Professor Steven King

Honorary Professor of Economic and Social History

Contact 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.


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: 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.

Research and Publications

    I am currently working on several projects:

    (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 future of the European welfare state.

    (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.

    Recent Publications in these areas include:

    P. Jones and S. A. King, Pauper Voices, Public Opinion and Workhouse Reform in Mid-Victorian England – Bearing Witness (Basingstoke, 2020).

    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. 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

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