Personal profile


I'm a social and cultural historian of Modern Britain, specialising in the period from 1750-1939. My research looks at the history of collecting and exhibiting, with a focus on colonial material culture. I'm currently finishing off a project on the democratisation of collecting and museums in early twentieth-century Britain. This work focuses on the collector and trickster John Hilditch, who spent over ten years pestering art galleries to accept his collection of Chinese antiqiuties, a collection museum experts deemed ordinary at best, fake at worst. I have published articles from this research in Twentieth Century British History and Urban History, and am currently finalising a book manuscript, contracted with Manchester University Press. 

I have also started a new project on the social and cultural meaning of loot during the 'imperial century'. For this study I am using the history of emotions to probe how Britons - looters as well as the general public - in addition to colonised people, felt about loot. 


I grew up in Lancaster and moved to Manchester for my BA in History in 2011. After a year teaching English in China, I returned for my MA and then PhD, both in History. I started as a Lecturer here in 2021. 

I sometimes tweet at @lewryder

Research interests

Within my broader interest in the social and cultural history of Britain and the British world from 1750-1939, I am specifically interested in:

  • Museums and exhibitionary culture 
  • Collecting, collectors and collections 
  • Colonial material culture 

More generally I am interested in

  • Public History 
  • The history of emotions
  • the history of individuals, especially tricksters and eccentrics 


I teach/ have taught on a range of Modern History modules. This includes histories of Modern Britain, but also Modern China and Colonial History. I run my own research-led Level 3 module Collecting and Exhibiting the British Empire (1750-1939). 



External positions

Junior Associate Editor, The European Review of History Journal

Aug 2020 → …


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