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Professor Roberts was Fellow and Tutor of Merton College, Oxford (1953-1979), and Vice-Chancellor of Southampton University (1979-1985), and then returned to the Wardenship of Merton College until 1994. He held posts in the USA at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Columbia and the University of South Carolina. In 1996, he was appointed CBE for his services to education and history. When he died on 30 May 2003, he was described as "the leading historical mind of his generation" by The Guardian. He is the author of several highly regarded books, including The Penguin History of Europe and The Penguin History of the Twentieth Century and presented the BBC Television series, The Triumph of the West.