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Dr Henry Irving

About Dr Henry Irving

Henry Irving joined the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities as Senior Lecturer in Public History in 2015. He completed his PhD at the University of Leeds and has previously worked for the University of London, the University of Bradford, and the Workers’ Educational Association.

Henry is a specialist in mid-twentieth century British history. His research interests centre on the Second World War, with a particular focus on the public’s response to wartime legislation and propaganda. He is currently writing a book on the history of wartime recycling that draws together these two themes. He is also a contributor to the AHRC-funded project ‘The Publishing and Communication History of the Ministry of Information 1939-45’ at the Institute of English Studies.

Henry is committed to public history and occasionally tweets @drhenryirving.

Current Teaching

Henry teaches BA students on the History and English and History degrees. He also contributes to the MA in Social History.

Research Interests

Henry’s research focuses on the relationship between state and society in mid-twentieth century Britain. Much of his recent work has been undertaken alongside Professor Simon Eliot (Institute of English Studies, University of London) on an AHRC-funded project titled ‘The Publishing and Communication History of the Ministry of Information 1939-45’. This project involved detailed research into the methods used to disseminate official messages, press censorship, and the use of opinion polling to measure the effect of campaigns. Preliminary results are available on the website http://www.moidigital.ac.uk/ and will be published in a forthcoming book.

Henry’s work on the Ministry of Information has led to a related project on the social history of recycling in the Second World War. He is using a mix of local archives and individual testimonies to uncover this overlooked aspect of life on the Home Front. He is committed to using these findings to inform contemporary environmental debates through knowledge exchange.

He has previously written on the political debates that surrounded the prolonged use of state controls between 1945 and 1955. This allowed him to explore a diverse range of case studies: from the control of vacuum flasks to the post war rationing of bread. His work on Harold Wilson demonstrated how a lack of definition in debates about ‘controls’ allowed technical measures to be transformed into potent rhetorical devices by a political class keen to exploit their symbolic meaning.

Henry is also part of a team of researcher working with the History of Parliament Trust to create an Oral History archive of life stories from former MPs.

Selected Publications

Journal articles (4)

Chapters (1)

  • Irving H (2019) 'Propaganda Bestsellers': British Official War Books, 1941-46. In: Irving H The Concept of the Book: The production, progression and dissemination of information. London: Institute of English Studies, pp. .
    View Repository Record

Reports (1)

  • Irving H; Townend J (2016) Censorship and National Security: Information Control in the Second World War and Present Day. . History and Policy.
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