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Professor Bill Speck

Professor Emeritus 

University of Leeds



Bill Speck is Emeritus Professor of Modern History at the University of Leeds. Having taught in History departments at the Universities of Exeter, Newcastle and Hull, where he was G. F. Grant Professor of History, his appointment at Leeds was to the chair of modern History, from which he took early retirement in 1997. He also taught for temporary visiting spells at the College of William and Mary and the Universities of Iowa and Portland State, Oregon in the USA.

While his teaching career ended with his retirement Bill has remained ‘research active’ as they say in the trade. His research has been mainly in the history of Britain and her American colonies in the ‘long’ eighteenth century. While it was initially concerned primarily with politics it also extended to literature, his first book being a study of Jonathan Swift. This literary interest developed with work on Augustan satirical verse during a sabbatical year at Yale University, and a biography of Robert Southey published by Yale University Press in 2006. It culminated in his appointment as Honorary Professor in the School of English Studies at the University of Nottingham from 2006 to 2012. Bill’s most recent book is A Political Biography of Thomas Paine (Pickering and Chatto, 2013). 

Bill now lives in retirement in Carlisle with his cat, his clarinet and his computer for company.