Noel Malcolm

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Sir Noel Malcolm
Born Noel Robert Malcolm
(1956-12-26) 26 December 1956 (age 61)
Surrey, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Historian, journalist
Nationality British
Ethnicity English
Alma mater Eton College
Peterhouse, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
Subject History, politics, biography, literature

Sir Noel Robert Malcolm, FRSL, FBA (born 26 December 1956) is an English political journalist, historian and academic. A King's Scholar at Eton College, Malcolm read history at Peterhouse, Cambridge and received his Doctorate in History from Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a Fellow and College Lecturer of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, before becoming a political and foreign affairs journalist with The Spectator and the Daily Telegraph.

He stepped away from journalism in 1995 to become a writer and academic, being appointed as a Visiting Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford for two years. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL) in 1997, and a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2001. Since 2002, he has been a Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He was knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to scholarship, journalism, and European history.

Early life and education

Malcolm was born on 26 December 1956.[1] He was educated at Eton College, an all-boys public school near Windsor, Berkshire, as a King's Scholar. He studied history at Peterhouse, Cambridge between 1974 and 1978. He received his PhD degree in History from Trinity College, Cambridge.[2][3]


Malcolm was a fellow and college lecturer of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge from 1981 to 1988. He was a political columnist (1987–1991) then the foreign editor (1991–1992) of The Spectator, and a political columnist for the Daily Telegraph (1992–1995). He was jointly awarded the T. E. Utley Prize for Political Journalism in 1991.[3]

In 1995 he gave up journalism to become a full-time writer.[4] Malcolm was a visiting Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford in 1995–1996,[3] and has been a Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford since 2002.[5] He serves on the advisory board of the conservative magazine Standpoint.[6]

In 2010, Malcolm was featured as the key historian in the feature documentary film My Blood My Compromise to discuss the historical events that led to the demise of Yugoslavia and the war in Kosovo.

He is currently the chairman of the Bosnian Institute, London,[7] and is the president of the Anglo-Albanian Association.[8]


Malcolm was knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to scholarship, journalism, and European history.[9]

Malcolm became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL) in 1997, and a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2001. He is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers.[3] He is a Member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo, and an Honorary Fellow of both Peterhouse, Cambridge (since 2010) and Trinity College, Cambridge (since 2011).[5]



Malcolm is the author of:

  • De Dominis, 1560–1624: Venetian, Anglican, ecumenist, and relapsed heretic (1984)
  • George Enescu: His Life and Music ( Toccata Press, 1990), which has been translated into several languages
  • Bosnia: A Short History (New York University Press, 1994), which has been translated into several languages
  • Origins of English Nonsense (HarperCollins, 1997)
  • Kosovo: A Short History (New York University Press, 1998)
  • Books on Bosnia: A critical bibliography of works relating to Bosnia-Herzegovina published since 1990 in West European languages (with Quintin Hoare) (Bosnian Institute, 1999)
  • Aspects of Hobbes (Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • John Pell (1611–1685) and His Correspondence with Sir Charles Cavendish: The Mental World of an Early Modern Mathematician (with Jacqueline Stedall) (Oxford University Press, 2005)
  • Agents of Empire: Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Late Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean World (2015)

He edited Reason of State, Propaganda, and the Thirty Years' War: An Unknown Translation by Thomas Hobbes (Clarendon Press, 2007), and The Correspondence of Thomas Hobbes (1994) and Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan (3 volumes, Oxford University Press, 2012), for which he was awarded a British Academy Medal.[3] He has also contributed over 40 journal articles or chapters in books since 2002.[5]


Malcolm has written many articles for newspapers, magazines and journals. Other than his work for The Spectator, the Daily Telegraph and Standpoint he has had articles published in The Guardian,[10] The Sunday Telegraph,[11] the New York Times,[12] Washington Times,[13] Time[14] and the Daily Mail[15] among other publications. He has also contributed book reviews mainly to The Sunday Telegraph.[16] He has contributed to a number of scholarly journals including Foreign Affairs[17] and the New York Review of Books.[18][19]

Kosovo: A Short History

Malcolm's book Kosovo: A Short History (1998) saw robust debate among historians following its release. For example, the merits of the book were the subject of an extended debate in Foreign Affairs. The debate began with the review of the book by the former Fellow of the Russian Research Center at Harvard University, Aleksa Djilas. He wrote that Malcolm's book was "marred by his sympathies for its ethnic Albanian separatists, anti-Serbian bias, and illusions about the Balkans",[20] and Malcolm responded by asserting that Djilas had not produced any evidence to counter that produced in the book, and had instead resorted to belittling both Malcolm and his work, including the use of personal slurs and patronising language.[17] The debate continued with Professor Stevan K. Pavlowitch of the University of Southampton asserting that Malcolm's book lacked precision, Melanie McDonagh of the Bosnian Institute observing that Djilas' review took a "nationalistic approach", and Norman Cigar of Marine Corps University stating that Djilas was trying to create myths to legitimise Serbian actions in Kosovo.[21][22]

In 1999, the Serbian-American poet Charles Simić wrote a letter to the London Review of Books criticizing Malcolm's failure to protest against vandalism and destruction of Serb cultural sites in Kosovo, despite Malcolm having made a prior statement that they should be cared for (a statement which Simić also noted in his letter).[23][24] Later the same year, Thomas Emmert of the history faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota reviewed the book in Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans Online and while praising aspects of the book also asserted that it was "shaped by the author's overriding determination to challenge Serbian myths", that Malcolm was "partisan", and also complained that the book made a "transparent attempt to prove that the main Serbian myths are false".[25] Malcolm responded in the same journal in early 2000, asserting that the book challenged both Albanian and Serbian myths about Kosovo, but that there were more Serbian myths about Kosovo than Albanian ones and this explained the greater coverage of Serbian myths in the book. He also observed that Emmert's perspective and work was largely within the framework of Serbian historiography, and that Emmert's own perspective was the reason for Emmert's assertion that Malcolm was "partisan".[26]

Other reviews of Kosovo: A Short History were varied. For example, in English Historical Review, Zbyněk Zeman observed that Malcolm "tries not to take sides",[27] but in American Historical Review, Nicholas J. Miller stated that the book was "conceptually flawed" due to Malcolm's insistence on treating Kosovo as "a place on its own; [rather than] a scrap of irredenta that Serbs and Albanians fight over".[28]


  1. "MALCOLM, Sir Noel Robert". Who's Who 2016. Oxford University Press. November 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015. 
  2. Malcolm 2000, p. 124.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Debretts 2012.
  4. Pan Macmillan 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 All Soul's College 2012.
  6. Standpoint 2012.
  7. Bosnian Institute 2012.
  8. Elsie 2010, p. 14.
  9. The Times 2013.
  10. Malcolm 2008.
  11. Malcolm 2001.
  12. Malcolm 1999a.
  13. Malcolm 1999b.
  14. Malcolm 1998a.
  15. Malcolm 1996.
  16. Malcolm 1995.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Malcolm 1999c.
  18. Malcolm 1998b.
  19. Malcolm 2007.
  20. Djilas 1998.
  21. "List of related articles in Foreign Affairs". 
  22. Noel Malcolm, Aleksa Djilas, et al. "Is Kosovo Real? The Battle Over History Continues," Foreign Affairs (January/February 1999).
  23. Simic, Charles (30 September 1999). "A State of One’s Own". London Review of Books. Archived from the original on 15 August 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  24. Malcolm, Noel (9 June 1999). "Independence For Kosovo". New York Times. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  25. Emmert 1999.
  26. Malcolm 2000.
  27. Zeman 1999.
  28. Miller 1998.




Newspapers and magazines

  • Malcolm, Noel (12 November 1995), "David Owen and His Balkan Bungling", The Sunday Telegraph 
  • Malcolm, Noel (6 November 1996), "The Grandee and a Question of Genocide", Daily Mail 
  • Malcolm, Noel (30 March 1998a), "The Past Must Not be Prologue", Time 
  • Malcolm, Noel (16 July 1998b), "Kosovo's History", New York Review of Books, retrieved 14 December 2012 
  • Malcolm, Noel (9 June 1999a), "Independence for Kosovo", The New York Times, retrieved 14 December 2012 
  • Malcolm, Noel (4 May 1999b), "Response to Amos Perlmutter's Op-ed 'Who Will Run Kosovo'", Washington Times 
  • Malcolm, Noel (1 July 2001), "Milosevic Was Doomed by Press Freedom", The Sunday Telegraph 
  • Malcolm, Noel (6 December 2007), "The New Montenegro: The State That Was Not a State", New York Review of Books, retrieved 30 January 2015 
  • Malcolm, Noel (26 February 2008), "Is Kosovo Serbia? We ask a historian", The Guardian, retrieved 14 December 2012