Professor Matthew Hilton

Location Principal's Office


I am a social historian with interests in the history of humanitarianism, consumer society and social activism, both in Britain and globally. I did my PhD at Lancaster University before spending nearly twenty years at the University of Birmingham. I joined Queen Mary in 2016 as Vice-Principal for Humanities and Social Sciences. I am a co-editor of Past and Present.


My research interests are in the general area of modern British history. I initially worked on popular culture and consumer society, before moving on to study the history of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs)

With Nicholas Crowson I ran a Leverhulme-Trust funded project, NGOs in Britain. This project built on the online Database of Archives of Non-Governmental Organisations and its principal findings are contained in The Politics of Expertise.

With Kieran Connell, I created an archive of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, established in 1964 by Richard Hoggart and Stuart Hall. We subsequently went on to exhibit the photographic work of Janet Mendelson, a student at the CCCS in the late 1960s. Her images were shown at the IKON and published as Varna Road

Currently I am working on a history of British humanitarian charities, particularly their role in the alleviation of global poverty at a time of decolonisation and development. 

Postgraduate supervision 

I welcome enquiries from students interested in most aspects of modern British history. Particular fields include:

  • Consumer society in Britain and the rest of the world
  • Non-government organisations and civil society groups
  • Humanitarianism



Edited books and special issues:

Exhibition catalogues

Selected articles:


  • Philip Leverhulme Prize for Modern History, 2002

Membership of professional associations or societies 

Editorial Positions