Professor Andrew Thorpe

Research interests

My research centres on twentieth-century British political history, the history of party and policymaking, and international Communism in the era of the Communist International. I have worked extensively on the history of the Labour party, and also on Communist party history, but my interests are not confined to the parties of the left.

Recent project

My latest book, published by OUP in January 2009, investigates the organisation of all the major parties in Britain during the Second World War. This project was funded by the British Academy and the AHRC and made extensive use of constituency-level records, as well as national party records and the papers of politicians.

Current projects

I am currently researching the life and career of Arthur Henderson (1863-1935), with the support of a British Academy award. Henderson was a pivotal figure in the early history of the Labour party, one of its first MPs, three times its leader, architect of its 1918 constitution, and a senior minister in the first two Labour governments of 1924 and 1929-31. He was also important as a leading lay Wesleyan Methodist, and as a trade unionist, while in his later years he emerged as one of Labour's foremost experts on foreign policy. After serving as Foreign Secretary between 1929 and 1931, he went on to serve as president of the World Disarmament Conference at Geneva (1932-4), being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1934. This major figure lacks a detailed modern biography covering all aspects of his work: this project aims to use hitherto under-utilised sources to provide such a study.

Recent conference and research seminar papers

‘More Methodist than Marx? Methodism and the British Labour movement, 1890-1939’, John Wesley Lecture, Lincoln College Oxford, May 2013

‘British trade unions in historical perspective’, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, USA, November 2012

‘Arthur Henderson, Methodism, and Labour’s International Policy’, North American Conference on British Studies, Montreal, Canada, November 2012

‘Arthur Henderson and British Methodism, 1877-1935’, conference on modern British History, University of Stirling, UK, June 2012

‘Myth and counter-myth in World War II Britain’, Duncan Tanner Memorial Conference, Bangor University, February 2012

‘Reconsidering Arthur Henderson’, University of Reading, UK, February 2011 

‘Labour leaders and the Liberals, 1906-24’, conference on the Liberal party, 1906-24, University of Rouen, France, January 2011 

‘Historians and Labour parties: changing methods, approaches and purposes’, conference on Revisiting Labour History, Valletta, Malta, October 2010 

‘Nina Fishman’s Arthur Horner and labour biography’, conference on biography and identity in the making of British radicals, Swansea, UK, May 2010 

‘Failure in Communist party leadership: Harry Pollitt and the British Communist party after 1945’, Eighth European Social Science History Conference, Ghent, Belgium, April 2010 

‘Labour and the Second World War’, Political Studies Association Labour Movements Group conference, University of Bristol, UK, December 2009 

‘Myth and counter-myth in World War II Britain’, North American Conference on British Studies, Louisville, Kentucky, USA, November 2009 

‘The 1929 general election reconsidered’, conference on Britain’s second Labour government, 1929-31: a reappraisal, Anglia Ruskin University, UK, May 2009

‘Myth and counter-myth in Second World War British politics', North East Conference on British Studies, Boston College, Boston, USA, November 2008

British society and politics during the Second World War’, conference on Britain: History, Education, Culture, Yaroslavl' State Pedagogical university, Yaroslavl', Russia, May 2008

‘Politics or organisation? Labour party membership in the Second World War’, Seventh European Social Science History Conference, Lisbon, Portugal, March 2008

‘The Communist party and the New party’, conference on Oswald Mosley’s New party, University of Reading, UK, September 2007

‘Labour party finance in the Second World War’, conference on modern British History, Universities of Stirling and Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK, June 2007

‘Conservative party membership in World War II Britain’, MOBSS conference, Durham University, UK, May 2007

‘Labour party membership in World War II Britain’, Political Studies Association conference, University of Bath, UK, April 2007