Dr. Luke Blaxill
Historian of British Politics, 1800-present
I am Dr. Luke Blaxill, a historian of modern British political history, c.1800-present. Since my gaining my PhD in 2012, I have held several prestigious fellowships and grants in Oxford, Cambridge, and London.
* Electoral Politics
* The Conservative, Liberal, and Labour Parties
* Political Language
* Digital Humanities, esp. Text Mining/ big data methods
* Women in Politics, 1945-present
* The British Monarchy
I am also the lead author and director of the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, which has sold over 500,000 copies and licences and is used by the majority of UK Universities.
Since October 2016, I have held a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship, and am based in Cambridge. I am also currently a visiting scholar at Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, and College Lecturer in Modern British History at Hertford College, Unievrsity of Oxford. I was previously Draper's Company Junior Research Fellow at University of Oxford, and completed my PhD at King's College London in 2012.
I am a modern British political historian specialising in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century British Politics., especially political parties, elections and psephology, ideology, and political language and communication. I have also featured on TV and Radio shows, including BBC Radio 4, and Yesterday channel. I am also very interested in the Digital Humanities, especially in interdisciplinary 'big data' research methodologies such as Text Mining. I am also interested in women in British politics since 1945, and the British and the British Monarchy and Constitution more generally.
Much of my research to date has focused on a key methodological question. Namely, how historians can analyze huge multi-million word texts which are physically impossible to read in totality, for example general election campaigns in the late Victorian and Edwardian period, where an estimated billion words of platform speeches were delivered nationwide.
My forthcoming Book 'The War of Words: the Language of British Electoral Politics, 1880-1914', which is based on my doctoral thesis (brief summary), explores how quantitative and qualitative text mining techniques originating from Corpus Linguistics can help meet this challenge. More specifically, I will demonstrate how the systematic computerised analysis of millions of words of text can lead to new insights and major revisions to historians' current understanding of British political language, which has thus far been based exclusively on manual reading and focused case studies.
I am also working on a number of other interesting projects. The first is a substantial grant-funded project ('Digging into Linked Parliamentary Data') which uses text mining to investigate the differences between male and female MPs' language patterns in Parliament since 1945. Some of this research was recently published in Twentieth Century British History and in History and Policy.
Other collaborative projects I am working on include a major psepholgical reassessment of the displacement of the Liberal Party by Labour in the 1920s, which will act as a sequel to a similar piece for the 1990-1914 period already published in Historical Journal. I am also working on another text mining project, which is using these computerised reading techniques to assess the Wellcome Trust's recently digitised London's Pulse corpus of London Medical Officer of Health reports from 1848-1972.
Outside of my role as a historian, I am best known as the author of the bestselling Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, which has regularly appeared on TV and in newspapers. The Guide has sold 500,000 copies since it first appeared in 2009 and is licensed by most universities in the UK.
POLITICAL ORATORICAL PANDEMONIUM: How did Political Spin Begin? Public Lecture give by Dr. Luke Blaxill (University of Cambridge)
I have done a good deal of radio and TV broadcasting working Yesterday Channel, BBC Radio 4, Sky News, Russia Today, BBC London, and French Radio London. I have also appeared in the Guardian (three times) including one feature length piece, once in the Telegraph in a feature length piece, once in the Independent, and several times in smaller outlets. See for example:
* Channel 5 News: Commentary on 2019 Election Result
* The Long View with Jonathan Freedland: Prime Ministers and Divided Parties
* Documentary about Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth: 'Royal Sisters' Documentary about Elizabeth and Margaret
* The Long View with Jonathan Freedland: Weakened Prime Ministers
If you would like comment, advice, or to discuss a potential appearance or contribution, please get in touch by email at or at one of the institutional email addresses listed at the foot of the page.
Leverhulme Research Fellow
I was awarded a three-year Early-Career Research Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust.
Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge
Hertford College, University of Oxford
College Lecturer in Monder British History
Draper's Company Junior Research Fellow
Hertford College, University of Oxford
I held the Draper's Company Junior Research Fellowship at Herford College between 2013-16. I was also heavily involved in teaching British History at college, interviewing prospective undergraduates, and co-ran our Summer School course for visiting Princeton Students.
Phd History and Digital Humanities
KING'S COLLEGE LONDON
Studied part time. Passed with minor corrections.
MPhil Historical Studies
SELWYN COLLEGE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
Passed with Distinction and won Selwyn College MPhil Prize.
BA History, Politics, Economic History
UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, ROYAL HOLLOWAY
First Class Honours and won the I.G. Powell Prize for highest marks in my department.
The War of Words: The Language of British Elections, 1880-1914
Published with the Royal Historical Society Studies in History series. Link
‘A Feminised Language of Democracy? Women’s Representation in the House of Commons since 1945’ (co-authored with Kaspar Beelen), Twentieth Century British History, 27:3(2016), pp.412-449. Link
'Quantifying the Language of British Politics’
Historical Research, 86:232 (2013), pp.313-341. Link
‘The Electoral Dynamics of Conservatism, 1885-1914: ‘Negative Unionism Reconsidered’
(co-authored with Taym Saleh), The Historical Journal, 59:2(2016), pp.417-445. Link
‘Lloyd George and the Decline of the British Liberal Party in the 1920s'
(co-authored with Taym Saleh), Forthcoming in The Historical Journal
'Joseph Chamberlain and the Third Reform Act: A Reassessment of the “Unauthorized Programme” of 1885'
Journal of British Studies, 54:1(2015), pp.488-117. Link
‘The Language of Imperialism in British Electoral Politics, 1880-1910’
Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, published online in 2017. Link
‘Electioneering, the Third Reform Act, and Political Change in the 1880s’
Parliamentary History, 30:3 (2011), pp.343-373. Link
‘The Khaki Election of 1918'
International Encyclopaedia of the First World War, Freie Universität Berlin, (2016). Link
‘Women in Parliament since 1945: have they changed the debate?'
History and Policy, (2016). Link
PUBLISHED BOOK CHAPTERS
'Election Promises in 1918'
Chapter in D. Thackeray and R. Toye (eds.) Electoral Pledges in Britain Since 1918
The Politics of Promise (Palgrave, 2020). Link
Chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Mordern British Political History, 1800-present (Oxford University Press, 2018). Link
(Co-authored with Paul Readman) in P. Readman and T.G. Otte (eds.) By-Elections in British Politics, 1832-1914 (Boydell and Brewer, 2013), pp.226-50. Link
‘Opposition to Irish Home Rule’
in R.Huzzey and M.Childs (eds.), Campaigning for Change: Lessons from History (London, 2016), pp.97-114. Link
I have revieweed several books for journals in recent years, and these reviews appear in English Historical Review, Parliamentary History, Journal of Liberal History, and Journal of Victorian Culture.