Nicola Verdon

Professor Nicola Verdon BA, MA, PhD

Professor of Modern British 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. Since 2018 I have been Professor of Modern History.


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.


Department of Humanities

College of Social Sciences and Arts

Subject area



BA (Hons) History.


Level 4: Britain Transformed: Economic and Social Change since 1800.
Level 5: Northern Soul: Regional Identities in the North of England, 1800 to the present.
Level 6: History Research project


The Women's War Agricultural Committees during the First World War and its aftermath.

Shepherds and shearers in Britain and Australia, c.1800-1918 (with Emma Robertson, La Trobe University, Victoria).


Journal articles

Verdon, N. (2021). Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700-1830. HISTORIA AGRARIA, (84), 276-279.

Verdon, N. (2020). Skill, status and the agricultural workforce in Victorian England. History.

Sayer, K., & Verdon, N. (2019). Alun Howkins, 1947–2018: Introduction. History, 104 (363), 819-828.

Verdon, N. (2019). FEATURE: REMEMBERING ALUN HOWKINS. History Workshop Journal.

Verdon, N. (2019). Richard Olney, Farming and society in north Lincolnshire: the Dixons of Holton-le-Moor, 1741-1906 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2018. pp. xvii+214. 2 maps. 16 plates. ISBN 9781910653050 Hbk. £30). The Economic History Review, 72 (1), 407-408.

Verdon, N. (2016). Left out in the cold: Village women and agricultural labour in England and Wales during the First World War. Twentieth Century British History, 27 (1), 1-25.

Gazeley, I., & Verdon, N. (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.

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

Verdon, N. (2010). "The modern countrywoman": farm women, domesticity and social change in interwar Britain. History workshop journal : HWJ, (70), 87-107.

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

Howkins, A., & Verdon, N. (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.

Verdon, N. (2002). The rural labour market in the early nineteenth century: women’s and children’s employment, family income, and the 1834 Poor Law Report. The Economic History Review, 55 (2), 299-323.

Verdon, N. (2001). The employment of women and children in agriculture: a reassessment of agricultural gangs in nineteenth-century Norfolk. The Agricultural history review, 49 (1), 41-55.

Verdon, N. (n.d.). A distinctive service: Ruth Uzzell, the National Union of Agricultural Workers, and the place of women in interwar rural trade unionism. Agricultural History Review.

Book chapters

Verdon, N. (2021). 'The food production campaign in the First World War: The Derbyshire War Agriculture Committees, 1915-1919'. In Hoyle, R.W. (Ed.) Histories of People and Landscape: Essays on the Sheffield region in memory of David Hey. (pp. 151-169). Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press:

Verdon, N. (2017). 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 The Golden Age: Essays in British Social and Economic History, 1850-1870. (pp. 225-236).

Sayer, K., & Verdon, N. (2017). The Professionalization of Farming for Women in Late Victorian Britain : the Role and Legacy of the Langham Place Feminists. In Ambrose, L.M., & Jensen, J.M. (Eds.) Recipes for Rural Life : Food History and Women Professionals, 1880-1965. (pp. 17-33). Iowa, USA: University of Iowa Press

Verdon, N. (2014). Child work in agriculture in Britain. In The World of Child Labor: An Historical and Regional Survey. (pp. 558-562).

Verdon, N. (2013). The 'lady farmer': Gender, widowhood and farming in Victorian England. In The farmer in England, 1650-1980. (pp. 241-262).


Verdon, N. (2017). Working the land: A history of the farmworker in England from 1850 to the present day. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.


Batty, E., Eadson, W., Pattison, B., Stevens, M., Twells, A., & Verdon, N. (2018). Evaluation of Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War Centenary Activity: Year 4 report. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research.

Eadson, W., Pattison, B., Stevens, M., Twells, A., & Verdon, N. (2017). Evaluation of Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War centenary activity: year 3 report. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research.

Theses / Dissertations

Sheridan, M.R. (2016). The bombshell - more than munitions 1917-1919. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Peterson, N., & Verdon, N.

Webster, I. (2015). The Public Works Loan Board 1817-76 and the financing of public infrastructure. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Verdon, N., & Lewis, M.

Holland, S. (2013). Contrasting rural communities: The experience of South Yorkshire in the mid-nineteenth century. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Verdon, N., Lewis, M., & Cain, P.

Other activities

I currently act as external examiner on the BA History programme at the University of Reading, and for the Local History programme at Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge.

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise postgraduates working on various 19th and 20th century British history projects.

Current postgraduate students are working on:

  • The Aid Spain movement in interwar Britain.
  • Greening the Industrial Model Village: historical geographies of environmental entanglement at Saltaire and the making of a peri-urban heritage landscape (AHRC Heritage consortium).
  • Gender and identity: The relationship between femininity and dress in Victorian mining districts in England and Wales (AHRC Heritage consortium).
  • Narrative, Identity and Protest: The Swing Riots in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire 1830-2.
  • The Making of the Green Working Class: Nature, Ecology and Environment.

Past postgraduate students have completed projects on:

  • Business Enterprise, Consumer Culture and Civic Engagement, 1890s-1930s: Sheffield Entrepreneur, John Graves.
  • 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.


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

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