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Response to Review of Wellington: The Path to Victory, 1769-1814

I have very little to add to Dr Linch’s extremely generous and thoughtful review. I am particularly pleased that he draws attention to the online commentary which is designed to supplement the biography at lifeofwellington.co.uk. This is free and can be consulted and downloaded by anyone: its principal purpose is to bring together additional evidence in parallel to the main text; but it also contains discussion of source problems and other disputed points, and engages with other scholarly work in the field. I would not expect anyone to read all of it (except perhaps another biographer of Wellington), but hope that it will provide a starting place for a reader who is interested in the Battle of Assaye, or the Convention of Cintra, or (in the next volume) Wellington’s role in the repeal of the Corn Laws.  

No one can foresee how changing technology will affect the way that historians and other scholars will present their work over the next 20 or 30 years; but I suspect that the rise of different forms of digital publication will lead to writing at a number of levels simultaneously. Already we have contents page; text; notes and illustrations including maps. Some older books contained a detailed breakdown of the contents of each chapter (Fortescue’s History of the British Army is a good example). It is not hard to imagine that in the future notes will contain links to the text being cited, and that the notes will either become very much longer, or an additional layer of discussion, such as my commentary, will become popular.  I don’t think that the existing form of my commentary is perfect, but I hope that it will prompt thought about what may soon be possible.