As per our current Database, Alan John Percival Taylor has been died on 7 September 1990(1990-09-07) (aged 84)\nLondon, England.
When Alan John Percival Taylor die, Alan John Percival Taylor was 84 years old.
|Popular As||Alan John Percival Taylor|
|Occupation||Intellectuals & Academics|
|Age||84 years old|
|Born||March 25, 1906 (Birkdale, British)|
Alan John Percival Taylor’s zodiac sign is Aries. According to astrologers, the presence of Aries always marks the beginning of something energetic and turbulent. They are continuously looking for dynamic, speed and competition, always being the first in everything - from work to social gatherings. Thanks to its ruling planet Mars and the fact it belongs to the element of Fire (just like Leo and Sagittarius), Aries is one of the most active zodiac signs. It is in their nature to take action, sometimes before they think about it well.
Alan John Percival Taylor was born in the Year of the Horse. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Horse love to roam free. They’re energetic, self-reliant, money-wise, and they enjoy traveling, love and intimacy. They’re great at seducing, sharp-witted, impatient and sometimes seen as a drifter. Compatible with Dog or Tiger.
It's none of our business, as a group of scholars, to consider matters of this sort. The academy's only concern should be his scholarly credentials, which are unaffected by all this.
The issue of misinterpretation is also addressed in Gordan A. Craig's book Germany: 1866–1945, where it is argued that Taylor dismissed Hitler's foreign policy, as presented in Mein Kampf, and in particular, the remilitarisation of the Rhineland, as a jumble of idle thoughts written down under the impact of the French occupation of the Ruhr.
Taylor was born in 1906 in Birkdale, Southport, which was then part of Lancashire. His wealthy parents held left-wing views, which he inherited. Both his parents, Percy Lees and Constance Sumner (Thompson) Taylor, were pacifists who vocally opposed the First World War, and sent their son to Quaker schools as a way of protesting against the war. These schools included The Downs School at Colwall and Bootham School in York. Geoffrey Barraclough, a contemporary at Bootham School, remembered Taylor as "a most arresting, stimulating, vital personality, violently anti-bourgeois and anti-Christian". In 1924, he went to Oriel College, Oxford, to study modern history.
Taylor argued that the basic Problem with an interwar Europe was a flawed Treaty of Versailles that was sufficiently onerous to ensure that the overwhelming majority of Germans would always hate it, but insufficiently onerous in that it failed to destroy Germany's potential to be a Great Power once more. In this way, Taylor argued that the Versailles Treaty was destabilising, for sooner or later the innate power of Germany that the Allies had declined to destroy in 1918–1919 would inevitably reassert itself against the Versailles Treaty and the international system established by Versailles that the Germans regarded as unjust and thus had no interest in preserving. Though Taylor argued that the Second World War was not inevitable and that the Versailles Treaty was nowhere near as harsh as contemporaries like John Maynard Keynes believed, what he regarded as a flawed peace settlement made the war more likely than not.
In the 1920s, Taylor's mother, Constance, was a member of the Comintern while one of his uncles was a founder member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Constance was a suffragette, feminist, and advocate of free love who practised her teachings via a string of extramarital affairs, most notably with Henry Sara, a communist who in many ways became Taylor's surrogate father. Taylor has mentioned in his reminiscences that his mother was domineering, but his father enjoyed exasperating her by following his own ways. Taylor had a close relationship with his father, and enjoyed his father's quirkiness. Taylor himself was recruited into the Communist Party of Great Britain by a friend of the family, the military Historian Tom Wintringham, while at Oriel; a member from 1924 to 1926, he broke with the Party over what he considered to be its ineffective stand during the 1926 General Strike. After leaving, he was an ardent supporter of the Labour Party for the rest of his life, remaining a member for over sixty years. Despite his break with the Communist Party, he visited the Soviet Union in 1925, and again in 1934.
Taylor graduated from Oxford in 1927. After working briefly as a legal clerk, he began his post-graduate work, going to Vienna to study the impact of the Chartist movement on the Revolution of 1848. When this topic turned out not to be feasible, he switched to studying the question of Italian unification over a two-year period. This resulted in his first book, The Italian Problem in European Diplomacy, 1847–49 published in 1934.
Throughout his life, Taylor took public stands on the great issues of his time. In the early 1930s, he was in a left-wing pacifist group called the Manchester Peace Council, for which he frequently spoke in public. Until 1936, Taylor was an opponent of British rearmament as he felt that a re-armed Britain would ally itself with Germany against the Soviet Union. However, after 1936, he resigned from the Manchester Peace Council, urged British rearmament in the face of what Taylor considered to be the Nazi menace, and advocated an Anglo-Soviet alliance to contain Germany. After 1936, he also fervently criticised appeasement, a stance that he would disavow in 1961.
Starting in 1931, Taylor worked as book reviewer for the Manchester Guardian, and from 1957 he was a columnist with the Observer. In 1951 Taylor made his first move into mass-market journalism, spending just over a year as a columnist at the tabloid Sunday Pictorial, later renamed the Sunday Mirror. His first article was an attack on the stance of the United Nations during the Korean War, in which he argued that the UN was merely a front for American policy. After leaving the Sunday Pictorial in 1952, in the wake of Editor Philip Zec's dismissal, he began writing a weekly column the following year for the Daily Herald until 1956. From 1957 until 1982 he wrote for the Sunday Express, owned by his friend and patron Lord Beaverbrook. His first column for that paper was "Why Must We Soft-Soap The Germans?", in which he complained that the majority of Germans were still Nazis at heart and argued the European Economic Community was little more than an attempt by the Germans to achieve via trade what they failed to accomplish through arms in the First and Second World Wars. At a time when the relationship with the EEC was a major issue in Britain, Taylor's pro-Commonwealth Euroscepticism became a Common theme in many of his articles. Other frequent targets were the BBC, the anti-smoking lobby, and reversing his earlier stance, the motor car, with Taylor calling for all private motor vehicles to be banned.
In 1964 Taylor wrote the introduction for The Reichstag Fire by the Journalist Fritz Tobias. He thus became the first English-language Historian and the first Historian after Hans Mommsen to accept the conclusions of the book, that the Nazis had not set the Reichstag on fire in 1933 and that Marinus van der Lubbe had acted alone. Tobias and Taylor argued that the new Nazi government had been looking for something to increase its share of the vote in the elections of 5 March 1933, so as to activate the Enabling Act and that van der Lubbe had serendipitously (for the Nazis) provided it by burning down the Reichstag. Even without the Reichstag fire, the Nazis were quite determined to destroy German democracy. In Taylor's opinion, van der Lubbe had made their task easier by providing a pretext. Moreover, the German Communist propaganda chief Willi Münzenberg and his OGPU handlers had manufactured all of the evidence implicating the Nazis in the arson. In particular, Tobias and Taylor pointed out that the so-called "secret tunnels" that supposedly gave the Nazis access to the Reichstag were in fact tunnels for water piping. At the time Taylor was widely attacked by many other historians for endorsing what was considered to be a self-evident perversion of established historical facts.
Taylor's first book, published in 1934, addressed the question of Italian unification The Italian Problem in European Diplomacy, 1847–49 . However, Taylor's speciality was in Central European, British and diplomatic history. He was especially interested in the Habsburg dynasty and Bismarck. His main mentors in this period were the Austrian-born Historian Alfred Francis Pribram and the Polish-born Historian Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier. Taylor's earlier writings reflected Pribram's favourable opinion of the Habsburgs; however, his 1941 book The Habsburg Monarchy 1809–1918 (published in a revised edition in 1948) showed the influence of Namier's unfavourable views. In The Habsburg Monarchy, Taylor stated that the Habsburgs saw their realms entirely as a tool for foreign policy and thus could never build a genuine nation-state. To hold their realm together, they resorted to playing one ethnic group off against another and promoted German and Magyar hegemony over the other ethnic groups in Austria-Hungary.
In 1938, he denounced the Munich Agreement at several rallies and may have written several Leaders in the Manchester Guardian criticising it; later, he would compare the smaller number of Czechoslovak dead with the number of Polish dead. In October 1938, Taylor attracted particular controversy by a speech he gave at a dinner held every October to commemorate a protest by a group of Oxford dons against James II in 1688, an event that was an important prelude to the Glorious Revolution. He denounced the Munich Agreement and those who supported it, warning the assembled dons that if action were not taken immediately to resist Nazi Germany, then they might all soon be living under the rule of a much greater tyrant than James II. Taylor's speech was highly contentious, in part because in October 1938 the Munich Agreement was popular with the public even if subsequently it was to be reviled along with the policy of appeasement, and also because he used a non-partisan and non-political occasion to make a highly partisan, politically charged attack on government policy.
Taylor's thesis was that Hitler was not the demoniacal figure of popular imagination but in foreign affairs a normal German leader. Citing Fritz Fischer, he argued that the foreign policy of the Third Reich was the same as those of the Weimar Republic and the Second Reich. Moreover, in a partial break with his view of German history advocated in The Course of German History, he argued that Hitler was not just a normal German leader but also a normal Western leader. As a normal Western leader, Hitler was no better or worse than Gustav Stresemann, Neville Chamberlain or Édouard Daladier. His argument was that Hitler wished to make Germany the strongest power in Europe but he did not want or plan war. The outbreak of war in 1939 was an unfortunate accident caused by mistakes on everyone's part and was not a part of Hitler's plan.
Throughout his life, Taylor was sympathetic to the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, and after 1941 he was overjoyed to have the Soviet Union as Britain's ally, as this was the realisation of his Desire for an Anglo-Soviet alliance. The Second World War further increased Taylor's pro-Soviet feelings, as he was always profoundly grateful for the Red Army's role in destroying Nazi Germany. Despite his pro-Soviet views he was strongly critical of Stalinism, and in 1948 he attended and did his best to sabotage a Stalinist cultural congress in Wrocław, Poland. His speech, which was broadcast live on Polish radio and via speakers on the streets of Wrocław, about the right of everyone to hold different views from those who hold power, was enthusiastically received by the delegates and was met with thunderous applause. The speech was clearly intended as a rebuttal of a speech given by the Soviet Writer Alexander Fadeyev the previous day, who had demanded obedience on the part of everyone to Joseph Stalin.
The Second World War gave Taylor the opportunity to branch out from print journalism, initially into radio and then later television. On 17 March 1942 Taylor made the first of seven appearances on The World at War – Your Questions Answered broadcast by BBC Forces' Radio. After the war Taylor became one of the first television historians. His appearances began with his role as a panellist on the BBC's In The News from 1950 to 1954. Here he was noted for his argumentative style, and in one episode he declined to acknowledge the presence of the other panellists. The press came to refer to him as the "sulky don" and in 1954 he was dropped. From 1955 Taylor was a panellist on ITV's rival discussion programme Free Speech, where he remained until the series ended in 1961. In 1957, 1957–1958 and 1961 he made a number of half-hour programmes on ITV in which he lectured without notes on a variety of topics, such as the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the First World War. These were huge ratings successes. Despite earlier strong feelings against the BBC, he lectured for a BBC historical series in 1961 and made more series for it in 1963, 1976, 1977 and 1978. He also hosted additional series for ITV in 1964, 1966 and 1967. In Edge of Britain in 1980 he toured the towns of northern England. Taylor's final TV appearance was in the series How Wars End in 1985, where the effects of Parkinson's disease on him were apparent.
Taylor held fierce Germanophobic views. In 1944, he was temporarily banned from the BBC following complaints about a series of lectures he gave on air in which he gave full vent to his anti-German feelings. In his 1945 book, The Course of German History, he argued that National Socialism was the inevitable product of the entire history of the Germans going back to the days of the Germanic tribes. He was an early champion of what has since been called the Sonderweg (Special Way) interpretation of German history, that German culture and society developed over the centuries in such a way as to make Nazi Germany inevitable. Moreover, he argued that there was a symbiotic relationship between Hitler and the German people, with Adolf Hitler needing the Germans to fulfil his dreams of conquest and the German people needing Hitler to fulfil their dreams of subjugation of their neighbours. In particular, he accused the Germans of waging an endless Drang nach Osten against their Slavic neighbours since the days of Charlemagne. For Taylor, Nazi racial imperialism was a continuation of policies pursued by every German ruler. The Course of German History was a best-seller in both the United Kingdom and the United States; it was the success of this book that made Taylor's reputation in the United States. Its success also marked the beginning of the breach between Taylor and his mentor Namier, who wanted to write a similar book. By the 1950s, relations between Taylor and Namier had noticeably cooled and in his 1983 autobiography, A Personal History, Taylor, though acknowledging a huge intellectual debt to Namier, portrayed him as a pompous bore.
After 1945, he was very disappointed to see Britain choose the United States, not the Soviet Union, as its major ally. As a socialist, Taylor saw the capitalist system as wrong on practical and moral grounds, although he rejected the Marxist view that capitalism was responsible for wars and conflicts. He felt that the status quo in the West was highly unstable and prone to accidents, and prevented a just and moral international system from coming into being. Moreover, Taylor was enraged by the decision of the Western powers, which he blamed on the US, to re-build and establish the West German state in the late 1940s, which Taylor saw as laying the foundations for a Fourth Reich that would one day plunge the world back into war.
In 1950 he was again temporarily banned by the BBC when he attempted to deliver a radio address against British participation in the Korean War. After a public outcry, the BBC relented and allowed him to deliver his address. In 1956 Taylor demonstrated against the Suez War, though not the Soviet crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, which he believed had saved Hungary from a return to the rule of Admiral Miklós Horthy. He also championed Israel, which he saw as a model socialist democracy threatened by reactionary Arab dictatorships. Taylor was also opposed to, and condemned, the US intervention in the Vietnam War.
Taylor lived for a while in Disley, Cheshire, where Dylan Thomas (who was his first wife's lover) was his guest; he later provided Thomas with a cottage in Oxford so that he could recover from a breakdown. His second wife was Eve Crosland, whom Taylor married in 1951 and divorced in 1974; he had two children by her. Even after divorcing Margaret Adams, Taylor continued to live with her, while maintaining a household with Eve. His third wife was the Hungarian Historian Éva Haraszti, whom he married in 1976.
Taylor has been credited with coining the term "the Establishment" in a 1953 book review, but this is disputed. On 29 August 1953, in reviewing a biography of william Cobbett in New Statesman, Taylor wrote "The Establishment draws in recruits from outside as soon as they are ready to conform to its standards and become respectable. There is nothing more agreeable in life than to make peace with the Establishment — and nothing more corrupting."
In 1954 he published his masterpiece, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918 and followed it up with The Trouble Makers in 1957, a critical study of British foreign policy. The Trouble Makers was a celebration of those who had criticised the government over foreign policy, a subject dear to his heart. The Trouble Makers had originally been the Ford Lectures in 1955 and was his favourite book by far. When invited to deliver the Ford Lectures, he was initially at a loss for a topic, and it was his friend Alan Bullock who suggested the topic of foreign policy dissent.
The recurring theme of accidents deciding history appeared in Taylor's best-selling 1955 biography of Bismarck. Taylor controversially argued that the Iron Chancellor had unified Germany more by accident than by design; a theory that contradicted those put forward by the historians Heinrich von Sybel, Leopold von Ranke, and Heinrich von Treitschke in the latter years of the 19th century, and by other historians more recently.
The origins of the dispute went back to 1957 when the Regius Professorship for History at Oxford was vacant. Despite their divergent political philosophies, Taylor and Trevor-Roper had been friends since the early 1950s, but with the possibility of the Regius Professorship, both men lobbied for it. The Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan awarded the chair to the Tory Trevor-Roper rather than the Labourite Taylor. In addition, a number of the other Oxford dons had felt that Taylor's profile in journalism was "demeaning" to the historian's craft and had lobbied against him.
The Origins of the Second World War was received negatively by some quarters when it was published in 1961. The book set off a huge storm of controversy and debate that lasted for years. At least part of the vehement criticism was due to the confusion in the public's mind between Taylor's book and another book published in 1961, Der Erzwungene Krieg (The Forced War) by the American Historian David Hoggan. Taylor criticised Hoggan's thesis that Germany was the innocent victim of an Anglo-Polish conspiracy in 1939 as nonsense but many critics confused Taylor's thesis with Hoggan's. Most of the criticism was over Taylor's arguments for appeasement as a rational political strategy, his mechanistic portrayal of a world destined for another world war by post-war settlement of 1918–1919, his depiction of the Second World War as an "accident" caused by diplomatic blunders, his portrayal of Hitler as a "normal leader" and what many considered his flippant dismissal of Nazi ideology as a motivating force. Leading the charge against Taylor was his arch-enemy Trevor-Roper, who contended that Taylor had wilfully and egregiously misinterpreted the evidence. In particular, Trevor-Roper criticised Taylor's argument that the Hossbach Memorandum of 1937 was a meaningless document because none of the scenarios outlined in the Memorandum as the prerequisite for war such as the Spanish Civil War leading to a war between Italy and France in the Mediterranean or civil war breaking out in France occurred. In Trevor-Roper's opinion, what really mattered about the Hossbach Memorandum was that Hitler clearly expressed an intention to go to war sooner rather than later and it was Hitler's intentions rather than his plans at the time which mattered. However, in the newest edition of the book, Taylor argues that the significant parts, if not the whole, of the memorandum are in fact fabrications. Other historians who criticised The Origins of the Second World War included; Isaac Deutscher, Louis Morton, Barbara Tuchman, Ian Morrow, Gerhard Weinberg, G.F. Hudson, Elizabeth Wiskemann, W.N. Medlicott, Tim Mason, John Lukacs, Karl Dietrich Bracher, Frank Freidel, Harry Hinsley, John Wheeler-Bennett, Golo Mann, Lucy Dawidowicz, Gordon A. Craig, A. L. Rowse, Raymond Sontag, Andreas Hillgruber and Yehuda Bauer. Rowse, who had once been a close friend of Taylor's, attacked him with an intensity and vehemence that was second only to Trevor-Roper's. In addition, several historians wrote books on the origins of the Second World War with the aim of refuting Taylor's thesis. Taylor was angered by some of the criticism, especially the implication that he had set out to exonerate Hitler, writing that "to the best of my recollection, those who now display indignation against me were not active [against appeasement] on the public platform." Some notable examples include Gerhard Weinberg's two-volume The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany and Andreas Hillgruber's Deutschlands Rolle in der Vorgeschichte der beiden Weltkriege, translated as Germany And The Two World Wars.
As angry as the reaction in Britain was to The Origins of the Second World War, it was greater when the book was published in January 1962 in the United States. With the exception of Harry Elmer Barnes, every American Historian who reviewed Taylor's book gave it a negative review. Perhaps ironically, Taylor had indirectly criticised Barnes when he wrote contemptuously of certain self-styled American Revisionist historians whose work Taylor characterised as marked by obsessive loathing for their own country, nostalgia for isolationism, hatred for the New Deal and a tendency to engage in bizarre conspiracy theories. Despite the best efforts of Barnes and his protégé David Hoggan to recruit Taylor to their cause, Taylor always made clear that he wanted nothing to do with either Barnes or Hoggan.
Taylor also wrote significant introductions to British editions of Marx's The Communist Manifesto and of Ten Days that Shook the World, by John Reed. He had long been an advocate of a treaty with the Soviet Union so British Communists expected him to be friendly. In 1963, the British Communist Party, which held the copyright to Ten Days that Shook the World in the United Kingdom, offered Taylor the opportunity to write the introduction to a new edition. The introduction Taylor wrote was fairly sympathetic towards the Bolsheviks. However, it also pointed out certain contradictions between Reed's book and the official historiography in the Soviet Union—for instance, that Leon Trotsky played a very prominent, heroic role in Ten Days That Shook The World while in 1963 Trotsky was almost a non-person in Soviet historiography, mentioned only in terms of abuse. The British Communist Party rejected Taylor's introduction as anti-Soviet. The rejection annoyed Taylor. When the copyright expired in 1977 and a non-Communist publisher reissued the book, asking Taylor to write the introduction, he strengthened some of his criticisms. Taylor also wrote the introduction for Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain by Len Deighton.
In 1964, while he retained his college fellowship, the University of Oxford declined to renew Taylor's appointment as a university lecturer in modern history. This apparently sudden decision came in the aftermath of the controversy around his book The Origins of the Second World War. Moving to London, he became a lecturer at the Institute of Historical Research at University College London and also at the Polytechnic of North London.
In 1965 he rebounded from the controversy surrounding The Origins of the Second World War with the Spectacular success of his book English History 1914–1945, his only venture into social and cultural history, where he offered a loving, affectionate portrayal of the years between 1914 and 1945. English History 1914–1945 was an enormous best-seller and in its first year in print sold more than all of the previous volumes of the Oxford History of England combined. Though he felt there was much to be ashamed of in British history, especially in regard to Ireland, he was very proud to be British and more specifically English. He was fond of stressing his nonconformist Northern English background and saw himself as part of a grand tradition of radical dissent that he regarded as the real glorious history of England.
In 1967, Taylor wrote an article for the Sunday Express in which he argued that speed limits had made absolutely no positive difference to road safe and that 'on the contrary, [speed limits] tend to increase the risks and dangers'. Taylor went on to claim 'I have been driving a care for 45 years. I have consistently ignored all the various speed limits. Never once have I encountered the slightest risk as a result'. The article caused a member of the public to lodged a complaint with the Press Council, on the grounds that Taylor's remarks 'amount[ed] to an indirect incitement to drivers to break the law'. The Council eventually rejected the complaint and ruled that 'while Mr Taylor's views are controversial, he has an unchallengeable right to express them'.
In his 1969 book War by Timetable, Taylor examined the origins of the First World War, concluding that though all of the great powers wished to increase their own power relative to the others, none consciously sought war before 1914. Instead, he argued that all of the great powers believed that if they possessed the ability to mobilise their armed forces faster than any of the others, this would serve as a sufficient deterrent to avoid war and allow them to achieve their foreign policy. Thus, the general staffs of the great powers developed elaborate timetables to mobilise faster than any of their rivals. When the crisis broke in 1914, though none of the statesmen of Europe wanted a world war, the need to mobilise faster than potential rivals created an inexorable movement towards war. Thus Taylor claimed that the Leaders of 1914 became prisoners of the logic of the mobilisation timetables and the timetables that were meant to serve as deterrent to war instead relentlessly brought war.
His narratives used irony and humour to entertain as well as inform. He examined history from odd angles, exposing what he considered to be the pomposities of various historical characters. He was famed for "Taylorisms": witty, epigrammatic, and sometimes cryptic remarks that were meant to expose what he considered to be the absurdities and paradoxes of modern international relations. An Example is in his television piece Mussolini (1970), in which he said the dictator "kept up with his work — by doing none." Or, about Metternich's political philosophies: "Most men could do better while shaving". His determination to bring history to everyone drove his frequent appearances on radio and later on television. He was also careful to puncture any aura of infallibility that historians might have. On one occasion when asked what he thought the Future might bring, he replied "Dear boy, you should never ask an Historian to predict the Future – frankly we have a hard enough time predicting the past."
In an interview with Irish State radio in April 1976, Taylor argued that the British presence in Northern Ireland was perpetuating the conflict there. Taylor claimed the best solution would be for an "armed push" by the Irish nationalists to drive out the one million Ulster Protestants from Ireland. He cited as a successful precedent the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. On the threat of civil war should Britain quit Ireland, Taylor answered: "What we have, after all, is an incipient civil war. To put it brutally, if there were a civil war in Northern Ireland, and I am not convinced that there would be, quite a lot of people would be killed and the war would be decided within a few months. Spread over the years, probably more people have been killed".
In 1979, Taylor resigned in protest from the British Academy over its dismissal of Anthony Blunt, who had been exposed as a Soviet spy. Taylor took the position that,
Taylor was fearless in championing unpopular people and causes. In 1980, he resigned from the British Academy in protest against the expulsion of the art Historian and Soviet spy Anthony Blunt, which he saw as an act of McCarthyism. Closer to his work as a Historian, Taylor championed less government secrecy and, paradoxically for a staunch leftist, fought for more privately owned television stations. His experiences with being banned by the BBC had led him to appreciate the value of having many broadcasters. In regard to government archives, Taylor took part in a successful attempt to lobby the British government to replace the 100-year rule with a 30-year rule.
Another frequent sparring partner on TV for Taylor was the Writer Malcolm Muggeridge. The frequent television appearances helped to make Taylor the most famous British Historian of the 20th century. It was a measure of his fame that he was featured in a cameo in the 1981 film Time Bandits. Another foray into the world of entertainment occurred in the 1960s when he served as the historical consultant for both the stage and film versions of Oh, What a Lovely War! Though he possessed great charm and charisma and a sense of humour, as he aged he presented himself as, and came to be seen as, cantankerous and irascible.
Taylor was badly injured in 1984 when he was run over by a car while crossing Old Compton Street in London. The effect of the accident led to his retirement in 1985. In his last years, he endured Parkinson's disease, which left him incapable of writing. His last public appearance was at his 80th birthday, in 1986, when a group of his former students, including Sir Martin Gilbert, Alan Sked, Norman Davies and Paul Kennedy, organised a public reception in his honour. He had, with considerable difficulty, memorised a short speech, which he delivered in a manner that managed to hide the fact that his memory and mind had been permanently damaged by Parkinson's disease.
In 1987, he entered a nursing home in Barnet, London, where he died on 7 September 1990 aged 84. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.
Though Taylor normally preferred to portray Leaders as fools blundering their way forward, it is fair to add that he did think that individuals sometimes could play a positive role in history—his heroes were Vladimir Lenin and David Lloyd George. But for Taylor, people like Lloyd George and Lenin were the exceptions. Despite Taylor's increasing ambivalence toward appeasement from the late 1950s, which became explicitly evident in his 1961 book Origins of the Second World War, Winston Churchill remained another of his heroes. In English History 1914–1945 (1965) he famously concluded his biographical footnote of Churchill with the phrase "the savior of his country." Another person Taylor admired was the Historian E. H. Carr, who was his favourite Historian and a good friend.