Ella Sbaraini

PhD Candidate in History
Ella Sbaraini

I am a Junior Research Fellow at St John's College. My current postdoctoral project examines the experiences of international patients in British mental health asylums between 1770 and 1920. It asks (among other things): how were patients born outside Britain treated in asylums? How did non-English speakers navigate living and interacting in these spaces? Bringing together histories of mental health, 'madness', the emotions, immigration and race, it resituates nineteenth- and twentieth-century British asylums as 'global' institutions with complex and changing patient populations. 

My PhD thesis, completed in 2023, explored the experience of feeling suicidal in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England. This work, which is currently being reformed as a monograph, engages with the history of the emotions, and seeks to be part of a 'suicide history from below' which re-centres suicidal people in our historical narratives. More broadly, I am interested in histories of mental health, suicide, death, medicine, wellbeing and materiality. 

I am keenly interested in communicating the wider public significance and impact of my work, and have had the privilege on working with The OLLIE Foundation to explore the contemporary applications of historical research into the history of suicide. My research has also been covered in The Times and The Guardian, and discussed on Loose Women.


I am interested in histories of the emotions, death, sexuality and food.

My current PhD research explores the experience of feeling suicidal in England and Wales, 1700-1850. This research engages with histories of suicide, the emotions, letter-writing, religion, material culture and the body. My previous research has looked at middle-aged women's sexuality in the eighteenth-century, and the history of sexuality remains a keen interest of mine.


First Year History Faculty Induction Programme: 15 supervisions, 2 seminars

Part II, Paper 1, Historical Argument and Practice: 2 seminars on 'Postmodernism'

HE+ Conference: Workshop on 'Looking for the Emotions in History'

Sutton Trust School: Workshop on 'Early Modern Gender and Sexuality'


‘She said that she shd. never be happy again for that she had wronged her husband: Sex, Love, Honour and Suicidality in England, 1760-1850’, paper presented at the Cambridge Gender and Sexuality Graduate Workshop, 24th November 2020.


‘[H]e said he would never go upon the Tramp any more’: The Elderly Suicidal in England, 1700-1815’, paper presented at the Institute of Historical Research ‘Life-Cycles’ Seminar, 10th November 2020.


‘Ten thousand Millions of Fires kindling in my Head’: Suicide, Masculinity and the ‘Wild’ Body in England, 1750-1850’, paper presented at the History of the Gendered Body Seminar at the University of Oxford, 16th October 2020.


‘Embodying Suicidal Emotions’, Social History Society Online Conference, 29th June 2020.    

‘‘He asked her if she wd. put an end to him’: The Experience of Suicide among the Elderly in England, 1700-1815’, Social History Society Conference in Lincoln, 10th-13th June 2019.

Presentation on ‘The Suicidal in England, Scotland and Wales, 1700-1850’ at the Institute for Historical Research’s ‘Lightning Talks’, 11th December 2019.



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