Cambridge Branch Programme

Cambridge Branch Programme 2023-24

Enquiries to Branch Secretary Mr Bene’t Steinberg  

History Days are free for members, £8 for visitors.

History book club is free for all.


Online Book Club events start at 6.00 pm.  Link:

Meeting ID: 870 1654 9890
Passcode: 459246

Please note that there is NO need to have read the texts beforehand!


History Days take place either at Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge or at Waterstones, 22 Sidney Street, Cambridge, CB2 3HG.  See details for individual events below.

For the History Days at Waterstones, please book your free place at

All History Days start at 10.00.


All events are free to HA members (including members of institutions with corporate membership) and HA branch members.


Branch Facebook page:



Wednesday 1 November 2023   

6.00   Online Book Club

On Zoom

Frederick Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Douglass was one of the most prominent figures in the 19th century American abolitionist movement.  A former slave, he became a powerful voice telling the world the reality of life in the American plantation system.  His autobiography was immensely influential, especially in this country.  This is an essential text for anyone interested in, or teaching about, slavery in America before the Civil War.


Tuesday 21 November 2023   

6.00   Online Book Club

On Zoom

Discussion of the film OPPENHEIMER and the play FARM HALL

The release of the film OPPENHEIMER in 2023 (in combination with BARBIE!) was a significant cultural event, bringing to the public a story which shaped the modern world but whose details were not widely known. The BBC also released their 1980s series ‘Oppenheimer’ on iPlayer, while in theatres Katherine Moar’s play FARM HALL told the story of German nuclear physicists interned in Cambridgeshire at the end of the war.  This discussion will consider the cultural history of presentations of the nuclear age.


Saturday 9 December 2023


10am at Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1PT

Dr Sarah-Louise Miller, Western Approaches - Women who won the Battle of the Atlantic

Sarah-Louise Miller is a graduate of ARU who has established herself as a leading authority on the role of women in the air, intelligence and naval campaigns of the Second World War.  Her first book, The Women Behind the Few told the story of women’s vital contribution to the Battle of Britain; this talk will focus on their equally essential contribution to the Battle of the Atlantic.

Bill Lindsay, William Shaw Lindsay - Victorian Entrepreneur

Bill Lindsay talks about his critically acclaimed biography of his ancestor, one of the most remarkable men of the Victorian age.  William Schaw Lindsay started as a cabin boy and rose to become a wealthy shipping magnate, a member of parliament, a vocal advocate of shipping reform, and the friend and confidante of major figures like Abraham Lincoln,  David Livingston, Gladstone, Disraeli, Charles Dickens and Napoleon III.

Dr Patricia Fara, Cambridge Women in the First World War

Dr Fara is a leading historian of science and a previous President of the British Society for the History of Science and a frequent broadcaster.  Here she concentrates on the role played by women in Cambridge during the First World War, when the university was largely given over to military purposes and the First Eastern General Hospital stood on the site of what is now the University Library.


Tuesday 12 December 2023

6.00   Online Book Club

On Zoom

Prof. Nicholas Orme: Tudor Children

Prof. Orme will be joining us for this discussion.

Prof Orme is one of our foremost social historians of the medieval and Tudor periods.  He has written about children and schools in the middle ages and about medieval churches and pilgrimages.  Here he talks about his most recent publication, Tudor children.  What was it like to be young in the turbulent Tudor period in England?  How different were Tudor attitudes towards children from our own?


Tuesday 16 January 2024

6.00   Online Book Club

On Zoom

Tiffany Jenkins: Keeping Their Marbles: how the treasures of the past ended up in museums - and why they should stay there

Dr Jenkins will be joining us for this discussion.

Museums have become a major centre of contested narratives in our modern culture wars.  Some, like the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, have set about a vigorous process of ‘decolonisation’, changing displays, contextualising objects and in some cases repatriating them.  Others, like the National Army Museum, have refused to change their outlook to fit modern sensibilities.  Tiffany Jenkins’s book outlines the story of the creation and development of museums in this country, how they obtained their collections and considers possible responses to the moral and ethical controversies that now surround them.


Tuesday 20 February 2024

6.00   Online Book Club

On Zoom

Anna Keay: The Restless Republic: Britain without a crown

Dr Keay will be joining us for this discussion

Anna Keay is Director of the Landmark Trust and a regular broadcaster.  Her study of Britain in the turbulent period in the middle of the seventeenth century, when the monarchy was abolished and parliament vied with the army for political control in Cromwell’s Protectorate has been a popular best-seller.  What lessons can we, under the third King Charles, learn from our national experience of republican government between the reigns of the first two?


Tuesday 19 March 2024

6.00   Online Book Club

On Zoom

Benedict Anderson: Imagined Communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism

Imagined Communities is one of the most important works of history of the past fifty years.  At a time when the nation state is coming under increasing strain, from the competing claims to authority of supra-national organisations, from internal social tensions between different ethnic and national groups, and, in the internet age, from corporations and groups whose technology allows them to operate over and above national laws, the nature of the nation as a concept is of increasing relevance.  In this study, Anderson looks at how the idea of a nation developed, and how it exists as much in the collective mind as it does on the ground or on a map.  With wars raging in Ukraine and Israel where the very concept and existence of nation states are at stake, this is an important and timely read.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

6.00   Online Book Club

On Zoom

Peter Marshall: Heretics and Believers: a history of the English Reformation

Prof. Marshall will be joining us for this discussion.

If you think you know the English Reformation, think again.  This is no re-telling of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, but a sweeping tale of the experience of the Reformation for ordinary people living in this bewildering and often very scary time.  Marshall takes us into parishes and churches and tells the story of what the changes in English religion meant for ordinary parishioners, looking in particular at the physical evidence to be found in church fabric and objects. 


Saturday 27 April 2024


10.00 Waterstones, 22 Sidney Street, Cambridge, CB2 3HG

Dr Miranda Malins: Puritan Princess: Cromwell's daughter

Miranda Malins is both a historian and a novelist, one half (alongside our guest in 2022-23, Paul Lay) of the unmissable 1666 and All That podcast.  Here she takes the often forgotten story of one of the women in Oliver Cromwell’s life, his daughter Fraces, and weaves a wonderful story around her to show what it was like to be a woman at the centre of power at Cromwell’s court.

Dr Jessica Sharkey: Tudor Encounters with the Wider World

Jessica Sharkey is an expert on the foreign policy of Tudor England, and its relationships and interplay with the other courts of Europe.  Here she looks at how Tudor England fitted into the rapidly-broadening European understanding of the wider world and how the Tudor monarchy stood in relation to its more powerful – but equally troubled – European neighbours.

Professor Peter Sarris, Justinian - Emperor, Soldier, Saint

Cambridge Professor Peter Sarris brings to life the man who had the Hagia Sophia built, codified the Law that's seen even today, and sought to re-create the Roman Empire in full. Facing the first global pandemic as well as wars on two fronts, his efforts to purify Christianity brought the nastier aspects of that religion to the fore.  Called both a Holy Emperor and a Demon King, he's worth finding out about.


Tuesday 14 May 2024

6.00   Online Book Club

On Zoom

Professor Nigel Biggar: Colonialism: a moral reckoning

Prof. Biggar will be joining us for this discussion.

Few history books have met the storm of criticism that greeted Oxford theologian Nigel Biggar’s Colonialism: a moral reckoning.  Is the only possible moral response to colonialism outright condemnation?  Is there – or should there be – a more nuanced response?  This is a topic on which passions rage, but is that the most helpful way to understand this vitally important historical development?  Here is a chance to move away from the social media battleground and to read and debate the text itself.


Tuesday 18 June 2024

6.00   Online Book Club

On Zoom

Joanna Bourke: An Intimate History of Killing

Historians spend a lot of time talking about war and warfare, yet give surprisingly little attention to its most obvious and central activity – that of killing other people.  In this now classic work, Joanna Bourke considers what the act of killing in war has meant at different times, from the gruesomeness of hand-to-hand combat on the medieval battlefield to the impersonal killing from a distance of modern warfare.  How does an understanding of the nature – and the attraction? – of killing help us to understand how and why nations have gone to war again and again?


Saturday 29 June 2024


10am at Waterstones, 22 Sidney Street, Cambridge, CB2 3HG

Dr Lucy Underwood, Catholics in Tudor England

Lucy Underwood is both a historian of Catholicism in Tudor England and a historical novelist.  Here she looks at the experience of living as the believer in an outlawed faith at a time when the penalty for worship was terrifying.

Dr James Crossland, The First War on Terror

Dr Crossland specialises in the history of terror and terrorism.  We think of ‘War on Terror’ as a recent development, but here Dr Crossland discusses the war on terror of the period before the First World War, the period of anarchist bomb attacks and of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, when one wit described Russia’s system of government as ‘autocracy tempered by assassination’.

Prof. Peter Allen, Politics, Death and Taxes

According to Benjamin Franklin the only certainties in life are death and taxes, but what part does taxation play in our political lives?  Protests about taxation shook Tudor England, brought down Britain’s rule in America and sparked off the French Revolution, before bringing Mrs Thatcher’s government to an end.  Prof Allen is a specialist in the political landscape of modern Britain and here he takes us through a field we might think we know, but which few of us do.