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Dr Ben Griffin

Dr Ben Griffin

Lecturer in Modern British History

Girton College
Huntingdon Road

Cambridge CB30JG


My research is focused on the ways in which gender has shaped political processes in Britain since the late eighteenth century. I am particularly interested in the history of masculinity, and the ways in which changing ideas about masculinity have shaped the behaviour and expectations of political elites. My new book, The Politics of Gender in Victorian Britain, argues that changes to women’s rights were not simply the result of changing ideas about women but also changing beliefs about masculinity, religion and the nature of the constitution and, in doing so, demonstrates how gender inequality can be created and reproduced by the state. The book won the Royal Historical Society's Whitfield Prize 2012 for the best first book on British History.  My next research project is a study of the development of family law in Britain, c. 1740-1925, which will explore how divorce law, child custody law, and the law relating to sexuality were influenced by changing conceptions of paternity, maternity, childhood, marriage and the role of the state. This is the first part of a larger project investigating the relationship between legal discourse and political discourse in the long nineteenth century.

Subject groups/Research projects

Modern British History:

Departments and Institutes

Girton College:

Research Interests

British political history since the eighteenth century, modern British gender history, history of feminism.

Research Supervision

I am currently supervising a Ph.D. on the development of state welfare provision in the early twentieth century.


I teach the papers on British political history 1700-1914 and 1867-present. I also teach a Part II course on 'the politics of gender in Britain, 1790-1990.' I have also recently supervised dissertations on ‘The memory of Palmerston among later 19th century politicians’; ‘Communism within the political propaganda of the Conservative Party, 1931-39’; ‘Joseph Chamberlain, Liberal Unionism and the politics of coalition’; ‘Popular Conservatism in 19th century Colchester’; and ‘Aldershot and the Contagious Diseases Acts, 1867-1886’.

Other Professional Activities

I am one of the commissioning editors for the Number 10 Guest Historians series on the website:


  • Modern British History

Key Publications

Ben Griffin, 'Class, gender and Liberalism in parliament, 1868-1882: the case of the Married Women’s Property Acts' Historical Journal 46 (2003), pp. 59-87.

Ben Griffin, L. Delap and A. Wills, eds., The politics of domestic authority in Britain since 1800 (Palgrave Macmillan, May 2009).

Ben Griffin, The politics of gender in Victorian Britain: masculinity, political culture and the struggle for women's rights (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Ben Griffin, 'Women's suffrage' in David Craig and James Thompson, eds., Languages of politics: mapping Britain's long nineteenth century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Other Publications

Recent Conference papers:

January 2011: ‘Women’s suffrage and nineteenth-century languages of political representation’, paper given at the American Historical Association Conference in Boston, USA.

November 2008: ‘The politics of child custody law reform: masculinity, religion and legal knowledge in late Victorian parliamentary politics’, paper given to the Modern British History Research Seminar, Oxford University.

January 2008: ‘Rethinking women’s suffrage’, paper given to the Historical and Cultural Geography Seminar, Department of Geography, Cambridge.

July 2006: ‘From coverture to companionate marriage’, paper given at the‘Politics of domestic authority in Britain since 1800’ conference, King’s College, Cambridge.