Professor Steven King

Professor of Economic and Social History

Contact details

  • Office: Attenborough Tower Room 504Steve King (2)
  • Tel: +44 (0)116 229 7606
  • Email:
  • Feedback and Support Times (Semester 2 2019/20): Wednesday 10.00 am - 11.00 am and Tuesday 4.00 pm - 5.00 pm
  • Dissertation Hour (Semester 2 2019/20): Wednesday 11.00 am - 12.00 noon
  • Personal details

I obtained a BA (Hons) in Economic and Social History from the University of Kent and a PhD in Historical Demography from the University of Liverpool.


I have wide-ranging teaching interests. At undergraduate level my teaching includes or has recently included:

  • Poverty and Welfare in Britain 1597 to the Present
  • Histories of Violence
  • All Bourgeois Now
  • Making History

My MA teaching includes:

  • Directed Reading Module
  • The Country House
  • Patients and Practitioners
  • Historical research Methods


PhD Supervision

I supervise PhD students on topics across the chronological range from the 1650s to the present. My interests are thematically and spatially wide. I have particular interests in and would like to hear from students with project covering: the past present and future of the welfare state; experience of being poor 1700 to the present; literacy; life writing and autobiographies; histories of institutions (hospitals, workhouses and so on); the lives of patients and their doctors; corpus linguistics, histories of the family and kinship; histories of migration and belonging; medical remedies; histories of madness; histories of consumption and material culture (including fashion history); and almost any aspect of economic history and historical demography. I am also keenly interested in practice based PhDs, where those with interests in film making, poetry, creative writing, policy work or art undertake a practical project of their choosing and write a reflective piece on the nature of the research process which together constitute the PhD.

You may already have topics in mind, but if you are open to different ideas, then I have a number of pre-prepared PhD projects which spin out of my current grants. For these projects, historiographical reading is already identified and the core sources are already transcribed or located. For a list of these projects, please click here:

Research and Publications

    I am currently working on several projects that will feed into my REF2026 submission:

    (i) The nature of courtship in Britain between the 1700s and the present, running broadly across topics such as the changing role of religious considerations in courtship, through courtship and the construction of the self, and to the changing relationship between courtship and sex in different communities.

    (ii) The Economics of Welfare.

    (iii) In Their Own Write. This AHRC funded project aims to produce a history of the New Poor Law from below, rooted in the words and experiences of paupers themselves. The companion project to this one (funded by the AHRC and Leverhulme Trust) resulted in the monograph Writing the Lives of the English Poor, 1750s-1830s (London, 2019), which won the 2019 British Academy Peter Townsend Prize.

    (iv) Disability in the nineteenth century.

    (v) The clothing of the poor 1750-1900.

    (vi) Selling Health 1700-2000s. This AHRC funded project looks at the ways in which medical remedies are packaged, advertised, sold and bought.

    (vii) The Healing Tree. This project investigates the nature, content and usage of domestic remedies in the period between 1650 and the 2000s.

    In these and other areas I have a long history of collaborative research and publication. Over my career to date I have published or edited with 38 different co-authors and my work has certainly improved as a result of such joint initiatives. Against this backdrop, if you see here opportunities for collaborative work please do get in touch.

    Recent Publications in these areas include:

    P. Carter, J. James and S. A. King, ‘Punishing Paupers? Control, Discipline and Mental Health in the Southwell Workhouse, 1836-1871’, Rural History, 30 (2019), 161-80.

    S. A. King, Writing the Lives of the English Poor, 1750s-1830s (London, 2019)

    S. King, ‘Configuring and Re-Configuring Families in Nineteenth-Century England’, in C. Beardmore, C. Dobbing and S. A. King (eds.) Family Life in Britain, 1650-1910 (Basingstoke, 2019), 229-253.

    C. Beardmore, C. Dobbing, S. King, ‘Introduction’, in C. Beardmore, C. Dobbing and S. A. King (eds.) Family Life in Britain, 1650-1910 (Basingstoke, 2019), 1-19.

    C. Muldrew and S. A. King, ‘Cash, wages and the economy of makeshifts, 1650-1800’, in J. Hatcher and J. Stephenson (eds.), Seven Centuries of Unreal Wages (Basingstoke, 2018), 267-306,

    S. A. King, On Life and Death (Cambridge, 2018). S. A. King, Sickness, Medical Welfare and the English Poor 1750-1834 (Manchester, 2018)

    C. Beardmore, S. A. King and G. Monks, Disability Matters (Cambridge, 2018).

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