Peter Simkins began his working life in 1962 as Archivist and Research Assistant to Captain Sir Basil Liddell Hart before embarking upon a long and distinguished career at the Imperial War Museum from 1963 to 1999, latterly as its Senior Historian and Head of the Research and Information Office. During that time he played a central role in the reorganisation and modernisation of the Museum and in the development of its out-stations at Duxford airfield, HMS Belfast and the Cabinet War Rooms (now the Churchill Museum). He also established himself as a leading authority in 20th Century British military history, especially that of the British Army in the Great War. He was Historical Editor of the Imperial War Museum Review, 1986-1998. After his retirement from the Museum in 1999 he was awarded an MBE for his services to that institution. The same year he was elected to an honorary chair in Modern History at the University of Birmingham, a post which he held until 2010, when he became Visiting Lecturer. He remains an enthusiastic participant in the programme of the University’s Centre for First World War Studies and since 2005 has helped to teach, supervise and examine Graduate students undertaking the MA Course in that discipline.
His book Kitchener’s Army : The Raising of the New Armies, 1914-1916, which was first published by Manchester University Press in 1988 and reprinted by Pen and Sword in 2007, was awarded the Templer Medal by the Society for Army Historical Research. An edited list of his numerous other publications is appended below. Peter Simkins has acted as historical consultant or advisor for several major television series and documentaries, including 1914-18: The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century (KCET Los Angeles and BBC Timewatch, 1996). In addition, he was one of the principal historical consultants for the development of the new Visitor Centre at Thiepval, on the Somme in France, which opened in 2004. He is an accomplished jazz pianist, having recorded three LP albums and a recent CD as well as having accompanied many leading American and British jazz musicians since the 1960s. In 2002 he co-edited and co-wrote a history of traditional and mainstream jazz in Brighton. He is a devoted and long-suffering supporter of Ipswich Town FC, though, having moved to Gloucestershire in 2005, he now also watches Cheltenham Town, his new local team.