1 October 2012
Last up dated at 12:59 GMT
Historian Eric Hobsbawm dies, aged 95
Eric Hobsbawm, one of Britain's most eminent historians, has died at
the age of 95, his family have confirmed.
He died in the early hours of Monday morning at the Royal Free
Hospital in London where he had been suffering from pneumonia, his daughter
Mr Hobsbawm, a historian in the Marxist tradition, wrote more than 30
His reputation rests largely on four works, including History of the
20th Century, The Age of Extremes, which has been translated into 40 languages.
In a statement his family said: "He will be greatly missed not only
by his wife of 50 years, Marlene, and his three children, seven grandchildren
and great grandchild, but also by his many thousands of readers and students
around the world."
Born to Jewish parents in Egypt in 1917, the year of the Russian
Revolution, Prof Hobsbawm's life and works were shaped by his commitment to
His British father and Austrian mother moved to Vienna when he was
two, then to Berlin.
He joined the Communist Party aged 14, after he had been orphaned and
was living with his uncle.
In his 80s he reflected: "Anybody who saw Hitler's rise happen first
hand could not have helped but be shaped by it, politically. That boy is still
somewhere inside, always will be."
In 1933, with Hitler's grip on power tightening, he came to London.
After gaining a PhD from Cambridge, he published his first book in
Hobsbawm was appointed a lecturer at Birkbeck College in London in
1947, spending his entire career on the faculty and eventually being appointed
His best-known works were the three-volume history of the 19th
Century and his book the Age of Extremes which covered the eight decades from
WWI to the collapse of communism in Europe.
He published his final book, How to Change the World, in
'Good, readable books'
Hobsbawm said he had lived "through almost all of the most
extraordinary and terrible century in human history".
An unrepentant Marxist, he acknowledged the failure of 20th Century
communism but said he had not given up on Marxist ideals.
In April, he told fellow historian Simon Schama he would like to be
remembered as "somebody who not only kept the flag flying, but who showed that
by waving it you can actually achieve something, if only good and readable
Labour leader Ed Miliband said Hobsbawm was "an extraordinary
historian, a man passionate about his politics and a great friend of his
"His historical works brought hundreds of years of British history to
hundreds of thousands of people. He brought history out of the ivory tower and
into people's lives," he said.
"But he was not simply an academic, he cared deeply about the
political direction of the country. Indeed he was one of the first people to
recognise the challenges to Labour in the late 1970s and 1980s from the changing
nature of our society."