Warfare historian

Welcome! I’m Dr Clare Makepeace. I’m a historian, writer, lecturer and consultant in the cultural history of the First and Second World Wars. I’m the author of Captives of War and also an Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London.

The book cover of ‘Captives of War’, featuring John Worsley’s painting of Marlag ‘O’, a camp for naval officers in Germany, drawn in February 1944. © National Maritime Museum

My interest lies in the emotional cost of war on the individual, both during conflict and afterwards. I think this was instilled in me at a young age, having seen the effect the Second World War had on my grandfather. He was captured during the British Army’s retreat at Dunkirk in June 1940 and spent five years in captivity. From an early age, I struggled to reconcile how it was that my kind, gentle, patient grandfather had been forced to endure such hardship and witnessed so much barbarity.

Most recently, I have focused upon British prisoners of war in the Second World War, both those held in Europe and the Far East. I have also researched and written extensively on the visits of British soldiers in brothels in  World War One. In both these topics, I focus upon the wider themes of men at war, emotions in war and memories of war.

I have written for a variety of publications from academic books and journals, to Britain’s best-selling history magazine (BBC History Magazine), to the UK’s second biggest-selling newspaper (The Daily Mail), and the world’s most popular (Daily Mail Online) and largest news websites (BBC News online).

‘The House Behind the Lines’, a play inspired by my research on the First World War

I work with various media professionals both in a consultancy and on-air capacity and have contributed to programs for BBC 1 (Heir Hunters, Who Do You Think You Are?), BBC Radio 5 Live, local radio outlets as well as newspapers, including the Independent and the Guardian. My work has also inspired an Arts Council funded theatre production ‘The House Behind the Lines’, which recently completed a regional tour in Yorkshire.

Most of my time these days is spent writing history for the more general public. In 2017-18 I will be teaching an online course and a day school on prisoners of war in the Second World War at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge.

Previously, I have taught modern British history, gender history and history core courses, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, at Birkbeck, University of London, and UCL.

Please do read more on my website, and don’t hesitate to get in touch.