Professor Alyson Brown

Associate Head of Department (Research and Postgraduate)

Professor of History

Department of English, History & Creative Writing


Alyson began her academic career at The University of Hull where she obtained a Masters in Historical Research and a PhD on the subject of penal policy and prison disturbances in England 1850-1920. While completing her PhD at Hull University she taught on the Economic and Social History BA and then obtained a one year lectureship. She taught for a short period at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln before obtaining a lectureship in criminology at the University of Bedfordshire where she stayed for four years. She then took up a post in the Department of English and History at Edge hill University. She obtained her Readership in History in 2006 and has been a Professor since 2014  Throughout her career she has also held managerial positions, including Programme Leader of Criminology at the University of Bedfordshire and Acting Head of English, History and Creative Writing at Edge Hill University. She is currently Associate Head of English, History and Creative Writing with specific responsibility for research and for postgraduates in the department.

Alyson’s developed PhD thesis was published by Boydell as English Society and the Prison (2003). She has published numerous chapters and articles, including a paper in 2018 in the Cultural & Social History, ‘The sad demise of z.D.H38 Ernest Collins, suicide, informers and the debate on the abolition of flogging’. In March 2013, Palgrave Macmillan published her book, Inter-war Penal Policy and Crime in England: The Dartmoor Convict Prison Riot, 1932. Alyson also sits on the editorial board of the Prison Service Journal.

Alyson’s other interests include heritage, especially prison tourism and prison museums, in Britain. As part of that work, she sat on the advisory panel of the major project, Lincoln Castle Revealed, through which in 2015 the Victorian men’s prison on the site of Lincoln Castle opened to the public for the first time. More recently, she developed an exhibition on the Dartmoor Prison riot of 1932 for the Dartmoor Prison Museum, Devon. Alyson has also contributed to programmes on Radio 4, for example, Rethinking Clink: History of Prison reform, and written multiple articles for the BBC History Magazine. In 2017, she gave a paper at the Home Office about her research on Motor Bandits during the inter-war era.

Alyson is currently co-organising the British Crime Historians Symposium, which will be held at Edge Hill University.

Research Interests

  • British social history – nineteenth and twentieth century
  • History of crime and punishment in modern England
  • British penal history, particularly of the inter-war era
  • Public history


  • HIS3038 Special Subject Module – History of Interpersonal Violence – year 3 (40 credits)
  • HIS3026 Dissertation – year 3 (40 credits)

Masters programmes

  • HUM4015 The Victorian City (20 credits)
  • HUM4041 Transgressive Women (20 credits)
  • HUM4021 The Modern Prison (20 credits)
  • HUM4002 Critical Approaches to Postgraduate Study (20 credits)



  • Inter-war Penal Policy and Crime in England: The Dartmoor Convict Prison Riot, 1932. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)
  • With D.Barrett (2nd ed 2013) Knowledge of Evil: Child prostitution and child sexual abuse in twentieth-century England (Abingdon: Routledge).
  • With A.Webster, L.Shaw, J.K.Walton and D.Stewart (co-eds) The hidden alternative: Co-opertive values, past, present and future. (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011)
  • With R.Spalding (co-ed) Entertainment, Leisure and Identities. (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007)
  • (ed.) Historical Perspectives on Identities. (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006)
  • English Society and the Prison: Time, culture and politics in the development of the modern prison, 1850-1920. (Suffolk: Boydell,2003).

Articles and Chapters

My most recent include:

    • Brown (2019) ‘The bobbed-haired bandit and the smash-and-grab raider’, in D.Nash and A-M Kilday (eds), Fair and Unfair Trials(Bloomsbury).
    • Brown (2018) ‘The sad demise of z.D.H.38 Ernest Collins, suicide, informers and the debate on the abolition of flogging’, Cultural & Social History.
    • Brown (July 2017) ‘Hidden diversity in interwar incarceration’, Prison Service Journal.
    • Brown and A.Barton (Dec 2015), ‘Show me the Prison! The Development of Prison Tourism in the UK’, Crime, Media, Culture 11 (3): 237-258.
    • A.Brown (2011) ‘Crime, Criminal Mobility and Serial Offenders in Early Twentieth Century Britain’, Contemporary British History 25 (4).
    •  With A.Barton, ‘Dark Tourism’, Prison Service Journal 199, 2012.
    • A.Brown and A.Barton, (2011) ‘Dartmoor: Penal and Cultural Icon’, Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol.50 (5): 478-491.
    • A.Brown (2011) ‘Class, discipline and philosophy’, Prison Service Journal194.
    • With A.Webster, L.Shaw, D.Stewart and J.K.Walton, ‘The Hidden Alternative?’ in T.Webster, L.Shaw, J.K.Walton, A.Brown and D.Stewart (eds) ‘The hidden alternative? Co-operative values, past, present and future’ (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011).
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