Photo of Professor Jane Whittle

Professor Jane Whittle

Research interests

My work falls under four broad headings:


Work, and particularly women’s work and servants

My new Leverhulme funded project on ‘Women’s work in rural England 1500-1700: a new methodological approach’, began on 1 March 2015. The project employs Mark Hailwood as a full-time research fellow for three years, and together we are investigating women's work activities using incidental evidence from church court depositions, quarter sessions examinations and coroners' rolls from Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. The project also involves a PhD student, Imogene Dudley, who is investigating evidence of women's work in household accounts. I am also preparing an edited volume on servants in rural Europe:

  • Jane Whittle ed. Servants in Rural Europe c.1400-c.1900 (Boydell Press, forthcoming).

  • Jane Whittle, ‘Enterprising widows and active wives: women’s unpaid work in the household economy of early modern England’ The History of the Family 19:3 (2014) pp.283-300.                                             Jane Whittle, ‘Rural Economies’ in Judith M. Bennett and Ruth Mazo Karras eds., The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe,Oxford University Press, Oxford, August 2013) pp.311-26.

  • Jane Whittle, ‘Housewives and servants in rural England, 1440-1650: evidence of women’s work from probate documents’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th Series, Vol.15, (2005) pp.51-74.
  • Jane Whittle, ‘Servants in rural England c.1450-1650: hired work as a means of accumulating wealth and skills before marriage’ in M. Agren and A. Erickson eds. The Marital Economy in Scandinavia and Britain 1400-1900, Ashgate 2005, pp.89-107.
  • Jane Whittle, ‘Le travail des femmes dans les ménages ruraux anglais, 1450-1650: trois approches alternatives’, in N. Vivier ed, Ruralité Française et Britannique xiiie-xxe Siècles: Approches Comparées, Presses Universitaires de Rennes 2005, pp.77-87.

Consumption and the household

As well as the 2004 book based on a study of 8000 probate inventories which I wrote jointly with Mark Overton, Darron Dean and Andrew Hann, my most recent monograph (from the ESRC funded project ‘The Housewife in Early Modern England’) is based on a detailed study of the household accounts of the Le Stranges of Hunstanton. I teach also a special subject module on ‘Consumer Revolution: Food, Things and Fashion in England 1500-1800’.

  • Jane Whittle, 'Home and work' in Amanda Flather ed., A Cultural History of the Home: The Renaissance 1450-1650, Bloomsbury forthcoming.
  • Jane Whittle, ‘The gentry as consumers in early seventeenth-century England’ in Jon Stobart and Andrew Hann eds., Consuming the Country House, Historic England 2016, pp.24-32.
  • Jane Whittle and Elizabeth Griffiths, Consumption and Gender in the Early Seventeenth Century Household, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp.xviii + 266.
  • Jane Whittle, ‘The house as a place of work in early modern rural England’ Home Cultures 8:2 (2011) pp.133-50.
  • Mark Overton, Jane Whittle, Darron Dean and Andrew Hann, Production and Consumption in English Households, 1600-1750, Routledge 2004, pp.xii + 251.

Rebellion and protest

I teach a module on ‘Popular Rebellion in England 1381-1549’ and have published various articles on 1381 and 1549:

  • Jane Whittle, ‘Lords and tenants in Kett’s Rebellion, 1549’, Past and Present  207 (2010) pp.3-52.
  • Jane Whittle, ‘Peasant politics and class consciousness: the Norfolk rebellions of 1381 and 1549 compared’ in C. Dyer, P. Coss and C. Wickham eds, Rodney Hilton’s Middle Ages: An Explorations of Historical Themes, Oxford University Press 2008, pp.233-47.
  • Jane Whittle and S.H. Rigby, ‘England: popular politics and social control’ in S.H. Rigby ed. A Companion to Britain in the Later Middle Ages, Blackwell 2003, pp.65-86.

Economic development and property rights in rural England

This was the main focus of my PhD and first book. I retain interests in this area and recently edited a volume revisiting R.H. Tawney’s classic The Agrarian Problem in Sixteenth Century England

  • Jane Whittle, 'Land and people' in Keith Wrightson ed., A Social History of England c.1500-c.1750, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2017.
  • Jane Whittle ed., Landlords and Tenants in Britain 1440-1660: Tawney’s Agrarian Problem Revisited, The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2013, pp.xv + 240.
  • Jane Whittle, ‘Leasehold tenure in England c.1300-c.1600: its form and incidence’, in B. van Bavel and P.R. Schofield, eds, The Development of Leasehold in Northwestern Europe, c. 1200-1600, Brepols, 2008, pp.139-54.
  • Jane Whittle, ‘Population mobility in rural Norfolk among landholders and others c.1440-c.1600’ in C. Dyer ed., The Self-Contained Village? The Social History of Rural Communities, 1250-1900, University of Hertfordshire Press 2006, pp.28-45.
  • Jane Whittle, ‘Tenure and landholding in England 1440-1580: A crucial period for the development of agrarian capitalism?’ in B.J.P. van Bavel and P. Hoppenbrouwers eds. Landholding and Land Transfer in the North Sea Area, Brepols 2004, pp.237-49.
  • Jane Whittle and Margaret Yates, ‘ “Pays réel or pays légal?” Contrasting patterns of land tenure and social structure in eastern Norfolk and western Berkshire, 1450-1600’, Agricultural History Review 48:1 (2000) pp.1-26.
  • Jane Whittle, The Development of Agrarian Capitalism: Land and Labour in Norfolk 1440-1580, Oxford University Press 2000, pp.xii + 361.
  • Jane Whittle, ‘Individualism and the family-land bond: a reassessment of land transfer patterns among the English peasantry c.1270-1580’, Past and Present 160 (1998) pp.25-63.
  • Jane Whittle, ‘Inheritance, marriage, widowhood and remarriage: a comparative perspective on women and landholding in north-east Norfolk, England, 1440-1580’, Continuity and Change 13:1 (1998) pp.33-72.