Jack Lindsay’s Historical Writings
Jack Lindsay was intensely aware of the past. In his wandering, hand-to-mouth years of the 1930s, he recalled wanting urgently ‘to grow roots. Within a week at any new place I had ransacked the public library for histories, records and so on, and had begun to feel a little local patriotism’ (Life Rarely Tells 723). When Lindsay ﬁnally settled, to live in a medieval cottage in the village of Castle Hedingham in Essex dominated by an imposing twelfth-century Norman keep, he joined the local archaeological society, published a book on British archaeology (Discovery of Britain), and wrote another on the history of the locality. He collected shards of Roman and Anglo-Saxon pottery from digs, labelled them, and stored them in the garage.2 Greco-Roman civilisation and seventeenth- to nineteenth-century Britain were the chief hubs of Lindsay’s historical imagination, but he also made incursions into ancient Egypt, medieval England, and nineteenth- century Australia and France. He was particularly interested in periods of conflict and rebellion, ‘with points of social explosion, with the causes of mass movements, the relation of individual aims to the larger whole which is seen only in refracted or distorted ways’ (Life Rarely Tells 717).