Helen Berry is from Plymouth, and was raised for a time in Hong Kong, which gave her a curiosity about different world-views and cultures. Her love of history started at a young age watching Blue Peter special assignments – her favourites were the life of Marie Antoinette and the story of how the potato reached Britain from the New World. She read history at Durham University and her doctoral research was at Jesus College, Cambridge, where she wrote her thesis on the history of coffee houses and the earliest London newspapers.
Now a Professor of British History at Newcastle University, Helen specialises in teaching the history of Britain between the ages of Shakespeare and Queen Victoria. She is interested in pretty much everything, but her favourite historic period is the eighteenth century.
Helen is motivated to write history books that link contemporary life and social politics to the past, and that place British history in a wider global context. Her new book, Orphans of Empire, is on the fate of the Foundling Hospital children – examining the social effects of an early experiment in welfare and private philanthropy (see Projects).