Professor Steve King

Contact Details

  • Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3875
  • Email:
  • Office: Room 414, Attenborough Building


Prior to his academic career, Steve King worked for National Westminster Bank. He has a BA in Economic and Social History (from the University of Kent), a PhD in Demography from the University of Liverpool and was appointed to a Chair in Economic History at the University of Leicester in 2009. Under the auspices of a wider University initiative to establish a number of major research centres, Steve King established and became the first Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities in January 2012. He stood in briefly as Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Law on the retirement of the previous post holder, and took up the post of Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Social Science on 1 November 2013.

Research Interests

Steve King has many research interests running across a chronological spectrum running from the seventeenth century to the present day.  He is currently working on three major projects: (i) Writing the lives of the poor. This project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Wellcome Trust, looks at the agency of poor people in the welfare systems into which their lives are inscribed. Spanning the period from 1800 to the present, the primary interest is how poor people navigate and challenge the rules of systems for which the essential rationale is economy; (ii) Land agents. This project, in association with the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, looks at the evolution of the training and business practices of those involved in modern land management. Dealing particularly with the role of the Land Agent, the project aims to better understand the current business of land management and to generate policy advice for the future; (iii) Selling health. This project, funded by the AHRC, looks at how drugs have been packaged, marketed and sold into different markets from 1815 to the present. In conjunction with the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries and a number of major pharmaceutical companies, the project aims to better understand the business of drugs.

PhD Supervision

Steve King has supervised 15 students to completion as first supervisor and 3 as part of a wider team. He has 9 current students, working on topics across a spectrum from land agents and land management, through insanity in childhood and to sexuality in the Victorian period. He welcomes informal conversations from potential students covering any of the areas represented in his current research interests or wider publication lists.


I teach across the spectrum of subjects in the social sciences. In 2014-15 I will be teaching ‘Miracle Cures’ and ‘The business of drugs’ (both MA Medical Humanities, for which I am also course leader) and ‘Advertising and PR’ in the Department of Media and Communications.

Most Recent Publications

S. A. King, ‘Poverty, medicine and the workhouse in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’, in J. Reinarz and L. Schwarz (eds.), Medicine and the Workhouse (Rochester, 2013), 228-51.

A. Gestrich and S. A. King, ‘Pauper letters and petitions to the poor law in Germany and England, 1770-1914’, Bulletin of the German Historical Institute, 35 (2013), 12-25.

E. T. Hurren and S. A. King, ‘Cohabiting couples in the 19th century coronial records of the Midlands Circuit’, in R. Probert (ed.), Cohabitation and Non-Marital Births in England and Wales, 1600-2012 (Basingstoke, 2014), 100-24.

S. A. King, ‘Complaining against Medical Practice and Practitioners: The Patient View, 1830s-1900’, J. Reinarz and R. Wynter (eds.), Complaints, Controversies and Grievances in Medicine: Historical and Social Science Perspectives (London, 2014), 149-66.

S. A. King, ‘Nursing Under the Old Poor Law in Midland and Eastern England 1780-1834’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 69 (2014), 1-35.

E. T. Hurren and S. A. King, ‘Courtship in the Coronial Courts of nineteenth century England’, Social History, 40 (2015), 185-213.


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