I am a historian of political culture, education, and childhood in modern Britain. My current research is on youth democracy in Britain from 1928 to 2010 and I co-direct Oxford's Centre for the History of Childhood.
I am interested in what the histories of childhood and youth can tell us about political continuity and change in modern Britain. My doctoral research, completed in 2021 at the University of Cambridge, explored schoolgirls' politics in the decades before women's suffrage. I am currently writing a monograph building on this research, titled Playing Parliament: Schoolgirls and Politics in England, 1870-1918. This offers a new history of the gendering of politics as mass democracy came of age. Schools weren't isolated from the outside world: schoolgirls processed news of political events in the classroom, discussed political issues in the debating chamber, interacted with the material culture of politics and empire at school, and incorporated political themes into their writing and play. Through debating societies, mock parliaments and elections, visits to parliament, and imperial pageantry, schools gave girls and their teachers formative political experiences decades before women had the parliamentary vote.
My Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship project, Practising Democracy: Youth Councils and Parliaments in Modern Britain, tells a new story about political participation from 1928 to 2010. It analyses school councils, local authority youth councils, and national youth parliaments to broaden understandings of youth politics beyond apathy and protest and challenge adult-focused histories of democratic life. The project re-examines narratives of political change by showing how identity politics, devolution, and Britain's interactions with international democratic projects were shaped by, and shaped, youth politics. In doing so, it seeks to bring important historical perspectives to current debates on the 'crisis of democracy' and lowering the voting age.