Simon Michael Schama (born 13 February 1945) is a British historian and art historian. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University. He is perhaps best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain. Other works on history and art include The Embarrassment of Riches, Landscape and Memory, Dead Certainties, Rembrandt's Eyes, and his history of the French Revolution, Citizens. Schama is an art and cultural critic for The New Yorker.
The son of Jewish parents with roots in Lithuania, Romania, and Turkey, Schama was born in London. In the mid-1940s, the family moved to Southend-on-Sea in Essex before moving back to London. Schama writes of this period in the Introduction to Landscape & Memory.
In 1956, Schama won a scholarship to the independent Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Cricklewood, (from 1961 Elstree, Herts.), followed by Christ's College, Cambridge, reading history under J. H. Plumb and graduating with a Starred First in 1966.
He worked for short periods as a lecturer in history at Cambridge, where he became a Fellow and Director of Studies in History, and at Oxford, where he was made a Fellow of Brasenose College in 1976, specialising in the French Revolution. At this time, Schama wrote his first book, Patriots and Liberators, which won the Wolfson History Prize. The book was originally intended as a study of the French Revolution, but as published in 1977, it focused on the effect of the Patriot revolution in The Netherlands, and its aftermath.
His second book, Two Rothschilds and the Land of Israel (1978), is a study of the Zionist aims of Edmond James de Rothschild and James Armand de Rothschild.
He is married to Virginia E. "Ginny" Papaioannou, a geneticist from California; they have two children.