Diarmaid MacCulloch: On the History of Christianity

I’m a passionate believer in the need for the academic disciplines of the humanities to communicate their value and their discussions to the widest possible public audience. It is for that reason that I have worked as Vice-President of the British Academy for Public Engagement, in our creative and expanding programme of public events, lectures and debates nationwide. With that aim, I have presented my own work not merely in the lecture-hall and in published work, but on radio, on television and in podcasts. My own speciality over nearly fifty years has been the Reformation, and in particular the English Reformation. My recent biography of Thomas Cromwell was the source of my recent public Hensley Henson lectures in the University, which generated large attendances, but beyond that, the launch of the book has sparked great public interest and has achieved sales already in hardback in the tens of thousands, with a paperback edition imminent. I have been energetically presenting my findings in lectures and conversation events across this country and beyond.

My wider work is on the history of Christianity generally. My mission is to explain its complicated history in ways which inhibit glib statements of the story to back up crude and authoritarian-minded presentations of Christian faith, and I seek to promote sane and wise relationships with other faith communities and with a world of scepticism beyond them. I have a particular interest in Christianity’s changing views on gender and sexuality over two millennia; I have already presented a three-part BBC TV series on that subject and am now writing a mass-market book on the same theme.  In my public communication, I have a particular interest in involving the young, and enjoy talking to sixth-formers; this is part of my continuing interest and involvement in the lively literary festival scene across the world. I have lectured to public audiences as far away as Sweden, Germany, Canada, the United States and India, and the audiences have included a lunchtime meeting of members of the European Parliament in Brussels in March 2018. My work in bringing understanding of the problems and opportunities of religious belief has been recognised with a forthcoming award of the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize for 2019 by the University of Tübingen, and my contribution to scholarship was named in the citation for my knighthood in 2012.

You can find out more about some of my work using the links below:

Literary Festivals and Public Lectures

British Academy: Zee Jaipur Literary Festival, 2018

Borderlines Carlisle Book Festival, 2018

European Year of Cultural Heritage, 2018

Public History Unit, 2019

Words by the Water Festival, 2019

Oxford Literary Festival, 2019

Buxton Festival, 2019


BBC: History of Christianity: six episodes, 2009

BBC: How God made the English: three episodes, 2012

BBC: Sex and the Church: three episodes, 2015

BBC: Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII’s enforcer, 2015

BBC: Booktalk, Thomas Cromwell, 2018


Radio 4: In Our Time: The Diet of Worms, 12/10/2006

Radio 4, In Our Time: Foxe's Book of Martyrs, 18/11/2010

Radio 4: In Our Time: The Book of Common Prayer, 17/10/2013

Radio 3, Conversation with Dame Joan Bakewell, 02/01/2014

Radio 4: In Our Time: The Battle of Lepanto, 12/11/2015


Ashmolean Museum: Thinking with Things, 16/01/2017

The Guardian Books Podcast, 27/11/2018

Anchor FM, 30/11/2018

The History of England, 2018

Shakespeare's Globe, Thomas Cromwell Conversation