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Professor of Twentieth Century History, Goldsmiths, University of London

I specialise in British and Irish history in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on Ireland in the era of the First World War. My main contribution to the subject is my 2009 book, Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War. My current research is on Dublin’s Great Wars:Home Rule, The First World War, the Easter Rising and Ireland’s Fight for Independence, 1912-23. This major project is to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2018, and I am also carrying out other work in this general subject area. I work closely with community groups, especially in Northern Ireland, as they tackle issues around remembrance. A short film discussing my recent research is available here

Earlier in my career, my research was focused on inter-war British foreign policy and I published two monographs in that field, while I have also published on subject ranging from the history of the Channel Tunnel, youth culture in the 1960s, and the history of British liberalism. I joined Goldsmiths in 2004, spending six years in the Politics department before moving to History in 2010.

My First Class BA (Hons) in English and American History was from UEA in 1991 (where I was also sabbatical General Secretary of the Students' Union), and my doctorate in Modern History was from Oxford University in 1995.

Prior to coming to Goldsmiths in 2004 I spent five years working in Westminster politics as Director of Policy of the Liberal Democrats, including two years as Charles Kennedy's principal speechwriter. Previous to that, I was Director of the Centre for Reform, a public policy think tank, and between 1994 and 1999, I taught history/politics at Oxford University, UEA, Buckingham and the Open University. I was the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Hemel Hempstead in the 2005 and 2010 general elections, but am no longer a member of the party.

The papers for my time involved in the Liberal Democrats are substantial and with an historian’s eye on preserving a broad collection relating to many different aspects of politics, I have donated them to two historical archives. Those covering student politics at UEA are in the UEA Archive, with a listing available online. The main collection is at the London School of Economics and is currently being catalogued.


  • –present
    Professor of Twentieth Century History, Goldsmiths, University of London