What first interested you in history?
Studying ancient Egypt at primary school made me positive I wanted to be an Egyptologist. Quite how I then made the leap to the C18th I’m not sure, but my early love of ‘historical’ films of the 1950s and 60s (The Vikings, Robin of Sherwood, The Scarlet Pimpernel etc) might have had something to do with fostering my love of historical periods when men wore tights.
How did you get into a career in history?
I did a D.Phil. in history at Oxford and then was lucky enough get a teaching job at Keele.
Why gender history?
I started off doing political history, rather than gender history but have drifted towards it in recent years because it interests me. I get bored quite easily and like a new challenge and so I have worked on various types of history during my career, whilst always sticking in the eighteenth century and usually looking at the north of England. It wouldn’t surprise me if in 5 years I was doing something quite different.
What changes do you hope to bring about in the History department as head of history?
I hope to make both students and staff as happy and productive in their work as possible. Paul Fouracre has done a great job and so I want to build upon his successes.
Is creating a history community one of your priorities?
Absolutely, this ties in with the previous question – I think a common space for all historians is really important in terms of fostering a sense of identity and belonging.
What is your favourite era in history?
See previous answer regarding male tight-wearing (or stockings, to be more historically accurate).
Any final words of wisdom for current history undergraduates?
I’d like to (mis)quote Wordsworth here: ‘to be young is very heaven’. It may not feel like it at times, but this is probably the most exciting period of your life, full of possibility. Embrace it.