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Emeritus Professor of French History, Keele University

I retired in the summer of 2014, after spending the entirety of my career in the History Department at Keele. It was a thoroughly rewarding experience, from the wider campus environment, to supportive colleagues and lively students. I am, therefore, delighted to have retained an affiliation to Keele as an emeritus professor.

Naturally, I am continuing my research into French history, not simply that of the Revolution and Napoleon, but on a broader basis too, as I complete a book about the history of voting in France. At the same time, in collaboration with my son, Tom, who is a History lecturer at Oxford Brookes, I have also been studying the wider history of voting. We hope to write a book about the global history of the vote in the near future.

I am completing a book entitled ‘How the French Learned to Vote’, a study of electoral practice in France since the Revolution of 1789. It is not concerned with who was elected, but how voters behaved at the polls. Across the Channel universal male suffrage was established in 1848 (though women had to wait for another century), along with a series of different electoral systems and frequent elections, so France constitutes a crucial case study in the development of democracy. I have also been working on a global history of the secret ballot with Tom Crook and on elections in authoritarian regimes with John Dunne. I have just stepped down as editor of the journal French History, but I remain on the editorial board.


  • –present
    Emeritus Professor of French History, Keele University