I consider myself a Londoner: I was born in South London and grew up in a small town in Hertfordshire. I was educated at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls in Elstree, read Modern History at St Hugh’s College, Oxford University, and since then I’ve been living in central London. After graduating, I spent a couple of years working in the UK Parliament as a researcher, then as a policy analyst in HM Treasury and the Department for International Development, next I turned my hand to lobbying and press work, first for UNICEF UK and after that for the Heritage Lottery Fund. Finally, the message had got through: I would never find anything as interesting and fascinating as history, and so I applied to do a part-time MA in Historical Research at Birkbeck College, University of London, alongside my day job. A couple of years later, the day job disappeared when I got funding for my full-time PhD.
I completed my PhD in June 2013. I have worked as Teaching Fellow at UCL, where I was the convenor and internal examiner for BA and MA courses on gender history. I have also taught a variety of courses at Birkbeck, University of London.
When I’m not reading and writing about the history of the First and Second World War, I love to travel. Amongst a number of adventures, I’ve climbed up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania; cycled from Saigon to Bangkok; hiked the Salkantay trail in Peru as well as the Annapurna circuit in Nepal, taken the trans-Mongolia railway from Moscow to Beijing and driven a campervan up the west coast of Australia. I enjoy spending time in countries that don’t conform to the Anglo-American capitalist/democratic model that seems to be slowly engulfing the entire world – amongst my favourite are Cuba, Bhutan, Myanmar, the state of Kerala in India, and Japan. I also find it fascinating to visit the sites of some of the most momentous episodes in history. I discover a sense of profundity when physically being in these places, different to that which I can gain from reading texts. Over the past few years, I’ve visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, Hellfire Pass in Thailand, Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Perm 36 – Gulag on the edge of Siberia and the Killing Fields in Cambodia and Chernobyl in the Ukraine.