Skip navigation

Dr Jennifer Aston

Associate Professor

Department: Humanities

I am an Associate Professor in History and an Associate Member of the Centre for Workforce Futures at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. 

I joined Northumbria University in 2017, having previously held the EHS Eileen Power Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research and research positions at the universities of Oxford and Hull. My research interests include gender and small business ownership, bankruptcy, and the law. I am the author of Female Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth-Century England: Engagement in the Urban Economy (Palgrave, 2016) and my latest book Deserted Wives and Economic Divorce in Nineteenth Century England and Wales: ‘For Wives Alone’ will be published by Hart Publishing in November 2024.

I have published widely on the interaction between gender and legal and financial institutions, including the edited collections Women and the Land 1500-1900 (Boydell, 2019) and Female Entrepreneurs in the Long Nineteenth Century: A Global Perspective (Palgrave, 2020), and articles in journals including Economic History Review, Business History and the Journal of Legal History. My article, ‘Petitions to the Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes: A New Methodological Approach to the History of Divorce, 1857–1923’ was Highly Commended by the judges of the British Records Association’s Harley Prize 2022.

I am currently working on two research projects:

A New Methodological Approach to the History of Divorce, 1857-1923. Funded by an ESRC New Investigator award, this project employs a new, multidisciplinary methodology that combines mixed-method historical approaches with feminist legal theory and digital humanities to address 4 key research strands (a) History of divorce and domestic abuse; (b) Economic cost of divorce; (c) Child custody and mediation; and (d) Development of the family law profession.

Bankruptcy in Edwardian Britain, 1901-1914. This project [funded by an Economic History Society Carnevali Small Research Grant] uses previously unexamined Board of Trade Official Receiver’s Reports to examine business and personal failure in an era often seen as period of economic prosperity, social decadence, and entrepreneurial opportunity. I will use this new material as a starting point to write the first economic, social, legal, and cultural history of bankruptcy in Edwardian Britain.

In 2023/24, I am convening modules including the ‘Humanities Skills Portfolio’ (Foundation Year) and ‘The British Women’s Suffrage Movement in History and Memory’ (final year BA). I am also leading the ‘Law Pathway’ in the Your Graduate Future module (second year BA) with Dr Helen Rutherford (Northumbria Law School) and external partners The National Archives and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. I was nominated for a Student Led Teaching Award in 2022, and in 2023 received the Student Led Teaching Award for 'Outstanding Staff Member for Arts, Design and Social Science'. 

Current PhD supervision includes:

Kerri Armstrong, Crime, Conviction and Rehabilitation: Women and the Criminal Justice System in the Late Nineteenth Century England, (funded by the Northumbria Research Development Fund)

Abby Hammond, The Women in the Ledger Stones: New Histories at Newcastle Cathedral (funded by an AHRC NBCDTP CDA award)

Oliver Gunning, Migration, Mobility and Glass-Making in Northern Britain, 1680-1800, (funded by the Northumbria Research Development Fund)

June Watson, Female Agency, Influence, and Informal Science Networks, within the Global World of Sir Joseph Banks 1780-1820, (funded by an AHRC NBCDTP award)

I welcome enquiries about postgraduate study in economic, social, gender and legal history in nineteenth century Britain and the wider world.

Jennifer Aston

Campus Address

Northumbria University
City Campus
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 8ST

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Petitions to the Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes: A New Methodological Approach to the History of Divorce, 1857-1923, Aston, J. 2022, In: Journal of Legal History
  • Bringing Businesswomen to a Count: A Transnational Methodological Experiment Researching Nineteenth-Century Businesswomen, Bishop, C., Aston, J., van Lieshout, C. 3 Apr 2021, In: Australian Historical Studies
  • Female Entrepreneurs in the Long Nineteenth Century: A Global Perspective, Aston, J., Bishop, C. 2020
  • Take nothing for granted: Expanding the conversation about business, gender, and feminism, Aston, J., Barker, H., Durepos, G., Garrett-Scott, S., Hudson, P., Kwolek-Folland, A., Dean, H., Perriton, L., Taylor, S., Yeager, M. 2 Jan 2024, In: Business History
  • Risk, success, and failure: female entrepreneurship in late Victorian and Edwardian England, Aston, J., Di Martino, P. 1 Aug 2017, In: Economic History Review

  • June Watson Female Agency, Influence, and Informal Science Networks, within the Global World of Sir Joseph Banks 1780-1820 Start Date: 02/11/2023
  • Oliver Gunning Migration, Mobility and Glass-Making in Northern Britain, 1680-1800 Start Date: 08/11/2023
  • Abby Hammond 'Women in the Ledger Stones: New Histories at Newcastle Cathedral' Start Date: 01/10/2023
  • Kerri Armstrong Crime, Conviction and Rehabilitation: Women and the Criminal Justice System in the Late Nineteenth Century England Start Date: 01/10/2023

  • History PhD October 12 2012
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy 2019


a sign in front of a crowd
+

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria
+

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.

NU World
+

Explore NU World

Find out what life here is all about. From studying to socialising, term time to downtime, we’ve got it covered.


Latest News and Features

Graduates Abbie Smith and Frankie Harrison.
aacsb
Northumbria student Saffron Sinclair being presented her award by Mark Dale, Principle Consultant at Nigel Wright Recruitment.
Henry Kippin
Cally Taylor
Eva Szewczyk grad and career success v2 180624   ES
More news

Back to top