Dr Luke Blaxill

Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: History , Politics and international relations

Courses taught: History

Luke specialises in British Political History, 1800-present, with a particular interested in electoral politics. He is also interested in the Digital Humanities, and the application of big data digital methodologies to the study of History.

Email: luke.blaxill@anglia.ac.uk


Luke is 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. He is also very interested in the Digital Humanities, especially in interdisciplinary 'big data' research methodologies such as Text Mining. Luke's other interests include women in British politics since 1945, and the British Monarchy and Constitution more generally.

Much of Luke's research to date has focused on a key methodological question. Namely, how historians can analyse 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 per election.

Research interests

  • British society and politics, esp. 1815-present
  • Political language, British political parties, elections and psephology
  • Digital Humanities
  • Text Mining
  • Women in politics
  • The British Empire

Areas of research supervision

Luke is happy to supervise any aspect of British History since 1800, especially (although not limited to) political topics. Other areas would be any project involving digital methodologies, or any psephological project.


  • History Today 
  • Britain in the 19th Century


  • PhD, King's College London, 2012
  • MA, University of Oxford, 2014
  • MPhil, University of Cambridge, 2005
  • BA (Hons), Royal Holloway University of London, 2004

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • Luke was Research Associate on the Digging into Linked Parliamentary Data (Dilipad) project, a collaboration between three universities in the UK, Netherlands, and Canada. The grant was for £250,000, and Luke was part of the original application. 
  • Luke funded his Masters and PhD entirely from charities and trusts and unusual funders, raising nearly £50,000 from 45 different awards. He is the lead author of the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, which outlines how other postgraduate students can use the funding methodology that he developed.

Selected recent publications


Blaxill, L. (forthcoming 2018). The War of Words: The Language of British Election Campaigning, 1880-1918. Under contract by the Royal Historical Society Studies in History series.

Published articles

Blaxill, L. (2017). 'The Language of Imperialism in British Electoral Politics, 1880-1910'. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 45:4, pp416-48.

Beelan, K; Blaxill, L., (2016). 'A Feminised Language of Democracy? Women’s Representation in the House of Commons since 1945'. Twentieth Century British History, 27:3, pp412-49.

Blaxill, L. and  Saleh, T. (2016). 'The Electoral Dynamics of Conservatism, 1885-1914: 'Negative Unionism Reconsidered''. The Historical Journal, 59:2, pp417-445.

Blaxill, L. (2016). 'The Khaki Election of 1918'. International Encyclopaedia of the First World War, Freie Universität Berlin.

Blaxill, L. (2016). 'Women in Parliament since 1945: have they changed the debate?'. History and Policy.

Blaxill, L. (2015). 'Joseph Chamberlain and the Third Reform Act: A Reassessment of the "Unauthorized Programme" of 1885'. Journal of British Studies, 54:1, pp488-117.

Blaxill, L. (2013). 'Quantifying the Language of British Politics’. Historical Research, 86:232, pp313-341.

Blaxill, L. (2011). 'Electioneering, the Third Reform Act, and Political Change in the 1880s'. Parliamentary History, 30:3, pp343-373.

Published book chapters

Blaxill, L. (Forthcoming 2017). 'Elections'. In The Oxford Handbook of Modern British Political History, 1800-present. Oxford University Press.

Blaxill, L. (2016). 'Opposition to Irish Home Rule'. In R. Huzzey and M. Childs (eds.) Campaigning for Change: Lessons from History. London, pp97-114.

Blaxill, L.; Readman, P. (2013). 'Edwardian By-Elections’. In P. Readman and T.G. Otte (eds.) By-Elections in British Politics, 1832-1914. Boydell and Brewer, pp226-50.

Recent presentations and conferences

'Historians and Text Mining'. Royal Society, London, 2017

'Text Mining British Politics'. Texts Network Seminar, University of Oxford, 2017

'Corpus Linguistics and British Political History'. Linguistics Seminar, Lancaster University, 2017

''Big data' and the analysis of parliamentary and platform speeches, 1880-present'. Parliament, Politics, People seminar, Institute of Historical Research, 2016

Media experience

Luke has appeared several times on television and radio, including on Sky News, Russia Today, BBC London (for three hours during their coverage of the Diamond Jubilee), and French Radio London. He has 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.