Robert Dunning: Historian quits halfway through writing book after 38 years research

Historians in the News

An historian has retired after spending his entire career writing a book for his local council.

And he hasn't finished it.

Robert Dunning, 69, began his definitive history of Somerset in 1967 and has been paid up to £38,000 a year since then.

But the work, covering every aspect of the county back to the beginnning of records, is so detailed that he's not reached half way and is handing the project over to an assistant.

In that time he has spent a mind-numbing 50,000 hours on research, visited 380 churches and chapels, inspected 200 stately homes and read millions of documents.

"Some might say it was boring, but for me it was absolutely fascinating," Mr Dunning said yesterday at this home in Taunton.

His work is part of a project called the Victoria County History launched at the end of the 19th century to celebrate Queen Victoria's rule....

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