I specialise in British history circa 1660 to 1800, and have a particular interest in social, cultural and economic history. My research and teaching are closely linked, and cover a wide range of themes, from the history of how a new kind of consumer society emerged in Britain during the eighteenth century, to how global trade and economics shaped personal experiences, families and communities. The following areas are my pet subjects: the history of the mass media - the rise of newspapers and periodicals that reflected and informed public debates from the late-seventeenth century onwards; coffee house sociability and politeness; the history of gender and sexuality, particularly in the shifting definitions of marriage over time. Having benefitted from working for several years with fellow historians and archaeologists at Newcastle University who have particular expertise in World History, I am passionate about encouraging people to think more broadly about British history in a global context. My most recent book, The Castrato and His Wife (Oxford: OUP, 2011) is a microhistory that - among other things - explores the impact of Italian culture in the British Isles. In addition to my books and articles which explore various national and international perspectives on British history, I have also published widely on the history of North-East England, on subjects ranging from high-design glassware and regional identity, to architectural style and taste in Newcastle. An ongoing interest in transdisciplinary research, landscape history and the Tyne river system has led to my participation in the 'Rivers of the Anthropocene' project (see 'Projects').
I have supervised and continue to supervise PhD students on a range of topics, from the history of women and the newspaper press in Georgian England, to the development of the architectural profession in eighteenth-century Newcastle. I welcome inquiries from prospective PhD applicants with interests that fall within my areas of research expertise.
BA (Hons) History - University of Durham
PhD History - University of Cambridge
FRHistS - Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
FRSA - Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce
International Scholar, School of Liberal Arts, Indiana University, IUPUI
Dean of Postgraduate Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS)
For previous research, see Publications.
My next book, Orphans of Empire: the Fate of London's Foundlings, will explore the history of welfare in Britain in the first era of global British imperialism. Little is currently known about the fate of the children of London's Foundling Hospital, from its foundation in 1739, through to the Poor Law Act of 1834. This book will trace what happened to those who survived the experience of being raised in Europe's first secular corporation designed to 'save' children for the nation, funded at first by private philanthropy, then state aid, and finally the profits of investment and venture capitalism. The book will explore the broader issue of whether the vision of the Hospital's founder, Thomas Coram, was eventually realised, and the historical parallels between this early experiment in charitable welfare provision and current debates in our own time about the role of the state versus private philanthropy in caring for the most vulnerable members of society. (See link below for more details).
HIS1044 Aspects of British History
HIS2031 Between Revolutions: Britain 1688-1789 (Stage 2, module leader)
HIS2123 Family, Sex and Society in Early Modern England (Stage 2, module leader)
HIS3278 The Birth of a Consumer Society: England 1714-1820 (Stage 3, module leader)
HIS3010 Writing History (Stage 3)
HIS8026 Pathways in British History
HIS8104 Ideas and Influences in British History
Semester 2 2015/16
Please note: I am working in the Faculty Office and so do not have office hours. Please email me if you would like to make an inquiry about postgraduate study: Helen.email@example.com