Dr Christopher Knowles is a historian who lives in St Albans, Hertfordshire (UK). He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary British History (ICBH) at Kings College London.
'Before you study the history study the historian' as E H Carr said in his classic work 'What is History.' (Macmillan 1961). 'When we take up a work of history, our first concern should be not with the facts which it contains, but with the historian who wrote it.'
I studied history as an undergraduate at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge from 1971-74. After a career in electronic publishing and computer software, I resumed my academic studies at the Centre for Contemporary British History at the University of London in October 2005. My PhD thesis was awarded the 2014 prize of the German Historical Institute, London, for an outstanding thesis on German History, British History, or Anglo-German relations.
My principal area of interest is the Allied Occupation of Germany after the Second World War, a subject that has recently seen a revival among historians of post-war Europe. It has also attracted interest from those engaged in defence and strategic studies and the emerging field of occupation studies.
History is a process of discovery. I started this weblog, 'How it really was', on 1 October 2005, recording my thoughts, ideas, and, I hoped, some insights and discoveries as I worked my way through my MA and PhD research at the Centre of Contemporary British History.
The blog is now intended to accompany and complement my first book: Winning the Peace: The British in Occupied Germany, which will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in January 2017.
The name of the blog comes from the famous nineteenth century German historian, Leopold von Ranke, who wrote, as a young man, in his first historical work, that the role of history is simply to show how it really was – 'Wie es eigentlich gewesen.'
In January 2015 I started a second blog, 'My father's favourite poems'. My father, who was born in 1900 and died, aged 100, in 2001, could still remember and quote many poems by heart in the last few years of his life. In the blog I posted 74 of his favourite poems, one a week between January 2015 and June 2016.