Professor Elizabeth T. Hurren

Professor of Modern History

School/Department: History Politics and International Relations, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 5968


Address: School of History, Politics and International Relations, Attenborough Building, 5th Floor, Room 510, Main Campus, University Road, University of Leicester, LE1 7RH


Professor Elizabeth T. Hurren was born and brought up in Northern Ireland. She moved to England in 1988, and had a very successful career in international banking for 10 years before retraining as an academic in the late-1990s.

Elizabeth has held three full-time academic posts in the last 22 years, after obtaining a BA (Hons) in History and English (1st class) in 1996 and a PhD in History in 2000 from the University of Leicester.

Elizabeth is a Professor and holds a personal Chair in Modern History. Previously she worked at the University of Northampton (Senior Lecturer, 2000-4), and Oxford Brookes University (Reader, 2005-11), before joining the School of History, Politics and International Relations at the University of Leicester as a Reader in February 2012.

Elizabeth is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2019) and holds an HE Advanced Teaching Accreditation, New Approaches to University Teaching (Lancaster, 1998).

Elizabeth has been a member of the Association of Research Ethics Committees (AREC) since 2005 and has wide-ranging expertise in medical ethics and well-being. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and national panel member for Athena Swan.

Elizabeth's national appointments include being Editor of the Royal Historical Society's New Historical Perspectives series, Chair of the Family and Community History Society, and a range of public engagement partnership with major museums and charities, including: Historic Royal Palaces, the Science Museum, Royal College of Surgeons, and Wellcome Collection.


Elizabeth works collaboratively on translational research grants that are inter-disciplinary; she has done a considerable amount of funded historical consultancy. Her career portfolio totals £2.8m and personal share of grants generated is £1.2m (as of April, 2022).

Internationally Elizabeth is known as a leading historian of the body, poverty and welfare, specialising in histories of anatomy, childbirth, coroners, crime and punishment, death and dying, forensic medicine, and patient voices, from the early modern period to the present-day. She has published both chronologically and thematically from Leonardo da Vinci to the Human Genome. Her latest published book with Cambridge University Press (2021) focuses on hidden histories of the dead that underpinned the expansion of research in the medical sciences from 1930 to 2000.

Elizabeth is the Wellcome Trust Funded ISSF Public Engagement Lead at the University of Leicester. She is the Chair of the Colleges of Social Science, Arts and Humanities, Science and Engineering Research Ethics Committee.

During Covid-19 Elizabeth has been a Co-Investigator on - 'The Impact of the Pandemic on Home-Working and Well-Being' - led by Professor Stephen Wood, Chair in Management at the University of Leicester, with a collaborative team from the Business Schools of the Universities of Manchester, UEA and Exeter. They jointly published findings in 2021 and 2022, and these were in part funded by an ESRC Impact Grant.


The majority of Elizabeth's published work is British Academy, Leverhulme Trust and Wellcome Trust funded, and is available on Open Access, not-for-profit, free to download worldwide

E. T. Hurren, Hidden Histories of the Dead: Disputed Bodies in Modern British Medical Research 1945-2000, (Cambridge University Press, 2021) ISBN: 9781108484091
E. T. Hurren, Dissecting the Criminal Corpse: Staging Post-Execution Punishment in Early Modern England (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) ISBN 9781137582485
E. T. Hurren, Dying for Victorian Medicine: English Anatomy and its Trade in the Dead Poor, 1832 to 1929, (Palgrave, Macmillan: 2011, 2013 paperback) ISBN 9780230219663, short-listed British Medical Association Book of the Year Prize 2015
E. T. Hurren, Protesting about Pauperism: Poverty, Politics and Poor Relief in Late-Victorian England, c. 1870-1914 (Royal Historical Society series: hardback 2007, 2015 paperback), ISBN 9780861932924
E. T. Hurren, A. Gestrich and S. A King, (eds), Poverty and Sickness in Modern Europe: Narratives of the Sick Poor, 1780-1938, (Continuum Publishers, 2012), ISBN 9781441184818

Selected Articles:
E. T. Hurren, "The Politician's Child: Growing up in the Public Eye of Modern Britain, c. 1970-2020", Journal of Family History (e-published 5/9/2019), Volume 45, (2020), Issue 2, pp. 131-157, DOI: 10.1177/0363199019873362
E. T. Hurren, "Other Spaces of the Dangerous Dead of Provincial England, 1752-1832", History, Journal of the Historical Association, Volume 103 (Jan, 2018), Issue 354, pp. 27-59, DOI: 10.1111/1468-229X.12534
E. T. Hurren, "Dissecting Jack-the-Ripper: An Anatomy of Murder in the Metropolis", Crime, Histories and Society [Crime, Histories and Society], Journal of the International Association for the History of Crime and Criminal Justice, (December 2016), ISSN 1422-0857, Volume 20, Issue No. 2. pp. 5-30
E. T. Hurren, "Deliver me from this Indignity! Cottage Hospitals, Localism and NHS Healthcare in Central England, 1948-1978", Family and Community History, Volume 19 Issue 2, (October, 2016),, pp. 129- 151
E. T. Hurren and S. King, "Courtship at the Coroners Court in 18th and 19th century England", Social History, Volume 40, Issue 2, (May, 2015), pp. 185-207

Interdisciplinary Covid-19 Research Outputs:
Wood S, Michaelides G, Inceoglu I, Hurren ET, Daniels K, Niven K, 'Homeworking, Well-Being and the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Diary Study', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health', Volume 18 (July, 2021) Issue 14, pp.1-24 -


Elizabeth supervises PhD students on topics across the chronological range from the 1550s to the present-day. She has supervised 12 PhD students to completion since 2005, and is currently recruiting more. Do get in touch by email. She is interested in a diverse range of themes. You may already have topics in mind, but if you are open to different ideas, then Elizabeth has a number of pre-prepared PhD projects which spin out of her Wellcome Trust and British Academy funded grants. For these projects, historiographical reading is already identified and the core sources are already located or transcribed.


Her interests are thematically and spatially wide, and she would in particular like to hear from students with new projects covering: hidden histories of the body; childbirth, maternity care and midwifery; life writing and autobiographies, especially pathography writing about dignity and end-of-life experiences; histories of healthcare institutions (asylums, hospitals, workhouses); the lives of patients and their doctors; medical tourism and human trafficking of organs and body parts; the Human Tissue Act (2004); histories of courtship, the family and kinship; medical remedies; the forensic and social history of the coronial office; histories of morbid curiosity, crime and punishment; and any aspect of children growing up in the public eye of modern British politics.

Elizabeth also takes a keen interested in practice based PhDs, where those with interests in film making, poetry, creative writing, policy work or art undertake a practical project of their choosing and write a reflective piece on the nature of the research process which together constitute the PhD.

A selection of potential PhD projects, includes:

The Madness of Love: A History of Courtship in the Asylum System
Who Body is it Anyway?: Pathography, Living and Writing about End-of-Life
Big Pharma and its Economic Dominance in a Global Marketplace
Precision Medicine: Patient Perspectives of Modern Biomedicine
Hidden Histories of the Dead: The Inside Story of Modern Medical Research
Medical Tourism in a Global Medical Marketplace
Executing Female Criminals: Crime, Gender and Justice, 1750-1950
Medical Ethics and Patient Case Record Sharing in the NHS


Elizabeth has taught extensively in her 22-year career, across wide thematic topics from the early modern, to modern period. She is a transnational and multi-disciplinary lecturer, often delivering modules in crime history, medicine, science, health, welfare, and the body. Her courses are popular across the three University Colleges because she also teaches medical ethics, well-being and the history of emotions. 

Her teaching awards include:
National Education Heritage Award for Excellence in Disability Education (2012) 
Leicester University's Students Union Lecturer of the Year Award (2019)
Registered HE Mental Health First Aid Champion (2019 to date)

At Undergraduate level Elizabeth's teaching profile has included in 2021/22:
Jack-the-Ripper: Victorian Crime, Culture and Society
Beauty, Sex and Science: Who Body is it Anyway?: Special Subject
People and Places: History on Trial - David Irving and Holocaust Denial
The Historian's Craft

Master's teaching includes:
Directed Reading Module - a bespoke experience designed for the student's research interests
Murder and the Media: Crime, Justice and Society 1750 to 1950
Historical Research Methods

Press and media

Elizabeth has an extensive track-record of presenting on radio and television and working with the media. In total she has worked closely with 12 leading TV production companies, researching and presenting for BBC1, BBC, ITV1, ITV2, Channel 4 and Channel 5. She often acts as a script-editor and developer, as well as a speaker at the Oxford Science Festival and Cheltenham Science Festival on her media outreach.

Elizabeth was the editor of Wellcome History, the premier public engagement publication of the Wellcome Trust in London from 2012-216. She continues in 2022 to be a Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Lead and is expert in community-led projects having worked with the Lyddington History Society Heritage England and Burghley House Trust. She is Director of the East Midlands Research Initiative in partnership with the Buccleuch Living History Landscape Trust based at Boughton House Northamptonshire.

In 2022 Elizabeth continues to work with the National Archives in London on a major Dignity project and Historic Royal Palaces. Recently, Elizabeth was the main historical consultant for the Science Museum in London in the re-presentation of its refurbished £24m Medicine Galleries sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund Wellcome Trust and Wolfson Foundation. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre the vast galleries cover more than 3000m² an area equivalent to 1500 hospital beds on the museum’s first floor.


Elizabeth is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (RHS). She is currently the Co-Editor of the RHS New Historical Perspective Series which mentors early career colleagues in the HE profession seeking to get their first book published. Please do get in touch via the weblink -

Elizabeth was the founding series editor of Palgrave Historical Study series in the Criminal Corpse and its Afterlife publishing 9 open access books that are Wellcome Trust funded and have had some 120, 000 downloads to date - see -

Since 2017, Elizabeth has been the Chair of the Editorial Board of Family and Community History, the main publication of the Family and Community History Society. She remains a founding board member of the Victorian Popular Fiction Association. 


Elizabeth's book Dying for Victorian Medicine: English Anatomy and the Dead Poor, c. 1832 to 1929 (published in 2011, paperback edition 2015) was short-listed for the British Medical Association's Book of the Year Prize in 2015 and Highly Commended. It is available on open access.

Elizabeth's academic research has attracted a wide portfolio of external funding awards - details as follows:
2023-24: PI, £46, 541, Leverhulme Trust Fellowship, RF-2022-032/3., PI, Research Grant, 'Histories of Nobody: The Pauper Body in England and Wales, c. 1750-1914'
2017-19: PI, £5, 350, British Academy, SG162620, PI, Research Grant, ‘The Politicians’ Child: Growing up in the Public Eye, c. 1970-2020’
2016-19: Joint PI, £530, 986, Wellcome Trust, WT096580MA, Large Programme Grant, ‘Disputed Bodies: Narrative of Medical Research 1940s to 2001 in Europe’
2013-19: CI, £165, 000, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Collaborative Doctorial Awards, ‘The English Versailles, Refashioning the 18th Century Landed Estate c. 1750-1850’. Academic collaboration with Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust based at Boughton House in Northamptonshire (known historically as the English Versailles), Lamport Hall Preservation Trust, and the University of Leicester. All three PhDs (Elizabeth supervised 2 of 3) were completed by December 201.
2012-20: HC, £30, 000, Heritage Lottery Fund, YH-10-06803, HC, ‘Historic Buildings & People of a Rutland Manor’ - in partnership with the Burghley House Trust and Lyddington Manor History Society, mentored grant writing– remain a board member, provided ongoing historical expertise. Community book published February 2016.
2011-18: CI, £945, 389, Wellcome Trust, WT095904AIA, Large Programme Grant, ‘Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse’
2011-12: CI, £30, 000, Wellcome Trust, WT095287MA –People’s Award for Public Engagement, ‘All The King’s Fools and Disability History at Hampton Court’ - Won a National Education Heritage Award for Excellence in Disability (2012)
2010-11: PI, £44, 255, Wellcome Trust, WT087215, Research Leave Award, ‘Dying for Victorian Medicine: English Anatomy and its Trade in the Dead Poor, c. 1832 to 1929’. Book short-listed for British Medical Association Book of the Year Prize 2015
2010-11: PI, £5, 000 and Euros3000, RF/3/RFG/2008/0621, Leverhulme Study Abroad Fellowship and École des hautes études en sciences sociales [EHESS] Paris Resident Fellowship, ‘Anatomy: Paris and London, 1550-1850’ – staffed public EHESS lecture series and worked in Paris in the National Archives
2009-13: PI, £147, 000, Wellcome Trust, WT082969AIA, ‘Anatomy and the Body in Ireland, 1750-1950’
2009-10: PI, £10, 000, Wellcome Trust: WT087167MA, Broadcast Development Award with Pier Productions Ltd of BBC Radio 4, seed development of EveryBody (funded 2009, and pitched to broadcasters 2010)
2008-9: CI and Historical Consultant, £76, 000, Arts Council and Wellcome Trust Large Arts Award, ‘A Little Neck: Anne Boleyn and Child Birth’, Historical Drama staged at Hampton Court, sold-out September 2009 performances, in collaboration with HRP & Goat and Monkey Theatre Productions Ltd
2007-13: CI, £760, 000, Wellcome Trust, WT082808/B/07/Z - Strategic Award, ‘Healthcare in Public and Private: from Early Modern to Modern Times in Europe’
2007-8: PI, £5, 500, Wellcome Trust PhD Training Award in the History of Medicine, funded the design and delivery of a new year-long post-graduate training scheme 2006-7: PI Euros2300, DFG, Stipendiary Visiting Professor at the University of Trier, Germany
2005-6: PI, £3000, Wellcome Trust, GR070032MA, Research Expenses Grant, ‘The Body in Modern Medical Research’


Elizabeth gives a wide variety of keynote and guest lectures as she is committed to co-creation, community outreach and public engagement in schools. She often speaks for charities, as well as popular and academic audiences. 

Elizabeth has a lifelong commitment to improving social mobility opportunities - do get in touch by email if you need a speaker for the sort of event that improves the life chances of young people who often feel excluded from university life.


Elizabeth recently led a British Academy funded project: ‘The Politician’s Child; Growing up in the Public Eye of Modern Britain’ – her latest publication is available in the Journal of Family History (2020)

Her recent book is Wellcome Trust funded and was published on Open-Access Gold in the spring of 2021 with Cambridge University Press: Hidden Histories of the Dead: Disputed Bodies in Modern British Medical Research

Hidden Histories of the Dead

In 2022-24, Elizabeth will be working on a project funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship Award, 'Histories of Nobody: The Pauper Body in England, 1750-1914' for a new book contracted to Oxford University Press.

Media coverage

Selections of Popular Publications, Museum Work, & Disability Education Initiatives

E. T. Hurren, ‘The Dead-Alive: Surviving the Gallows of Georgian Executions, BBC History Magazine, (February 2019) Issue, pp. 41-6 - Wellcome Trust Grant funded WT095904AIA 
E. T. Hurren, ‘The Dead Body Trade’, Collector’s Edition: The Story of Crime and Punishment, BBC History Magazine, (28 November 2018), pp. 62-67 - Wellcome Trust Grant funded WT087215MA
E. T. Hurren, ‘The Dangerous Dead: Dissecting the Criminal Corpse’, The Lancet, Vol. 382, No. 9889, pp. 302-3, 27th July 2013 issue - Wellcome Trust Grant funded WT087215MA
E. T Hurren, ‘The Body Snatchers: The Grisly Source behind some of the most extraordinary medical discoveries’, 
Daily Mail, 14 October 2012 - Wellcome Trust Grant WT095904AIA
E. T. Hurren, ‘Royal Baby’s Birth and Medical Timing’, 22nd July 2013, Daily Telegraph - Wellcome Trust Grant funded WT095904AIA
E. T. Hurren, ‘Dying for Victorian Medicine: The Body Trade that Trained Doctors’, BBC History Magazine (December, 2012, Xmas Issue), issue 13, and 
podcast - Wellcome Trust Grant funded WT087167MA
E. T. Hurren, ‘Victorian Medicine’s Lost Property: Dissecting London’s Poor’, Royal College of Surgeons, (April 2011-12), 
podcast - Wellcome Trust Grant funded WT087215MA
2012: ‘Doctors, Death and Resurrection Men’, Historical Consultant and Media Spokesperson on behalf of the Museum of London exhibition, featured on Daily Mail, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, BBC TV, BBC Radio 4
2011: ‘All The King’s Fools: History of Disability at the Tudor Court’, Theatrical Drama, Historical Consultant to Project Team, Arts Council and the Misfits Company of Disabled Actors based in Bristol, autumn, sell-out performances and staffed workshops at Clore Learning Centre- Award for Educational Initiative at the National Museum and Heritage Awards (2013)
2010: Compton Verney Art Gallery, Warwickshire, public engagement presenting and introducing gallery visitors to: ‘Bring Your Body Day: The Medical Art of Paintings in the Collection’, ‘Francis Bacon‘s Fascination for Anatomy’ and Friends Lectures



  • Chair in History
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • HEA Fellow
  • Athena Swan National Panel Assessor
  • Public Engagement Lead, Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund
  • Chair of the Research Ethics Committee of the College of Science and Engineering, and College of Arts, Humanities and Law
  • Registered Higher Education Mental Health, First Aid Champion, MHFA England
  • External Examiner Swansea University
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