Press Releases 2014-2015

Welsh Biographer and Academic Receives University Doctorate


Professor Angela JohnProfessor Angela John, a biographer and prominent Welsh academic who has led research into the history of women in society, has received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Originally from Port Talbot, Professor John returned to live and write in Wales some years ago, settling on the north Pembrokeshire coast.

Professor John was an undergraduate student in Medieval and Modern History at Birmingham University, before moving to Swansea to complete her MA and then to Manchester to complete her doctorate.

For the next thirty years, Professor John spent most of her time lecturing, initially in Kent then in London. From 1989 until 2004, she was Professor of History at the University of Greenwich (previously Thames Polytechnic) where she loved working with students. Her own research and publishing developed alongside teaching. Initially fascinated by labour history, Angela was part of the generation influenced by E.P.Thompson’s ‘History from Below’ and had been taught at Birmingham by Dorothy Thompson.

In the early 1970s women’s history came into its own and Angela was fortunate enough to be part of that exciting development, working on women’s employment in Victorian Britain and later on gender history and suffrage. Her first book ‘By The Sweat of Their Brow’ was a pioneering study of women’s employment at British coalmines. She also wrote an award-winning book for schools called ‘Coalmining Women’ and was a founder member of the editorial board of the international journal ‘Gender & History’.

In recent years Professor John has become fascinated by the creation and structuring of biography and now sees herself as a biographical historian, writing about the period alongside the person: a modern version of ‘Life and Times’. Biographies of the translator, businesswoman and collector Lady Charlotte Guest (co-authored with Revel Guest) and the American-born actress Elizabeth Robins have been followed by an unusual and revealing experiment: writing the lives of a husband and wife. They are the war correspondent Henry W. Nevinson and the journalist, suffragette and international humanitarian, Evelyn Sharp. Professor John was a Charter Fellow at Oxford University (Wolfson College) when researching these two biographies. Her latest publication is a biography of Lady Rhondda

Throughout this time, Professor John has maintained her interest in Welsh history and is vice-president (and former Chair) of Llafur, the Welsh People’s History Society. She edited the first book of essays on Welsh women’s history and is currently an Honorary Professor in the Department of History and Welsh History at Aberystwyth University. She is also a former member of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales; has sat on the Advisory Council of the Institute of Historical Research and has been a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives. Professor John is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Learned Society of Wales, and a member of Literature Wales and the Society of Authors.

Professor John said: “What an appropriate place to receive this honour. My home town is Port Talbot and for the past decade I have lived in Newport, Pembrokeshire. Carmarthen sits neatly between these two beacons.

“As a historian who studied in old universities but who worked primarily in new ones, I am particularly pleased to be receiving an honorary doctorate from a reconfigured university that combines both tradition and modernity so effectively via its different campuses.

“But I am especially delighted to be associated with an educational institution that looks west, as well as in other directions, and is symbiotically connected to so much of its local community.”

Note to Editor

  1. The University of Wales Trinity Saint David was established in 2010 through the merger of the University of Wales Lampeter and Trinity University College, Carmarthen. On 1 August 2013 the Swansea Metropolitan University merged with the University.
  2. The University’s Royal Charter 1828 is the oldest in Wales, and it is third behind Oxford and Cambridge in Wales and England. HRH Prince of Wales is the Patron of the University.

Further Information

Steven Stokes
Senior PR and Communications Officer
07872 423788