Richard Drayton

Rhodes Professor of Imperial History

King's College London

Richard Drayton was born in Guyana and grew up in Barbados, where he went to school at Harrison College. He left the Caribbean as a Barbados Scholar to Harvard University, going then to Yale, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation under the direction of Paul Kennedy and Frank Turner. He also spent two years as a graduate student at Balliol College, Oxford as the Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholar. In 1992 he first came to Cambridge as a Research Fellow of St Catharine's College, moving back to Oxford in 1994 to be Darby Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Lincoln College. After 1998, he was Associate Professor of British History at the University of Virginia. In 2001, he returned to Cambridge as University Lecturer in Imperial and extra-European History since 1500, and as Fellow and Director of Studies in History at Corpus Christi College. In 2002 he was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize for History. He was Visiting Professor of History at Harvard University in Spring 2009. He came to King's as Rhodes Professor in 2009.

Drayton's research focuses on how empires shape economy, society, politics, and culture at both their centres and peripheries; how ideas and sensibility have a Weberian long durée, and how, reciprocally, material facts-- in particular nature, technology, and economy -- order culture and feeling; the British Empire (from Tudor expansion to decolonisation), and the impact of imperial expansion on the British isles; French expansion and its impact on economy and society (c. 1500-1850); and the History of the Caribbean, in particular its intellectual life (both elite and ‘from below’) since 1800.