What are historians for?

Addresses the public function of academic history by considering the changing role of history (both the practice and the form) from the Greeks to contemporary times. The article explores ways in which the muse Clio has been represented, raises questions about the nature of public history in the United Kingdom by comparison with the "history wars" in North America and Australasia, and engages with the relationship between the supposedly disinterested nature of historical enquiry and the ethical assumptions of historians as agents in society. The tensions between the claims of historical writing as scholarship and its literary form as a means of communicating with an audience shows that the discipline's priority should be to engage with pertinent matters of public concern.