Articles

A selection of my latest articles on class, inequality, feminism and history. Some of these journals require passwords or subscriptions. If you’d particularly like to read something then please get in touch with me (see contact page)

People Matter. History Workshop Journal 2013.

History Workshop Journal invited me  to publish my reflection on E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class to mark the 50th anniversary of  its publication. You can read my piece here.

History from Below. the many-headed monster, 2013.

My reflections on the state of history from below, posted on a wonderful wordpress blog created by Mark Hailwood and Brodie Waddell. You can find it here.

Babyboomers to Beanstalkers: Making the Modern Teenager in Postwar Britain. Co-authored with Dr Hilary Young, Cultural and Social History, 2012.


Together with Dr Young, I studied the representation and reality of working-class teenagers’ lives in 1950s Britain. By using oral histories and uncovering some important social survey archives, we reached some surprising conclusions: primarily that far from being a time of generational warfare, parents encouraged their teenagers to have a good time. This illuminates both the promises and the limitations of the ‘affluent’ society. You can find the journal here

Domestic service and class relations in Britain, 1900-1939. Past and Present, 2009.

Until the 1940s, the largest single occupation in Britain was domestic service – but at the time I wrote this, historians  had entirely ignored servants (with the wonderful exception of Alison Light’s Mrs Woolf and the Servants, published in 2007). I argue that we can only understand social class – and modern Britain – by placing servants at the centre of the story. Read the article here.

Affluence, Class, and Crown Street: Reinvestigating the Post-War Working Class. Contemporary British History, 2008.

I argue that the 1950s were not the ‘never had it so good’ affluent decade of Tory propaganda. Read my article here. I was honoured to be included in one of the first collections of historical research on postwar Britain.

Poverty and Aspiration: Young women’s entry to employment in interwar England. Twentieth Century British History, 2004 

Winner, Oxford University Press Essay Prize

I’ve long been interested in ordinary people’s aspirations, and this was the first piece in which I explored the subject. How is it that, in difficult circumstances, we humans retain our hope in the future? What happens when aspirations are raised – by education, or politicians’ rhetoric, or parents’ support – but then dashed by unemployment, poverty or ill-health? Here, I argue that mothers have long had an important, unsung role in bringing about historical change, by trying to give their daughters a better life than they themselves had known. Dire personal experiences don’t necessarily fuel hopelessness, then – people can and have used such experience to create dreams for a different future.

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