Professor Margot Finn, FBA

On sabbatical leave: 2023/24

Margot is an historian of modern Britain (Britain since 1750), with a predominant focus on the period to 1914. Her previous work has ranged from the history of Victorian popular politics to the gendered legal, social and cultural histories of debt and credit in England. She now researches, teaches and supervises predominantly in topics relating to British colonial and imperial history, with particular emphasis on the family, gender, material culture and transnational encounters. In 2018, UCL Press published an open access volume of essays (co-edited with Kate Smith) from Margot's Leverhulme Trust-funded research project The East India Company at Home. Her current monograph project is entitled, 'Imperial Family Formations: Domestic Strategies and Colonial Power in British India, c.1757-1857'.

Margot takes a lively interest both in equalities and open access issues.  She is a co-author of three reports by the Royal Historical Society with respect to race and ethnicity; gender; and LGBT+ equality, diversity and inclusion. These reports and the quantitative data that underpin them can be accessed here. In addition to her open access/open science work at UCL, she has authored a number of guidance papers and reports on these topics for historians. These can be accessed here.

PhD supervision

Margot predominantly supervises students in areas relating to the history of British colonialism and imperialism (c. 1750-1914), and/or the history of gender, race and/or material culture in modern Britain.

Current students: Darren Reid, 'Indigenous and Settler Correspondence with the Aborigines' Protection Society: Negotiating Imperialism from within Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand, 1850-1900'; Antonia Dalivalle, 'The Grand Detour: James Bruce of Kinnaird (1730-1794) and the Reception of Ethiopia in Enlightenment Europe'; Joseph Molto, 'Ruffians, Heroes or Victims: Military Service in the Napoleonic Wars--A New Route to Social Mobility?'. 

Recently completed: Ellen Filor, 'Complicit Colonials: Border Scots and the Indian Empire, c.1780-1857' (2014); Ali Bennett, ‘'Ethnographic Collecting and the Material Culture of Imperialism in East Africa, c.1880-1920' (2018, collaborative AHRC PhD with the British Museum); Amy Miller, ‘The Globe-trotter on the Eastern Grand Tour, 1870-1920' (2019); Grace Redhead, ‘’The History of Sickle Cell Anaemia in Postwar Britain' (2019).

Major publications

  • Tim Causer, Margot Finn and Philip Schofield (eds), Jeremy Bentham and Australia: Convicts, Utility and Empire (UCL Press, 2022): open access. 
  • 'Material Turns in British History: IV: Empire in India, Cancel Culture and the Country House', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 31 (2021), 1-21.
  • Margot Finn, 'Material Turns in British History: III: Collecting: Colonial Bombay, Basra, Baghdad and the Enlightenment Museum', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 30 (2020), 1-28.
  • Margot Finn, ‘Material Turns in British History: II: Corruption: Imperial Power, Princely Politics and Gifts Gone Rogue’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 29 (2019), 1-25.
  • Margot Finn, ‘The Female World of Love and Empire: Women, Family and East India Company Politics at the End of the Eighteenth Century', Gender & History, 31: 1 (2019) 7-24;
  • Margot Finn, ‘Material Turns in British History: I: Loot’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 28 (2018), 5-32.
  • Margot Finn and Kate Smith (eds), The East India Company at Home (UCL Press, 2018; available open-access as a PDF.
  • Margot Finn and Kate Smith (eds), New Paths to Public Histories (Palgrave Pivot, September 2015)
  • Margot Finn, The Character of Credit: Personal Debt in English Culture, c.1740-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 2003)

For a full list of publications, see Margot's Iris profile.


  • Supervisor for Lauren Lauret (Rubicon Postdoctoral Fellow, NWO, 2022-2024)
  • Supervisor for Ryan Hanley (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, 2017-2020)
  • Supervisor for Professor Fabrice Bensimon (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, 2017-2018)
  • Co-investigator, AHRC-funded 'Convict Australia and Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham's Writings on Australia' (with Philip Schofield of UCL Laws, 2016-2020)

Media appearances