David Starkey

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Dr David Starkey (born January 3, 1945) is one of the UK's best-known historians, and a specialist in the Tudor period.

Starkey was the only child of poor Quaker parents in Kendal in northern England. His mother, a strong personality, had a powerful influence on Starkey's formative years; he portrays his father as a gentle, somewhat ineffectual man. He suffered from polio and a double club foot, but did well at grammar school and gained a place at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, of which he is still a fellow. Here he came under the influence of G.R Elton. Their relationship was stormy; according to Starkey Elton provided the stern father figure he had never had, against whom to rebel. Later in the 1980s, Starkey made an point of disputing Elton's view of the importance of Thomas Cromwell, arguing in the 1986 book Revolution Reassessed he co-edited that Elton's thesis about Cromwell being the author of modern government was wrong.

From 1972 to 1998 Starkey taught history at the London School of Economics. During this period, he embarked on his career as a broadcaster, and soon won a reputation for abrasiveness, for example on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze, a debating programme, on which he is a ruthless interrogator of "witnesses". One newspaper called him "the rudest man in Britain". In the televised Trial of Richard III, he accused the defence counsel of having a "small lawyer's mind". His television series on Elizabeth I of England, the six wives of Henry VIII and on the lesser-known Tudor monarchs have made him a familiar face. His greatest contribution to Tudor research has been in explaining the complicated social etiquette of Henry's household, exploring the complicated nature of Catherine Howard's fall in 1541/1542, and rescuing Anne Boleyn from the historical doldrums by persuasively proving that she was a committed religious reformer, keen politician and sparkling intellectual. Dr. Starkey has also rejected the historical community's tendency to portray Catherine of Aragon as a "plaster-of-Paris saint". He also makes regular radio broadcasts and contributes to many magazines and newspapers.

Starkey, who is openly gay, is also a prominent campaigner for homosexual equality.

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