I am a historian of modern Britain, specialising in gender, dating, feminism and singleness since 1970. I did a BA in English at Jesus College Cambridge (2004), an MPhil Gender Studies at Wolfson College, Cambridge (2013) and a PhD in History at Sussex (2017). I have taught undergraduates at Sussex and Cambridge.
Having spent much of my 20s writing about dating, I decided there was enough there to take the relationship further and make it academic. After all, straight dating is the ideal laboratory for studying gender, since it is all about how men and women see themselves and each other in ideal form. So, aged 30, I left my flat and rather nice job as Lifestyle Editor of City AM for a small student room at Wolfson College, Cambridge, where I began an MPhil in Gender Studies. My Distinction-winning thesis, Meat Market or Brave New World: How Women Go Shopping for Dates Online, explored the degree to which internet dating delivered on its feminist promise by giving women more control over the process. After a year spent in Berlin reading all kinds of history, from fashion to Marie Antoinette to sprawling accounts of Germany, I was awarded the Asa Briggs scholarship for PhD in modern British history at the University of Sussex, supervised by Professor Claire Langhamer. Here I set out on a doctoral thesis exploring a pre-history of internet dating. Online dating had by then attracted lots of attention from social scientists but their quantitative methods were not offering any very surprising insights - I made the transition to history to provide as yet unconsidered context to the rise of internet dating, not by going all the way back to the matrimonial press of the 19th century but to the last decades of the 20th century.
Following my PhD, in Jan 2018, I began work as a research fellow on a Leverhulme-funded project based at Sussex, Cambridge and the British Library, which explored UK feminist publishing enterprises - in my role I scrutinized the evolution of Spare Rib, the feminist magazine. I am currently a British Academy postdoctoral research fellow at Warwick researching breakups and divorce in late 20th century Britain.
The Single Self’, in Elaine Chalus (Ed.), The Routledge History of Loneliness (London: Routledge, 2022).
‘Spare Rib Listings: A Window on the UK Women’s Liberation Movement Marketplace’ (2021), Women: A Cultural Review. Submitted.
‘Spare Rib, the Women’s Health Movement and the Empowerment of Misery, Social History of Medicine. Submitted.
Seeking Love in Modern Britain: Gender, Dating and the Rise of the ‘Single’ (Bloomsbury: March 2020)
‘Liberating Pleasure: Women’s Fight For Sexual Rights’ in Margaretta Jolly and Polly Russell (eds), Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights: the Battle for Women’s Rights (British Library, 2020)
Review of The Popular Culture of Romantic Love in Australia, edited by Hsu-Ming Teo (2018), Emotions: History, Culture, Society, 2, (2), pp. 357-359
‘Spare Rib and the Print culture of Women’s Liberation’ (co-authored with Lucy Delap) in Laurel Forster (Ed.) Women, Periodicals and Print Culture in Contemporary Britain (EUP, 2020)
‘Computer dating in the 1970s: Dateline and the making of the modern British single’ (2017), Contemporary British History, 31 (3), pp. 319-342.
Included in list of Top Ten Summer Reading Suggestions from the Bibliography of British and Irish History (2018).
‘In solitary pursuit: Singles, sex war and the search for love, 1977-1983’ (2017), Cultural and Social History, 14 (5), pp. 691-715
‘Heterosexual Love in the Women’s Liberation Movement: Reflections from the Sisterhood and After Oral History Archive’ (2015), Women’s History Review, 25 (6), pp. 903-924