Fifty years ago, on 31 December 1966, Pieter Geyl passed away. He was arguably one of the most internationally known historians from the Netherlands, and one of the most controversial at that. Having come to the UK as a journalist in the first place, he started his academic career at UCL in the aftermath of World War I, with the first endowed Chair for Dutch Studies in the Anglophone world (1919). Known for his re-interpretation of the 16th century Dutch Revolt against the Habsburgs as well as for his political activism in favour of the Flemish movement in Belgium, and for his provocative debates with British historians like Arnold Toynbee, he left his stamp on the British perception of Low Countries history and culture, before leaving London in 1935 to accept a Chair in Utrecht.
The department and libraries he built up at UCL and former Bedford College remain at the heart of the Dutch collections of UCL and the IHR to the present day and make London one of the largest centres for the study of Low Countries history and culture outside of the Low Countries. On the occasion of his fiftieth obit, as well as the approaching centenary of his nomination and the foundation of Dutch Studies in Britain, this symposium aims to re-examine Geyl’s time in Britain and shed new light on his multifaceted work as a historian, journalist, translator, activist and homo politicus, his contemporary networks, as well as on his lasting legacy on British views of Dutch and Belgian history.
Thursday, 17 November 2016, Inst. of Historical Research, London, Wolfson Suite, 10:00–18:00
Jointly organized by Stijn Vanrossem (IHR) and Ulrich Tiedau (UCL)
We are grateful for generous sponsorship by the IHR, the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the Association for Low Countries Studies (ALCS).