Dr Bob Nicholson

Reader in Public History and Digital Humanities

Department of English, History & Creative Writing


I’m a public historian who specialises in the history of nineteenth-century popular culture. My research covers a broad range of topics, including the histories of popular entertainment, humour, gender, sport, print culture, and transatlantic relations. I am also a keen exponent of the digital humanities and have published widely on digital research methods.

I trained at the University of Manchester where I completed a BA in History (2007), MA in Victorian Studies (2008), and an AHRC-funded PhD exploring the role played by newspapers in shaping Victorian ideas about the United States (2012). While finishing my doctoral project I obtained a 6 month lectureship at Swansea University before joining Edge Hill in the summer of 2012.

My research has been published in a range of academic books and journals, including the Journal of Victorian CultureMedia HistoryVictorian Periodicals Review, and 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Nineteenth Century. I am currently co-editing a major, three volume series of edited collections titled 19th Century Women in Power that will be published by Bloomsbury between 2023-2025.

I am particularly passionate about sharing my research with public audiences. I regularly post archival discoveries and new research on twitter (@DigiVictorian) and also run a an account dedicated to sharing my research on @VictorianHumour. I’ve written for The Guardian, The Telegraph, and History Today and presented stories based on my research for BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 3, and Channel 5.

I teach across the BA History degree programme at Edge Hill and I am also the Programme Leader for the MA in Nineteenth Century Studies. In particular, I am responsible for leading modules on Victorian journalism, the history of crime in 18th and 19th century England, and the practice of public history. My teaching methods make particularly extensive use of digital tools and archives and my modules are all designed to encourage students to use these resources in the pursuit of original historical research. I supervise BA and MA dissertations on subjects relating to nineteenth-century social and cultural history.

I am currently Director of Studies for three PhD students, both of whom are working on the history of nineteenth-century journalism. If you are interested in pursuing MA or PhD research linked to any of the topics outlined above, then please feel free to get in touch.


  • PhD History, University of Manchester, 2012.
  • MA Victorian Studies, University of Manchester, 2008.
  • BA History, University of Manchester, 2007.


  • HIS1016 Time Detectives
  • HIS2032 Digital Detectives
  • HIS2035 Making History
  • HIS3038 Special Subject: The History of Journalism
  • LIT4000 Research Skills
  • LIT4003 Entertaining the Victorians


Forthcoming Publications 

  • Fern Riddell, Bob Nicholson, and Emma Butcher (eds.), 19th Century Women in Power Vol 1 — Bodies: Female Agency, Identity, and Sex in the 19th Century. (Bloomsbury, 2023)
  • Bob Nicholson, Fern Riddell, and Emma Butcher (eds.), 19th Century Women in Power Vol 2 — Defiance: Activism, Agency, and Resisting Authority in the 19th Century. (Bloomsbury, 2024)
  • Emma Butcher, Fern Riddell, and Bob Nicholson (eds.), 19th Century Women in Power Vol 3 — Trailblazers: Women, Work and Public Life in the 19th Century. (Bloomsbury, 2025)


  • Bob Nicholson, ‘Capital Company’: Writing and Telling Jokes in Victorian Britain’, in Louise Lee (ed.), Victorian Comedy and Laughter (Palgrave, 2020).
  • Bob Nicholson & Mark Hall, ‘Building The Old Joke Archive’, in Daniel Derrin and Hannah Burrows (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Humour, History, and Methodology, (Palgrave, 2020).
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘‘The Most-Talked-Of Creature in the World’: The American Girl and the Victorian Press’, in Alexis Easley, Clare Gill, & Beth Rodgers (eds.), The Edinburgh History of Women’s Print Media, 1830-1900, (Edinburgh University Press, 2019).
  • Bob Nicholson & Mark Hall, ‘A Humorous View into the Past: The Old Jokes Archive’, Proceedings of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 4th Conference, (2019)
  • Bob Nicholson & Quintus Van Galen, ‘In Search of America: Topic Modelling nineteenth-century newspaper archives’, Digital Journalism 6:9, (2018).
  • Robert J Lake, Simon J Eaves, & Bob Nicholson, ‘The Development and Transformation of Anglo-American Relations in Lawn Tennis around the Turn of the Twentieth Century’, Sport History Review 49:1, (2018).
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘Ally Sloper’s Pocket Watch (and other extra-textual periodicals), Victorian Review, 43:2, (2017), pp.207-212.
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘Transatlantic Connections’, in Alexis Easley, Andrew King, and John Morton (eds.), Routledge Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century British Periodicals, (Routledge, 2016).
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘Digital Research, in Simon Gunn & Lucy Faire (eds.), Research Methods for History, 2nd Edition, (Edinburgh University Press, 2016).
  • Martin Johnes & Bob Nicholson, ‘Sport History and Digital Archives in Practice’, with, in Garry Osmond and Murray G Phillips (eds.), Sport History in the Digital Era (University of Illinois Press, 2015).
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘The Victorian Meme Machine: Remixing the Nineteenth-Century Archive’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Nineteenth Century, 21, (2015).
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘The Old World and the New: Negotiating Past, Present, and Future in Anglo-American Humour, 1880-1900’, in Barbara Korte and Doris Lechner (eds.) History and Humour: British and American Perspectives, (Trascript Verlag, 2013)
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘The Digital Turn: Exploring the Methodological Possibilities of Digital Newspaper Archives’, Media History, 19:1 (2013), pp. 59-73.
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘Digital Detectives: Rediscovering the Scholar Adventurer’, Victorian Periodicals Review, 45:2 (2012).
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘‘You Kick the Bucket; We Do the Rest!’ Jokes and the Culture of Reprinting in the Transatlantic Press’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 17:3, (2012), pp. 273-286.
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘Counting Culture; or, how to read Victorian newspapers from a distance, Journal of Victorian Culture,17:2, (2012), pp. 238-246.
  • Bob Nicholson, ‘Jonathan’s Jokes: American Humour in the late-Victorian Press’, Media History, 18:1, (2012), pp. 33-49.
  • Lucinda Matthews-Jones, Vicky Morrisroe and Bob Nicholson. ‘Nineteenth Century’, Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 95 (2011).
  • Lucinda Matthews-Jones, Vicky Morrisroe and Bob Nicholson. ‘Nineteenth Century’, Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature,94 (2010).
  • ‘American Humour’, in Laurel Brake & Marysa Demoor (eds.), Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism[online edition], (2010).
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