Retired Senior Lecturer, University of the West of England (1998-2011)


BA Humanities, (History Major) University of the West of England 1991
MA Social History, University of Essex, 1993
PhD University of Essex, 1996, Thesis title: ‘The Shadow of Marriage: Single Women in England 1919-1939’

Research Interests

My main research interests have been in historical perspectives on family, marital status and singleness.  I have researched the history of men and women who never married in 20th century England from 1914 to 1960 with a particular focus on relationships between unmarried women and children. My latest project arising out of this work is a British Academy funded history of nannies in 20th century Britain. More information on the project and publications arising out of it can be found here:


Nanny Knows Best: The History of the British Nanny, The History Press 2013.

Women on the Move: Refugees, Migration and Exile, co-edited with Fiona Reid, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011. ISBN 1 4438 2568 9.

The Shadow of Marriage: Singleness in England 1914-1960, Manchester University Press, 2007.Read a reviewAnother review. ISBN 9 780719 068928

An International Encyclopaedia of Women’s Suffrage, coauthored with June Hannam and Mitzi Auchterlonie, ABC Clio, 2000. ISBN 1 57607 064 6.

The Family Story: Blood, Contract and Intimacy 1830-1960, co-authored with Leonore Davidoff, Megan Doolittle and Janet Fink, Longman,1999. ISBN 0582 30350 8

OBook cover of The Shadow of Marriage:

Book cover, The Family Story

Book cover of An International Encyclopaedia of Women's Suffrage

Book cover of Nanny Knows Best


‘Was Mary Poppins a servant… or a Lady?’ The Lady Magazine Website

‘Attached to her work: Ursula Bowlby and motherhood’, Welcome Library Blog, 3/3/2015

‘Showing them How’: The Cultural Reproduction of Ideas about Spinsterhood in Interwar England.’ Women’s History Review, 20, 4, 2011

‘Other People’s Children: Single Women and Residential Childcare in Mid-Twentieth Century EnglandManagement & Organizational History 5: 3-4, August 2010, pp 314-330.Special issue on Women and Organisational History.

Winners or Losers? Single Women in History 1000-2000’ co-authored with Amy Froide and June Hannam. Women’s History Review, 17, 3, 2008, pp 313-326.

‘Imaginary widows: spinsters, marriage and the ‘lost Generation’ in Britain after the Great War. Journal of Family History 30, 4, (2005), pp 134-48.

‘”Nature takes no notice of Morality”: singleness, and Married Love in interwar Britain’, Women’s History Review, 11, 3, 2002, pp. 481-503.

‘Heartland and Periphery: local, national and global perspectives on women’s history’, co-authored with June Hannam, Women’s History Review (special issue), 11, 3, 2002, pp. 341-49.

‘Pictures from the Margins of Marriage: Representations of Spinsters and Single Mothers in the mid-Victorian Novel, Interwar Hollywood Melodrama and British Film of the 1950s and 1960s’, co-authored with Janet Fink. Gender and History, 11, 2, July 1999.

‘Das Paradox de Familie in Historischen Context, co-authored with Leonore Davidoff, Megan Doolittle and Janet Fink. Historische, Anthroplogie’, December 2000.

Book Chapters

Friendship and Support, Conflict and Rivalry: Multiple Uses of the Correspondence Column in Childcare Magazines, 1919–1939, in Catherine Clay, Maria DiCenzo, Barbara Green, Fiona Hackney (eds.) Women’s Periodicals and Print Culture in Britian, 1918-1939, The Interwar Period, Edinburgh University Press, 2018

‘Nanny Knows Best?: Tensions in Nanny Employment in early and Mid Twentieth Century British Chaildcare Magazines’ in eds. Rachel Ritchie, Sue Hawkins, Nicola Phillips, S. Jay Kleinber, Women in Magazines: Research, Representation, Production and Consumption, London Routledge 2016.

‘Paradoxes of Gender and Marital Status in mid-20th century British Welfare: Single Women, Unmarried Mothers and the Responsibilities of State and Family’, co-authored with Janet Fink, in Janet Fink and Åsa Lundqvist (eds.)Changing Relations of Welfare: Family, Gender and Migration in Britain and Scandinavia, Ashgate, 2010. ISBN 9 780754 678939.

‘Familjeansvar bland ensamstående. Paradoxer i 1900-talets brittiska socialpolitik’, co-authored with Janet Fink,  in  Janet Fink and Åsa Lundqvist (eds.) Genus, välfärd och familj. Liber: Malmö, 2009. ISBN 9 789147 08879

‘Personal Costs and Personal Pleasures: Care and the Unmarried Woman in Interwar England’ in Janet Fink (ed) Care: Personal Lives and Social Policy, Policy Press, 2004, ISBN 1861345194.

‘Family, Caring and Unpaid Work’, pp. 134-48, Women in Twentieth Century Britain, ed. Ina Zweiniger

Electronic Teaching Materials
Editor and introduction, Major Themes in Women’s History from the Enlightenment to the Second World War,  C.D. Rom, TLTP History Courseware Consortium, University of Glasgow 1999.

‘Becoming a Worker: Proletarianisation in early Industrial England’ co-authored with Mary Corcoran in ‘The Social Aspects of Industrialisation’, Core Resources for Historians C.D Rom, TLTP History Courseware Consortium, University of Glasgow, 1998.

Journal Editorships

‘Suffrage and Women’s Writing’, jointly edited with June Hannam Women’s Writing, 5,3 August 2018 (special issue)

Winners or Losers: Single Women in History, 1000-2000’, jointly edited with Amy Froide and June Hannam, Women’s History Review 17, 3, 2008 (special issue).

‘Heartland and Periphery: local, national and global perspectives on women’s history’, jointly edited with June Hannam, Women’s History Review 11, 3, 2002 (special issue).

Research Awards and Consultancies

2010-11 British Academy small grant of £7,400 for research expenses for a history of nannies in 20th Century Britain.
2006 Grants from the Women’s History Network, the British Academy and the Economic History Society for speakers and delegates to attend the conference ‘Single Women in History, June 23/24’ totalling £1,443.
2006 AHRC Research Leave award £14,013 to complete book on singleness in 20th century Britain.
2004 Visiting Research Fellowship, Rutgers University $2000 honorarium.
2002-2003 Paid consultancy at the Open University, Social Policy Department for third level course ‘Personal Lives and Social Policy’.
2001-2002 £10,000 bursary to implement online teaching in the School of Humanities awarded by the UWE Network Learning Support Framework.
2000- 2001 £4,500 awarded to evaluate the introduction of new technology in teaching at Lancaster University and University of Nottingham by the Courseware in History Implementation Consortium (CHIC)
1999-2000 £200 research expenses Scouloudi Award for Research.
1998-2000  £22,000 to develop and evaluate the introduction of new technology in teaching history at UWE, awarded by Courseware in History Implementation Consortium (CHIC).
1996-7 Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation Scholarship: £8,000 to research the history of single women.

Other professional and media activities

I am co-chair and web manager of the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network and have organised numerous events since 1993

I am Chair of the Larkhall Local History Society

I was convenor of the steering committee of the National Women’s History Network, 2006-2010 and a judge of the Claire Evans Prize. I was on the organising committee for the national WHN Conference in September 2012.

An article on the invisibility of friendship which I co-authored with Helen Kendall appeared in the Guardian Saturday 22 November 2008

Since 1999 I have appeared five times on BBC Radio Four Woman’s Hour discussing different aspects of spinsterhood and female singleness. The latest item can be accessed through the link here.

My most recent radio appearance was on a programme hosted by the politician Ann Widdicombe entitled ‘From Jean Brodie to Carrie Bradshaw: Spinsters in Popular Culture’ broadcast on BBC radio 4 March 4 2009