I grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne where I was educated at a primary school boycotted by middle-class parents and a comprehensive eventually put in ‘special measures’ and forced to become an academy. Inspired by the great education I received at both – and by extracurricular activities including attending all the 1980s CND demos and the Poll Tax protest of 1990 – I have spent the past 20 years combining activism, research, writing, teaching and fun. My day job is Professor of Modern History at Oxford University, and Co-Director (with the amazing feminist historian Senia Paseta) of the Women in Humanities research network. I am also very honoured to be President of the Socialist Educational Association.
My first book, Young Women, Work, and Family in England, 1918-1950 , won the Women’s History Network Book Prize. It is about young working-class women’s lives at a time of enormous social upheaval. My second book, The People: the Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 was published by John Murray in 2014 and quickly became a bestseller. It is now in paperback.
I am writing a history of social mobility in Britain since 1900, and a biography of the playwright Shelagh Delaney. These will both be published by Chatto and Windus.
Liking the idea of a CV of failures as a riposte to workaholism, perfectionism and competitiveness I tried to post mine here – but it is way too long.