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Esmond Wright (5 November 1915, Newcastle upon Tyne – 9 August 2003, Masham, North Yorkshire[1]) was an English historian of the United States, Director of the Institute of United States Studies at the University of London from 1971 to 1983, a television personality, author, and a Conservative politician.

Wright had a grammar school education in Newcastle upon Tyne, before winning an open scholarship to Durham University and, in 1938, a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship to the University of Virginia.[2] Wright joined the University of Glasgow in 1946 as a lecturer in History. In 1957 he was appointed Professor of Modern History, a post he held until his election to parliament ten years later. His students at Glasgow included future Labour Party Leader John Smith and Donald Dewar, later the first First Minister of Scotland.[3] During this time he became known in both Scotland and England with his obituary in The Independent describing him as one of Britain's 'early "media dons"'.[4]

In a 1967 by-election, he was returned as a Conservative Member of Parliament for the previously Labour-held seat of Glasgow Pollok.[5] Wright defeated Dick Douglas, who would later have two spells as a Labour MP.[6] Wright reportedly had 'no strong political ambitions' and had apparently not expected to win the contest.[4] He was defeated by Labour's James White in the 1970 General Election. Tam Dalyell believed had Wright retained his seat, he might well have been a Treasury minister in the Heath Ministry.[4]

After his defeat Wright returned to academia becoming Director of the Institute of US Studies and Professor of American History at the University of London in 1971, a post he held until 1983. He was also Principal of Swinton Conservative College in Masham form 1972 until 1976.[3][4]

He was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in 1988, reportedly, the award that gave him 'greatest pleasure'.[4]


Wright's publications include :

  • Washington and the American Revolution 1957
  • Fabric of Freedom, 1763-1800, Hill and Wang, New York 1961.
  • The McGraw-Hill illustrated world history 1964
  • Benjamin Franklin and American Independence 1966
  • The modern world 1969
  • Benjamin Franklin; a profile 1970
  • The Ancient world 1974
  • A Tug of loyalties : Anglo-American relations, 1765-85 1975
  • Red, white and true blue : the loyalists in the Revolution by Conference on the American Loyalists 1976
  • The Expanding world 1979
  • The Medieval and Renaissance world 1979
  • The Fire of Liberty, editor, The Folio Society, London 1983.
  • History of the World. The Last Five Hundred Years, editor, Bonaza Books, New York 1981. 1984
  • Franklin of Philadelphia, Harvard University Press, 1986.
  • The American guide to Britain 1987
  • Benjamin Franklin : his life as he wrote it by Benjamin Franklin 1989
  • The search for liberty : from origins to independence 1994
  • An empire for liberty : from Washington to Lincoln 1995
  • The American Dream: From Reconstruction to Reagan, 1996.


  1. ^ Jim Potter & Tam Dalyell Obituary: Esmond Wright, The Independent, 25 August 2003
  2. ^ Obituary: Esmond Wright, Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2003
  3. ^ a b "Esmond Wright". The University of Glasgow Story. University of Glasgow. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d e Potter, Jim. "Professor Esmond Wright". The Independent. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  5. ^ Peter J. Parish & Brian Wilson Obituary: Esmond Wright, The Guardian, 19 August 2003
  6. ^ "Dick Douglas - obituary". The Telegraph. 14 May 2014.

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