by Shadia Moussa and Sara Charles

With the 2019 election looming, we looked at the resources in the Bibliography of British and Irish History to see what it could tell us about publishing trends in political history.

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This graph shows a comparison between records on the BBIH in 2012 and in 2019. Probably unsurprisingly, Churchill is the most written about by far, followed by Margaret Thatcher. The other end of the scale shows Boris Johnson and Theresa May with barely one record between them (unsurprising as they are such recent PMs) – although there will be at least two new books about May’s time in Downing Street featuring in our January update. The biggest percentage leaps in resources written were for Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, which would demonstrate the natural passage of time to reflect on a PMs contribution before formally producing a historic analysis. However, the growth in material about David Cameron (from 4 to 26 records) may also show the surge in political interest in the last few years, which has driven historians to look at the behaviour of the most recent PMs to chart the path to our current political situation.

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This second graph shows the breakdown of resources covering the main political parties in the UK. The big three are Labour, Conservative and Liberal Party. Subject trends for the Labour Party include war, liberal reform, Attlee, Middle East, Zionism/Israel, Ireland, Blair and Socialism, while major themes for the Conservative Party include Churchill, Thatcher, feminism/women, Macmillan, unions, foreign policy and Cameron. The table below shows a list of key political themes by monarch:

The BBIH currently has 3583 resources on elections. With our search features that allow you to tailor your research by date, area, people and index terms, why not use the Bibliography to spot your own publishing trends? You may find the inspiration for your next article, or identify a gap in research that no one else has!

Read an earlier blogpost on Prime Ministers in the BBIH

About the Bibliography…


The Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) is the largest and most comprehensive guide available to what’s been written about British and Irish history, from the early 1900s to 2019.

It’s an essential resource for research and teaching, providing up-to-date information (and links) to more than 610,000 History books, articles, chapters, edited collections and theses. Currently 180 of these relate to Gerald of Wales.

New records are added in three annual updates. These records are searchable by a wide range of facets including: title, author, chronology, date and form of publication, historical topic and geographical region.

The Bibliography is a research project of the UK’s Institute of Historical Research and the Royal Historical Society, and is published by Brepols. BBIH is a subscription service and is available remotely via university and research libraries worldwide.

Shadia Moussa is a second year History and Politics BA student studying at Queen Mary, University of London. She is currently doing an internship at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR).

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