In the 20th century, the position of the monarch as head of the Church of England was given a meaning which it never had before. You took the fact that the monarch was head of the Church of England to mean that the British monarchy was itself a religious or moral institution and the monarchy became a symbol of national public morality.

— David Starkey

The most eye-opening David Starkey quotes that will activate your desire to change

Embrace the melancholic voice completely in the drafting stages, to explore it for all it's worth. Then, in revision, privilege craft over pure feeling. Write the work that someone besides you will want to read.


If you really want people to pay attention to how you feel, you need to express your feelings in language that's worth reading.


I would put forward a modest proposition that we were very much better governed by Henry VIII than we are by King Gordon.


I think I give far more space and play to avant-garde writing than any other contemporary textbook author. I want students to be able to decide for themselves which aesthetics are closest to their own. Still, while I try not to be a nostalgist myself, I suppose I am drawn to those poignant moments in our lives, rendered clearly and artfully.


My biggest poetic influences are probably 20th-century British and Irish poets.

So I suppose I'm always listening for the music I associate with that poetry, the telling images, the brevity. I want to hear it in my own work as well as in the poetry I read. However, I think I'm generally more forgiving of other poets than myself.


I admire writers who have the tenacity to write a blog, and I'm told by everyone that it's an important element in remaining visible in the online world. That said, I'm personally turned off by writers' blogs that do nothing but sing their own accomplishments.


I think it's probably true that creative people are touched by melancholy more than the average person, and to the extent that delving into that shadow world produces good work, I'm all for it. But I think you have to be able to step back from the work, and say, "Look how miserable I felt. Look how beautifully I wrote about it. Now I'm going to get an iced coffee and chat with a friend." Writing should be a way out of despair.


I think my cheerfulness keeps my writing from sinking into the depths of melancholy, while the darker side keeps in check any literary silliness I might be inclined toward.


I do think poetry needs to invite the reader, especially when there are so many other distractions while reading.


Once a piece of writing gets to a moment where it's not going to get much better than it already is, marinate it. If you still like the piece, send it out and see what others think. If not, it's time to put it away and forget about it for a while.


Out of the chaos of post-Roman Dark Age Britain, the English had created the world's first nation-state: One king, one country, one church, one currency, one language and a single unified representative national administration. Never again in England would sovereignty descend to the merely regional level. Never again would the idea of England and the unity of England ever be challenged.


Compare the scale and magnifcence of Versailles with St James's - the brick-built hovel in which the 18th-century kings of England lived. What was then the most powerful monarchy in the world housed its sovereigns in a converted leper hospital, yet, at the same time, parliament provided the magnificent palaces of Chelsea and Greenwich as hospitals for retired soldiers and sailors.


About David Starkey

Quotes 13 sayings
Profession Historian
Birthday January 3, 1945