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Emeritus Reader, Dr Iain R Smith

Academic Profile

  • Degrees: M.A. Edinburgh, M.A. Wisconsin (Fulbright Scholar), D.Phil. Oxford (St. Antony's College)
  • Senior Lecturer in History, Warwick University
  • Emeritus Reader in History, Warwick University
  • Member of Council and of the Publications Committee of The Historical Association (1980-1995), and editor of the New Appreciations in History series
  • Member of the South African Historical Society and a regular contributor of scholarly articles to the South African Historical Journal
  • Visiting Lecturer, University of Cape Town (1989)
  • Visiting Research Fellow, University of Pretoria (1993, 2001)
  • Visiting Research Associate, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London (1987)
  • Visiting Fellow, Mansfield College, Oxford (1997)
  • Visiting Lecturer, University of Tbilisi, Georgian Republic (1991)
  • Visiting Lecturer, Institute of Historical Research, Helsinki (1998)

UG Teaching

  • South Africa 1885-1910 (HI347)
  • The Contraction of Britain 1883-1997 (HI361)

Selected Publications


  • The Emin Pasha Relief Expedition 1886-1890 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1972)
  • The Origins of the South African War 1899-1902 (Harlow, Longman, 1996)
  • The Siege of Mafeking, 2 vols. (Johannesburg, The Brenthurst Press, 2001)

Chapters in Books:

  • 'Southern Africa 1795-1910' with Christopher Saunders in A.N. Porter, ed., Oxford History of the British Empire, vol.3 (Oxford, O.U.P., 1999)
  • 'Joseph Chamberlain and the Jameson Raid' in J. Carruthers, ed., The Jameson raid: a Centennial Retrospective (Johannesburg, The Brenthurst Press, 1996)
  • 'Milner, the Kindergarten and South Africa' in A. May, ed., The Round Table and the British Empire-Commonwealth (London, Lothian Foundation, 1997)
  • 'A century of controversy over origins' in D. Lowry, ed., The South African war Reappraised (Manchester, M.U.P., 2000)
  • 'Capitalism and the South African War' in D. Omissi & A. Thompson, The Impact of the South African War (London, Macmillan, 2002)


  • 'The origins of the South African War: a reappraisal', South African Historical Journal, 22 (November 1990)
  • 'Jan Smuts and the South African War', South African Historical Journal, 41 (November 1999)
  • 'The revolution in South African historiography', History Today, February 1988
  • 'New Lessons in South Africa's History', History Today, July 1993
  • 'The Boer War Diary of Charlie Moses', History Today, May 1998, with Fransjohan Pretorius

Research Interests

South African history and British imperial history during the 19th and 20th centuries. Throughout my career as an historian I have worked within the broad field of British and European colonial history with particular reference to Africa. I have worked on subjects to do with the Sudan and East Africa in the past (my first book) but for the past decade or so I have concentrated on the history of South Africa, where I have worked extensively in archives in many different parts of the country and also in the relevant archives in Britain. My publications have ranged over the causes, course and consequences of the South African War of 1899-1902 - and its place in both South African and British imperial history. Most recently I have edited and contributed two chapters to a full reappraisal of the Siege of Mafeking - a much mythologised event which occurred during that war. I am now working on the concentration or internment camps, established for Boer and Black civilians during that war by the British, in which something like a total of 50,000 people died. Thereafter, I hope to go on to write about the aftermath of that war in South Africa in the period up to Union (1910) and the First World War.


Iain Smith