Dr Robert Poole

Dr. Robert Poole

Guild Research Fellow, Reader in History

School of Humanities, Language and Global Studies

Livesey House, LH314


Subject Areas: History

Robert Poole has two main areas of interest:

  1. The history of popular protest in 19th-century Britain, particularly north-west England
  2. The cultural history of the space age, 1945-1975

Robert Poole on Academia

Peterloo Memorial Campaign

Peterloo animation

Peterloo on Twitter

Peterloo events 2019

Full Profile

Robert Poole is currently working on the history of the Peterloo massacre of 1819, a major episode in the history of Manchester and of British democracy, whose bicentenary falls in August 2019. He is completing a book, Peterloo: the English Uprising, due to be published by OUP in 2019. He has also written several articles on Peterloo and related subjects for journals such as Past and Present, History and Labour History Review, and edited a Peterloo edition of the Manchester Region History Review. Robert is consultant historian to the Peterloo 2019 commemoration programme, and is supporting the work of museums, galleries, libraries, community groups, film and documentary makers and the Manchester International Festival for events in 2019. He has appeared on the Radio 4 programme The Matter of the North – the Radical North and various other TV and radio programmes. He is also co-authoring a graphic novel.

Robert’s other research interest is in the cultural history of the space age, through his book Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth (Yale UP, 2008). He has lectured on it in Washington DC, Lucerne, Copenhagen, Paris and London, and it has featured in two exhibitions, The Whole Earth at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin (2013) and You Say You Want a Revolution? at the V&A in 2016-17. He continues to research and publish on the 1968 cult science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey, working at both the Kubrick Archive in London and the Arthur C. Clarke collection at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, where he was a short-term visiting fellow in 2016.

In 2011-12 Robert was consultant historian to the programme to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the 1612 trial of the Lancashire witches. His book The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster is the definitive history of England’s biggest peacetime witch trial. In April 2017 he appeared on the BBC’s Countryfile walking part of the Lancashire witches trail.

Robert wrote an article for The Conversation which was published on the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre, entitled ‘Peterloo massacre: how women’s bravery helped change British politics forever’


  • PhD History, Lancaster University, 1986.


'The Manchester Observer: Biography of a Radical Newspaper', Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester (forthcoming, January 2019).

‘Petitioners and rebels: petitioning for parliamentary reform in Regency Britain’Social Science History (forthcoming, 2018).

‘The myth of progress: 2001: A Space Odyssey’, in Limiting Outer Space: Astroculture After Apollo ed. Alexander Geppert (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

 ‘”To the last drop of my blood”: politics and melodrama in early nineteenth-century England’, in Performance, Politics and Popular Culture in Nineteenth-century Britain ed. Kate Newey et. al. (Manchester UP, 2016).

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.