Professor Malcolm Chase

Professor Malcolm Chase


I joined the School of History in 2005, having previously worked for the University in its School of Continuing Education (1982-2005).

My research interests are varied but centre on British popular culture and politics, primarily in the nineteenth century. For further details see Research Interests and Publications

Academic-related activities

Public Engagement

Recent outreach activity includes

  • Kennington Common, Chartism and 1848 (St Mark's Church, Kennington, April 2018)

  • Newport Chartist Convention (John Frost High School, Newport, November 2016)

  • 'The Yorkshire Rising of 1820' (Barnsley Trades Council centenary celebrations, October 2016)

  • 'Mark Hovell' (Manchester Histories Festival, July 2016)

  • Alfred Mattison of Leeds: Socialist and Historian (Leeds Central Library, January 2016)

  • 'Heartbreak Hill: Unemployment in East Cleveland between the wars (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, January 2016)

  • 'Chartism' (Historical Association, York Branch, January 2016)

  • Friends of the Earth, Big Ideas Project, Histories of Campaigning: see project blog

  • 'What did the Chartists petition for?' (Festival of Freedoms, Houses of Parliament, September 2016)

  • 'From Waterloo to Peterloo and its aftermath: a West Yorkshire perspective' (Thoresby Society, Leeds, September 2015)

  • 'Winning Friends and Influencing People – A History of the Self Help Book' (Ilkley Literary Festival, October 2015)

  • 'What did the Chartists petition for?' (International Commission for the History of Parliamentary & Representative Institutions, 66th Annual conference, Westminster, June 2015)

  • Runnymede Trust Conference marking the anniversaries of Magna Carta and the 1965 Race Relations Act (July 2015) - see the Trust’s on-line publication How Far Have We Come?

  • The People’s Charter of 1838: the Chartist legacy for parliamentary democracy: lecture at the Houses of Parliament for the All Party Parliamentary Group on History & Archives – during 2013 I worked closely with the Group on the commemoration of Chartism within Parliament. See the House of Commons Early Day Motion on Chartism  and Parliament’s on-line exhibition on Chartism.  

Media and broadcasting

I have contributed to many broadcasts on aspects of Chartism and other radical movements. Highlights include: Chartism for BBC Radio 4, British Socialism, The Grand Tour (2018); 'The Real Mill with Tony Robinson' for More4 (2014); ITV1’s 2013 series ‘Britain’s Secret Houses’ on the Chartist Land Plan; the Australian Broadcasting Company’s ‘Isle of Denial’ (2011) on William Cuffay (a London trade unionist and Chartist, of West Indian slave heritage, transported to Australia in 1849); BBC 1's Who Do You Think You Are? Jeremy Irons (2006)

Research interests

I am working on a biography of Sir Francis Burdett (1770-1844). A critical study of his life and career has long been wanting. Burdett defies easy categorisation: an MP continuously from 1796 to 1844, contemporary descriptions of him ranged from ‘an implicit follower of Robespierre’ to ‘the greatest gentleman I ever knew’ (Disraeli’s assessment). E.P. Thompson asserted that the story of nineteenth-century radicalism commenced with him. Yet Burdett ended his days a shire Tory, ‘his innate Toryism’ allegedly liberated by the Conservative Party’s regeneration under Peel. My aim is to analyse the whole of his career and investigate its ostensible paradoxes.

I also continue to publish on aspects of Chartism (see previous research below).

Previous Research

The Chartist movement has long been, and remains, one of my central interests. My best known book is Chartism: A New History (Manchester UP, 2007), a French translation of which was published in 2013. For an extended review of this book see the Reviews in History website.

In 2015 I published a collection of essays, The Chartists: Perspectives and Legacies (Merlin Press, 2015). Prior to that I returned to the latter part of the ‘long eighteenth century’ to investigate political disorder and social stability during 1820 (a year of European revolution) for a book, 1820: disorder and stability in the United Kingdom (Manchester UP, 2013). A paperback edition was issued in 2015.

My first book, The People's Farm: English Radical Agrarianism, 1775-1840 (Oxford UP, 1988) is a study of the political thought and influence of the agrarian reformer Thomas Spence (1750-1814). An updated paperback edition of this book was published in 2010. Ideas about land reform were a vital part of the British labour movement well into the twentieth century and I am sceptical about approaches to labour history that see the labour movement solely as part of a narrative of modernisation, through its response to 'the industrial revolution'. Similarly, the mentality of early British trade unions owed a great deal to forms of workers' association and ideas about skill that significantly pre-dated the eighteenth century. This was one of the arguments of my second book, Early Trade Unionism: Fraternity, Skill and the Politics of Labour (Ashgate, 2000), a paperback edition of which was published in 2012.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA, History (University of York, 1978)
  • MA, Modern Social History (University of Sussex, 1979)
  • DPhil (University of Sussex, 1984)

Professional memberships

  • FRSA
  • FRHistS
  • FHEA
  • Society for the Study of Labour History
  • The Social History Society
  • Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>