Helen McCarthy

Lecturer in Modern British History

Helen is Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Cambridge. She joined the Faculty in September 2018 following nine years at Queen Mary, University of London. She also serves as Deputy Director of the Mile End Institute and as Managing Editor for Twentieth Century British History. Helen’s first book, The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, Citizenship and Internationalism, 1918-1945 (Manchester University Press, 2011), is a study of the popular movement which grew up in Britain around the idea of international cooperation in the era of the two world wars.

More recently, Helen’s research on the place of women in British diplomacy has contributed to the burgeoning interest in gender amongst diplomatic and international historians. In 2014 she published Women of the World: the Rise of the Female Diplomat (Bloomsbury, 2014), which explored the presence – and significant absence – of women in modern diplomatic life, with a focus on the complex cultures of the British Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service since the early 19th century. Her next book (to be published in 2019) is a history of working motherhood since the 1880s. As part of this research she has become interested in the transnational networks of social scientists, activists and officials who sought to study, measure and compare change and continuity in women’s employment patterns across the developed and developing world from the 1930s. She also hopes to explore further the lives of overseas childcare workers – including au pairs, nannies and childminders – who worked for British families in the post-war period, reflecting on how their stories intersect with familiar narratives of British (dis)engagement with Europe, mass immigration and the rise of a multi-cultural society.