I grew up in Devon, England, where I benefitted from a state comprehensive education (and a wonderful History teacher). I studied History at the University of Warwick, before going on to study the History of Medicine at Masters and PhD level. Since then I have held research and lecturing posts at the University of Manchester, King’s College London, and the University of Leicester.
My research interests focus on the social and cultural history of health and illness, colonial medicine and migration, imprisonment and institutions. My projects all reflect my interest in how different environments, societies, cultures and life-histories have affected knowledge and experiences of health and illness in different times and places.
My first book, Health, Medicine and the Sea (Manchester, 2012) was about the health and experiences of ordinary people – convicts and emigrants – who sailed to Australia in the nineteenth century. In 2016 it won the first Harold Langley Book Prize for Excellence in Maritime History.
I have written about the maritime experiences of convict and free emigrants who sailed to Australia in the nineteenth century, maritime and border health and medicine, colonial vaccination, medical experimentation, quarantines, and migraine.
In addition to my books, I have spoken to and written for academic and non-academic audiences on a whole range of topics including migraine, scurvy, quarantine, trepanning and smallpox . I regularly blog, and have contributed to The Conversation, The Recipes Project, Wellcome Library blog and Remedia. My work on migraine was featured in AL Kennedy’s documentary on migraine for BBC Radio 4, I have talked about ‘small beer’ for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Questions, Questions’, and featured in BBC History magazine’s podcast series.
In 2016 I worked with a national migraine charity to digitise and develop a website for a collection of 600 artworks. As a result of this project, the Migraine Action Art Collection has now been acquired by the Wellcome Library.
I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in the UK, and regularly review for academic journals and funders. From 2010-2016 I was a committee member and edited the quarterly Gazette for the members of the Society for the Social History of Medicine.
I currently work as Research and Communications Officer for the Royal Historical Society.