Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and ideas of one of the great historians, best known for his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (published 1776-89). According to Gibbon (1737-94) , the idea for this work came to him on 15th of October 1764 as he sat musing amidst the ruins of Rome, while barefooted friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter. Decline and Fall covers thirteen centuries and is an enormous intellectual undertaking and, on publication, it became a phenomenal success across Europe.
The image above is of Edward Gibbon by Henry Walton, oil on mahogany panel, 1773.
The Thomas Wharton Professor of English Literature at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford
Lecturer in English at University College London
Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford
Producer: Simon Tillotson