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Dr Nicola Verdon: Life on the land, the British countryside since 1800

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Dr Nicola Verdon: Life on the land, the British countryside since 1800

Nicola's work on the social and economic history of the British countryside in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has had considerable impact.

Her published research, which focuses on rural work patterns, family life and gender relations, has been used to inform and contribute to several projects. Projects include museums, theatre, and the broadcast media, enabling different groups of communities – exhibition audiences, actors, and TV/radio viewers and listeners – to engage with and interpret various aspects of modern rural history.

Museum curatorship

In 2011 Nicola was the guest curator of an exhibition at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) entitled Land Ladies: Women and Farming in England, 1900-1950.

She authored all the exhibition banners, covering topics such as agricultural education for women, rural women's organisations, women's work in the dairy, with poultry, in agricultural field work and horticulture, the role of farmers' wives, women farmers, and the impact of the Second World War.

She worked closely with the curatorial staff to choose appropriate photographic and printed images and exhibits from the museum collections for display. In March 2011 she delivered a public lecture to mark International Women's Day.

Theatre

Since 2010 Nicola has worked with New London Theatre's production of Michael Morpurgo's War Horse. Much of the first act of the play is set on a farm in Devon in the early twentieth century, and Nicola has worked with five successive casts of actors, conducting workshops on the history of rural England before 1914.

Her research expertise has shaped how actors understand and approach their roles. The associate director of the play said, 'Nicola's knowledge allows the actors, and us, to really understand the situations in which these people lived, thus bringing life to the characters more accurately.'

Media

Nicola's expert knowledge has been drawn upon by the broadcast media and she has made substantial contributions to several high-profile radio and TV programmes. These include

  • Wartime Farm (BBC2, 13 September 2012) – Nicola explained the substantial contribution women made to farm work, including areas of innovation such as making silage, which the government encouraged during the war
  • The Restoration Man (Channel 4, 27 January 2013) – this programme was centred on the restoration of a nineteenth century farm and piggery in the village of Egmanton, Nottinghamshire. Nicola's role was to guide the presenter through the census returns for the farm between 1851 and 1911, outlining how the farm family household changed over time
  • Sunday Supplement (BBC Radio Wales, 7 July 2013). Nicola was interviewed on the flagship weekly politics show about the history and role of the Agricultural Wages Board, to provide context to the Welsh assembly's debate on whether to reform the board after it was axed by the UK government in 2012

About this project

Explore the people, research centres and partner organisations behind this project.

Contact us

For more details about research opportunities, our impact and more

Email the research centre

Research team

Nicola Verdon

Dr Nicola Verdon

Professor of Modern History

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