Prof Helen McCarthy
I am a historian of modern Britain and an author of three books, most recently, Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood (Bloomsbury, 2020), which was shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize. Before joining the Faculty in September 2018, I taught at Queen Mary University of London for nine years. Current projects include the life-writing of Fabian socialist Beatrice Webb, British society, politics and culture in the 1990s, and the social and cultural history of retirement since 1945.
I have broad research interests in the social, cultural and political history of Britain since the late nineteenth century. My first book, The British People and the League of Nations (2011), explored the dynamics and popular reach of liberal internationalism between 1918 and 1945, taking as its focus the League of Nations Union, one of the largest voluntary associations of the period. My second book, Women of the World (2014), is a pioneering study of the role of women in British diplomatic culture over the past century and a half. This interest in the social and cultural history of British diplomacy led to a successful bid in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historians for two AHRC-funded collaborative doctoral studentships (2013-7).
My third book, Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood was published by Bloomsbury Books in April 2020. I was awarded a Mid-Career Fellowship by the British Academy in 2017-8 to work on this project, which included co-creating with the photographer Leonora Saunders an exhibition - These Four Walls - on the theme of women's home-based work. This was launched at the British Academy's Summer Showcase in June 2018 and has appeared as a pop-up at the Women’s University Club in London, the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery in Leeds and the University Library, Cambridge.
I am happy to receive enquiries from prospective applicants, particularly those with interests in:
- Histories of gender, especially work, mothering, and feminism
- Popular politics and participation, especially non-governmental activism
- The social and cultural history of diplomacy
- Histories of Britain since the 1980s
I am Director of the MPhil in Modern British History and lecture for paper 6 and Historical Argument and Practice. I offer supervision for papers 6 and 11. For Part II, I offer a specified paper on Women, Gender and Paid Work in Britain since 1850.
I am a member of the Advisory Board of Twentieth Century British History and was Managing Editor of the journal between 2015 and 2020. I am a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, Senior Associate of History and Policy, and member of the British Academy's Public Policy Committee. I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Tags & Themes
St John's College
Cambridge CB2 1TP