Professor Jane Hamlett

Personal profile

I studied History at Mansfield College Oxford, before taking the MA in Women's and Gender History at Royal Holloway. An undergraduate course in Baroque architecture sparked my interest in the material world, and this, combined with a growing enthusiasm for the history of gender, led to a PhD at RHUL. My doctorate explored the relationship between the material culture of the middle-class home and what it meant to be male or female in Victorian and Edwardian England.

After my PhD, I worked as a Lecturer at Balliol College Oxford and the University of Manchester, and on research projects on the supermarket  and families and small businesses. In 2008 I was awarded an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Manchester, to write my first book, Material Relations: Families and Domestic Interiors in England 1850-1910, which was published by MUP in 2010, and will be out in paperback in December 2015.

On returning to RHUL, I led the ESRC-funded At Home in the Institution Project, examining the influence of notions of home on different kinds of institutional space. My second monograph, At Home in the Institution: Material Life in Asylums, Lodging Houses and Schools in Victorian and Edwardian England, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014.

I'm currently the Principal Investigator on an AHRC-funded project that explores the role of pets in British family life between 1837 and 1937.

Research interests

Broadly, my research interests lie in the histories of society and culture in modern Britain, women and gender, the family, intimacy and emotion, and material and visual culture.  

My work so far has focused on home life and family relationships, as well as the wider influence of domestic ideas and practices in nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain. I also have a strong interest in material culture, and how it can be deployed to understand the past in new ways.

I am currently working on two research projects -- on late nineteenth and early twentieth-century domestic and family photography and  the history of family pets.

I am Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture and the Bedford Centre at RHUL.


I teach a range of undergraduate courses in Modern British History and my specialist course HS3363 Photography and Film and British Society, 1850-1960. I also co-teach two specialist MA Courses - HS5647 Looking at the Victorians: Visual and Material Culture in Britain, 1837-1901 and HS5322 The Material Culture of Homelife: European Households, 1400-1850.

I currently supervise six PhD students and am happy to hear from students who would like to pursue doctoral studies.

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