Emeritus Professor Peter McPhee AM
(The University of Melbourne)

Peter McPhee AM has been a supporter of History teachers and their students since travelling on one of the first ‘History Safaris’ through regional Victoria as a PhD student in the 1970s. Since then, he has often spoken at HTAV conferences and at HTAV student lectures. His view is that we cannot overestimate the civic and workplace importance of an education in history, which emphasises careful use of evidence, cultural understanding, flexibility of outlook and respect for difference. He argues that our History teachers deserve the place in the school curriculum that the HTAV advocates.

Peter was appointed to a Personal Chair in History at the University of Melbourne in 1993. He has published widely on the history of modern France, most recently Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life (Yale University Press, 2012) and Liberty or Death: The French Revolution (Yale University Press, 2016). He was President of the Academic Board in 2002–2003, then appointed to the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) in 2003 before becoming the university’s first Provost in 2007–2009, with responsibility for the design and implementation of the university’s new curriculum structures, the ‘Melbourne Model’. He chaired the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority in 2007–2009 and chaired the Board of Melbourne University Publishing in 2012–2017. He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1997 and of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2003. He was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to education in 2003 and became a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012.

Peter continued teaching undergraduates about the history of the French Revolution, among other things, across a fifty-year university teaching career. He is currently the Chair of the History Council of Victoria, the state’s peak body for history. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The History Council delivers the History Roadshow, the successor to the History Safaris of the 1970s, which seeks to support the work of the HTAV and its members by providing content-enrichment lectures to VCE students by academic historians.

Recent publications


The French Revolution in a Mediterranean Community: Collioure, 1780–1815. Parkville: University of Melbourne, 1989.
The Politics of Rural Life: Political Mobilization in the French Countryside, 1846–1852. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992.
Les Semailles de la République dans les Pyrénées-Orientales, 1846–1852: classes sociales, culture et politique. Perpignan: L’Olivier, 1995.
‘Pansy’: A Life of Roy Douglas Wright. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1999.
Revolution and Environment in Southern France: Peasant, Lords, and Murder in the Corbières, 1780–1830. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999.
Une communauté languedocienne dans l’histoire: Gabian, 1760–1960. Nîmes: Lacour, 2001.
The French Revolution, 1789–1799. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
A Social History of France, 1780–1914. 2nd ed. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
Living the French Revolution, 1789–1799. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012.
A Companion to the French Revolution. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
Liberty or Death: The French Revolution. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016.
The French Revolution. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2016.

Former Patrons of HTAV

Emeritus Professor Richard Broome (2013–2022)

Events Calendar

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