A HISTORIAN, journalist and writer known for his love of France has died at the age of 91.

Oxford academic Sir Alistair Horne produced a vast body of work within his lifetime – including a number of historical works on 19th and 20th century France and Germany and political biographies.

His connection with St Antony’s College, Oxford, began when he became a senior member in 1970.

Sir Alistair, who was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2003 for services to UK-French relations, became a fellow of the college in 1978, and an honorary fellow in 1988 – a position held for life.

He was instrumental in setting up the Alistair Horne Fellowship at the college.

The fellowship is a one year tenure that allows one post-holder a year to write a significant book on a topic of modern history. Young historians and first authors are encouraged to apply.

A former spy, Sir Alistair was posted to Palestine during the Second World War where he was put in charge of intelligence-gathering under the future head of MI6, Maurice Oldfield.

Sir Alistair was born on November 9, 1925, to parents Sir Allan and Lady Auriol Horne.

His mother was the niece of the 13th Earl of Kinnoull. Lady Auriol died when Sir Alistair was five after drowning following a car crash in Belgium.

Sir Allan was killed after being hit by a car during a London blackout in 1944.

He was educated at Ludgrove School in Berkshire and was later shipped to America during the Second World War in 1940.

Sir Alistair returned to Britain in 1943 to serve in the RAF, before joining the Coldstream Guards the following year and becoming a captain at the age of 22. Impressing his superiors, he was recruited into army intelligence.

After leaving the guards, Sir Alistair read English at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he achieved an MA.

In 1952 he joined The Daily Telegraph and the following year he was approached by his former boss, Mr Oldfield, who wanted him to work for MI6.

Sir Alistair then used his position at the paper as a cover while operating in post-war Berlin.

He resigned from the paper in 1955 and also left the world of spying, embarking on a career as a historian, publishing an array of works with a special interest in France.

In the 1970s he wrote a book on the Algerian civil war, called A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962, which received the Wolfson Prize in 1978.

The book was of great interest to American military officers after it was recommended to former US President George W Bush by Henry Kissinger. Sir Alistair would later meet with President Bush in 2007 following a request from his administration.

His other works included Napoleon, Master of Europe 1805–1807, Back in Power: A Report on the New Germany and The Price of Glory.

Sir Alistair was instrumental in establishing a fellowship to encourage young historians.

The Alistair Horne Fellowship provides limited financial assistance and membership of St Antony’s College for a candidate prepared to write a significant book on a topic of modern history.

The fellowship carries an expenses allowance but also enables its fellows to become senior members of the college.

Sir Alistair was made a CBE in 1992 and knighted in 2003.

He was appointed a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur in 1993 and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

He was married in 1953, to Renira, and the couple had three daughters. The marriage was later dissolved, and in 1987 he married Sheelin Eccles At the time of his death on May 25 he was living near Henley-on-Thames.