Margaret Olwen MacMillan(born 23 December 1943) is a Canadian historian and professor at the University of Oxford. She is former provost of Trinity College and professor of history at the University of Toronto and previously at Ryerson University. A leading expert on history and international relations, MacMillan is a commentator in the media.
She is a great-granddaughter of former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Professor MacMillan is the 2018 Reith lecturer, giving five lectures across the globe on the theme of war under the title The Mark of Cain, the tour taking in London, York, Beirut, Belfast and Ottawa.
Margaret MacMillan was born to Dr. Robert MacMillan and Eluned Carey Evans. Her maternal grandfather was Maj. Sir Thomas J. Carey Evans, Kt., M.C., F.E.C.S., of the Indian Medical Service. The senior Evans served as personal physician to Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading during the latter's term as Viceroy of India (1921–26). Her maternal grandmother, Olwen Elizabeth, Lady Carey Evans, DBE, was a daughter of David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and his first wife, Dame Margaret Lloyd George.
MacMillan's sister Ann was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)'s London correspondent for almost forty years, retiring in 2013, and is married to the British journalist Peter Snow, making Margaret the aunt of their children, Rebecca, Kate and Dan Snow.
MacMillan received an Honours B.A. in history from the University of Toronto (attending Trinity College, where she would later become Provost 2002–2007) and a B.Phil. in Politics and D.Phil. (1974) at Oxford University (attending St Hilda's College and later St Antony's College, where she was Warden between 2007 and 2017). Her doctoral dissertation was on the social and political perspectives of the British in India.
From 1975 to 2002, she was a professor of history at Ryerson University in Toronto, including five years as department chair. She is the author of Women of the Raj. In addition to numerous articles and reviews on a variety of Canadian and world affairs, MacMillan has co-edited books dealing with Canada's international relations, including with NATO, and with Canadian-Australian relations.
From 1995 to 2003, MacMillan co-edited the International Journal, published by the Canadian Institute of International Affairs. Since 1995, she has served as a member of the National Board of Directors of the CIIA. She was the Young Memorial Visitor at Royal Military College of Canada in 2004 and delivered the J.D. Young Memorial Lecture on 24 November 2004.
MacMillan's research has focused on the British Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and on international relations in the 20th century. Over the course of her career, she has taught a range of courses on the history of international relations. She is a member of the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press.
In December 2017, MacMillan became an honorary fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.
Recognition and honours
Her most successful work is Peacemakers: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War, also published as Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World. Peacemakers won the Duff Cooper Prize for outstanding literary work in the field of history, biography or politics; the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History; the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for the best work of non-fiction published in the United Kingdom and the 2003 Governor General's Literary Award in Canada.
MacMillan has served on the boards of the Canadian Institute for International Affairs, the Atlantic Council of Canada, the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Historica and the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy (Canada). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford and a Senior Fellow of Massey College, University of Toronto. She has honorary degrees from the University of King's College, the Royal Military College of Canada and Ryerson University, Toronto.
She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in February 2006. She was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada on 30 December 2015, the highest grade of the honour. In 2017 (among the New Year's honours of 2018), she was appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour.
On 29 May 2018, MacMillan received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Memorial University in Newfoundland & Labrador.
In May 2019, MacMillan received an honorary degree from The American University of Paris.
Articles and other media
MacMillan often appears in the popular and literary press, with a focus on events surrounding the First World War. Examples in 2014 include her retrospective trip to Sarajevo on the centenary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and interview wherein she saw similarities between then and 100 years before, remarked on the 2014 Crimean crisis and her perception that Vladimir Putin deplored Russia's place in contemporary politics, mentioned Iraq and the contention between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands, and promoted the diplomatic corps.
In September 2013 she was interviewed upon the release of her book The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, and was invited to lecture at the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History on "How Wars Start: The Outbreak of the First World War" near when she received an honorary doctorate from Huron College at the University of Western Ontario. She perceived similar tensions then with the Syrian civil war and the events in Sarajevo.
MacMillan has written several op-eds for the New York Times. In December 2013, they abridged an essay of hers from the Brookings Institution, in which she wrote that "Globalization can have the paradoxical effect of fostering intense localism and nativism, frightening people into taking refuge in small like-minded groups. Globalization also makes possible the widespread transmission of radical ideologies and the bringing together of fanatics who will stop at nothing in their quest for the perfect society", and urged Western leaders to "build a stable international order" based on "a moment of real danger" which would unite the population in "coalitions able and willing to act".
On the ten-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York, MacMillan wrote an essay on the consequences of the acts, in which she dismissed the power of Osama bin Laden and stressed the secular nature of the Arab Spring revolutions that deposed Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. She concluded with the sentence "We should not let that horror distract us from what did not happen afterward."
In August 2014 MacMillan was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.
- Women of the Raj. Thames and Hudson, 1988; Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the British Empire in India. Random House LLC. 2007. ISBN 978-0-8129-7639-7.
- Canada and NATO: Uneasy Past, Uncertain Future. Edited with David Sorenson. Waterloo, 1990.
- The Uneasy Century: International Relations 1900–1990. Kendall/Hunt, 1996.
- Parties Long Estranged: Canada and Australia in the Twentieth Century. Co-authored with Francine McKenzie. University of British Columbia, 2003.
- Peacemakers: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War. John Murray 2001/2002/2003. ISBN 9780719559396
- Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World. Random House Publishing Group. 18 December 2007. ISBN 978-0-307-43296-4.
- Canada's House: Rideau Hall and the Invention of a Canadian Home. Co-authored with Marjorie Harris and Anne L. Desjardins. Knopf Canada, 2004
- Nixon in China: The Week That Changed the World. Viking Canada, 2006.
- Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World. Random House Trade Paperbacks. 11 March 2008. ISBN 978-0-8129-7057-9.
- The Uses and Abuses of History. Penguin Canada, 2008; The Uses and Abuses of History. Profile Books. 1 March 2010. ISBN 1-84668-210-X.
- Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History. Random House Publishing Group. 7 July 2009. ISBN 978-1-58836-768-6.
- Stephen Leacock. Penguin Group US. 31 March 2009. ISBN 978-0-14-317521-6.
- The War That Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War. London: Profile Books. 2013. ISBN 9781846682728.
- Canadian edition: The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914. Toronto: Penguin Canada. 2013. ISBN 9780670064045.
- U.S. edition: The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914. New York: Random House. 2013. ISBN 9781400068555.
- History's People: Personalities and the Past. CBC Massey Lectures. Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press. 2015. ISBN 978-1-4870-0005-9. OCLC 913612314.