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Dr Gareth Atkins

Dr Gareth Atkins

Fellow and Joint Director of Studies in History, Magdalene College

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, CRASSH

Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of History

Magdalene College

Office Phone: 01223 746540


I read history at the University of Durham before coming to Cambridge for an M.Phil. in Political Thought and Intellectual History and a Ph.D., which looked at evangelical patronage networks in late-Hanoverian Britain, covering the Church, armed forces, City of London and East India Company, c.1780-1830. I am currently preparing a book based on this work, provisionally entitled The politics of patronage: Anglican Evangelicals and British public life, 1770-1850.

My project since then has sought to assert the centrality of religion - but also its contested nature - in constructions of the national past in the same period, focusing in particular on how 'heroes', 'saints' and biblical figures were used to debate ideas about gender, belief and Britishness. Recent articles examine conflicting memories of the Reformation in  nineteenth-century Britain and the exploitation of naval heroism by religious publicists, while a forthcoming edited collection, 'Making and remaking saints', looks for the first time at the use of saints and saintly figures in nineteenth-century culture wars.

I am currently at work on a book-length project that extends this work towards the reception of the Bible in the nineteenth century, using King David to examine how changing scholarly understandings of the Bible trickled down into art, architecture and popular culture. This draws on the ongoing activities of the ERC-funded project on 'The Bible and Antiquity in Nineteenth-Century Culture', based at CRASSH, of which I am a member.

I have held visiting fellowships at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and at the Institute of Historical Research, in London, and am also Honorary Secretary of the Ecclesiastical History Society.

Departments and Institutes

Magdalene College:

Research Interests

Religious culture and thought in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Anglophone world; naval history, especially its intersections with belief.


British Political & Constitutional History 1700-1914 (Part I: Paper 5)

British Economic & Social History (Part I: Paper 10)

Other Professional Activities

Secretary, Ecclesiastical History Society:

Key Publications

Edited books

(with Brian H. Murray and Shinjini Das), Chosen Peoples, Promised Lands: the Bible, Race and Empire in the Nineteenth Century (under consideration with Cambridge University Press)

Making and Remaking Saints in Nineteenth-Century Britain (forthcoming, Manchester University Press, 2015)

Journal Articles

'"Isaiah's call to England": doubts about prophecy in nineteenth-century Britain', in Charlotte Methuen, Andrew Spicer & Frances Andrews (eds), The Church and doubt, Studies in Church History 52 (forthcoming, 2016).

'William Jowett’s Christian Researches: British Protestants and Religious Plurality in the Mediterranean, Syria and the Holy Land, 1815-30', in Charlotte Methuen, Andrew Spicer & John Wolffe (eds), Christians and Religious Plurality, Studies in Church History 51 (forthcoming, 2015)

'Christian heroes, providence and patriotism in wartime Britain, 1793-1815', Historical Journal, 58 (2015), 393-414.

‘Religion, politics and patronage in the late-Hanoverian navy, c. 1780-c. 1820', Historical Research, 88 (2015), 272-90.

'"Idle reading"? Policing the boundaries of the nineteenth-century household', in John Doran, Charlotte Methuen & Alexandra Walsham (eds), Religion and the Household, Studies in Church History 50 (Boydell, 2014), 331-42.

‘Truth at stake: the nineteenth-century reputation of Thomas Cranmer’, in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 90, 1 (2014), 257-86.

‘Anglican Evangelical Theology, c.1830-1850: the case of Edward Bickersteth’, Journal of Religious History, 38 (2014), 1-19.

‘“True churchmen”? Anglican Evangelicals and history, c. 1770-1850’, Theology (Sep-Oct 2012), 339-49.

‘Reformation, Revival and Rebirth in Anglican Evangelical Thought, c.1780-c.1830’, in Kate Cooper & Jeremy Gregory (eds), Revival and Resurgence in Christian History, Studies in Church History 44 (Woodbridge, 2008), 74-84.

Chapters in edited collections

‘Anglican Evangelicalism’, in Jeremy Gregory (ed.), Establishment and empire: the development of Anglicanism, 1662-1829: Oxford History of Anglicanism, vol ii (forthcoming, 2016)

'The Self-Interpreting Bible', in Michael Ledger-Lomas and Scott Mandelbrote (eds), Using Early Modern Scholarship in Nineteenth-century Britain: The Persistence of the Past (forthcoming, Cambridge 2017)

'Evangelical Writers', in Frederick D. Aquino and Benjamin J. King (eds), The Oxford Handbook of John Henry Newman (forthcoming, Oxford, 2017)

'Ignatius of Loyola', in Making and Remaking Saints (forthcoming)

‘Piety and plutocracy: the social and business world of the Thorntons’, in Jane Brown & Jeremy Musson (ed.), Moggerhanger Park: an architectural and social history (Ipswich, 2012).

‘Reason vs. Revelation? Evangelical apologetics in the thought of Thomas Rawson Birks’, in R. Crone, D. Gange & K. Jones (eds.) New Perspectives in British Cultural History, 1600-2000 (London, 2007), pp. 90-104.

Other Publications

Reviews for Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature; English Historical Review; History; IHR Reviews in History; Journal of Religious History; Studies in World Christianity; Wesley and Methodist Studies; Journal of Ecclesiastical History; International Journal of Maritime History