Dr William Tullett

Lecturer in History, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: History

William Tullett teaches early modern British and European history. His research focuses on the senses, emotions, and materiality in long-eighteenth-century Britain.



Before coming to Anglia Ruskin in 2019, William held posts at King’s College London, the University of Derby, and a Past and Present Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research. His research focuses on the history of feeling. His first project was on the history of smell in Britain between 1670 and 1820 and the book from this project, Smell in Eighteenth-Century England: A Social Sense, will be published with Oxford University Press in the Past and Present series in 2019. This is a history of smell in England between 1660 and 1830, tracking the shifting role of smells and smelling in places ranging from coffee houses to chemistry lecture halls and from pleasure gardens to pacific islands.
William’s latest project focuses on the history of sound in England between 1600 and 1850. He is currently researching and writing several articles on bells in this period - ranging from huge church bells down to the tiny bells found on animals. A second part of this project focusses on the history of silence. The longer aim of his current work is to write a book on the place of bells in English culture and society from 1600 to 1945, creating a history of feeling over the long duree of English history. He is also preparing articles on urban rhythms and the senses in eighteenth-century England; masculinity and bell ringers; and the use of reconstructing soundscapes for understanding the past. His other research interests include histories of occupation, inequality, and education.

Research interests

  • Britain between 1600 and 1850
  • Sensory History
  • Emotions History
  • Cultural and Social History
  • Urban Life
  • The Body
  • Medicine
  • Space
  • Gender
  • Material Culture

Areas of research supervision

William welcomes inquiries for PhD supervision on any aspect of the social and cultural history of Britain between 1600 and 1850. He is particularly interested in supervising students interested in any of the broad themes in the list above.
William is currently a second supervisor for Jess Balls, ‘Spirits, Smog, and Swing: A Pollution of the Senses in London, 1770-1820’, University of East Anglia.


  • The Making of Modern Britain, 1688-1832
  • Food and Early Modern Society


  • PhD, King’s College London, 2016
  • MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies, King’s College London, 2013
  • BA (Hons) in History, University of Oxford, 2012

Selected recent publications

Tullett, W. forthcoming 2019. Smell in Eighteenth-Century England: A Social Sense. Oxford University Press: Past and Present Series.

Tullett, W., forthcoming in print, available on FirstView Online. Re-Odorization, Disease, and Emotion in Mid-Nineteenth-Century England. Historical Journal.

Tullett, W., 2016. Grease and Sweat: Race and Smell in Eighteenth-Century English Culture. Cultural and Social History, 13(3), pp.307-322.

Tullett, W., 2015. The Macaroni’s ‘Ambrosial essences’. Perfume, Identity and Public Space in Eighteenth-Century England. Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 38(2), pp.163-180.

Tullett, W., 2015. The Success of Sweet Smells. History Today, 65(8), pp.28-35.

Recent presentations and conferences

January 2019, Invited paper, Early Modern Global Soundscapes, University of York
‘Hearing the Past? Soundscape, Soundspace, and Soundplace’.

January 2019, Invited paper, Centre for Urban History Seminar, University of Leicester
‘Rhythm, Habituation, and the Soundscape in Eighteenth-Century London’.

January 2019, BSECS conference, Oxford
“Please [not] to ring the bell’: Sound and the Eighteenth-Century Home’

February 2017 Invited paper, University of Oxford, History Faculty, 1650-1850 Seminar
‘Sound, Rhythm, and Community in Eighteenth-Century London’

February 2017 Invited paper, Pre-Modern Medicine seminar, Wellcome Library, London.
‘Smell and Medical Efficacy in Eighteenth-Century England’

February 2017 Invited paper: Early Modern Senses Symposium, Ludwig Maximilien University, Munich.
‘Smell and the Atmospherics of Privacy in Eighteenth-Century England’

October 2017 Invited talk: Royal Holloway Material Culture and the Body seminar, Senate House, London.
‘Material Culture and the Senses’ roundtable.

October 2016 British History in the Long Eighteenth Century Seminar Institute of Historical Research, London.
‘Tobacco and the Social Life of the Senses in Eighteenth-Century England’.

May 2016 Invited Paper: Cardiff RHS ‘Emotion and Evidence’ conference.
‘Habituation, Emotion, and the Olfactory Archive of Eighteenth-Century England’.

Media experience

William’s research has appeared in History Today and on the BBC World Service program 'The Forum'. He has run public engagement events at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Institute for Historical Research and he is always keen to hear from and work with heritage organisations looking to expand the sensory elements of their activities.