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Archive of Arnold Joseph Toynbee


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The archive consists of academic, working, and social correspondence, papers and photographs.


  • Creation: 1895-1978


26.5 Linear metres (173 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Greek, Modern (1453-)

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. 13967/1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 13967/1-18, 25-131, 136-137; MSS. 13967 Photogr. 1-6. Boxes 132-135 are now MSS. 13967 Photogr. 1-4/2

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 13967


Comprises extensive working correspondence, papers and photographs

Biographical / Historical

Toynbee, Arnold Joseph (1889–1975), historian, was born in London on 14 April 1889.

He won a scholarship to study at Winchester College where he gained numerous prizes before going up to Oxford to read literae humaniores at Balliol College in 1907. He took his finals in 1911.

In September 1913 Toynbee married Rosalind Murray the daughter of Gilbert Murray, regius professor of Greek, and Lady Carlisle. They had three children but were divorced in September 1946.

Toynbee did not serve in the war as he was excused on medical grounds. In May 1917 Toynbee took up a position in the foreign intelligence department of the Foreign Office, and in 1918–1919 he was a member of the British delegation to the Paris peace conference.

In May 1919 Toynbee was appointed to the newly established Koraes chair of modern Greek and Byzantine history, language, and literature at King's College, London. It was not an easy position and a number of internal conflicts arose. Toynbee resigned from the post in June 1924.

In February 1924, before formally resigning the Koraes chair, Toynbee took up a temporary position at the British (later the Royal) Institute of International Affairs. This was made permanent, along with a chair of international history at London University, in 1925. Since Toynbee did not teach the post became a research professorship in 1928. In 1926 he became the director of studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, a post he was to hold until his retirement apart from a break during the Second World War when he returned to government service. He was director of the foreign research and press service in 1939–1943 and director of the research department of the Foreign Office, 1943–1946. In 1946 he was again a member of the British delegation to the Paris peace conference.

Following the war Toynbee returned to his role at the Royal Institute of International Affairs where he published yearly until 1938, a Survey of International Affairs. His assistant Veronica Boulter took on an increasingly large amount of work for Toynbee as he began to write the twelve volume A Study of History during this period. This was published in stages between 1934 and 1961. Toynbee and Boulter were married in September 1946. Toynbee retired from the Institute in 1955 but continued to write prolifically until 1973.

He received numerous forms of public recognition, including honorary doctorates, the fellowship of the British Academy in 1937, and appointment as a Companion of Honour in 1956.

Toynbee suffered a stroke in 1974 and never recovered; he died in October the following year.

For more information regarding Toynbee see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


A list of the uncatalogued papers of A.J. Toynbee was produced by Veronica Toynbee, his wife and assistant, when the papers were donated to the Library. The original file numbers have been retained and now form part of the shelfmark (with the addition of the Bodleian Libraries prefix 'MS. 13967') while the description of the material has been arranged in series according to type and subject matter.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The archive was donated by Toynbee's widow Veronica in Apr 1977.

Catalogue of the archive of Arnold Joseph Toynbee
Finding aid prepared by Emma Atkinson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom