Dr Gareth Atkins

Fellow, Tutor and Director of Studies, Queens' College
Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of History
Dr Gareth Atkins
I am a historian of religion, politics and culture in modern Britain. The main strand of my research to date is concerned with religious networks: how they operated at the interface between an ‘early modern’ world of patronage and connection while adapting to the more open religious marketplace of plural modernity, voluntary fundraising and unfettered print culture. My first monograph, Converting Britannia: Evangelicals and British Public Life, 1770-1840, was published by Boydell and Brewer in 2019, and reconstructs both the networks through which evangelicals and moralists exerted influence within politics and public life and how those groups used the platforms thus created to reshape ideas about nationhood and individual identity.
I am now involved with an edition of the hitherto unpublished diaries of William Wilberforce, and am thinking towards a new project on philanthropy and the idea of a 'moral empire' in the Hanoverian City of London.

I have also written widely on the thought-worlds of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Protestantism. During my British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2009-12) I focused on ideas about and uses of iconic figures in the present and from the past, producing articles on naval heroes, celebrity and the invocation of the past for present purposes, as well as an edited book, Making and Remaking Saints in Nineteenth-Century Britain, which was published by Manchester University Press in 2016. A growing interest in cultural media as well as their messages is reflected in my co-editorship of a special issue of the journal '19', on stained glass as a site of surprising debate and discussion, while another co-edited collection, Chosen Peoples: the Bible, Race and Empire in the Long Nineteenth Century (Manchester Studies in Imperialism, 2020), points towards interests in religious experience, encounters and exchanges in a variety of British colonial contexts.
Belief and unbelief in modern Britain; politics and political institutions; material culture; masculinities; heroes and their construction.
Currently I lecture and supervise for Papers 5 and 10 (British Political and Economic Social History, c. 1688-1880s), as well as offering Historical Projects questions for the History and Politics joint tripos. I also teach Historical Argument and Practice.
Hon. Secretary, Ecclesiastical History Society
I am happy to supervise in any area broadly relevant to my research.


Tags & Themes


Queens' College, Silver Street, Cambridge. CB3 9ET


Key publications

Converting Britannia: Evangelicals and British Public Life, 1770-1840 (Boydell & Brewer, 2019)
(Co-edited with Shinjini Das and Brian H, Murray), Chosen Peoples: the Bible, Race and Empire in the Nineteenth Century (Manchester University Press, 2020)

(ed.) Making and Remaking Saints in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Manchester University Press, 2016)

(Co-edited with Jasmine Allen), Reframing Stained Glass in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Cultures, Aesthetics, Contexts, Special issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in Nineteenth-Century Culture (2020)
Articles and chapters

'Kingsley's Old Testament Heroes', in Jonathan Conlin and J.M.I. Klaver (eds), Charles Kingsley: Faith, Flesh and Fantasy (Routledge, 2021: forthcoming)

‘Missions on the Fringes of Europe: British Protestants and the Orthodox Churches, c. 1800-1850’, in Simone Maghenzani and Steffano Villani (eds), British Protestant Missions and the Conversion of Europe, 1600-1900 (Routledge, 2020), 215-34.

‘“Strauss-sick”? Jesus and the Saints in the “Church of the Future”’, in Elizabeth Ludlow (ed.), The Figure of Christ in the Long Nineteenth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), 227-41.

‘“So great a cloud of witnesses”: shaping sacred space in the Victorian Angloworld’, in Reframing Stained Glass (2020)

‘Evangelical writers’, in Frederick D. Aquino & Benjamin J. King (eds), The Oxford Handbook of John Henry Newman (Oxford University Press, 2018)

‘Anglican Evangelicalism’, in Jeremy Gregory (ed.), Establishment and Empire: the Development of Anglicanism, 1662-1829: Oxford History of Anglicanism, vol ii (Oxford University Press, 2017) https://doi/org/10.1093/oso/9780199644636.003.0023

'Ignatius Loyola’, & ‘Introduction: thinking with saints’, in Making and Remaking Saints (MUP, 2016)

‘“Isaiah's call to England”: doubts about prophecy in nineteenth-century Britain’, Studies in Church History, 52 (2016), 381-97. https://doi.org/10.1017/stc.2015.22

‘Christian heroes, providence & patriotism in wartime Britain, 1793-1815’, Historical Journal, 58 (2015), 393-414. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X14000338

‘Religion, politics & patronage in the late-Hanoverian navy, c. 1780-c. 1820’, Historical Research, 88 (2015), 272-90. WINNER OF THE JULIAN CORBETT PRIZE FOR NAVAL HISTORY, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2281.12089

‘William Jowett’s Christian Researches: British Protestants and Religious Plurality in the Mediterranean, Syria and the Holy Land, 1815-30’, Studies in Church History, 51 (2015), 216-31. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0424208400050208

'"Idle reading"? Policing the boundaries of the nineteenth-century household’, Studies in Church History, 50 (2014), 331-42. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0424208400001819

‘Truth at stake: the nineteenth-century reputation of Thomas Cranmer’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 90, 1 (2014), 257-86. https://doi.org/10.7227/BJRL.90.1.12

‘Anglican Evangelical Theology, c.1830-1850: the case of Edward Bickersteth’, Journal of Religious History, 38, 1 (2014), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9809.12134

‘“True churchmen”? Anglican Evangelicals & history, c. 1770-1850’, Theology (2012), 339-49. https://doi.org/10.1177/0040571X12450268

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

‘Reformation, revival & rebirth in Anglican Evangelical thought, c.1780-c.1830’, Studies in Church History, 44 (2008), 74-84.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0424208400003569

‘Reason vs. revelation?’, in R. Crone, D. Gange & K. Jones (eds.) New Perspectives in British Cultural History, 1600-2000 (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007), pp. 90-104.


Blog Posts

The Bible and Antiquity at Home

What does your stuff say about you? Religion on the Victorian mantelpiece

The Bible and Antiquity in Nineteenth-Century Culture

Daniel Sykes refuses to celebrate

Napoleon as the Antichrist