skip to primary navigationskip to content

Dr Gareth Atkins

Dr Gareth Atkins

Fellow and College Lecturer in History, Queens' College

Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of History

Gareth Atkins is available for consultancy.

Queens' College


I read history at the University of Durham before coming to Cambridge for an M.Phil. in Political Thought and Intellectual History and then a Ph.D., which looked at evangelical patronage networks in late-Hanoverian Britain, covering the Church, armed forces, City of London, Sierra Leone and East India Companies. The resulting book is forthcoming as Converting Britannia: Evangelicals and British Public Life, 1770-1840. 

I am fascinated by all aspects of religion in the long nineteenth century. Central to my thinking is the idea that religion was not the victim of 'modernity' but its architect: and that competing religious ideas and technologies shaped and helped to define it. I am also interested in how the religious past provided the building blocks for ideas about gender, belief and Britishness in the present. Recent articles examine memories of the Reformation in  nineteenth-century Britain and the creation of naval heroes, while my edited collection, 'Making and remaking saints', looks for the first time at the use of saints (both Protestant and Catholic) 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. Tourism, travel writing and biblical archaeology brought the Bible lands closer than ever before to popular audiences, but encounters on the 'edge of empire' also raised unsettling questions about the reliability of scripture and the viability of translating  ancient texts and oriental cultures into a self-consciously modern Europe. I use King David and his presentation in art, architecture and literature to examine how changing scholarly understandings of the Bible trickled down into everyday 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 was a member between 2012 and 2017.

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:


  • British social history c.1600-1850
  • Military History
  • Modern British History
  • Early Modern History
  • Histories of Colonialism
  • Imperial History

Key Publications

Converting Britannia: Evangelicals and British Public Life, 1770-1840 (forthcoming: Boydell and Brewer, 2019)

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 (Manchester University Press, 2016)

Guest Editor

(with Jasmine Allen), Reframing Stained Glass in Nineteenth-Century Britain: a special issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in Nineteenth-Century Culture (forthcoming, 2020).

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 (2016), 381-97.

'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 (2015), 216-31.

'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

‘“Strauss-sick”? The Figure of Jesus and the “Church of the Future”’, in Elizabeth Ludlow (ed.), The Figure of Christ in the Long Nineteenth Century (forthcoming, 2020)

‘Anglican Evangelicalism’, in Jeremy Gregory (ed.), Establishment and empire: the development of Anglicanism, 1662-1829: Oxford History of Anglicanism, vol ii (forthcoming, 2017)

'Interpreting 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)

'Introduction: Thinking With Saints' and 'Ignatius of Loyola', in Making and Remaking Saints (Manchester, 2016)

‘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