We didn't help with history book, say angry academics

Historians in the News

ACADEMICS have criticised the author of a controversial study of Mary Queen of Scots for thanking them in print for helping with a book that they said they knew nothing about.

David Tweedie, a lawyer and amateur historian, singled out several Scottish historians who he claimed "helped in the writing of this book".

But last night several of those listed in the acknowledgements section of David Rizzio and Mary, Queen of Scots: Murder at Holyrood demanded that their names be removed from the book and said their inclusion damaged their reputation.

In academic publishing, which is governed by a strict etiquette, the thanking of contributors and helpful colleagues is common. But in this case, many of those cited said they had no idea who the writer was.

The book, which Mr Tweedie spent seven years researching, explores the assassination of Rizzio, one of Mary's advisers. Mr Tweedie contends that Rizzio so enraged the Scottish lords that they plotted his murder, and with his death died the possibility of religious counter-reformation in Scotland.

Mr Tweedie also revives the contentious - and long dismissed - claim that Rizzio was Mary's lover and the father of King James VI and I.

Several of those listed have contacted the book's publisher, Sutton Publishing, to insist their names be removed. Those academics contacted by The Scotsman insist they knew nothing of the book and said they did not "help" the author to reach the conclusions he details.

A former Oxford historian, Dr Jenny Wormald, now an honorary fellow at Edinburgh University and editor of Scotland: A History, is one of many who have felt affronted by their inclusion in the acknowledgements list.

She said: "This is outrageous and has never happened to me before. I had never heard of this man, or his book. I regard his association of my name with this book - implying my knowledge and approval - as damaging to my professional reputation.

"I am aware that my works are cited in the bibliography, but bibliographies are there to show what authors have read; a matter which is entirely different to being thanked for help."

The Scottish historian Professor Michael Lynch, of Edinburgh University, said: "I find the misuse of acknowledgements very distasteful. I'm surprised and distinctly irritated to be mentioned. I know nothing about David Tweedie. I have never met him and, so far as I know, have never been contacted by him."

Other academics were also baffled by their inclusion on Mr Tweedie's list. Dr Geoffrey Webber, the director of music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, said: "I don't know who this man is and I don't know why he would use my name."

The respected English church history scholar, Dr Richard Rex, of Queens' College Cambridge, said: "The appearance of my name in this book is not in any way an endorsement of what lies between the covers."

Professor David Wright, an Honorary Fellow of Edinburgh University, was also surprised to see himself credited in the list, and Dr Julian Goodare, also at Edinburgh University, said he neither knew the author, nor had he been contacted by him about the text.

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