Professor Emma Griffin — RHS Presidential Address, 26 November 2021

‘Writing about Life Writing in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Britain


Professor Emma Griffin (UEA and Royal Historical Society)


Friday 26 November 2021
18.00 BST – Live online via Zoom


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How do historians go from the particular to the general? And what is the place of story-telling in historical writing?

In this lecture, Emma Griffin looks back at fifteen years spent trying to use working-class autobiography to write about the industrial revolution and its impact on the lives of ordinary people. She explores how we can use the small stories of individual lives to write about large historical transitions, and reflects on what part the historian’s own stories play in the creation of their work.

Speaker biography

Emma Griffin is President of the Royal Historical Society and Professor of Modern British History at the University of East Anglia. Her research covers 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.

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IMAGE HEADER: extract from John Hemmingway’s ‘The Character or Worldly experience of the writer from 1791 to 1865’ (Norfolk Record Office).