Professor Henry French

Biography

I took my first degree and doctorate at the University of Cambridge (in 1989 and 1993 respectively), the latter under the supervision of Keith Wrightson and Margaret Spufford. Since then, I have taught at the Universities of Central Lancashire, Manchester, Essex, and East Anglia, before coming to Exeter in 2001. My own research has focused on the definition and social identity of ‘middle sort’ within rural society in the seventeenth century. I have published articles on this subject in a number of journals, and completed a monograph on this subject which was published by Oxford University Press in July 2007. Having worked on two research projects with Prof. Richard Hoyle at the University of Central Lancashire between 1994-99, I am also co-author of two articles on land ownership and the decline of the small farmer in early modern England. Prof. Hoyle and I published a monograph study with Manchester University Press of land ownership in the Essex village of Earls Colne in March 2007, entitled The Character of English Rural Society, 1550-1750: Earls Colne revisited. In recent years, I have pursued another theme in agrarian history – the fate of the urban common lands – in two articles published in the Agricultural History Review. I am also the editor (with Jonathan Barry) of a series of essays on the subject of ‘Identity and Agency in Early Modern England’, published by Palgrave Press in 2004, based on a research colloquium held at Exeter in September 2002. I was awarded an 3-year AHRC research award in June 2007, to study masculinity and the landed gentry between the seventeenth and early twentieth centuries, with Dr Mark Rothery.