Sir John Harold Plumb (1911-2001)

Christ’s College, Cambridge
9 May 1978

Plumb was a prolific British historian of the 18th century who wrote popular history books. In World War II he worked at Bletchley Park on the top-secret project to break the Germans' Enigma code and later returned to Christ's College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1946 and spent his entire academic career. He was elected Master of his college in 1978 and received a knighthood in 1982.

The portrait was made outside the Master’s flat at Christ’s. ‘At one point when I wanted him to have something in his hands, he pulled a book out of his bookshelf that was one of a collection of four or five books of original manuscripts of [Horace] Walpole. He has written a book on Walpole, and also wrote about him in one of his essays.’

Photo © National Portrait Gallery, London

Photo © National Portrait Gallery, London