John Hattendorf was born on 22 December 1941 in Western Springs, Illinois, USA, the ninth great-grandson of a member of the Plymouth Colony. He was educated at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, and then Kenyon College. In 1970 he graduated from the Frank C Munson Institute of American Maritime History at Mystic Seaport. He gained an MA at Brown University in 1971, completing his thesis on the history of grand strategic thinking and war gaming at the Naval College. In 1979 he completed a doctorate at Pembroke College Oxford with a thesis on English Grand Strategy in the War of the Spanish Succession, 1702-1712.
He served in the US Navy, after graduating from Kenyon College, for eight years, mainly in destroyers on operations off the coast of Vietnam. He also served ashore at the Naval History Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (1967-9) and at the Naval War College, where he served as a speech writer and research assistant to Vice Admiral Stansfield Turner, also teaching in the strategy and policy department.
He has spent most of his academic career at the US Naval War College, returning there in 1977. He taught Strategy and Policy. From 1988 to 2003 he directed their Advanced Research Department, where he oversees its research section and became the first chairman of War College Museum.. He has been visiting professor of history at the National University of Singapore, the German Armed Forces Military History Research Office, a senior associate member of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, a visiting Fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford. He has been an adjunct professor at the Frank C Munson Institute of American Maritime History since 1990, and served as its director from 1996 to 2001. Finally, he is “one of the most widely known and well respected naval historians in the world”.
Roger Knight was born on 11 April 1944 the son of a naval officer. He was educated at Tonbridge School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he received both a BA and an MA. He qualified as a teacher at the University of Sussex. He gained his PhD from University College, London with a thesis on “The Royal Dockyards in England at the time of the American war of Independence”. He started at the National Maritime Museum on 2 January 1974 and worked there for 20 years:
In 2001 he retired from the National Maritime Museum and moved across the road to become Visiting Professor of Naval History in the Greenwich Maritime Institute and taught MA and PhD students. In 2005 he was appointed Professor of Maritime History.
For his 2005 biography of Nelson Knight was awarded the Mountbatten Maritime Prize, the Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature and the Anderson Medal of the Society of Nautical Research. In June 2014 the National Maritime Museum presented him with its Caird Medal.
Alan Pearsall was born in Leeds on 14 November 1925 and worked for almost all of his working life at the National Maritime Museum. Professor Don Schurman, Canadian doyen of British imperial marine history wrote that over fifty years “the only person who understood perfectly the connection between the British Empire and the sea was Alan Pearsall. This reputation was based almost entirely on personal contact rather than the written word.. He was the source of last resort in two areas: the operational history of railways and especially railway ferries, and almost any aspect of naval history from the 17th to the 20th centuries. As ‘Historian’ at the Museum he acted as adviser, teacher and scholarly oracle to colleagues at Greenwich and to the wider specialist communities and information-seeking public the museum serves.
An education interrupted by illness, but mostly home educated by his Biology Professor father and his teacher mother, Pearsall served for four years in the war, mainly in the Indian Ocean. In 1946 he went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge to read History, and then began a (never finished) PhD at London University. He joined the NMM in September 1955. His output included specialist articles and reviews, a substantial museum pamphlet on the Second Dutch War, and contributions to the Society for Nautical Research and Navy Records Society (particularly the centenary volume – British Naval Documents, 1204 – 1960) publications. He revised many obscure naval lives for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Nicholas Rodger was born 12 November 1949 in Arundel, Sussex. Educated at Ampleforth College, and University College, Oxford, where he earned a PhD for his thesis on Naval Policy and cruiser design, 1865-1890. He served at the Public Records Office 1974-1991 as Assistant Keeper of Public Records, and resigned so as to start writing a Naval History of Britain, with the support of the National Maritime Museum, the Navy Records Society and the Society of Nautical Research. He was Anderson Senior Research Fellow 1992-98 at the National Maritime Museum. In 1999 he moved to Exeter University as Senior Lecturer and in 2000 became Professor of Naval History. In 2007 he was elected a Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He was Hon. Secretary of the Navy Records Society 1976-1990, a member of the Society of Antiquaries from 1985, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society from 1980 and a Fellow of the British Academy from 2003.
He is currently writing the third and final volume of his trilogy on British naval history. The first two volumes were both highly acclaimed. He was awarded the Julian Corbett Prize in Naval History in 1982, and in 2005 both the Duke of Westminster’s Gold Medal for Military Literature and the British Academy Book Prize. In 2011 he was named the first Hattendorf Prize Laureate.
Geoffrey Till was born in London on 14 January 1945 the son of an RAF pilot. He studied at King’s College, London, receiving his BA in 1966, completing his MA in 1968 and PhD in 1976 in the War Studies department there. He taught at BRNC, Dartmouth and City University London, and in 1983 was appointed as a visiting lecturer to King’s College, London. In 1989 he was appointed professor of history at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, also teaching at the Open University. He held a NATO Defence Fellowship, was a visiting scholar at the United States Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, and in 1989 held the Foundation Chair in Military Affairs at the United States Marine Corps University, Quantico. When the RNC, Greenwich, closed he moved to the Joint Services Command and Staff College, where he served as Dean of Academic Studies, a position he held concurrently with his KCL chair, and head of the Department of Defence Studies, until 2006 when he became a Fellow of KCL.
He has been Reviews Editor for The Journal of Strategic Studies since 1978, and General Editor of Brassey’s Seapower: Naval Vessels, Weapon Systems and Technology since 1987, and general editor of the Frank Cass series on naval policy and history.
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