Professor Beaton grew up in Edinburgh where he first studied Latin and ancient Greek before going on to Peterhouse, Cambridge, to graduate with a PhD in Modern Greek. He came to King’s in 1981 as Lecturer in Modern Greek Language and Literature, and in 1988 was appointed to the Koraes Chair. For ten years he headed the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, and from 2012 to 2016 was Director of the Centre for Hellenic Studies.
He is a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA, 2013), a Fellow of King’s College (FKC, 2018), Commander of the Order of Honour of the Hellenic Republic (2019) and, from September to December 2021, has been appointed A.G. Leventis Visiting Professor in Greek at the University of Edinburgh.
His 2013 book, arising out of his Leverhulme-funded research, Byron’s War: Romantic Rebellion, Greek Revolution (CUP, 2013), won the Runciman Award and the Elma Dangerfield Prize and was shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize. In 2013, he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.
In 2019, Beaton was presented with the prestigious Greek Order of Honour for his “emblematic contribution” to Hellenic literature and culture, in a special ceremony at the Presidential Mansion in Athens. Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation (“the best history of Greece… beautifully written” – Victoria Hislop) was a Financial Times Book of the Year in 2019 and shortlisted for the Cundell History Prize. It also won the 2021 Runciman Award, breaking a record of achievement as Beaton is the only person to have won the prize four times.
Beaton’s latest book, The Greeks: A Global History, was published by Faber in Autumn 2021 and longlisted for the Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award 2022.