whereupon he returned to his native Somerset...
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