COPYRIGHT and what this blog is about


Welcome to this site.

Please do not quote material by Arnold (Joseph) Toynbee or others which is not in the public domain without permission from the copyright holder. Material written by me is copyright.

This blog generates no revenue for me or for anyone. It presents a tiny part of Toynbee’s œuvre in a fragmented form.

It contains no links to sites offering illegal downloads of books.

I hope that it will support Oxford University Press by helping to revive interest in his forgotten work. I was in discussion with them in 2008.

Material by Toynbee is quoted solely for

  • educational and scholarly purposes and
  • purposes of criticism, review, illustration and comment.

It would be appreciated if any questions about copyright were sent to me directly at david derrick one word [at the rate of] y___o [dot] c__ or posted below.

This blog is about

Letting air into the longest book in the English language, and some of its companions, via extracts and commentary.

With digressions, and apologies to the late Ray Bradbury for the title.


I live in London, am not a historian and can be contacted below and at david derrick one word [at the rate of] y___o [dot] c__.


In regular posts, quotations from Toynbee’s books do not have a grey line in the margin.

My words, and everything I quote that isn’t Toynbee, do have a grey line.

The book or other material by Toynbee from which I have quoted is identified at the end of a post, after my own commentary and images.

The Study

Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History was published between 1934 and 1961.

There are ten volumes in the main series, an Historical Atlas and Gazetteer, done with Edward D Myers, and a twelfth volume, answering his critics, called Reconsiderations.

(My set – second editions of the first three volumes, first of the rest – has 7,315 pages. They are not necessarily the editions from which I quote.)

Noel Annan, Manchester Guardian Weekly, October 21 1954:

“How fortunate for us that A Study of History, one of the most striking analyses of life in our times, has been written by a man of such humanity and wisdom and with such a passion for inquiry. Today one feeling for his thirty years’ labour must predominate. Admiration for an achievement which has made his name a household word and history something new and exciting to countless people who needed a wider horizon than the old European landscape. Admiration for the tenacity in completing a task from which he has not permitted war or private troubles to deflect him. Admiration for his humanism, for his sympathy for ages and peoples long departed from this earth, and for his magnificent feat of synthesizing such diverse and intractable material. The scholar’s calling is, after all, to create order where none before existed; and to that calling Professor Toynbee has been faithful.”

Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Prophet, New York Review of Books, October 12 1989:

“A monument of wasted erudition.”

Scope of the blog

This is a page. Pages are listed top left. Normal entries are posts. All posts and pages are works in progress.

The blog is a dialogue with, or interrogation of, a half-forgotten and rather unfashionable master. I nearly always quote from the full Study. Half the fun is lost in the abridgements.

I add commentary. Most of the blog deconstructs Toynbee by presenting him without the laws and without the systems. That may seem too light-handed and forgiving, and to be avoiding the point, but much remains when you have done that. His fiercest post-war critics were judging the whole (sometimes the abridgements), or large parts, and the further away you stand from this canvas, the harsher your judgment is likely to be. The charm is in the detail. I’ll often choose lighter or shorter passages, low-hanging fruit, for lack of time to work on more difficult ones (the journalism and travel writings are sometimes light to a fault). Quoting in blog-sized extracts itself breaks up long passages. This is a mosaic or collage.

The Category called A Study of History may eventually contain my own synopsis of the Study. It already contains a digest of the Caplan abridgement in Toynbee-Caplan’s own words, some arguments of Toynbee’s critics, and passages in which Toynbee writes about the gestation of the Study, defines his technical terms, or summarises his theories. (A list of early criticisms appears top left here, under Criticism.)

I will try to see whether or how convincingly Toynbee dealt with particular criticisms by juxtaposing their texts with his replies in Reconsiderations.

A post called Toynbee contains early thoughts I found myself delivering in an argument with some colleagues several years before I started the blog, though I have revised it since then.

The blog’s sources are printed and online material. I have not visited archives in person. I make the reverse of the usual disclaimer: mistakes are likely to be in my sources. If they are mine, they are when I make an assumption or draw a conclusion about something I know little about.

Some posts have nothing to do with Toynbee, but take a wide Toynbeean view or are elementary summaries of a historical subject or link to more substantial things.

I use Wikipedia constantly, but critically. I usually don’t cite it, or Britannica, as a source.

Post about music in this blog.

There is a Bibliography: link on the left.

Searches do not pick up words in Comments.

More on layout and conventions

1. Quotations from Toynbee’s books, and his words taken from other sources, are not indented in posts. The few pictures which are not indented are taken from his books.

2. My words, and everything I quote that isn’t from those sources, are indented and greyed and have a grey line in the margin. Illustrations that I select are similarly indented. Embedded video and Flickr, however, are not.

Text-displaying software that eliminates the grey line will make nonsense of the blog.

Indented passages are usually ideas or facts or interpretations which I contribute, not summaries of omitted passages by Toynbee. Sometimes an indented greyed passage may appear to break what is really a single paragraph by Toynbee into two paragraphs. My shorter interpolations are in square brackets within the body of an extract.

Quotations from non-Toynbee sources are placed within double quotation marks, except sometimes when a poem is quoted in a Comment.

In order to keep style conventions as simple as possible in my own passages, I show article, as well as book, names in italics. (But not names of newspapers and institutions, even if the institution has a non-English name.)

Book reference styles:

A Study of History, Vol X, OUP, 1954

Micah Clarke 1889 (Monmouth Rebellion 1685)

Arthur Conan Doyle, Micah Clarke (1889)

Arthur Conan Doyle, Micah Clarke, Longmans, Green, and Co, 1889

4 vols (in list), four volumes (in sentence), Vol IV

Place of publication is London unless otherwise stated.

I use Comments for my afterthoughts and anyone else’s feedback.

3. Titles of posts do not normally quote Toynbee.

4. I follow the spelling, punctuation, diacritical-mark and other conventions of the published texts, which aren’t consistent from book to book or with my own conventions.

But I use double quotation marks (American-style) where Toynbee’s publishers do not and I standardise the way dots and dashes are displayed. And in reproducing the Study’s tables of contents (link top left), I have had to impose one or two conventions of my own in order to make a complex list comprehensible on-screen.

Until March 9 2011 I had shown the Arabic ayin letter, which should be romanised as ʿ (ie an upside-down opening inverted comma, neither a 6 nor a 9), as ‘ (ie a right way up inverted comma or a 6). Thus ʿIrāq became ‘Irāq. I am correcting old posts if I revisit them. Some printed texts do not use the ayin. I may use it even if they do not.

5. […] means that I have omitted something.

I may not show that my quotation has begun other than at the beginning of a printed passage or broken off before the end, or that I have truncated a printed passage’s opening sentence. Once, in “The view from 1897”, I have taken part of an omitted passage and inserted it at a later point in the extract.

An extract may include some, all or none of the original footnotes. I don’t indicate an omission if I leave out a footnote in its entirety. I usually omit mere cross-references to other parts of the Study.

The twelve volumes of the Study are, not least, an astonishing feat by OUP of (not particularly beautiful) typographic layout. One wonders whether anything as complex could even be done nowadays. There are few misprints. Where they are obvious, I correct them, if I notice them, without comment.

6. Extracts are taken from the printed books or from images of the original printed pages, or from EWF Tomlin’s Toynbee anthology, which I take to be reliable.

I do not link to online versions of any Toynbee texts except The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which is a collection of documents edited and presented by Toynbee.

I refer to the first edition of a book by Toynbee when stating my source. In some cases my actual source is a later edition or impression. In a very few cases, the passage will have been revised.

7. Some of Toynbee’s post-war travel writings are based on articles sent to The Observer. In A Journey to China (1931), he relies on pieces sent to various publications. I mention pre-book sources when I quote from the China book, but not when quoting from the later books or non-travel books.

8. Where a Greek or Latin, or German or French, passage is given in English translation and Toynbee does not state the translator, there is a good chance that the translation is by him.

9. Most images for which I do not mention a source are from Wikimedia Commons. They are not, unless I say so, taken from printed texts which I am quoting. Photographs aren’t taken by me unless I say they are.

10. Embedded video sometimes stops functioning. I try to re-embed it or something similar when the material returns.

11. I try to correct my mistakes and to change pretentious or unclear or bumptious posts. It bothers me that they might get seen before I do that, but I doubt that it bothers anyone else.

Blogs are unflattering mirrors. Or fires onto which you have to keep tossing logs, since nothing is as dead as an untended blog.

[In progress]

30 Responses to “COPYRIGHT and what this blog is about”

  1. Kevin Whitefoot Says:

    Just thought I’d wish you luck in your endeavour. I only have Somervell’s abridged version which I think is quite an achievement by itself. I’m looking forward to browsing here. I landed here purely by accident, one of those serendipitous search engine accidents.

  2. murray Says:

    Reading the Study of History for the first time, I’m in the middle of vol.VII now, and loving the experience. I liken it to eating a gourmet multi-course meal. I am eager to read the final volumes, especially where he looks at the prospects of our current civilization (it seems to me that the 20th century, beginning with WWI, was our time of troubles and we are now on the verge of our Universal State).

    It is nice to find someone else with an enthusiasm for this magnificent work. I look forward to browsing your blog.

  3. Matthew Hirsh Says:

    I wish you the best of luck with this ambitious project.

    I have recently finished S.O.H. 1-9 and am currently reading Geyl’s Debates w/ Historians.

    I have a quick question. I have spent a year trying to track down a copy of S.O.H. vol XI. Does anyone know how to find a copy?

  4. davidderrick Says:

    Thank you. Ambitious and not even begun as far as the synopsis goes!

    For Vol XI, try searching for the Historical Atlas and Gazetteer, which is what it is. As historical atlases go, it is not great, as in black and white only and hard to read.

  5. gidon Says:


    I’ve created a website where I’m putting together all the historical podcasts. I’m making pages for specific historical figures, and putting on each page all of the relevant episodes for that figure from the different podcasts.

    I would love it if you could link to my site as I have covered many ancient historical figures. I’m currently adding one or two figures each day.

    thanks! let me know what you think!


  6. davidderrick Says:

    Interesting. I tried one or two links which had expired, but will spend longer with it.

  7. I’m not a historian either. I’m grateful that Google Alerts led me to this blog that makes Arnold J. Toynbee’s Study of History more accessible. Thanks, David!

    It was a primary school teacher who first asked me if I am related to Arnold Toynbee. Later I found out that Toynbees all over the world would write to him asking that same question. We now have a FamilyTree Y-DNA surname project to confirm our lineage.

  8. davidderrick Says:

    “Longest book in the English language” is a risky statement, but not easy to disprove. The biography of Churchill begun by his son and continued by Martin Gilbert (8 vols, 1966-89) may be longer – and is certainly the longest biography. Composite works intentionally by more than one author clearly do not count, or the Cambridge History of China would be a contender and so would the vast book, also from that press, inspired, edited and partly written by Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China.

  9. davidderrick Says:

    Serge Thion writes:

    Dear Mr Derrick

    First of all, I have to express a deep gratitude for what you are doing with this Toynbee Convector. Years ago, I did some research on the Net to find documents on Toynbee and I got the feeling that he was forgotten, or worse, obliterated. And then, I find your treasure trove. Thanks.

    Some words on me: I am a french scholar committed to several paths of research in history and politics. I read the one volume compendium of Toynbee in French, with a passion, in my first university year. That must have been around 1960. This was a very exciting adventure. A year later, I found myself in the streets of Cairo, at a time where there were no tourists in Egypt. It had been difficult to get a visa. But Egypt was a dream of my childhood. At the time, bookshops were empty, but books were sold on the sidewalks, at some precise locations in town. I bought, among many items, a blue booklet, signed by Toynbee. It was a collection of his sentences, dealing with Palestine. It was published by the Arab League, or some sort of like institution. It opened my mind: I had never thought the coming of Jews to Palestine could be objected. I was naive and ignorant, of course, but I owe to Toynbee the beginning of a critical view, which I am enlarging and deepening 45 years later, in an endless process. Unfortunately I lost this brochure and I would be delighted to find it again. The Egyptian authorities were kind enough to allow me to visit the Gaza Strip, then under their occupation. For a week, I talked with the Palestinian refugees, living there on the beach, and they gave me a great lesson of living history, humanity and compassion. In the West, the word “Palestinian” was taboo.

    Extracts I read on your blog leave me hungry. Is there a way to identify works where I could retrieve Toynbee thoughts and reflections on Palestine and the terrible consequences of the Balfour Declaration ? I believe the blue booklet had more…

    All the very best
    Serge Thion
    former fellow of the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris.

    … Published with permission. Wikipedia’s rather inadequate article about Serge Thion is here. There is material on this blog about Toynbee’s views on the Palestine question, and on Egypt, and on the killings of previously-present Americans by Anglo-Saxons, and much on his writings about the killings of Armenians by Turks. Use the search box or click on a relevant Category.

    Serge Thion took part in President Ahmadinejad’s conference in Tehran last year which questioned the historical truth of the Jewish holocaust. I mentioned this conference here.

  10. John Reilly Says:


    A most excellent idea for a blog. I will do you a backlink from my own.

  11. Justin Russell Says:

    Hi David,

    I’ve recently discovered your blog after looking into the work of Toynbee. Having long ago read, and promptly forgotten, the story named for him by Ray Bradbury, I have re-discovered many references to his output and found myself quite intrigued.
    I’ve just bought a full unabridged set of A Study of History and I shall be diving into it soon.
    I will be checking back regularly to read new post entries from you.

  12. dino Says:

    Wow!! A blog on Toynbee ! I look forward to browsing. I’m on my second read of the SOH (first one was many years ago). I’ve googled him before but not found this site.
    Well done mr Derrick!

  13. Keep doing valuable work!

  14. good blog. I am also writing history and will enjoy following your blogs.

  15. frank Vatai Says:

    Mr. Derrick,

    Regina Press has just published a book I compiled of the articles of Thomas W. Africa. Africa is one of the best and liveliest classical historians of his generation with wide ranging interests. These include Toynbee. The book, A Historian’s Palette: Studies in Greeek and Roman History contain six articles about the historian, and Toynbee is mentioned in a some of the others. I may be biased here as I received my Ph.D under Africa, but these are some of the best and most insightful things ever written about AJT. Africa can be critical of Toynbee sometimes, but he is always respectful. I note that you review books occasionally. Would you be interested in receiving a copy for review from Regina Press? I think both the reviewer and your readers would be interested in what Africa has to say about the great megahistorian, and, as a bonus there are Africa’s other articles to read, in Peter Green’s words, “incisive, penetrating and robustly commonsensical” One last request: if you know of any journals that would be interested in this work’s combination of articles about antiquity and Toynbee, I would appreciate their names.

    With kind regards,
    Frank L. Vatai

  16. davidderrick Says:


    I would love to review this book and thank you for drawing my attention to it. I know only one Africa article, which is in a 1989 compilation about Toynbee. It would be great if you have a review copy and can send it to me, failing which I will try to get hold of it anyway. I will email you my address. I don’t have any good ideas about journals.


  17. davidderrick Says:

    My favourite spam comment:

    “An impressive share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!”


    “Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get something done.”

  18. R. Poirier Says:

    Dear Sir,
    Lawrence Toynbee, son of Arnold Toynbee, would have been the copyright holder of the unnabridged version, but he passed away in 2002, then aged 79 (he left a wife, who survived him, and six children at that time).
    Do you know who is the copyright holder, today?


  19. davidderrick Says:

    Email reply to a reader yesterday on the style of this blog: “I’m afraid my blog is rather unambitious when I am busy. […] Unpretentious, I hope. I hate my own opinions unless offered very sparingly, and usually pare them down. But I think of [it] as a single, long river, with everything connected.”

  20. Ambassador Toheed Ahmad Says:

    I dropped in on your passionate blog as I was researching for material for an article I am writing for a local journal. Toynbee has been my passion too since college days. Having retired from Pakistan Foreign Service recently I now have time to dust off my books and to delve into works like Study of History. Your blog will be my companion. Thanks.

  21. Mikaela Says:

    Hi, I am doing a school project, a documentary about the reefs, and was wondering if I can have your permission to use your “rama’s bridge”-picture.

    Of course you will get credits for it.

    E-mail me on:

  22. Karl Hutchison Says:

    Mr. Derrick, I must say your blog is a wonderful discovery for me. I am about three-quarters through the Somervell abridgement, and went to Google to learn more about the Oxus-Jaxartes Basin; and I stumble upon a blog dedicated to one of the greatest works of scholarship of all time. I look forward to further delving into your offerings and insights into the writings of this great man.

    • davidderrick Says:

      Thank you! It could all be a lot better if I had more time. And it has its byways. But so does Toynbee.

      From Nigeria.

    • davidderrick Says:

      And I have to say I don’t like the abridgement all that much. Others do. But it’s a bit like listening to a breathless simultaneous translator. If you’re attracted to this wonderland, I recommend picking up the original. A complete set of vols can cost $3-500, but odd volumes are cheap, and you can get them gradually.

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