David Starkey. 1980
Public DomainDavid Starkey. 1980 - Credit: Carlo Faulds

Born in 1945 in Kendal, Cumbria, David Robert Starkey was the only son of Quaker parents. His father worked as an engineer and his mother as a cleaner. He was born with club feet and suffered from polio at the age of four. He went on to do well at Kendal Grammar School and won a scholarship to read history at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he is an Honorary Fellow. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1994. In 2007 he was appointed CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.


Between 1972 and 1998, David Starkey taught history at the London School of Economics and embarked on a career in the media. His ruthless interrogation of interviewees and outspoken comments have earned him a reputation for rudeness, although this did nothing to dent the reputation he has won for his understanding of history, particularly the Tudor period. It could be said that his abrasive manner got him noticed. In the televised Trial of Richard III, where he appeared as a witness for the prosecution, he accused the defence counsel, Sir Brian Dillon, of having a "small lawyer's mind". This controversial historian, once dubbed 'the rudest man in Britain', has also made derogatory remarks about the Queen, referring to her as a housewife with little education. He described Mary, Queen of Scots as a 'whore, trollop and murderess', and Princess Diana as 'destructive' .


His television series on the Tudors won him great acclaim, and his more recent series and book, Monarchy, from the Middle Ages to Modernism, confirmed his star media status. He has effectively argued against some traditionally held views on the Tudors; most notably Anne Boleyn, in his opinion, was no superficial gold-digger but a committed religious reformer and formidable intellectual. He has also explained the hitherto overlooked and complicated events leading to the fall of Catherine Howard, and has shown the traditional portrayal of Catherine of Aragon as a saintly, wronged woman to be misleading.


David Starkey has regularly appeared on such topical programmes as the BBC's Question Time and The Moral Maze

He lives with his partner, James Brown, in London and Kent.



 This Land of England (1985) (with David Souden)

The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics (1986)

Revolution Reassessed: Revisions in the History of Tudor Government and Administration (1986) (Editor with Christopher Coleman)

The English Court from the Wars of the Roses to the Civil War (1987)

Rivals in Power: the Lives and Letters of the Great Tudor Dynasties (1990)

Henry VIII: A European Court in England (1991), Volume 1 (1998) (with Philip Ward and Alistair Hawkyard)

Elizabeth: Apprenticeship (2000) (published in North America as Elizabeth: The struggle for the throne)

The Stuart Courts - Foreword (2000) (Edited by Eveline Cruickshanks)

The Inventory of Henry VIII: Essays and Illustrations, Volume 2, (2002) (with Philip Ward and Alistair Hawkyard)

The Inventory of Henry VIII: Essays and Illustrations, Volume 3, (2002) (with Philip Ward and Alistair Hawkyard)

The Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (2003)

Elizabeth I: The Exhibition Catalogue (2003)

The Books of King Henry VIII and His Wives - Introduction and Preface (2004) (James P. Carley)

The Monarchy of England: The Beginnings (2004)

Monarchy: From the Middle Ages to Modernity (2006)

Making History: Antiquaries in Britain, 1707-2007 - Introduction (2007) (Edited by Sarah McCarthy, Bernard Nurse, and David Gaimster)

Henry: Virtuous Prince (2008)

Introduction to Henry VIII; Man & Monarch (Susan Doran, ed. published by the British Library, 2009)

Crown and Country (Harper Collins) 2010


Television series

Henry VIII (1998, revised 2001)

Elizabeth (2000)

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2001)

Edward and Mary: The Unknown Tudors (2002)

David Starkey: Reinventing the Royals (2002)

Monarchy by David Starkey (2004-2007)

The Tudors (2007-2010) technical advisor

Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant (2009)