I am a writer, lecturer and professor of English and cultural history at Liverpool John Moores University. My most recent books are Queuing for Beginners (2007), a cultural history of daily habits since the war, inspired in part by the Mass-Observation surveys of the 1930s and 1940s: On Roads: A Hidden History (2009); and Armchair Nation: An Intimate History of Britain in Front of the TV (2013). As well as publishing articles in obscure academic journals, I write for the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Financial Times and other publications. I am a literary and cultural historian focusing on the very recent past, with a particular interest in the everyday. My latest book is Shrinking Violets: A Field Guide to Shyness (Profile 2016), which was published in February 2017 in a revised North American edition by Yale University Press as Shrinking Violets: The Secret Life of Shyness.

This website is an archive of the writing I have done over the years, assembled in an effort to persuade myself that I haven’t been entirely wasting my time. ‘A luxurious task, this cobbling up of ancient toil,’ as Ronald Blythe puts it.

My banner image is by the wonderful Czech artist and children’s illustrator, Miroslav Sasek. As Sasek died in 1980 without an heir, it is difficult to determine who holds the rights to his work, but no copyright infringement is intended. All the other images on this site are either my own or are marked for non-commercial reuse on Google Images.

I hope you enjoy my site and find something of interest on it.

My old blog is archived here.

Image above: ‘London Visitors 1962’ by Don O’Brien – originally posted to Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

5 thoughts on “About

  1. I went to your talk about shyness, and it gave me an appreciation of my own. Thanks so much. It has made me see my ‘strangenesses’ in a new light.

    You, who I dare say can be rendered inarticulate in certain situations, are so exceedingly articulate when in front of an audience.

    I should have loved to ask you questions. (but I am too shy to speak in public.)

    My aunt, when I was little said “I’ve no time for shyness. It is pure vanity.” I guess being self conscious is a form of vanity…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s