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Photo of Professor Helen Berry

Professor Helen Berry

Head of History


01392 724300

I specialise in British history from about 1660 to 1830, and I'm especially passionate about encouraging people to think more broadly about British history in a global and comparative context.  My research and teaching are closely linked, and cover a wide range of themes, from histories of production and consumption in Britain during the eighteenth century, to how global trade and economics shaped personal experiences, families and communities.  My new book, Orphans of Empire: the Fate of London's Foundlings (Oxford: OUP, 2019) considers the connection between philanthropy, child welfare and the contribution of charity apprentices to the socio-economic development of Britain's 'inner empire' at home.  I have an ongoing interest in transdisciplinary research on the Anthropocene which seeks to deepen our understanding of the origins and causes of our present climate emergency, working collaboratively towards ameliorative action.

Research interests

The following areas are my specialist research subjects: the history of the mass media (the rise of newspapers and periodicals); coffee house sociability and politeness; the history of gender and sexuality, particularly in the shifting definitions of marriage and emergence of alternative family structures.  I have benefitted intellectually from collaborating over many years with historians, archaeologists, classicists and ancient historians who have wide-ranging expertise across deep time and diverse cultures. I am also keen to foster intellectual links with researchers across the arts, humanities, social sciences and applied sciences, and with communities outside of academia. My interest in climate change research (the rise and fall of the carbon economy from the time of the modern Industrial Revolution) led to my co-founding an interdisciplinary research group in my former post at Newcastle University on the Anthropocene. I was also a co-investigator in the major interdisciplinary 'Living Deltas' GCRF research hub, building upon collaboration with a wide range of colleagues and external partner organizations.   

Research supervision

I welcome inquiries from prospective PhD students with research projects that relate to my research expertise, particularly in the following areas: eighteenth-century social history; the history of genders and sexualities; family and alternative family structures from the early modern to the modern period; early newspapers and the evolution of the mass media; production and consumption in Britain and the British Empire; communities, landscape and place, particularly in relation to metropolitan/provincial cultures and trade.  Please send me a 500 word outline of your PhD research proposal and copy of your CV if you would like to make an inquiry.

Research students

PhD students I am currently supervising and their research projects:

Anthony Delaney, 'Cotqueans: Queer Domisticity in Eighteenth-Century England'. 

Examples of previous PhD projects I have supervised (at Newcastle University):

David Johnson, 'The Feel of Home: Emotions and the British Middle-Class Household in the Nineteenth Century' (ongoing)

Ellie Schlappa (AHRC funded), 'Representations of Female Onanism in the Eighteenth Century' (ongoing)

Meg Kobza, 'The Social History of the Eighteenth-Century Masquerade'

Johanna Latchem (interdisciplinary PhD, Fine Art/History), 'The Art of Justice: Reinventing the Courtroom Object'

Richard Pears, 'WIlliam Newton and the Development of the Architectural Profession in Georgian Newcastle'

Amy Shields (AHRC funded), 'Republicanism in a European Context: the Influence of the Dutch and Venetian Republics on Seventeenth-Century English Thought'.

Ria Snowdon (AHRC funded), 'Georgian Women and the Business of Print: Family, Gender and the Provincial Press of Northern England'.

Peter Wright, 'Tyne River Trades in the Seventeenth Century'.

Previous Postdoctoral Supervision and Mentoring:

David Hope (Economic History Society Anniversary Fellow), 'The British Atlantic Fur Trade in the Late-Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries'.