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Dr Jon Lawrence

Dr Jon Lawrence

Reader in Modern British History

Emmanuel College
Cambridge CB2 3AP
Office Phone: 01223 7 42974


Dr Lawrence joined the History Faculty in October 2004 having previously taught at University College, London, the University of Liverpool and Harvard University (2002-3). He studied History at King’s College, Cambridge and completed his doctorate in 1989. He chairs the editorial board of Twentieth-Century British History (OUP), and is an editorial advisor to History and Policy. He was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for 2013-15 and is currently completing a monograph based on this project.

Departments and Institutes

Emmanuel College:

Research Interests

Dr Lawrence works on British social, political and cultural history from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. He has published extensively on political language and the culture of public politics. His book Electing Our Masters: the Hustings in British Politics from Hogarth to Blair was published by OUP in 2009. He is currently working on the politics of social identity in Britain from the 1930s to the present, including a history of popular individualism (and its limits). In 2014 he wrote and presented a documentary on Radio 4 on 'The Unmaking of the English Working Class'.

Research Supervision

Dr Lawrence currently offers graduate supervision in modern British social, cultural and political history from 1918 to the present. He has supervised nineteen PhDs to completion (all with no more than minor corrections). These have been on subjects as diverse as Gladstone’s library; death in working-class culture; popular Conservatism, 1906-24; London transport and social change, 1880-1939; Culture and class on the British Left, 1930-1960; post-war overspill housing programmes, and Languages of class and the social in 1970s and 1980s Britain. His current PhD students are working on: the British Left and the politics of everyday life, 1958-91; the cultural history of wider share ownership since the 1920s; popular conceptions of time and social change since 1945; the Conservatives and the politics of public opinion in the 1970s and 1980s, and the intellectual history of Euro-scepticism. 


Part I, Paper 6 ‘British Political History since 1867’ (Michaelmas and Lent); Part II, Paper 24 ‘The Politics of Gender’ (Lent); HAP lecture on 'Marxism'.

Faculty Classes:
Special Subject: ‘Class, Party and the Politics of Social Identity in England, 1914-1945’; Doctoral Training Class: ‘Critical Readings in Modern British History’ [with Prof. Peter Mandler].

Paper 6 and dissertations only. Dr Lawrence has extensive experience of supervising dissertation topics in modern British social, political and cultural history. He is keen to hear from students with ideas for new research topics across these fields. On leave 2013-14 and 2014-15.


  • Modern British History

Key Publications

  • 'Inventing the “traditional working class”: a re-analysis of interview notes from Young and Willmott’s Family and Kinship in East London,’ Historical Journal 59, 2 (2016).
  • 'Social-Science Encounters and the Negotiation of Difference in early 1960s England,' History Workshop Journal, 77 (Spring 2014).
  • David Feldman and Jon Lawrence (eds), Structures and Transformations in Modern British History: Essays for Gareth Stedman Jones (Cambridge, 2011), pp. xii, 331.
  • Electing Our Masters: The Hustings in British Politics from Hogarth to Blair (Oxford, 2009), pp. xvi, 328.
  • Speaking for the People: Party, Language and Popular Politics in England, 1867-1914 (Cambridge, 1998, [pbk., 2002]), pp. xiii, 289
  • Jon Lawrence and Miles Taylor (eds), Party, State and Society: Electoral Behaviour in Britain since 1820 (Aldershot, 1997), pp. xii, 207 (introduction translated as ‘Les historiens britanniques face à la sociologie politique,’ Politix: Revue des Sciences Sociales du Politique, 21, 81 (2008), 13-39.

Other Publications


Edited Books:

Jon Lawrence and Pat Starkey (eds), Child welfare and social action in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: international perspectives (Liverpool University Press, 2001 [hardback and paperback]), pp. viii, 294.

Chapters in edited collections:

‘Popular politics and the limitations of party: Wolverhampton, 1867‑1900’ in E. Biagini and A. Reid (eds.), Currents of Radicalism: popular Radicalism, organized labour and party politics in Britain, 1850-1914, (Cambridge, CUP, 1991), 65-85.

‘The First World War and its aftermath’, in Paul Johnson (ed.), Twentieth-Century Britain: economic, social and cultural change, (Longmans, 1994), 151-168.       

Jay Winter and Jean-Louis Robert (eds.), Capital cities at war: London, Paris, Berlin, 1914‑1919, vol. I, (CUP, 1997; pbk. ed. 1999); joint authorship of six chapters.                                                      

‘Labour – the myths it has lived by’, in Duncan Tanner, Pat Thane and Nick Tiratsoo (eds), Labour’s First Century (Cambridge University Press, 2000), 341-66. 

‘Contesting the male polity: the suffragettes and the politics of disruption in Edwardian Britain’, in Amanda Vickery (ed.), Women, privilege and power: British politics, 1750 to the present, The Making of Modern Freedom Series, (Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 2001), 201-26.

‘Political history’ in Stefan Berger, Heiko Feldner and Kevin Passmore (eds), Writing History: theory and practice (Arnold, 2003), 183-202; (revised 2nd edn., Bloomsbury, 2010), 213-31.

‘Public space, political space’ in Jay Winter and Jean-Louis Robert (eds), Capital Cities at War: Paris, London, Berlin, 1914-1919. Volume 2: A Cultural History (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007), 280-312.

‘Class, paternalism and the British path to modernity’ in Simon Gunn and James Vernon (eds) The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain (University of California Press, 2011).  

Jon Lawrence and Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, 'Margaret Thatcher and the decline of class politics' in Ben Jackson and Robert Saunders (eds) The Thatcher Revolution forthcoming (Cambridge, 2012).

Public and private languages of “class” in the Luton by-election of 1963’ in Chris Williams and Andrew Edwards (eds), The Art of the Possible: Politics and Governance in Modern British History, 1885-1997. Essays in Memory of Duncan Tanner (Manchester University Press, 2015), pp. 188-206.

‘Languages of place and belonging: competing conceptions of “community” in mid-twentieth century Bermondsey, London’ in Stefan Couperus and Harm Kaal (eds), (Re)Constructing Communities in Europe, 1918-1968 (Routledge, New York & Abingdon, 2017), 19-44.

Refereed journal articles:

‘Popular Radicalism and the socialist revival in Britain’, Journal of British Studies, 31, 2 (1992), 163‑86.

Jon Lawrence, Martin Dean and Jean-Louis Robert, ‘The outbreak of War and the urban economy, Paris, Berlin and London in 1914’, Economic History Review, XLV, 3 (1992), 564‑93. Reprinted in Michael S. Neiberg (ed.), World War One: International Library of Essays on Military History, (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2005), 221-50.

Jon Lawrence and Miles Taylor, ‘The poverty of protest: Gareth Stedman Jones and the politics of language ‑ a reply’, Social History, 18, 1 (1993), 1-15 [a reply to Mayfield and Thorne, Social History, 1992].

‘Class and gender in the making of urban toryism, 1880‑1914’, English Historical Review, CVIII, 428 (1993), 629-52. Reprinted in Benjamin Ziemann and Thomas Mergel (eds), European Political History, 1870-1913 (Ashgate, 2007)

Jay Winter, Jon Lawrence, and Jacqueline Arouiat, ‘The impact of war on infant mortality in London, 1910‑1923’, Annales de Demographie Historique, (1993), 329-53.

Jon Lawrence and Jane Elliott, ‘Parliamentary election results reconsidered, an analysis of borough elections, 1885-1910’, Parliamentary History, 16, 1 (1997), 18-29; (Special volume: E.H.H. Green (ed.), An Age of Transition: British Politics, 1880-1914).

‘The complexities of English Progressivism: Wolverhampton politics in the early twentieth century’, Midland History, 24 (1999), 147-66.

‘Fascist Violence and the Politics of Public Order in inter-war Britain: the Olympia Debate Revisited’, Historical Research, 76, 192 (2003), 238-67.

'Forging a Peaceable Kingdom: War, Violence and the Fear of Brutalisation in Post-First World War Britain ,' Journal of Modern History, 75, 3 (Sept. 2003), 557-89.

‘Why Olympia mattered: reply to Pugh’, Historical Research, 78, 200 (2005), 263-72.

'The Transformation of British Public Politics after the First World War,' Past and Present, 190 (2006), 186-216

‘Class, “affluence” and the study of everyday life in Britain, c.1930-1964,’ Cultural and Social History, 10 (2013), 273-99.

[with Jane Elliott] ‘Refining childhood social class measures in the 1958 British cohort study,’ CLS Working Paper, 2014/1, London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

[with Jane Elliott] ‘The emotional economy of unemployment: a re-analysis of testimony from a Sheppey family, 1978-1983’ commissioned by the UK Data Archive for a Special Edition on ‘Developments in Secondary Data Analysis’, Sage Open (Sept 2016) DOI: 10.1177/2158244016669517

Review and policy essays:

‘Movement politics, the electoral machine and the “Masses”: lessons from the early Labour Party’, Renewal, 24, 3 (2016).

'The voice of the People? Re-reading the field-notes of classic post-war social science studies’ in Mark Hailwood, Laura Sangha, Brodie Waddell and Jonathan Willis (eds), The Voices of the People: An Online Symposium (2015)

 ‘Why the working class was never “white”,’ New Left Project, 26 Dec. 2014 @ .

 ‘Blue Labour, One Nation Labour and the Lessons of History,’ Guest Editorial for Renewal, Labour conference edition (September 2013) @ here

 ‘Back to Work: The Making and Unmaking of the English Working Class’ for IPPR journal Juncture, 20, 1 (2013), 80-84.

 ‘The Times they were a-changin’: Placing Britain’s Longitudinal Resources in Historical Context’ blog for ESRC programme ‘CLOSER’ @ September 2012

‘Pioneers of Modernity,’ [James Hinton’s Nine Wartime Lives], History Workshop Journal, 68 (2012), pp. 330-38.

‘A loss of face-to-face’ History Today, August 2009, 20-22 @

‘The hustings, broadcasters and the future of British democracy’, History and Policy website paper [c. 4,000 words], May 2009

‘What is to be done with the second chamber?’ History and Policy [c. 4,000 words], Jan. 2007 @

‘What Did Cook Want?’ London Review of Books, 26, 4 (19 February 2004).

‘The British sense of class’, Journal of Contemporary History 35, 2 (2000), pp. 307-18.

‘The politics of place and the politics of nation’, Twentieth-Century British History, 11, 1 (2000), pp. 83-92.