Dr. Robert Poole

Guild Research Fellow

School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Livesey House, LH314

Subject Areas: History

Robert Poole is a historian working in three main areas.

  1. Popular protest in the age of reform and industrial revolution 1780s-1850s ('Peterloo', Chartism etc.)
  2. The trial of the Lancashire witches (or Pendle witches) 1612.
  3. History of the first space age 1957-72, including the Apollo Moon landings, the first pictures of the Earth from space (Earthrise and Blue Marble), and the film '2001: A Space Odyssey'.

He is experienced in public speaking, radio and TV.

In 2016 Dr Robert Poole was interviewed by Melvin Bragg on the BBC Radio 4 show ‘The Matter of the North’ exploring the radical movements that sprang from the North.

Full Profile

During 2013-14, Robert is working on a British Academy/Leverhulme funded pilot project 'The English reform movement of 1816-17: understanding the Home Office disturbances papers', with Dr Katrina Navickas of the University of Hertfordshire. The longer-term aim is to digitise, catalogue and make available the whole of this material, which is the single most important resource for the study of popular protest in the industrial revolution period. He has published articles in 'Past and Present', 'History' and 'Labour History Review', and is editor of the 2013 Manchester Region History Review entitled 'Return to Peterloo'. He is working on a book on the 1819 Peterloo Massacre and a biography of the radical Samuel Bamford, whose diaries he co-edited with Martin Hewitt. He has appeared on the BBC series 'Elegance and Decadence - the Age of the Regency' (2011) and the ITV series 'How They Built the North' (2013), and was consultant to the Library Theatre Company's 2013 production 'Manchester Sound - the Massacre'. He will be leading workshops and lecturing on Shelley's Peterloo poem 'The Masque of Anarchy' at the Manchester Histories Festival in March 2014.

Robert is the author of 'The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster' (Carnegie, 2011), a modern English text of the 1612 book on England's biggest peacetime witch trial. He was consultant to the 2012 'Lancashire witches 400' programme and has lectured extensively on the Lancashire witches. He is currently advisor to the project 'Documenting Dissent: Prisoners of Conscience at Lancaster Castle' run by Global Link, Lancaster. In the eighteenth century he has written in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography on the pioneer dialect writer Tim Bobbin, 'The Lancashire Hogarth', and his 1998 book 'Time's Alteration' uncovered the truth about the English calendar reform of 1752 and the legendary 'Give us our eleven days' riots.

Robert's best-known book is 'Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth' (Yale, 2008), a study of the history and impact of the first views of Earth from space, particularly on modern environmentalism. It was well reviewed on both sides of the Atlantic and has led to guest lectures in Lucerne, Berlin, Manchester, Paris and Copenhagen, and appearances on public radio in the UK, US and Switzerland. His next project in this area is on the cult film '2001: A Space Odyssey' (1968), for which he has worked extensively at the remarkable Kubrick Archive in London. He has published articles in 'History and Technology' and edited collections, including '2001: A Space Odyssey and the Dawn of Man' in 'Stanley Kubrick - New Perspectives' (Black Dog Press, 2014).

Robert was a co-researcher with Dr Arthur Chapman of Edge Hill University on the 'History Virtual Academy' project, which used online discussion involving university historians to enhance the historical understanding of History A-Level students. The project was funded by the Higher Education Academy.

Copies of some publications, and links to broadcasts, are available at Robert's Academia site and at the Earthrise website.

Previous posts: Keele University; Edge Hill College; University of Cumbria; Leverhulme Visiting Research Fellow, Dept of History, University of Manchester.


PhD History, Lancaster University, 1986.



Poole, Robert (2012) The challenge of the spaceship: Arthur C. Clarke and the history of the future, 1945-75. History and Technology , 28 (3). pp. 255-280. ISSN 0734-1512

Poole, Robert (2011) Thomas Potts, The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster. Carnegie Publishing, Lancaster, UK. ISBN 978-1-874181-78-1

Poole, Robert (2009) French revolution or peasants’ revolt? Petitioners and rebels from the Blanketeers to the Chartists. Labour History Review , 74 (1). pp. 6-26. ISSN 0961-5652

Poole, Robert (2008) Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth. Yale University Press, Newhaven and London. ISBN 978-0-300-13766-8

More publications


Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Editorial Board, Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire

Secretary to History UK, 2004-10


British Academy/Leverhulme funded project on 'The English Reform Movement of 1816-17: exploring the Home Office disturbances papers' with Dr Katrina Navickas of the University of Hertfordshire.


Adhoc contributions to BA History programmes.

Postgraduate supervision in history.

External Activities

External examiner, BA and MA in History, University of Manchester (2011-14)

Visiting Fellow, School of Humanities, University of Hertfordshire.

Associate of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester.

Associate of the Emmy-Noether research programme, 'The future in the Stars', Free University of Berlin. 



Organiser of a symposium on 'Space at Work' at the International Conference on the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Manchester, 2013.

Recent papers:

‘The Atomic Crossroads’, International Congress of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester, July 2013.

‘What was whole about the Whole Earth?’, “Moments of Globality – Ideas, Images and Artefacts” conference, Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, June 2013.

‘The History Virtual Academy: Fostering and assessing conceptual development through online discussion’ (with Arthur Chapman and Jane Facey), keynote paper to National History Conference, Keele University, November 2012

‘The Witch Hunt of 1612’, keynote paper to conference on Capturing Witches, Lancaster University, August 2012.

‘Apeman, Spaceman: "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the Dawn of Man’, Three Societies History of Science conference, Philadelphia, July 2012

‘Domination, Resistance – and History’, discussion paper to New Approaches to the History of Popular Protest symposium, University of Hertfordshire, July 2011.




Professional bodies: Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Editorial Board member, Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire.

Secretary to History UK , 2004-10.