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David Starkey

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Biography

David Robert Starkey, CBE, FSA (born 3 January 1945) is an English historian, a television and radio presenter, and a specialist in the Tudor period.

Starkey was born the only child of poor Quaker parents in Kendal, Westmorland (now Cumbria), England. He now resides in Barham, Kent. His mother, Elsie Lyon, a strong personality, had a powerful influence on Starkey’s formative years; he portrays his father, Robert Starkey, as a somewhat ineffectual man.

Despite suffering from physical disabilities, Starkey did well at school and won a scholarship to be at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, of which he is an Honorary Fellow. As a student at Cambridge, he fell under the influence of Professor G.R. Elton. According to Starkey, Elton provided the stern father figure he had never had, against whom to rebel.

From 1972 to 1998 Starkey taught history at the London School of Economics. During this period, he embarked on a career as a broadcaster, and soon acquired a reputation for abrasiveness, particularly on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, a debating programme, on which he was a ruthless interrogator of “witnesses” examining contemporary moral questions. In the 1990s he presented a current affairs phone-in show on Talk Radio UK (since relaunched as talkSPORT) where his manner with callers served to bolster his rebarbative reputation. However, the programme, which he described as “three hours of brainy barney” was extremely popular. His rudeness has been singled out by his detractors.

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