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Dr Natalie Hanley-Smith


I am a historian of Georgian Britain, with research expertise in marriage, adultery, emotion, gossip, and political culture. I am currently consolidating my doctoral research on the ménage-à-trois and marital nonconformity into a monograph. The book, tentatively titled, Controversial Intimacies: Marriage, Gossip, and Scandal in British Society, c.1780-1840, examines a range of unconventional marital, quasi-marital, and extramarital relationships, and analyses different perspectives on them, including those of the participants, their friends, families, and the broader ‘public’. It sheds new light on the reception of the more individualistic culture that emerged out of the Enlightenment and Romantic movement by revealing that although ‘enlightened’ ideas created new possibilities for individuals to justify intimacies previously considered ‘illicit’, on the grounds that the sincerity of their feelings served to justify and moralise them, these relationships remained embedded in sets of familial and communal norms and networks that were resistant to change and influenced by a much more prescriptive and intolerant culture.

Alongside this, I have recently co-edited a special issue of Parliamentary History with Professor Sarah Richardson on the topic of ‘Passion, Politics, and Parliament’, and I have a forthcoming chapter in The Cultural History of Luxury series (Bloomsbury Academic) that examines representations of George IV’s final mistress, the Marchioness of Conyngham.

I am in the process of developing a new research project which will examine the heterogeneity of British Overseas identities in the European Mediterranean c.1750-1850, and how they developed over a period that witnessed rapid British imperial expansion and significant geopolitical transformations. I am particularly interested in how contemporaries conceived of ‘Britishness’ and how they projected it in both colonial and expatriate societies using ‘British’ institutions.


HI113 Europe in the Making

HI2E4 Research Project

HI2E9 Crossing Boundaries and Breaking Norms in the Medieval World

HI992 Themes in Early Modern History

HI993 Themes and Approaches to the Historical Study of Religious Culture


2023 – 2024: Teaching Fellow in Early Modern History, University of Warwick

2021 – 2023: Associate Lecturer, History Department, Oxford Brookes University

2020 – 2021: Early Career Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies (Warwick)

2018 – 2021: Seminar Tutor, History Department, University of Warwick

2015 – 2020: PhD History, University of Warwick

2014 – 2015: MA in Social and Cultural History, University of Northampton

2010 – 2014: BA History, University of Northampton




Hanley-Smith, N., and Sarah Richardson, eds., ‘Passion, Politics, and Parliament’, special issue, Parliamentary History 42: 1 (2023).

Hanley-Smith, N., and Sarah Richardson, ‘Dangerous or Goodly Passions: The Role of Emotion in Parliament and Politics’, Parliamentary History 42: 1 (2023), 1-10.

Hanley-Smith, N., ‘The Political Mistress: Intimacy, Emotion, and Parliamentary Politics in the late eighteenth century’, Parliamentary History 42: 1 (2023), 32-50.

Hanley-Smith, N., ‘Gossip and Sexual Transgression in ‘English Society’ in 1790s’ Naples’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 44:1 (2021), 59-77.

Hanley-Smith, N., and Matthew McCormack, ‘Blended learning and postgraduate skills: rethinking MA History’, Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 7:1 (2015), 3-13.


Hanley-Smith, N., ‘Luxury and Difference: “Her drawing-room is like a fairy’s boudoir”: The Royal Mistress and her Luxurious Accoutrements, c.1820-1830’, in Mark Rothery (ed), A Cultural History of Luxury in the Age of Industry (1800-1920), vol. 5 of A Cultural History of Luxury (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2024), Series Editors Catherine Kovesi and Timothy McCall.

In Preparation

Hanley-Smith, N., Controversial Intimacies: Marriage, Gossip, and Scandal in British Society, 1780-1840


April 2022:

August 2022: BBC Woman’s Hour – ‘Gossip: why we love it, why we do it, professional gossips, & its use in novels, films and television’.


2021 – 2022: Women’s History Network Early Career Fellowship

2021: Royal Historical Society Early Career Fellowship Grant

2020 – 2021: Early Career Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies (Warwick)

2018 – 2019: Humanities Research Centre Doctoral Fellowship (Warwick)

2015 – 2019: Departmental Doctoral Scholarship, History Department, University of Warwick