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Tribute to Dr Anthony Johnson, Cardiff historian

3 June 2014

Dr Anthony Johnson, who worked in the History Department at Cardiff University for more than two decades before his retirement in the 1990s, died on 9 May. He was a man of many paradoxes. Welcoming and outgoing, he was also a very private person.

He was a fine scholar whose small corpus of published works was widely recognised as being of exemplary quality. He was a respected and careful teacher, especially of postgraduate students. Dr Johnson was a specialist of seventeenth-century Britain, and produced two classic postgraduate theses which continue to be used and cited today: a study of Buckinghamshire society in the civil wars, and a work on Chester’s politics, society and economy from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries. The latter was produced in Oxford under the supervision of the towering civil war scholar, Christopher Hill, for whom Dr Johnson had the highest regard and affection. He would go on to write an influential essay on the 1640s and 1650s in Wales as part of Hill’s 1978 festschrift. In later life he became interested in Scott of the Antarctic, and produced a short book on the connections between the explorer and Cardiff.

In the early 1980s he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This he bore with fortitude and a determination to overcome the increasing effects of this horrible and debilitating condition. Life can be very unfair, but Anthony has now passed beyond the cruelties of this world. This last thought is the subject of a justly famous poem by that most celebrated of seventeenth-century poets and dramatists, William Shakespeare: ‘Fear no more the heat of the sun.’ As our tribute to we should like to share with you the moving setting by Gerald Finzi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGcuFWpT0G0

Professor Peter Edbury & Dr Lloyd Bowen