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Professor of Modern History, Northumbria University, Newcastle

Matthew Kelly is Professor of Modern History in the Department of Humanities. He works on modern British history, focusing on the development of environmental policy in the post-war period, the cultural history of landscape, and the history of National Parks and nature conservation.

Matthew joined Northumbria in 2016 as a professor. Between 2006 and 2016, he was a lecturer and then associate professor at the University of Southampton, and between 2003 and 2006 he was a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. In 2012-13, he was a Fellow of the Rachel Carson Center, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich and in 2016 he was a Visiting Researcher at St. John’s College, Oxford for Michaelmas term.

Research interests:

I work in the broad area of environmental history, focusing mainly on how the environment became a subject of politics and state in the modern period. I’m especially interested in the peculiar status of Britain’s uplands and the degree to which successive governments empowered the state, and the National Park authorities in particular, to protect them. At the heart of this work is a set of key historical questions about how the growth of environmental awareness generated particular notions of the public good that challenged conventional ideas about the rights of private property. My Quartz and Feldspar. Dartmoor: A British Landscape in Modern Times was published in 2016 by Cape.

I also have significant interests in the history of Irish nationalism, the subject of my doctoral work, and I have written and published extensively on the history of Irish nationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I’m also interested in the history of modern Poland and my Finding Poland. From Tavistock to Hruzsowa and Back Again was published by Cape in 2010. This book traces the experiences of the Poles deported by the Soviet Union from occupied eastern Poland in 1940, taking the reader to Kazakhstan, Iran, India and, finally, the U.K. The Polish translation—Ocaleni. Wojenna tułaczka kresowej rodziny (2011)—was a finalist for the Ambasador Nowej Europy book prize, 2012.


  • –present
    Professor of Modern History, Northumbria University, Newcastle


  • 2002 
    Oxford, DPhil in Modern History