British academy

Professor Christopher Pelling

Professor Christopher Pelling
Regius Professor of Greek, University of Oxford (H1)

Greek and Latin historiography and biography, especially the literary criticism of prose texts, in particular Herodotus, Thucydides, Plutarch, and Tacitus


I was brought up in South Wales, and originally learned my Greek at Cardiff High School, the local grammar school. I took up Classics at school as someone told me it was a good preparation for being a lawyer; then after a bit I thought I'd change after a year or so of Classics at University to study Modern History; but the passion for the subject had taken grip and I never let it go - or rather it never let me go. After undergraduate and graduate work in Oxford, I spent two years at Cambridge in the early 1970s, then returned to Oxford to become Fellow and Tutor in Classics at University College, where I spent 29 years. These were interspersed with some time as a Visiting Professor in the United States, at Washington and Lee University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Utah State University (where I still have the title of adjunct professor of History). I was appointed to Oxford's Regius chair of Greek in 2003, and moved from Univ. to Christ Church.

I am married to Margaret Pelling, who is now a novelist, following earlier careers as first an Astrophysicist and then a Whitehall civil servant; our two children are both part of the academic world, our son Charlie as a lecturer in Philosophy at Birkbeck College and our daughter Sally doing a Master's in East European Studies at St Antony's College, Oxford.

My other interests include music, with a particular taste for Broadway; congeniality; country walks (preferably gentle); golf (bad); and following Welsh rugby and Glamorgan cricket at a distance. I am a member of the MCC, and I hope that the performance of the England team in the 2009 Ashes test series will have given me as much pleasure and pride as the election to a Fellowship most certainly has done!