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Professor David Brown BA, MA, PhD, FRHistS

Professor of Modern History

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Professor David Brown is a Professor of Modern History at the University of Southampton.

I specialise in modern British history with particular interests in the nineteenth century.  My work ranges across the political history of the period, including the history of social reform and philanthropy, Victorian liberalism, and British foreign policy.

I have worked extensively on the life and career of Lord Palmerston, the nineteenth century British foreign secretary and prime minister.  I have published two books drawing on this research, Palmerston and the politics of foreign policy 1846-55 (Manchester UP, 2002) and Palmerston: A Biography (Yale UP, 2010), as well as a number of articles and book chapters.  I have also published some work on wider questions of ‘representation’ and the political role of print media.

I am fortunate to have been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2019-22) and this is allowing me to pursue my research on the diaries of the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury (1801-85), and more broadly on the history of philanthropy in the nineteenth century.  Shaftesbury was one of the most prominent evangelical philanthropists of the nineteenth century and this project will lead to the publication of a fully annotated edition of his diaries, an important but under-utilised resource.  (A four-volume edition of the diaries will be published by Oxford University Press in the British Academy Social and Economic History Records Series.)  Alongside this I am also thinking about the motivations of philanthropists, the politics of philanthropy and reform, and the significance of philanthropy in the development of modern civil society.


Research interests

David works primarily on nineteenth century British history with particular interests in the political history of the period and the history of social reform and philanthropy.

PhD supervision:


  • G. Gould, ‘The Politics of Enclosure: the New Forest in the late Eighteenth Century’, 2016 –.  PhD.


  • M. Cybowski, ‘Britain and the Polish Question, 1830-47’, 2012-16 .  PhD.  Awarded 2016.
  • R. McGregor, ‘Palmerston and Anti-slavery’, 2015-19.  PhD.  Awarded 2020.  Funded by the Wolfson Trust.

Research project(s)

Shaftesbury, philanthropy and reform

Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury (1801-85), spoke of ‘philanthropy’ as ‘the dreadful word’ in recognition of the growing suspicion and criticism he perceived surrounding the philanthropist.

General Editor, Southampton Records Series

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Book Chapters



HIST3182: Palmerston's World

HIST3183: Palmerston's World, Part 2

HIST2065: Aristocracy to Democracy: Political Change in 19th Century Britain

HIST1113: Cases and Contexts: The Crimean War

I also contribute to the HIST 3186: Alternative Histories module ‘Conquests'

Areas where I can offer postgraduate supervision:

Most aspects of British history in the nineteenth century.  I have particular interests in political history, in Britain's relations with the wider world, in social reform, and in philanthropy.

Professor David Brown
Building 65 Faculty of Arts and Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number: 65/1024

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