School of History

Dr Laura Tisdall

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow



I completed my PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2015. I then taught first at the University of Oxford and then at Durham University before coming to Queen Mary as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in May 2018.

Undergraduate Teaching

HST5384: The Rising Generation: Youth, Age and Protest in Post-War Britain


Research Interests:

My current postdoctoral project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, focuses on how children’s and adolescents’ perceptions of adulthood in Britain have changed from c.1950 to the present day. 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 will explore 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?

My broader research interests include

- Age and the life-cycle
- Childhood, adolescence and adulthood
- The history of psychology and psychoanalysis
- Memory, self-narrative and oral history
- The history of education


Tisdall, Laura. A Progressive Education? How Childhood Changed in Mid-Twentieth-Century English and Welsh Schools. Manchester: Manchester University Press (2019)

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

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

Tisdall, Laura (2015). 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 12(4): 489-507.

Tisdall, Laura (2013). ‘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 24(3): 351-375.

Public Engagement

In 2012-13, I received an AHRC student-led Collaborative Skills Development Grant for my project, Talking History, to collaborate with Rambling Heart delivering oral history and storytelling training to graduate students and early career researchers in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Cambridge. In May and June 2017, I received funding from the University of Oxford’s Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund to run follow-up workshops with children and adolescents in Bath.

In September 2019, I gave the Jacob Bronowski Award Lecture at the British Science Festival, speaking on 'When children became evil', exploring the psychological and psycho-analytical depictions of 'evil children' in post-war horror and science fiction. This lecture was reprised at Oxford IF in October 2019 and I will also be performing a slot on this topic as part of the Cosmic Shambles Network's Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People at the Lowry in Manchester in December 2019.

I have also written about my research for History and Policy and the Guardian.