Officers of the Society

Professor Emma Griffin
President

Emma Griffin is Professor of Modern British History at the University of East Anglia, and researches on the social and economic history of Britain during the period 1700-1870, with a particular interest in gender history, the industrial revolution, and working-class life. Emma’s most recent publications include Liberty’s Dawn. A People’s History of the Industrial Revolution (2013) and Bread Winner. An Intimate History of the Victorian Economy (2020), both published by Yale. She is also co-editor of Historical Journal and a former editor of the academic journal History.

Emma is a frequent contributor to radio and television, having written and presented several Radio 4 documentaries on diverse aspects of her research, from the history of fox-hunting, to the industrial revolution, to the gender pay gap and its history. She was a historical advisor for the Channel 4 drama, The Mill and co-presented The Real Mill with Tony Robinson on More4, and has appeared as an expert contributor on several radio and television programmes, including BBC1’s Who do you Think You Are? and Radio 4’s In Our Time.

Emma became President of the RHS in November 2020. Read more from Emma on Historical Transactions, the RHS blog.

Professor Peter D’Sena
Vice-President and Chair of Education Policy Committee

Peter D’Sena is Associate Professor of Learning and Teaching at the University of Hertfordshire and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. His key contributions to history education are borne from his enduring commitment, over four decades, to equality and inclusion.

As a writer of the revised National Curriculum in the late 1990s Peter championed the introduction of Black History; now he continues to lecture and write on decolonising the curriculum. As the HEA’s National Lead for History he organised the revision of the QAA Benchmark Statement and created innovative resources for those ‘New to Teaching’. He is a fellow of the Historical Association, a principal fellow of the HEA and last year he was elected to be the first President of SoTL’s European branch for History.

Peter was appointed Vice-President and Chair of Education Policy Committee in 2020 with responsibility for the Society’s contribution to advocacy and training in History teaching.

Professor Olivette Otele
Vice-President

Olivette Otele is Professor of the History of Slavery at the University of Bristol. She is a specialist in European colonial and post-colonial history, particularly the link between history, collective memory and geopolitics in relation to British and French colonial pasts.

Olivette has written widely for academic and broader audiences. Her most recent book, African Europeans: An Untold History, examines the long history of Europeans of African descent. She serves on the board of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, as a committee member for the Society for the Study of French History, and for the V&A Museum’s research committee. As RHS Vice-President, Olivette focuses particularly on matters pertaining to Membership, including the Society’s work on equality and diversity in the historical profession, and new developments in our support of early career historians.

Professor Jonathan Morris
Vice-President & Chair of the Research Policy Committee

Jonathan Morris is Research Professor in Modern History at the University of Hertfordshire. He is an expert on the global history of coffee, and enjoys an international reputation as a specialist in the transnational history of consumption and modern Italy.

Jonathan’s most recent publication is Coffee: A Global History (Reaktion, 2019). Jonathan leads the Heritage for Business unit within the University of Hertfordshire’s Heritage Hub and was a finalist in Most Innovative Contribution to Business-Collaboration category in the 2018 Times Higher Education Awards for his work with Nestlé Nespresso. Jonathan is a member of the REF2021 History Sub-Panel.

As Vice-President & Chair of the Research Policy Committee, Jonathan oversees the Society’s work in speaking for historians on issues related to research and funding.

Professor Jane Winters
Vice-President and Chair of the Publications Committee

Jane Winters is Professor of Digital History at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Jane has led or co-directed a range of digital humanities projects, including — most recently — Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities; Digging into Linked Parliamentary Metadata; Traces through Time: Prosopography in Practice across Big Data; The Thesaurus of British and Irish History as SKOS; and Born Digital Big Data and Approaches for History and the Humanities. A former RHS Council member, Jane became Vice-President, Publications in 2020 with responsibility for RHS print and online publishing.

Professor Jon Stobart
Honorary Treasurer

Jon Stobart is Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University, having previously held academic positions at the universities of Northampton, Coventry and Staffordshire. He is a social and economic historian of eighteenth-century England, with particular interests in the histories of retailing and consumption.

Much of Jon’s work is collaborative, interdisciplinary, and international and he has worked with geographers, art historians, heritage professionals and historians from the UK and across Europe. His most recent book, Consumption and the Country House, was published by OUP in 2016. Jon is a founding editor of the journal History of Retailing and Consumption, a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, and has sat on a number of academic councils and committees including the Economic History Society, Social History Society and Northamptonshire Record Society.

Dr Alana Harris
Honorary Secretary

Alana Harris is Senior Lecturer in Modern British History and Director of Liberal Arts at King’s College London. Her work sits at the intersections of the history of gender, sexuality, ethnicity and religiosity. Alana’s publications include The Schism of ’68: Catholics, Contraception and Humanae Vitae in Europe, 1945-75 (Palgrave Macmillan 2018), Love and Romance in Britain 1918-1970 (Palgrave Macmillan 2014) (co-edited with Tim Jones)and Faith in the Family: A Lived Religious History of English Catholicism, 1945-82 (MUP 2013).

Alana has a strong interest in gender and racial equality and chaired her Department’s successful Athena SWAN Bronze award. She is a member of a number of editorial and advisory boards and enjoys taking her research beyond the academy through various exhibitions, public engagement workshops, and media and theatre consultancies.

Dr Andrew Smith
Co-Honorary Director of Communications

Andrew W.M. Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary History and Politics at the University of Chichester. His work focuses principally on the French and Francophone world with an interest in identities beyond the frame of the nation state. Recent articles have addressed minority nationalism, decolonization, the Second World War, and linguistic politics.

Andrew is the author of Terror and Terroir: The Winegrowers of the Languedoc and Modern France (Manchester University Press, September 2016), and editor (with Chris Jeppesen) of Britain, France and the Decolonization of Africa: Future Imperfect? (UCL Press, March 2017). As the Society’s Hon. Director of Communications, Andrew oversees RHS Newsletters and the Society’s blog, Historical Transactions.

Professor Andrew Spicer
Literary Director

Andrew Spicer is Professor of Early Modern European History at Oxford Brookes University. He completed his doctorate at the University of Southampton on exiles from France and the Southern Netherlands in the late sixteenth century. As one of two Literary Directors, Andrew oversees RHS publications and is the editor of the Society’s journal, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society.

Andrew has published widely on early modern immigrant communities, as well as nineteenth-century interest in the Huguenots. His more recent work has focused on the socio-cultural impact of the Reformation, particularly sacred space, art & architecture, and the material culture & setting of worship. He is an editor of the Ecclesiastical History Society’s Studies in Church History series. Besides Calvinist Churches in Early Modern Europe (Manchester, 2007), he has published a number of edited volumes, most recently Parish Churches in the Early Modern World (Farnham, 2016). He is currently completing a monograph entitled Conflict and the Religious Landscape: Cambrai and the Southern Netherlands, c. 1566–1621 to be published by Brill. 

Professor Richard Toye
Literary Director

Richard Toye is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He is an historian of Britain in its global and imperial context in the period from the late nineteenth century to the present. As one of two Literary Directors, Andrew oversees RHS publications and is the editor of the Society’s journal, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society.

Richard is the author of a number of books on Winston Churchill, including Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made (Macmillan, 2010), The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches (OUP, 2013), Winston Churchill. A Life in the News and The Churchill Myths (both 2020). He has also written books on persuasion in modern British politics, the history of the British Labour Party, and the Oxford Very Short Introduction to Rhetoric.