• Keith C. Sewell
Part of the Studies in Modern History book series (SMH)


Herbert Butterfield was born at Oxenhope, Yorkshire, on 7 October 1900. He went up to Peterhouse, Cambridge, from the Keighley Trade Grammar School, in 1919. There he read for the Cambridge Historical Tripos under the tutorship of Paul Vellacott, a meticulous writer who published little.1 The young Butterfield was drawn to romantic historical fiction and first approached history from a literary standpoint. Eventually, his essay ‘Art is History Made Organic’ attracted attention in Peterhouse. He was elected a Fellow in 1923 and won the ‘La Bas’ Prize for The Historical Novel (1924) in the same year. At least from 1923 onwards he was strongly influenced by Harold Temperley, the highly regarded Peterhouse diplomatic historian. A strong individualist, Butterfield could be sparing in acknowledging the influence of others. He was trained as a diplomatic historian and in this field greatly admired Temperley and G. P. Gooch.2 Butterfield owed much to his father, Albert Butterfield, who encouraged his son to enter the Methodist ministry. In 1917 Herbert began lay preaching to Methodist congregations in Yorkshire and continued the practice in Cambridgeshire until 1936. On occasions he also taught at Wesley House in Cambridge.3 Always opposed to fundamentalism, he was sympathetic to the positive features of English evangelicalism.4


Analytical Philosophy Vienna Circle Historical Explanation Christian Belief Universal Validity 
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Copyright information

© Keith C. Sewell 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith C. Sewell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryDordt CollegeUSA

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