I am interested broadly in the economic and social history of eighteenth-century Britain. My research focuses on gender and the social history of debt.
I am currently engaged in two research projects:
The first, entitled 'Precarious Lives', is an account of the economic culture and identity of Britain's lower middling sort in the eighteenth century. We tend to think of the middle class as aspirational and upwardly mobile. Yet in the eighteenth century, as many as one in four middling men would spend time in a debtors' prison. The project focuses on those lower middling men, perched between success and failure, who struggled to navigate and shape a new social and economic world. It considers how the insecurities faced by the lower middling shaped economic practices and social/gender identities. The project is supported by fellowships from the Huntington Library, the Clark Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
My second project, in collaboration with Prof. Jeremy Boulton at Newcastle University, is a pilot project which investigates the research potential of British Debtors' Schedules. These documents quantititative data about the wealth and networks of those who were imprisoned for debt. Using a sample of schedules from London, research focuses on themes of wealth, work and credit in eighteenth-century Britain. The project is supported by the Economic History Society.
I am an advocate for public history and I enjoy collaborating with colleagues in museums and radio. I have consulted for museum exhibitions throughout the UK and I publish in the field of heritage studies.