School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Martin Farr

Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary British History



I teach, supervise, and research post-1914 British history. With degrees in each, I straddle, more or less comfortably, the disciplines of history and politics, being particularly interested in promoting contemporary history and its applications.

I'm closely involved in outreach, widening participation, and engagement activities. For the School I’m Senior Tutor; for History I’m responsible for (at the beginning) visit days and open days, and (at the other end) careers and alumni; for the University, I co-chair Insights Public Lectures, and am vice chair of the student hardship fund.


Born and raised in north London, I proceeded via secondary education in the home counties, undergraduate study in the west country, doctoral research in central Scotland, and varied short-term and hourly contracts and appointments in and around London, before arriving in the North East in 2000.

Term-time feedback, guidance, and consultation hours

Tuesday 2-5; other times by arrangement

Roles and Responsibilities

Senior Tutor (School)
Alumni Officer (History)
Careers Officer (History)
Co-Chair, Insights Public Lectures (University)
Deputy Chair, Hardship Fund (University)

Area of expertise

British politics and public life since the First World War


B.A. (Politics), University of Exeter, 1993
Ph.D (History), University of Glasgow, 1998

External Examining

BA History, University of Leeds, 2017-
MA History, University of Exeter, 2017-
MA History, University of Winchester, 2016-
MA Politics and Contemporary History, King's College London, 2015-
BA History, University of Wales Newport, 2010-2014

PhD Queen Mary, University of London, 2016
PhD University of South Wales, 2016

Previous Positions

Lecturer, Workers’ Educational Association, 1999-
Tutor, Department of Continuing Education, University of Oxford, 1999-2000
Archivist, Records Management Department, Public Record Office, Kew, 1999
Ghost-writer and researcher, the Lord Henniker, 1998-2000
Private tutor, history and politics, 1996-2000
Tutor, Department of Politics, University of Glasgow, 1994-1997
Tutor, Department of History, University of Glasgow 1994-1997


Royal Historical Society (Fellow)
Workers' Educational Association
Historical Association


Television: BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC News, BBC News 24, ITN, UKTV History, Tyne Tees TV, Dene Films, Border TV, More4, Press TV (Iran), Al Jazeera (London), Tokyo Broadcasting System News, Nippon Hoso Kyokai (Japan), FNN News (Japan).

Radio: BBC World Service, BBC Radio Four, BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Newcastle, BBC Radio Gloucester, BBC Radio Cumbria, BBC Three Counties Radio, BBC Radio Sunderland, BBC Radio Leeds, LBC, Metro Radio (Newcastle), Talksport; National Public Radio (NPR, US), Newstalk (Ireland), Newstalk 93 FM (Jamaica), HOT102 FM (TODAY with Beverley Manley) (Jamaica), Polskie Radio PR1 (Poland), VIP Radio, SPARK FM, CityTalk FM, China International Radio.

Print BBC History Magazine, The Times, The Guardian, The Journal, The Northern Echo, The Evening Chronicle, MSN, The Conversation, History & Policy, Politics and History. New York Times, New York Daily News, Toronto Star, Christian Science Monitor, Sunday Sun, CSN News, The Economist, The Independent, Daily Mirror, The Sun, News of the World, Sunday Express, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Sunday Herald, Yorkshire Post, Harpers, O Globo (Brazil), Netherlands Press Association, Dziennik (Poland), Wprost (Poland), Pravda, Associated Press, Bloomberg, International Herald Tribune, Folha de S.Paulo (Brazil), Veja (Brazil), Rzeczpospolita (Poland), Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan), Mainichi Shimbun (Japan), To Vima (Greece), L'Avvenire (Italy).

Online: National Archives Podcast Series, British Scholar Society Documentary Series Institute of Historical Research Podcast Series

Other interests

Cricket, football, music, books, travel, real ale, wine

Google scholar: Click here.


Undergraduate teaching 2017-18


HIS2124 A History of Contemporary Britain

Contributing to:

POL1000 Theory and Method in Politics and History (British politics; participation)
HIS1029 Varieties of History (Political History; Contemporary History; Biography and History)
HIS1044 Aspects of British History (First World War; Second World War; the Long 1960s; Thatcherism; Britishness)
HIS3020 Writing History (supervision in any aspects of British history since the First World War)
HIS3030 History and Society (history and politics; history and media)

Postgraduate teaching 2017-18

Contributing to:

HIS8023 Dissertation
HIS8025 Pathway in British History (Declinism)
HIS8105 Reform and Resistance in British history (The Politics of Sexuality: the Sexual Offences Act 1967; The Politics of Gender: the Abortion Act 1967)
M.Litt, M.Phil, PhD

Past teaching


HIS3082 British Politics in the First World War
HIS3088 Labour in Power 1974-79
HIS3120 British Foreign Policy since Suez
HIS8011 Thatcherism

Contributed to:

HIS3008 Reading History (Correlli Barnett, The Lost Victory; Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians)
HIS8024 The Practice of History
ART8000 Faculty Research Teaching
HIS8000 Research Methods in History


Research interests

British politics and public life since the First World War
Political parties

I welcome enquiries from prospective research students in any aspects of British politics and public life since 1914. 

Research profile

I'm completing the writing of book chapters about Barack Obama and David Cameron, and Donald Trump and Theresa May, for a volume entitled Presidents and Premiers, and on imperial tropes in 1960s Britain for a volume on imperial history, The MacKenzie Moment. I'm writing a book concerned with internationalising Thatcherism, entitled Margaret Thatcher's World, and will be writing a chapter on the 1970 General Election for a book which will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Heath government.

I have 'in progress' an article which offers a comparative assessment of the deaths of Hugh Gaitskell (1963) and John Smith (1994), and another on the film version Oh! What a Lovely War (1969).

I've recently published a chapter on declinism and British coastal resorts for Mass Tourism in a Small World. I have in press an article on on the Representation of the People Act 1918 and the House of Commons for a special edition of Parliamentary History, and a chapter on the leaderships of James Callaghan, Michael Foot, and Neil Kinnock for Labour and the Left in the 1980s.

I've published the first volume of a political biography, and articles on Liberal politics in the First World War, the 1918 General Election, and the Labour Party and strategic bombing in the Second World War. I've co-edited two volumes on the British Abroad: Travellers and Tourists and Experiencing Imperialism, in the former of which I've a chapter on British mass tourism. In 2014 I was principal investigator for the North East and Cumbria on the AHRC/BBC project World War One at Home and remain involved. I also interview former MPs for the History of Parliament Oral History Project.

I head Britain and the World, an international research association which has a peer-reviewed journal, book series, and annual conference. I am an academic member of the National Archives User Advisory Group, and am active in Newcastle University's own Labour and Society Research Group and Military, War and Security Research Group.

Postgraduate Supervision


John Bagnall (PhD), The Falklands Conflict in International Perspective, 1982-
Stephen King (PhD), The Ministerial Career of Tony Crosland, 1964-1977
Andrew Marriott (PhD), Trench Art of the North East: Material Culture, Memory and Perception from the First World War to the Present
Stephen Moore (PhD), Luftwaffe Operations over the United Kingdom after May 1941
William Paxton (PhD), An Examination of the Decline of Shipbuilding on the North East Coast of England and the West of Scotland during the Interwar Period 1920-1939


Nick Cott (PhD), Liberal Recruits to the Conservative Party, 1918-31
Melinda Sutton (PhD), The Labour Party and Northern Ireland, 1969-97
Collette McKenna (MLitt), A Prime Minister and her Foreign Secretaries, 1979-90
David Thompson (MLitt), The Durham Light Infantry in the First World War
Gordon Beckwith (MLitt), British Defence Policy since 1945
Adam Gillett (MLitt), British Party Politics, 1910-24
Gordon Leigh (MLitt), Newcastle Jewry, 1900-2000
Dean Blackburn (MLitt), The centre-left of British party politics, 1972-87
Gordon Kell (MLitt), Manpower, Empire and Warfare, 1890-22
John Shackleton (MLitt), Trades Unions and the Labour Party, 1906-2009
Lisa Snoxell (MLitt), Women and British politics, 1901-18
Andriana Georgiou (MLitt), Fascism in Britain, 1932-40
Stephen Dippnall (MLitt), The Labour Party and the U.S.A., 1945-2010
Steven Bainbridge (MLitt), The Conservative Party and Thatcherism
David Linden (MLitt), The ‘New Right’ in Britain, 1970-90

Selected conference papers

The 1970 General Election reconsidered, The Heath Government, University of Liverpool, 11 July 2018

Thatcherism and the Transnationalisation of Conservatism, 1975-1997, Cultures of Conservatism in the United States and Western Europe between the 1970s and 1990s conference, German Historical Institute, London, 14-6 September 2017

Barack Obama and David Cameron, Presidents and Premiers, Newcastle Unversity, 26-7 May 2017

“Oh! What a Lovely Adaptation: the movie of the play of the war,” Britain and the World Conference, Austin TX, USA, 7 April 2017

'"A Stone Age head protruding from a Dragoon Guard’s tunic”: imperial tropes in British popular culture since the end of Empire’’, Festschrift Conference in honour of Professor John M. MacKenzie, Burn House, Edzell, 6-10 July 2016

‘When party leaders die’, Breaking Boundaries: Politics, History and the wider inter-disciplinary challenges; University of Birmingham, 29 June 2016

‘International interpretations of Thatcherism, 1981-90’, 27th Annual Conference of the British International History Group, University of Kent, 10-12 September 2015

‘Thatcherism, Reaganomics, and international conservatism’, Rethinking Conservatism and conservatism, workshop, Durham University, 16 June 2015

‘The Thatcher-Reagan Era in a Trans-Atlantic Context, Britain and the World Conference, Austin TX, 2-4 April 2015

‘Thatcherism beyond Britain’, Centre for the Study of Political Ideologies, Exploring Ideological Translation: An Interdisciplinary Conference, University of Nottingham, 9-11 July 2014

War and Peace: Diplomacy, Espionage and the First World War, The National Archives, 28 June 2014, The Road to War: At home and abroad – Propaganda and intelligence

Urban regeneration and the policy process, 1970-79, The Transformation of Urban Britain since 1945, Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester, 9 July 2013

John Smith and Hugh Gaitskell, Modern British History Conference, Edinburgh University, 11 June 2013

Death and Labour: the cases of Hugh Gaitskell and John Smith, Britain and the World Conference, Austin Texas, 22 March 2013

'The Politics of Bombing: Harris, Sinclair and the RAF bomber offensive', Airpower and Archives Workshop, RAF Museum, Hendon, 22 March 2013

Margaret Thatcher’s World, Conference on Modern British History, University of Stirling, 19 June 1012

‘Beyond the Grave: The Legacy of International Activists in a Transnational Context. The Case of Flora Tristan, Guido Miglioli, Ellen Wilkinson and Emile Pouget, European Social Science History Conference, Glasgow, 11-14 April 2012, chair and discussant

‘The Labour Party and Bombing in the Second World War’, British Scholar Conference, Austin, Texas, March 2011.

‘South Wales and the General Election of 1918’, University of Wales, Newport, research seminar, 23 March 2011.

‘Reginald McKenna and the 1918 Election’, Années de Gloire – Années de Déclin: le Parti Libéral Britannique, 1906-1924, Colloque International, Université de Rouen, 13-14 January 2011

‘Historicizing British Culture, Nostalgia, and Consciousness in the Twentieth Century’, Chair and Discusssant, British Scholar Conference, Austin, Texas, USA, 27 March 2010.

‘Barabbas chosen’: war and the cultural shift, 1916-1919; British Scholar Conference, University of Texas at Austin, Texas, USA, 20 February 2009.

‘Liberals, War and Peace, 1916-1919’, Southern Conference on British Studies, New Orleans, Louisiana, 10 October 2008.

‘Reginald McKenna: a Study in Ministerial Liberalism’, The 1906 Election and the legacy of the Last Liberal Governments, Colloquium, Institute of Historical Research, London, 1 July 2006.

‘Politicians at War: Crisis and Methodology’, Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies, 26 March 2006, University of California, Irvine, USA.

‘High Politics in an Age of Devolution’, Northeast Conference on British Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 22 October 2005, USA.

‘Bridget Plowden and the IBA’, The History of the Media, 19th Annual Summer Centre for Contemporary British History Conference, Senate House, University of London, 29 June-1 July 2005.

‘S.W.1 and Devolution: the Centre Circumscribing the Periphery’, New Directions in Modern British Political History, c. 1867-2005, Institute for Historical Research, London, 8 April 2005.

'Cann MacKenna in Edwardian Britain’, Fifth Australian Celtic Conference, University of Sydney, Australia, 22 July 2004.

‘The Wartime Career of Josiah Wedgwood’, (Discussant), Second European Conference in First World War Studies, Maison Française, University of Oxford, 23 & 24 June 2003.

‘Reginald McKenna: A Study in Historiography’, Western Conference on British Studies, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, 5 October 2002.

‘Politicians at War 1915-1916’, at Power, Personality and Persuasion: The Impact of the Individual on British Politics since 1867, University of Manchester, 26 June 2002.

‘The Bank and Midland: City politics between the wars’, at The Power to Influence: The British Government and the City of London, University of Durham, September 2001.

‘The Prism of British Strategy 1915-1916’, Mars in Ascendant: The Great War and the Twentieth Century, Imperial War Museum, August 2001.

‘Pomp and Circumstance: The Diamond Jubilee of 1897’, The 1890s, University of Newcastle, July 2001.

Esteem indicators

Invited speaker, Contemporary History Center, Ohio University, 22-3 March 2018

Invited speaker, Republic Convention, Newcastle, 15 July 2017

Keynote speaker, Thatcher and Thatcherism: New Critical Perspectives, Durham University, 19-20 January 2017

Invited panellist with Lord Morgan and Chris Wrigley, The Lloyd George Papers at the Parliamentary Archives, Houses of Parliament, 14 November 2016

Keynote speaker, Durham University History Society Annual Conference, 16 June 2016

Curator, Oh! What a Lovely War, Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle, 14 June 2016

Keynote speaker, University of Winchester Department of History Postgraduate Conference, 4 April 2016

Institute of Historical Research, International History Seminar, 24 May 2016

Research seminar, University of Lancaster, Department of Politics, Philosophy, and Religion (PPR), 16 March 2016

Research seminar, University of Winchester, Department of History, 10 March 2016

Research seminar, Keele University, School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment (SPIRE), 24 February 2016

Research seminar, University of Worcester, Department of History, 23 February 2016

Research seminar, University of Exeter, Department of History, 18 November 2015

Lecture, Thatcher and Reagan: a Global Relationship, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA, 8 April 2015

Lecture and Discussant, The Reagan-Thatcher Era in a Trans-Atlantic Context, Southwestern University, Georgetown TX, 31 March 2015

Discussant, Thatcher and the Czechs from the 1980s to the Present, Metropolitan University Prague, 19 December 2014

Curator, Oh! What a Lovely War, Tyneside Cinema, 7 October 2014

War and Peace: Diplomacy, Espionage and the First World War, The National Archives, 28 June 2014, The Road to War: At home and abroad – Propaganda and intelligence

Research seminar, Glasgow Caledonian University, Department of History, 5 March 2014

Chair, Global Britain Lecture: Professor Patrick Salmon, ‘Thatcher, Europe, and the World’, Maastricht University (UM), 28 May 2013

Research Seminar, Leeds University, Department of History, 31 October 2012.

Chair, Global Britain Lecture, Professor Sir Hew Strachan, “Sea power vs land power: the geopolitics of Germany’s defeat in the First World War”, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10 May 2012

Associate Editor and Director of Outreach, British Scholar Society, 2010-

Research Seminar, Newcastle University, School of Historical Studies, 15 December 2011

General Editor, Britain and the World, 2014-

Britain and the World, Edinburgh University Press 2014-

AQA HE Expert Panel on A Level reform, 2012-

Reader: Routledge, Bloomsbury, Palgrave Macmillan, Blackwell, Cambridge University Press, Labour History Review; Journal of Historical Biography, The Historical Journal, Historical Research,  British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.

Assessor: National University of Ireland, Arts and Humanities Research Council

Invited speaker, Années de Gloire – Années de Déclin: le Parti Libéral Britannique, 1906-1924, Colloque International, Université de Rouen, 13-14 January 2011

Invited guest, Wiles Lectures 2012, Queen’s University Belfast

Lecture, Sheppards Irish Auction House, Durrow, Ireland, Edwin Lutyens and Clann McKenna: class, culture, and architecture, 1900-1943, 27 April 2008

Historian, History of Parliament Oral History Project

Selected engagement activities

Public lecture, '"The Personnel of Armageddon" - Politicians and Artists, 1914-1919', Laing Gallery, Newcastle, 29 November 2017

Invited speaker, 'Margaret Thatcher', Durham University Union, 27 October 2017

Public lecture, 'Brexit and the 2017 General Election', Central Michigan University MI, USA, 24 April 2017

Public lecture, 'Margaret Thatcher and her World', Lewis University IL, USA, 19 April 2017

Public roundtable, 'The Future of the Western Alliance', Idaho State University, Pocatello ID, USA, 14 April 2017

Public lecture, 'Out and into the world? Britain, Europe, America, and the challenges in Brexit', Idaho State University, Pocatello ID, USA, 13 April 2017

Public lecture, 'The Age of Trump and Brexit: the US, Britain, and the World after Brexit', the City Club of Idaho Falls, Idaho Falls ID, USA, 13 April 2017

Public lecture, 'Leadership: Brexit and Trump', University of Central Oklahoma OK, USA, 10 April 2017

Public roundtable, 'Brexit and the EU in the Age of Trump', Southwestern University TX, USA, 5 April 2017

Public lecture, 'Britain and the United States in the Age of Brexit and Trump', McNeese University LA, USA, 3 April 2017

Public lecture, 'Brexit and the Age of Trump', Clemson University SC, USA, 29 March 2017

Public lecture: 15 February 'Brexit: a historical-political perspective', Durham European Law Institute, 16 February 2017

Willing Expert,

Chair, Insights Public Lectures, 2013 (Vice-Chair 2010-13) (c. 40 lectures, 12,000 audience, per year)

Introducer, Newcastle College 1914 Project Conference: Cultural Responses to the First World War, Newcastle College, 11 November 2013

Lecture, 'The Politics of Bombing Germany: Bomber Command and Civilian Control of the War Effort, 1940-1945', Warkworth and Amble District Royal British Legion, 5 March 2013

Institute of Ideas, Debating Matters Competition, judge, 2012.

Panel chair, Newcastle Book Festival, 2012

Realising Opportunities (Times Higher Widening Participation Initiative of the Year 2011) Academic Advisory Board member, 2010-

Chair, European Union and Global Emergencies Public Debate (Stephen Hughes MEP, Martin Callanan MEP, Fiona Hughes MEP), Durham European Law Institute/ European Union and Global Emergencies Conference, Durham, 9 May 2009

The Impact of Bologna and Three-Year Degrees on US Admissions, Washington DC, 2-4 November 2006

Talk to Jesmond Senior Mens Club, Newcastle, 16 November 2006

Talk to the Historical Association, Mount School, York, 2 March 2005

Talk to Cryptos, The Reform Club, London, 4 November 2002


British Academy Travel Grant, £1000, 2004.

Principal Investigator, Our Place in The First World War, North East and Cumbria, AHRC £30,403,AH/L503964/1 2013

School of History, Classics, and Archaeology, School Research Funding, Presidents and Premiers Conference £1500.

Convened events

Presidents and Premiers, Symposium and edited volume (with Mike Cullinane, Northumbria), Newcastle, 26-7 May 2017

Britain and the World Annual Conference, Austin, 6-8 April 2017

Britain and the World Annual Conference, London, 22-4 June 2016

Britain and the World Annual Conference, Newcastle, 19-22 June 2014

Political History Network Symposium, Newcastle University, 26 February 2013

The British Abroad international conference, Newcastle, 20-22 April 2010


British, Britain, political history, politics, government, institutions, parties, media, foreign policy, monarchy