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Dr Helen McCarthy

Helen

Reader in Modern British History

Email: h.mccarthy@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2684

Profile

I joined Queen Mary in September 2009.

I studied History as an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, followed by a frenetic year at Harvard University as a Kennedy Scholar.

I worked briefly for the think-tank Demos before completing my doctoral studies at the Institute of Historical Research. In 2008-9, I held a Junior Research Fellowship at St John’s College, Cambridge. 

Research

Research Interests:

I am a historian of modern Britain with broad research interests. My first book, The British People and the League of Nations (link is external), was a study of internationalism in Britain in the 1920s and 30s. My second book, Women of the World: The Rise of the Female Diplomat (link is external) (Bloomsbury, 2014) is the first serious attempt to explore the place of women in British diplomatic life since the 19th century, tracing their influence and experiences as wives, patrons, experts and eventually as diplomats in their own right. I am currently working on a history of working motherhood in twentieth-century Britain. As part of this project, I collaborated with the photographer Leonora Saunders in the creation of this unique website bringing together oral history and photography: www.workingmothersproject.com (link is external)

I also serve as Deputy Director of the Mile End Institute and as Managing Editor for Twentieth Century British History (link is external)

Publications

Books

Women of the World: The Rise of the Female Diplomat (link is external) (London, Bloomsbury 2014)

The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, Citizenship and Internationalism, c.1918-1945 (link is external) (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011) ISBN 9780719086168, x + 282pp

Articles in peer-reviewed journals

'Social Science and Married Women's Employment in Post-War Britain (link is external)' Past & Present, (2016), 233 (1), pp. 269 - 305

'Women, marriage and work in post-war Britain' (link is external) Women's History Review, published online, February 2016

'The Diplomatic History of Global Women’s Rights: The British Foreign Office and International Women’s Year, 1975’ Journal of Contemporary History, 50 (2015), pp833-853 

'Women, Marriage and Work in the British Diplomatic Service (link is external)’ Women’s History Review 23(6), 2014, pp853-873

‘Parties, Voluntary Associations and Democratic Politics in Interwar Britain’ Historical Journal (link is external), 50(4), December 2007, pp891-912

‘Service Clubs, Citizenship and Equality: gender relations and middle-class associations in Britain between the wars’ Historical Research (link is external), 81(213), August 2008, pp531-552

‘Leading from the Centre: The League of Nations Union, foreign policy and “political agreement” in the 1930s’ Contemporary British History (link is external), 23(4), 2009, pp527-542

‘Petticoat Diplomacy: The Admission of Women to the British Foreign Service, 1919-1946’ Twentieth Century British History (link is external), 20(3), 2009, pp285-321

‘Democratising British Foreign Policy: Rethinking the Peace Ballot, 1934-5’ Journal of British Studies (link is external) 49 (2), 2010, pp358-387

‘The League of Nations, Public Ritual and National Identity in Britain, c.1919-1956’ History Workshop Journal (link is external) 70 (2010) pp108-132

(with Pat Thane) ‘The Politics of Association in Industrial Society’ Twentieth Century British History (link is external) 22(2), 2011, pp217-229

‘Whose Democracy? Histories of British political culture between the wars’ Historical Journal (link is external) 55(1), 2012, pp221-238

Chapters in Books

‘Gender’ in Pat Thane, ed., Unequal Britain: Equalities Since 1945 (link is external) (London, Continuum: 2010) pp105-123. ISBN 97801847062987, xi + 228pp

‘The Lifeblood of the League? Voluntary Associations and League of Nations activism in Britain’ in Daniel Laqua, ed., Internationalism Reconfigured: Transnational Ideas and Movements between the World Wars (link is external) (London: IB Tauris, 2011), pp187-208. ISBN 9781848854697, xvii + 255pp

‘Associational voluntarism in interwar Britain’ in Matthew Hilton and James McKay, eds., The Ages of Voluntarism: How we got to the Big Society (link is external) (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 2011), pp47-68. ISBN 9780197264829, xi + 188pp

‘Shut Against the Woman and Workman Alike’: Democratising Foreign Policy between the Wars’ in Julie Gottlieb and Richard Toye, eds., The Aftermath of Suffrage: Women, Gender and Politics in Britain, 1918-1945 (link is external) (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp.142-158

Reviews

Extended review of Susan Pedersen, The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire (link is external)(Oxford, 2015) in American Historical Review, (2016), 121 (5), pp. 1619-21

The Strange Survival of Liberal England: Political Leaders, Moral Values and the Reception of Economic Debate (link is external), ed. EHH Green and DM Tanner in Reviews in History (No. 661, 2008)

Gender, Professions and Discourse: Early Twentieth-Century Women’s Autobiography by Christine Etherington-Wright in Twentieth-Century British History (link is external), 20 (2009), pp275-7

Parties at War: Political Organisation in Second World War Britain by Andrew Thorpe in Journal of British Studies (link is external), 49(1), 2010, pp219-20

Family Newspapers? Sex, Private Life and the British Popular Press by Adrian Bingham in Twentieth Century British History (link is external), 21(1), 2010, pp123-125

Nine Wartime Lives: Mass Observation and the Making of the Modern Self by James Hinton, in Reviews in History (link is external) (No.937, 2010)

Behind Enemy Lines: Gender, Passing and the Special Operations Executive in the Second World War by Juliette Pattinson in Journal of Contemporary History (link is external), 46 (2011), pp217-219

Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period, edited by Nigel Copsey (link is external), and Andrzej Olechnowicz (link is external) in English Historical Review (link is external), CXVII (524), 2012, pp235-236

On the Fringes of Diplomacy: Influences on British Foreign Policy, 1800-1945 (link is external), edited by Anthony Best and John Fisher in Reviews in History (no.1210, 2012)

Editorial and Professional Appointments

Member, Editorial Group of History and Policy (link is external)

Member, Public Policy Committee, British Academy (link is external)

Member, Editorial Board, The History of Parliament Trust  (link is external)

PhD Supervision

I welcome applications from candidates interested in the following areas of late nineteenth/twentieth-century British history:

  • popular politics
  • voluntary action, especially internationalism and peace activism
  • feminism and women’s movements
  • gender and work
  • diplomacy and diplomatic culture

Current PhD Students

  • Sara Hiorns – "Representing and Belonging: Social and Cultural Change in the British Diplomatic Service since 1945"
  • Kerrie Holloway – Britain's Political Humanitarians: The National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief and the Spanish refugees of 1939
  • Eleanor Lowe – 'Married to the party?' - marriage, gender and politics in in interwar Britain
  • Paul Sims – Disaster, memory, and the emergence of environmentalism in Britain, 1967-88
  • James Southern (Co-supervised with Dr James Ellison) – Diversity, Difference and Generational Change in the British Diplomatic Service

Current PHD Students

  • Sara Hiorns – "Representing and Belonging: Social and Cultural Change in the British Diplomatic Service since 1945"
  • Kerrie Holloway – Britain's Political Humanitarians: The National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief and the Spanish refugees of 1939
  • Eleanor Lowe – 'Married to the party?' - marriage, gender and politics in in interwar Britain
  • Paul Sims – Disaster, memory, and the emergence of environmentalism in Britain, 1967-88
  • James Southern – Diversity, Difference and Generational Change in the British Diplomatic Service
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