In Memoriam, CPD Remembers Dr. Philip M. Taylor

This week, the Public Diplomacy discipline lost a great scholar, Professor Philip M. Taylor from the University of Leeds. Professor Taylor was a great supporter of CPD's work and will be greatly missed.

On 6 December, the British scholar of public diplomacy Professor Philip M. Taylor of University of Leeds passed away. Phil was an early supported of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. He was affiliated with the CPD Blog and The Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy (co-edited with Nancy Snow) was published in association with CPD. He was a friend of Phil Seib, and mentor and PhD supervisor to Nick Cull. His work is a staple of the history class in the MPD (PUBD 502). Cause of death was an exceptionally aggressive cancer.

Phil Taylor was born in Liverpool in 1953. He joked that he went to college -- Leeds University -- because he was too cowardly to join the army and didn't know a girl he wanted to marry. At Leeds he worked closely with diplomatic historian David Dilks and media historian Nicholas Pronay, and as a BA and PhD student carved out his own niche as a historian of propaganda. His doctoral work examined the emergence of Britain's policy of national projection in the inter-war years, which became his first book: The Projection of Britain. He remained at Leeds for his entire career teaching first in the School of History, where he was associated with international history, and then at the Centre for Communication Studies. He enjoyed visiting appointments at Vanderbilt and elsewhere. His later works included a history of the media's role in the first Gulf War, a history of the evolution of British propaganda called Selling Democracy and a text book of propaganda through the ages called Munitions of the Mind, which was widely translated. He also wrote a biography of Stephen Spielberg. Phil was often sought after for advice from the UK and US military. He never pulled his punches and let them know where he believed they were going wrong. He was a gifted teacher and friend to his students. He nurtured many of the best known writers in the field directly, and circulated their work through his website, which was the go-to place for readings on issues of public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and propaganda. He was a mainstay of the conferences of the International Association for Media and History and served as deputy editor of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. He was never so happy as in the bar after a conference panel, with a drink and a cigarette chewing over ideas or discussing movies or the latest doings of his home soccer team, Liverpool.

Phil is survived by his wife Sue, and many students who continue to build on the ideas and themes which he pioneered.

This obituary was contributed to the USC Center on Public Diplomacy by Dr. Nicholas J. Cull, director of the USC Master of Public Diplomacy program and CPD University Fellow.

Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Visit CPD's Online Library

Explore CPD's vast online database featuring the latest books, articles, speeches and information on international organizations dedicated to public diplomacy.