I am an historian of nineteenth and twentieth century Britain with a particular interest in gender, political activism and social change, as well as subjectivity, self-representation and life-writing. I studied history and politics at the University of Warwick and hold masters degrees in social policy and planning from the London School of Economics, and in biography and creative non-fiction from the University of East Anglia. My doctoral research was undertaken at Wolfson College, Oxford, supervised by Professor Selina Todd and Professor Senia Paseta, and funded by the AHRC and the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing.
I was a civil servant for ten years, and for most of that time was a government speechwriter working for cabinet ministers on issues relating to education, housing and local government.
For the past few years, I have been working on women’s suffrage. It’s increasingly recognised that working-class women played a significant role in the campaign to win the vote, but much less is understood about why and how. Through a case study of the Kenney sisters, I demonstrate how our understanding of militant suffrage is transformed by positioning working-class women as significant actors and autonomous agents in the women’s movement, rather than as passive pawns manipulated by middle-class women. My book on this topic, Sisters and Sisterhood: The Kenney Sisters, Suffrage and Social Reform, c.1890-1970, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.
My first book, Lady Constance Lytton: Aristocrat, Suffragette, Martyr was widely reviewed, shortlisted for the Slightly Foxed/Biographer’s Club Best First Biography Award, and a Sunday Times Biography of the Year. My article ‘Annie Kenney and the representation and meaning of class in the Women’s Social and Political Union’ is out with Twentieth Century British History in 2019. I will also be contributing to a special edition of Women’s History Review in 2020 on women’s suffrage, with an article entitled “‘It wasn’t like that at all”: memory, identity and legacy in Jessie Kenney’s The Flame and the Flood’. I am collaborating with Professor Senia Pašeta and Dr Alexandra Hughes-Johnson on a peer reviewed edited collection with the Royal Historical Society’s New Historical Perspectives series, entitled Women’s Suffrage and Beyond: Local, National and International Perspectives, including my own research on class in the suffrage movement.
I am developing my research into the intersection of feminist and labour politics in Britain through a study of women MPs between 1945 and 1979, and a biography of the suffragist and pacifist Catherine Marshall and her work for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in the inter-war years.
I am very interested in public engagement. My research has been featured across the BBC, including the Today programme, World At One, and Newshour as well as online. I assisted in curating the exhibition From Sappho to Suffrage: Women Who Dared at the Bodleian, including creating a resource pack for schools using the collection material. I have addressed audiences ranging from school children to city workers on the historical significance and contemporary legacy of the suffrage campaign.
I teach the history of Britain since 1800, with a particular focus on gender and class. This includes the theme paper, ‘Bodies of Feeling 1500-2000’, the special subject ‘Becoming a Citizen, c.1860-1902’ and the optional subject ‘The New Woman in Britain and Ireland, 1880-1920’. I also teach the history of nineteenth century Europe, Approaches to History and the Disciplines of History. I would be delighted to supervise students interested in women, gender, politics and life-writing in this period. I am also a stipendiary lecturer at Mansfield College, Oxford. I have a particular interest in access, admissions and widening participation and would be very pleased to hear from prospective students.