Prof Robert Poole

Prof. Robert Poole

Professor of 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 bicentenary

Peterloo Memorial Campaign

Peterloo animation

Peterloo on Twitter

Peterloo events 2019

Full Profile

Robert Poole is a versatile historian, specialising 18th and 19th-century Britain. He is the author of Peterloo: the English Uprising (2019), the definitive history of a landmark event in the history of British democracy which has been widely reviewed. He was consultant historian to the Peterloo bicentenary programme in Manchester, supporting the work of museums, galleries, libraries, community groups, film makers, creative artists, volunteers and youth groups. In 2019 he delivered the Byron Lecture at the British Association for Romantic Studies conference in Nottingham and a plenary paper to the International Conference on Romanticism in Manchester. He is co-author of the graphic novel Peterloo: Witnesses to a Massacre (2019), editor of Return to Peterloo (2014), and has contributed podcasts to BBC History Extra and HistoryHit TV, an article to The Conversation, and an interview to Five Books. He has published articles in journals including Past and Present, Social Science History, History and Technology, and Labour History Review.

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), on which he has lectured in Washington DC, Lucerne, Copenhagen, Paris and London. His work 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 London (2016-17), and in documentaries on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo programme in Britain, Spain and Germany. He continues to research and publish on the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey and the British techno-prophet Arthur C. Clarke, working at both the Kubrick Archive in London and the Clarke collection at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, where he was a visiting fellow in 2016.

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


  • PhD History, Lancaster University, 1986.


Peterloo: the English Uprising (Oxford University Press, 2019)

‘The Manchester Observer: biography of a radical newspaper’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 95, 1 (Spring 2019), open access at

‘Petitioners and rebels: petitioning for parliamentary reform in Regency England’, Social Science History 43, 2 (2019).

‘The myth of progress: 2001: A Space Odyssey’, in Limiting Outer Space: Astroculture After Apollo ed. Alexander C. T. Geppert (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)

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. 


Professional bodies: Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Editorial Board member, Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire.

Secretary to History UK , 2004-10.



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.