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Abstract

The first attempt, in the nineteen-thirties, to organize and produce a collaborative, multi-volume History of Parliament, researched and written from public funds, was the brainchild of the maverick Labour backbencher Josiah Wedgwood, who invested his scheme with an ideological as well as a scholarly purpose. Described from Wedgwood's viewpoint, the history of his History appears as a crusade in defence of democracy in the age of the dictators, and his bitter disagreements with the ‘trades union’ of academic historians a conflict between breadth and narrowness of vision. However, the records of the project, and the correspondence of the leading figures, demonstrate the role played by historians like A. F. Pollard, J. E. Neale and L. B. Namier in the framing of the scope and method of the History, and the vital importance of personality in determining the course of its development.