Skip to main content
School of History

Professor Emma Griffin


Professor of British History and Head of School



I'm a Professor of Modern British history. After an undergraduate degree in History at Queen Mary in the 1990s and a PhD and postdoctoral fellowship at Cambridge University, I spent eighteen years at UEA, before returning to QM in 2023 to take up my current position as Head of the School of History.. I have written five books, most recently Bread Winner: An Intimate History of the Victorian Economy (Yale University Press, 2020), and I'm currently writing a global history of industrialisation for Penguin Press.

In addition to my work as a researcher and teacher, I enjoy belonging and contributing to the wider community of historians. I am the current President of the Royal Historical Society, having previously been an active member of its Council in the 2010s in a variety of roles. I have spent many years engaged in editorial work and have served as editor for History; Historical Journal; Cultural and Social History and the Camden Series.


Research Interests:

My research has been characterised by an interest in the ways in which the economic modernization of Britain altered the texture of human life Between the mid-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Britain transitioned from a predominantly rural and agricultural society to the world’s most heavily industrial and urbanised nation, and my research (and teaching) has consistently sought to understand this shift and questioned how it was experienced by ordinary people. My work includes five single-authored monographs and I am currently contracted to Penguin to write a history of global industrialisation. Alongside my books, I have published a range of articles in peer-reviewed journals, including – American Historical Review, English Historical Review, Journal of British Studies, and Past and Present.


Bread Winner: An Intimate History of the Victorian Economy (Yale UP, 2020)
Liberty’s Dawn: A People’s History of the Industrial Revolution (Yale UP, 2013)
A Short History of the British Industrial Revolution (Palgrave, 2010)
Blood Sport. A History of Hunting in Britain (Yale University Press, 2007)
England’s Revelry: A History of Popular Sports and Pastimes, 1660-1800 (Oxford University Press, 2005).


I welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the social, cultural and economic hsitory of British industrialisation, including its global context.

Public Engagement

I am committed to making my research accessible to the wider public and to championing the value and importance of History on the national stage. I speak frequently to public audiences in settings ranging from quality documentaries on BBC radio and TV, to festivals, and to local and community events. I have also written comment pieces and reviews in the national press. In my capacity as President of the Royal Historical Society, I speak frequently on the importance and value of the discipline of History in all its contexts to a wide range of political and public audiences.

Media work includes presenting, with Tony Robinson, The Real Mill for Channel 4. Other television appearances include: Inside the Factory; Who Do You Think You Are; A House through Time; Time Shift; Forensic Case Book; and much else besides.

I have written and presented several history documentaries for Radio 4 – Mind the Gender Pay Gap; Voices from our Industrial Past; and Outfoxed – and contributed to several other BBC radio programmes, including In Our Time, The Food Programme, Laurence Llewellyn Bowen's Escape to the Country, Making History, Night Waves and Free Thinking.

Back to top