Dr Helen McCarthy
Location: Arts Two 3.05
Lecturer in History
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7882 2684
I studied History as an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, before spending a frenetic year at Harvard University as a Kennedy Scholar. I then worked for the think-tank Demos for two years before completing my doctoral studies at the Institute of Historical Research (University of London). I briefly held a Junior Research Fellowship at St John’s College, Cambridge, before joining Queen Mary in September 2009. I’m a member of the editorial board of Reviews in History and of the Editorial Group of History and Policy, which works to connect historians, policymakers and the media. I am also Reviews Editor for Twentieth Century British History, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I also write a blog, Past Notes (http://pastnotes.blogspot.co.uk/)
I have extensive media training, having been selected from over 2000 applicants for the BBC’s high-profile female experts training day in January 2013. I was also a finalist in the AHRC/Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers Scheme 2012. I have appeared in my time on Newsnight, Channel 4 News and Woman’s Hour.
I am a historian of modern Britain with broad interests spanning politics, diplomacy, gender, work and identity. My first book, The British People and the League of Nations, was a study of internationalism in Britain in the 1920s and 30s. It reveals how the idea of international government amassed a huge popular following during these years, proving that ordinary Britons were far from apathetic when it came to questions of foreign policy. You can read more about the book here
I am currently completing a new book manuscript entitled Women of the World: The Rise of the Female Diplomat. This is the first serious attempt to explore the place of women in British diplomatic life since the 19th century; it traces their influence and experiences as wives, patrons, experts and eventually as diplomats in their own right using a cache of neglected sources, including personal papers and interviews with members of the first generation of women to join the Diplomatic Service after the Second World War. Women of the World will be published Bloomsbury in 2014.
Dr McCarthy can offer supervision in the following areas of late nineteenth/twentieth-century British history: popular politics; voluntary action; internationalism and peace activism; feminism; gender and work; diplomatic culture.
The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, Citizenship and Internationalism, c.1918-1945 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011)
‘Whose Democracy? Histories of British political culture between the wars’ Historical Journal 55(1), 2012, pp221-238
‘The League of Nations, Public Ritual and National Identity in Britain, c.1919-1956’ History Workshop Journal 70 (2010) pp108-132
‘Democratising British Foreign Policy: Rethinking the Peace Ballot, 1934-5’ Journal of British Studies 49 (2), 2010, pp358-387
‘Petticoat Diplomacy: The Admission of Women to the British Foreign Service, 1919-1946’ Twentieth Century British History, 20(3), 2009, pp285-321
‘Leading from the Centre: The League of Nations Union, foreign policy and “political agreement” in the 1930s’ Contemporary British History, 23(4), 2009, pp527-542
‘Service Clubs, Citizenship and Equality: gender relations and middle-class associations in Britain between the wars’ Historical Research, 81(213), August 2008, pp531-552
‘Parties, Voluntary Associations and Democratic Politics in Interwar Britain’ Historical Journal, 50(4), December 2007, pp891-912
Chapters in edited volumes:
'Gender' in Pat Thane, ed., Unequal Britain: Equalities in Britain since 1945 (London: Continuum, 2010)
'The Lifeblood of the League? Voluntary Associations and League of Nations Activism in Britain' in Daniel Laqua, ed., Internationalism Reconfigured: Transnational Ideas and Movements between the Wars (London, IB Tauris, 2011)
‘Associational voluntarism in interwar Britain’ in Matthew Hilton and James McKay, eds., The Ages of Voluntarism: How we got to the Big Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 2011), pp47-68