Austin Woolrych

Austin Herbert Woolrych FBA FRSA (18 May 1918  14 September 2004) was an English historian, a specialist in the period of the English Civil War.

Austin Herbert Woolrych

Born(1918-05-18)18 May 1918
Died14 September 2004(2004-09-14) (aged 86)
Muriel Edith Rolfe
(m. 1941; died 1991)
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic work
Main interestsEnglish Civil War
Notable worksBritain in Revolution (2002)


Austin Woolrych was born in Marylebone, London, the son of Stanley Herbert Cunliffe Woolrych and May Gertrude Woolrych, née Wood. His father was a distinguished British Army intelligence officer during the First World War who became a businessman. Woolrych was descended from an old Shropshire gentry family, and was related to Sir Thomas Wolryche, 1st Baronet, Royalist governor of Bridgnorth during the English Civil War.

Woolrych was educated at Westminster School, but owing to the family's financial distress during the Great Depression he did not proceed to university. Instead, he left school in 1934, aged 16, and became a clerk at Harrods. In 1938, he joined the Inns of Court Regiment of the Territorial Army. On the outbreak of the Second World War he was sent to Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment. He was blinded in one eye at the Battle of El Alamein in 1941.

After the war, Woolrych was decommissioned with the rank of Captain, and attended Pembroke College, Oxford on an ex-serviceman's educational grant; he originally planned to read English, but owing to the college's lack of a tutor read History instead. He graduated from Oxford with a BA (first-class honours) and a BLitt.

He joined the History Department of Leeds University in 1949, where he remained until 1964, when he became Professor of History at the newly founded University of Lancaster. From 1971 to 1975 he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lancaster. From 1981 to 1982 he was Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He retired in 1983. Freed from administrative work and teaching, he published several major works in retirement. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1988.


Woolrych married Muriel Edith Rolfe in 1941; she died in 1991. They had one son and one daughter.