Professor Simon Gunn

Emeritus Professor of Urban History

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

Telephone: +44 (0)780 095 4648



Simon Gunn was Professor of Urban History at the University of Leicester between 2006 and 2021 and is now Emeritus Professor. He was Director of the Centre of Urban History for two spells and co-editor of Urban History (Cambridge University Press) from 2008. He has been Visiting Professor at Université de Montrèal; Leibniz Institute for the Study of Society and Space, Berlin; Charles University, Prague; and Simon Fraser University, Canada.

Simon Gunn was historical consultant to the BBC TV series, Middle Classes, the Government Office for Science on the Future of Mobility project and the Department for Transport on intermodal transport. With Dr Susan Townsend (Nottingham) he convened the Leverhulme project, Motor Cities: Automobility and the Urban Environment in Nagoya and Birmingham and with Dr Rebecca Madgin the JISC project, Manufacturing Pasts about 20th Leicester. He has been a member of numerous international boards including, the European Association for Urban History. As well as supervising over 20 PhD students to completion he has also acted as PhD examiner in the UK, Canada, Belgium, France, Finland and the Netherlands.


 I have two main current projects:

1)      With Peter Mandler (Cambridge) and Otto Saumarez Smith (Warwick) I am editing a multi-authored volume entitled The Modern British City (Lund Humphries, 2024). Consisting of over thirty essays by leading scholars of mid- and late twentieth-century Britain, the project follows the classic two-volume study, The Victorian City (1973), edited by HJ Dyos and Michael Wolff. It provides the first large-scale account of British cities since 1945.

2)      I am researching a book on the birth of pop culture in the later 1950s and 1960s as seen through the infrastructure of music - audiences, venues, fan clubs, the music industry and the institutions which fostered pop such as art schools. My aim is to explain how and why pop developed as a major creative force (and cultural export) in mid-twentieth century Britain.

I continue earlier interests in historiography, European urban history, mobilities history and the social history of later twentieth-century Britain.


Automobility and the City in 20th Century Britain and Japan (London: Bloomsbury, 2019) with Susan Townsend

New Approaches to Urban Governance and Rule in Europe since 1500 (London: Routledge, 2019), co-edited with Tom Hulme

The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), co-edited with James Vernon

History and Cultural Theory (London: Longman Pearson 2006; published in Spanish and Chinese by Valencia University Press and Peking University Press)

Identities in Space: Contested Terrains in the Western City since 1850 (London: Ashgate, 2001), co-edited with R.J. Morris

The Public Culture of the Victorian Middle Class (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000)

Other Recent Publications

'Spatial mobility in later twentieth century Britain', Contemporary British History (published online January 2021)

'Unravelling urban governance' in in Gunn, S. and Hulme, T. (eds), New Approaches to Governance and Rule in Urban Europe Since 1500 (London: Routledge, 2019) with Tom Hulme

'Heterodoxies: new approaches to power and agency in the modern city' in Gunn, S. and Hulme, T. (eds), New Approaches to Governance and Rule in Urban Europe Since 1500 (London: Routledge 2019)

'Ring road: Birmingham and the end of the motor city ideal in 1970s Britain', Historical Journal, 6:1 (March 2018), 227-248


I am not taking on new PhD students


I am not currently teaching

Press and media

Urban and social history of 20th century Britain
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