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The Childhood, Law & Policy Network (CLPN)

Dr Laura Tisdall


NUAcT Fellow in History, Newcastle University, United Kingdom



I am a historian of childhood, adolescence and chronological age in twentieth- and twenty-first century Britain. My current research project focuses on how children’s and adolescents’ perceptions of adulthood in Britain have changed from c.1945 to c.1989. This project considers adulthood, as well as childhood, as a constructed category, and contends that we can only understand the two in relation to each other. It explores the tension between the ‘ideal adult’ – the psychologically mature independent actor who can, for example, give informed consent to medical procedures – and the real adult who often doesn’t live up to these ideals. What kind of adult did teenagers think they would grow up to be?



Tisdall L. 'State of the field: the history of modern childhood', forthcoming in History, June 2022.

Tisdall LA. ‘What a Difference it was to be a Woman and not a Teenager’: Adolescent Girls’ Conceptions of Adulthood in 1960s and 1970s Britain. Gender and History 2022, epub ahead of print.

Tisdall L. ‘The school that I’d like’: children and teenagers write about education in England and Wales, 1945-79. In: Pooley S; Taylor J, ed. Children’s Experiences of Welfare in Modern Britain. London: University of London Press, 2021, pp.197-219.

Tisdall L. ‘We have come to be destroyed’: The ‘extraordinary’ child in science fiction cinema in early Cold War Britain. History of the Human Sciences 2021, 34(5), 8.31.

Tisdall L. A progressive education? How childhood changed in mid-twentieth-century English and Welsh schools. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2019.

Tisdall L. Education, parenting and concepts of childhood in England, c. 1945 to c. 1979. Contemporary British History 2017, 31(1), 24-46.

Tisdall L. The psychologist, the psychoanalyst and the 'extraordinary child' in postwar British science fiction. Medical Humanities 2016, 42(4), e4-e9 .

Tisdall L. Inside the 'blackboard jungle': male teachers and male pupils at English secondary modern schools in fact and fiction, 1950 to 1959. Cultural and Social History 2015, 12(4), 489-507.

Tisdall L. ‘That was what life in Bridgeburn had made her’: reading the autobiographies of children in institutional care in England, 1918–46. Twentieth Century British History 2013, 24(3), 351-375.



History of childhood in modern Britain; history of schooling and education in modern Britain; history of the 'psy' sciences and ideas about childhood capacity
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