Professor Rohan McWilliam

Professor of Modern British History

Course Leader, BA (Hons) History

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: History

Research Supervision:Yes

Rohan teaches British and American History, and much of his research has been devoted to the politics and culture of Victorian Britain.


Rohan has just completed a term as President of the British Association for Victorian Studies, the main organisation in the UK that promotes research into 19th-century Britain. His publications draw on political, social and cultural history but he's also an advocate of interdisciplinary approaches that engage with literature, film, political science and sociology among other subjects.

Rohan is also Director of the Labour History Research Unit at Anglia Ruskin University, which has organised conferences and publications that explore the politics of the Left in modern Britain. As well as this, he's the editor of two book series, Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth Century Studies (University Press of New England) and New Directions in Social and Cultural History (Bloomsbury), which is organised on behalf of the Social History Society. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Victorian Culture where he is reviews editor.

Currently, Rohan is at work on a history of the West End of London since 1800 and is editing a book about the Victorian publisher Edward Lloyd who helped create the popular press in Britain and brought out cheap fiction in the 1840s, including the first appearance of Sweeney Todd.

Research interests

  • Victorian studies
  • Modern British and United States history
  • Labour history
  • The history of popular culture
  • Historiography
  • Theory and history

Areas of research supervision

Rohan is available to supervise postgraduates in post-1800 British history.


  • DPhil, University of Sussex, 1990
  • MA, University of Sussex, 1983
  • BA (Hons), University of Sussex, 1982

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Past President, British Association for Victorian Studies
  • Member, Social History Society
  • Member, Sherlock Holmes Society of London
  • Member, North American Victorian Studies Association

Selected recent publications

McWilliam, R., 2023 (forthcoming). Reynolds's Newspaper and Victorian Populism, 1850-1914. In: Conary, J., Shannon, M., (Eds.), 2023 (forthcoming). New Reynolds Studies (Abingdon: Routledge).

McWilliam, R., 2022. 'A Pantomime and a Masquerade': The West End of London in the Age of Charles Lamb. The Charles Lamb Bulletin, new series 174, pp. 44-58.

McWilliam, R., 2021. The Electric Pleasure District: The West End of London in the Age of Empire, 1880-1914. London Journal, 46(3), pp. 1-20.

McWilliam, R., 2020. London's West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Lill, S. L., McWilliam, R. (Eds.), 2019. Edward Lloyd and his World: Popular Fiction, Politics and the Press in Victorian Britain (Abingdon: Routledge).

McWilliam, R., 2019. Fancy Repositories: The Arcades of London's West End in the Nineteenth Century. London Journal, 44(2), pp. 93-112.

McWilliam, R., 2018. Man about Town: Victorian Night Life and the Haymarket Saturnalia, 1840-1880. History, 103, pp. 758-776.

Davis, J., McWilliam, R. (Eds.), 2017. Labour and the Left in the 1980s (Manchester: Manchester University Press).

Hardley, S., McWilliam, R., Noakes, L. (Eds.), 2017, New Direction in Social and Cultural History (London: Bloomsbury).

McWilliam, R., 2014. Elsa Lanchester and Bohemian London in the 1920s. Women’s History Review, 23(2), pp. 171-187.

McWilliam, R., 2014. E. P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm and the Remaking of Nineteenth Century British History. Social History, 39(2), pp. 149-159.

McWilliam, R., 2011. Melodrama. In: Gilbert, P. (Ed.), 2011. Blackwell Companion to the Sensation Novel (Oxford: Blackwell).

McWilliam, R., 2011. Political Cultures. In: Hewitt, M. (Ed.), 2011. The Victorian World (Abingdon: Routledge).

McWilliam, R., 2011. Jonathan Miller’s Alice in Wonderland (1966): A Suitable Case for Treatment. Historical Journal of Film, Television and Radio, 31(2), pp. 229-246.

McWilliam, R., 2010. Unauthorised Identities: The impostor, the fake and the secret history in nineteenth century Britain. In: Finn, M., Lobban, M. and Bourne Taylor, J. (Eds.), 2010. Legitimacy and Illegitimacy in Nineteenth-Century Law, Literature and History (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 67-92.

Media experience

Watch Rohan's Prothero Lecture on YouTube.