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Nicola Verdon

Dr Nicola Verdon BA, MA, PhD

Professor of Modern History


I joined Sheffield Hallam as a Reader in History in January 2011. I research and teach British history in the 19th and 20th centuries, with a focus on gender and labour, rural society, poverty and standards of living. I am currently Professor of Modern History.

  • About

    I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Sussex and then moved to the University of Leicester for my MA and PhD.

    I have held various lecturing positions since completing my doctorate in 1999, including at Harlaxton College, the University of Reading and the University of Sussex.

    I took up the position of Reader in History at Sheffield Hallam in January 2011. I was promoted to Professor of Modern British History in 2018.

    My research interests focus on life and labour in the British countryside in the 19th and 20th centuries. I have published many journal articles and book chapters on women’s and children’s work in agriculture, on poverty and standards of living, and on family life on British farms, and I am the author of two books, Rural Women Workers in 19th century England (Boydell, 2002) and Working the Land: A History of the Farmworker in England from 1850 to the Present Day (Palgrave, 2017).

    I have worked with several institutions, including theatres, museums and the broadcast media, and enjoy communicating my knowledge of history to a wider public audience. I contributed an impact case-study on ‘Life and Labour in the British Countryside’ to the 2014 REF.

  • Teaching

    Subject area



    BA History
    BA English and History
    MRes History


    Level 4: The Making of Modern Britain, c.1780-1918
    Level 5: History in Practice
    Level 6: Northern Soul: Regional Identities in the North of England, 1800 to the Present

  • Research

    Current projects:
    Women's War Agricultural Committees in WWI and its aftermath
    Shepherds and shearers in Britain and Australia, c.1800-1918 (with Emma Robertson, La Trobe University, Victoria)

  • Publications

    A list of publications is available from the institutional repository, SHURA

    With Karen Sayer, ‘The Professionalization of Farming for Women in late Victorian Britain: the role and legacy of the Langham Place Feminists’ in eds Linda Ambrose and Joan Jensen, Food History and Rural Woman Professionals, 1880-1965 (University of Iowa Press, forthcoming)

    Working the Land: A History of the Farmworkers in England from 1850 to the Present Day (Palgrave, 2017)

    Verdon, Nicola (2015). Left out in the cold: Village women and agricultural labour in England and Wales during the First World War. Twentieth Century British History. (In Press)

    Gazeley, Ian and Verdon, Nicola (2014). The first poverty line? Davies' and Eden's investigation of rural poverty in the late 18th-century England. Explorations in Economic History, 51, 94-108.

    ‘The state of the rural poor: the agricultural labourer and the Royal Commission on Labour in 1890s England’ in ed., Nadine Vivier, The Golden Age of State Enquiries. Rural enquiries in the nineteenth century. From fact gathering to political instrument (Brepols, 2014), pp. 157-173

    'The lady farmer' gender, widowhood and farming in nineteenth-century England', in R.W. Hoyle, ed., The Farmer in England, 1650-1950 (Ashgate, 2013) pp. 241–262

    Verdon, Nicola (2012). Business and pleasure : middle-class women’s work and the professionalization of farming in England, 1890-1939. Journal of British Studies, 51 (2), 393-415.

    Verdon, Nicola (2010). 'The modern countrywoman': farm women, domesticity and social change in interwar Britain. History Workshop Journal, 70 (1), 86-107.

    Howkins, Alun and VERDON, Nicola (2009). The state and the farm worker: the evolution of the minimum wage in agriculture in England and Wales, 1909-24. Agricultural history review, 57 (2), 257-274.

    Verdon, Nicola (2009). Agricultural labour and the contested nature of women’s work in interwar England and Wales. The Historical Journal, 52 (1), 109-130.

    Howkins, Alun and Verdon, Nicola (2008). Adaptable and sustainable? Male farm service and the agricultural labour force in midland and southern England, c.1850-1925. Economic History Review, 61 (2), 467-495.

    'Hay, hops and harvest: women's employment in agriculture in nineteenth-century Sussex', in ed., Goose, N., Women's work in industrial England, c.1700–1900: regional and local perspectives (Hertford, 2007), pp. 76–96

    'Women's productive roles in nineteenth-century rural England: field, farm and family', Proceedings of the Colloque Franco-Britannique du Mans (Le Rennes, 2005), pp. 103-116

    'A diminishing force? Reassessing the employment of female day labourers in English agriculture, c.1790-1850', in Lane, P., Raven, N., and Snell, K. D. M., eds, Gender, work and wages in England, 1600-1850 (Woodbridge, 2004), pp. 190-211

    'Continuity and change in the agricultural labour force in Nottinghamshire: the Strelley estate from the 1850s to the First World War', Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire 107 (2003), pp.181-195.

    '...subjects deserving of the highest praise: farmers' wives and the farm economy in England, c.1700-1850', Agricultural History Review, 51, 1 (2003), pp.23-39 (Golden Jubilee Prize Essay, proxime accessit)

    Rural women workers in nineteenth-century England: gender, work and wages (Boydell: Woodbridge, 2002)

    'The rural labour market in the early nineteenth century: women's and children's employment, family income, and the 1834 Poor Law Report', Economic History Review, LV, 2 (2002), pp.299-323.

    'The employment of women and children in agriculture: a reassessment of agricultural gangs in nineteenth-century Norfolk', Agricultural History Review, 49, 1 (2001), pp.41-55

    "'... physically a splendid race' or 'hardened and brutalised by unsuitable toil'? Unravelling the position of women workers in rural England during the Golden Age of agriculture", in Inkster, I., et al, eds, The Golden Age: Essays in English Social and Economic History, 1850-1870 (Ashgate, 2000), pp. 225-236.

    ‘“The best firms to work for...”: the employment of women in Nottingham’s manufacturing industries between the world wars’, Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire, 101 (1997), pp.175-186

  • Other activities

    2017-present External Examiner, Certificate and Advanced Diploma in Local History, University of Cambridge.

    In the past I have acted as External Examiner for the University of Huddersfield History programmes (2013-16), Leeds Trinity University History programmes (2014-17), University of Hertfordshire, MA History, 2008-10, and the University of Winchester, BA History, 2009-13. I have examined PhDs at the Universities of Newcastle, Hertfordshire, Sussex, Aberystwyth, Northampton, London and Nottingham.

  • Postgraduate supervision

    I am currently supervising the following PhDs:
    The Aid Spain movement in interwar Britain
    Farm, Field and Factory: exploring the significance of rural space in the development of a model village and World Heritage Site at Saltaire (AHRC Heritage consortium)
    Female identity in Victorian mining women (AHRC Heritage consortium)

    Contrasting Rural Communities: The Experience of South Yorkshire in the mid Nineteenth Century
    The Financing of Public Policy: The Public Works Loan Board, 1817-76

  • Media

    Nicola has an extensive background in 19th and 20th century British history.

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