Queen’s University Belfast Keith Jeffery
Keith John Jeffery (11 January 1952 – 12 February 2016) MRIA was a Northern Irish historian specializing in modern British, British Imperial, and Irish history.
He attended Methodist College Belfast, where his father was vice principal. Having obtained his BA, MA, and PhD (1978) degrees from St. John’s College, Cambridge, the latter under the supervision of John Andrew Gallagher, he was Professor of British history at Queen’s University Belfast. In 1998, Jeffery served as the Lees Knowles Lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 2003–4 the Parnell Fellow in Irish Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He also held visiting positions at the Australian National University, the Australian Defence Force Academy and Deakin University. Although much of his work was devoted to military history, his research more recently focused on the history of intelligence gathering. In 2005, he was commissioned by the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) to write an authorized history for the organization’s centenary, covering its founding in 1909 up through to 1949. John Scarlett, head of MI6 at the end of that period, said credibility required that Jeffery be given unrestricted access the files for the relevant period (1900–1949). Scarlett also was quite adamant that if James Bond had been real, he would not have been an agent, but a case officer, and that it was unthinkable that a mere agent would have so much autonomy, including a license to kill. It was published in 2010. A related study, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew was published in 2009. His 1916: A Global History, published in 2015, looked at how twelve events from different arenas of war, including the Irish rebellion, reverberated around the world. He died on 12 February 2016.