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  • Academic staff

  • Dr Alysa Levene

    Reader in History

    School of History, Philosophy and Culture

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


    Phone number: +44 (0)1865 483570

    Email: alevene@brookes.ac.uk


    I completed my PhD at the University of Cambridge and then worked a research officer at the University of Bath before moving to Oxford Brookes as a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow in April 2004. I became a permanent member of staff soon afterwards.  My research focuses on the history of child welfare and the family in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and I have published on the history of illegitimacy, child health and childhood more generally. I teach in all of these areas, including a specialist third-year Advanced Study module on the history of childhood and youth. My latest research has been a complete change and I have just published a book on the history of cake, which came out with Headline in 2016.

    My teaching is all concerned with experiences of everyday life, from the huge social and economic changes brought about by the industrial revolution, to long-term processes of development and cultural change surrounding marriage, childhood, demography and family life. I believe that to understand the decision-making and experiences of individuals we must appreciate the wider contexts they lived in. In my modules students are encouraged to explore these wider contexts and through them, analyse and challenge common perceptions of how individuals at all levels of society related to those around them.

    Modules taught


    • U67506, Everyday Life in Britain (first year)
    • U67921, History Work Based Learning (second year)
    • U67779 Advanced Study in Social and Cultural History: Childhood and Adolescence in the West, 1750-1950 (third-year double Honours module)


    PhD supervision

    I have supervised PhD students in a range of areas in economic, social and medical history, and am happy to hear from prospective students working in these areas. At the moment I am supervising projects on child domestic servants, and the implementation of the New Poor Law in Hertfordshire. Previous students have successfully submitted theses on religion and the workhouse in eighteenth-century Westminster, the history of smallpox in eighteenth-century Oxfordshire, and the Making and remaking of the ‘Normal Child’ in England, c. 1880-1914

    Like my teaching, my research focuses on experiences of daily life within the context of childhood and the family. My particular specialism is the health and welfare of poor families in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England. My book The childhood of the poor: welfare in eighteenth-century London came out with Palgrave Macmillan in 2012. My previous monograph, Childcare, health and mortality at the London Foundling Hospital, 1741-1800: Left to the mercy of the world was published by Manchester University Press in 2007.

    My new book Cake: the short, surprising history of our favourite bakes is out with Headline in 2016.

    I am currently working on a new and exciting project on networks, religion and community in nineteenth-century Liverpool. This study examines the impact of industrialisation and migration on functional networks, by linking charity and community records with households.


    Journal articles

    • Levene A, 'Poor families, removals and 'nurture' in late Old Poor Law London'
      Continuity and Change 25 (2) (2010) pp.233-262
      ISSN: 0268-4160 eISSN: 0268-4160
      Abstract Website
    • Levene A, 'Parish apprenticeship and the old poor law in London'
      Economic History Review 63 (4) (2010) pp.915-941
      ISSN: 0013-0117 eISSN: 0013-0117
      Abstract Website
    • Levene A, 'Between less eligibility and the NHS: the changing place of poor law hospitals in England and Wales, 1929'39'
      Twentieth Century British History 20 (3) (2009) pp.322-345
      ISSN: 0955-2359 eISSN: 0955-2359
      Abstract Website
    • Levene A, 'Children, childhood and the workhouse: St Marylebone, 1769-1781'
      London Journal 33 (1) (2008) pp.41-59
      ISSN: 0305-8034 eISSN: 0305-8034
      Abstract Website
    • Levene A, ''Honesty, sobriety and diligence': master-apprentice relations in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England'
      Social History 33 (2) (2008) pp.183-200
      ISSN: 0307-1022 eISSN: 0307-1022
      Abstract Website
    • Levene A, 'Reasonable Creatures - a Common Sense Guide to Childcare (william Cadogan)'
      History Today 56 (2007) pp.30-36
      ISSN: 0018-2753 eISSN: 0018-2753
    • Levene A, Powell M, Stewart J, 'Patterns of Municipal Health Expenditure in Interwar England and Wales'
      Bulletin of the History of Medicine 78 (2004) pp.635-669
      ISSN: 0007-5140 eISSN: 0007-5140

    Book chapters

    • Levene A, 'Family and community' in Cultural History of Childhood and Family in the Age of Enlightenment, Berg Publishers (2010)
      ISBN: 9781845208264
    • Levene A, 'Infant abandonment in Europe 1700'1850' in Childhood and violence in the western tradition, Oxbow Books (2010)


    • Levene A, The childhood of the poor: welfare in eighteenth-century London , Palgrave Macmillan (2012)
      ISBN: 9780230354807


    • Levene A, review of Ireland and Medicine in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, in Journal for Eighteenth-century Studies 35 (2012) pp.254-255
      ISSN: 1754-0194 eISSN: 1754-0194
    • Levene A, review of Pauper Capital: London and the Poor Law, 1790-1870, in London Journal 35 (2011) pp.309-310
      ISSN: 0305-8034 eISSN: 0305-8034
    • Levene A, review of Child Workers in England, 1780-1820: Parish Apprentices and the Making of the Early Industrial Labour Force., in Journal of British Studies 48 (2009) pp.228-230
      ISSN: 0021-9371 eISSN: 0021-9371
    • Levene A, review of Womens Work in Industrial England: Regional and Local Perspectives, in History 93 (2008) pp.290-291
      ISSN: 0018-2648 eISSN: 0018-2648
    • Levene A, review of Master and Servant: Love and Labour in the English Industrial Age, in Journal of British Studies 47 (2008) pp.701-702
      ISSN: 0021-9371 eISSN: 0021-9371
    • Levene A, review of Hertfordshire Children in War and Peace, 1914-1939, in Economic History Review 61 (2008) pp.1015-1016
      ISSN: 0013-0117 eISSN: 0013-0117
    • Levene A, review of Infant Mortality: a Continuing Social Problem. a Volume to Mark the Centenary of the 1906 Publication of Infant Mortality: a Social Problem, in Medical History 52 (2008) pp.545-547
      ISSN: 0025-7273 eISSN: 0025-7273
    • Levene A, review of Venereal Disease, Hospitals and the Urban Poor: Londons Foul Wards, 1600-1800, in Social History of Medicine 18 (2006) pp.520-521
      ISSN: 0951-631X eISSN: 0951-631X
    • Levene A, Powell M, Stewart J, review of The Development of Municipal General Hospitals in English County Boroughs in the 1930s, in Medical History 50 (2006) pp.3-28
      ISSN: 0025-7273 eISSN: 0025-7273
    • Levene A, review of Down and Out in Eighteenth-century London., in Journal of British Studies 45 (2006) pp.163-164
      ISSN: 0021-9371 eISSN: 0021-9371
    • Levene A, review of Blood, Bodies and Families in Early Modern England, in Womens History Review 15 (2006) pp.806-808
      ISSN: 0961-2025 eISSN: 0961-2025
    • Levene A, review of From Sin to Insanity. Suicide in Early Modern Europe, in Social History of Medicine 18 (2005) pp.331-332
      ISSN: 0951-631X eISSN: 0951-631X