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Professor Keith Jeffery

MA, PhD, LittD (Cambridge), MRIA, FRHistS

Professor of British History

Office: 17UQ.105

Professor Jeffery has retired from the university as of 21 January 2016

Keith Jeffery was educated in Ireland, the USA and Cambridge (St John’s College), where he won the Prince Consort Prize and Seeley Medal. In 2005 he came to Queen’s, after teaching at the Ulster Polytechnic and the University of Ulster for over twenty years. From 1988 to 1997 he was joint-editor of Irish Historical Studies, and is currently chair of the journal’s board of directors. In 1997–98 he was a visiting fellow at the Australian National University and the Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales. In 1998 he was Lees Knowles Lecturer in Military Science at Trinity College Cambridge, and in 2003–04 Parnell Fellow in Irish Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge. In 2004 he was also a visiting research fellow at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. He gave the Phillimore Lecture at the British Library in 2003, the Stout Lecture at Victoria University, Wellington,  in 2004, and the fourth annual Centre for Intelligence and International Security Studies Lecture at Aberystwyth in 2006. He was awarded the Templer Medal from the Society for Army Historical Research in 2007 for the best book of the year (his biography of Sir Henry Wilson) on British Military History. In 2009 he was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Research interests

Professor Jeffery’s research interests encompass a wide range of topics in Irish, British, and British imperial history. A particular emphasis has been on Ireland and the First World War, which was the subject of his Lees Knowles Lectures. He has written a biography of the Irishman, Sir Henry Wilson, who was professional head of the British army in 1918–22 and is the only British Field Marshal to have died in action, having been assassinated on his doorstep in London in 1922 by two fellow Irishmen. He has also been working on the history of the British empire, with chapters on the topic in the Oxford History of the British Empire and Short Oxford History of Britain series. Recently he has been doing some television work, as a presenter on an Australian/Turkish/Irish co-production ‘Revealing Gallipoli’, broadcast during 2005. In 2005 he was appointed to write the first Official History of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), covering the years 1909–49. This book was launched on 23 September 2010 at Queen's University Belfast. Recent Press coverage and interviews with Professor Jeffery can be found at

Select publications


Articles and chapters:

  • '"Writing out of opinions": Irish experience and the theatre of the First World War', in S. Das (ed.), Race, empire and the First World War (Cambridge, 2011).
  • 'The road to Asia and the Grafton Hotel, Dublin: Ireland and the "British World"', in irish Historical Studies, xxxvi (2008).
  • 'Distance and proximity in service to the empire: Ulster and New Zealand between the wars', in Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, xxxvi:3 (2008).
  • 'The First World War and the Rising: mode, moment and memory' in Gabriel Doherty and Dermot Keogh (eds), 1916: the long revolution (Cork, 2007).
  • 'Crown, communication and the colonial post: stamps, the monarchy and the British Empire' in Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, xxxiv (2006).
  • '"Hut ab", "promenade with kamerade for shokolade", and the Flying Dutchman: British soldiers in the Rhineland, 1918–1929' in Diplomacy and Statecraft, xvi (2005).

Related Websites


Current PhD supervision:

  • Jonathan Best, ‘Fact or fiction: the British spy novel and British intelligence, 1903–1991
  • Fergal O'Leary, 'Soldiers, politics and Empire: Ireland, Egypt and the Sudan, 1882-1900'
  • Patrick Speight, 'Irish Argentines from Peron to the Dirty War and the fall of the general'

Recent PhD supervision:

  • Emily Haire, 'Anglo-French intelligence liaison, 1909-39', Ph.D. 2014.
  • Stephen Sandford, 'The 10th (Irish) Division in the First World War', Ph.D. 2013.
  • Stuart Aveyard, 'No solution: British policy in Northern Ireland after Sunningdale, 1974-79'. Ph.D. 2011.
  • Elaine Doyle, 'The Qua Iboe Mission, 1887-1925'. Ph.D. 2010.