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Within the English Revolution of the mid-17th century which resulted in the triumph of the Protestant ethic - the ideology of the propertied class - there threatened another, quite different, revolution. Christopher Hill studies the beliefs of such radical groups as the Diggers, the Ranters, the Levellers and others, and the social and emotional impulses that gave rise to them. The relations between rich and poor classes, the part played by wandering "masterless" men, the outbursts of sexual freedom and deliberate blasphemy, the great imaginative creations of Milton and Bunyan - these and many other elements build up into a detailed portrait of this strange, sudden effusion of revolutionary beliefs. It is a portrait not of the bourgeois revolution that actually took place but of the impulse towards a far more fundamental overturning of society.
Christopher Hill was educated at St Peter's School, York, and at Balliol College, Oxford, and in 1934 was made a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. In 1936 he became lecturer in modern history at University College, Cardiff, and two years later fellow and tutor in modern history at Balliol. After war service, which included two years in the Russian department of the Foreign Office, he returned to Oxford in 1945. From 1958 until 1965 he was university lecturer in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century history, and from 1965 to 1978 he was Master of Balliol College. After leaving Balliol he was for two years a Visiting Professor at the Open University. Dr Hill, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the British Academy, has received numerous honorary degrees from British universities, as well as the Hon. Dr. Sorbonne Nouvelle in 1979. His publications include Lenin and the Russian Revolution; Puritanism and Revolution; Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England; Reformation to Industrial Revolution (second volume in the Penguin Economic History of Britain); God's Englishman: Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution; The World Turned Upside Down; Milton and the English Revolution, which won the Royal Society of Literature Award; The Experience of Defeat: Milton and Some Contemporaries; A Turbulent, Seditious and Factious People: John Bunyan and His Church, which won the 1989 W. H. Smith Literary Award; The English Bible and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution, which was shortlisted for the 1993 NCR Book Award; and Liberty against the Law. Many of these titles are published by Penguin. Dr Hill is married with two children.