Professor Suzannah Lipscomb MA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon), F.R.Hist.S., FHEA, is an historian, author, broadcaster, and award-winning professor of history at the University of Roehampton.
At a glance:
- Suzannah holds an MA, MSt and DPhil from Lincoln and Balliol Colleges, Oxford
- She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- She is the author of five books of history and co-editor of another
- She has written and presented 18 television history documentary series on the BBC, ITV, Channel Five, National Geographic, UKTV, Yesterday Channel etc.
- She is an award-winning academic, having won the AHRC Humanities in the Creative Economy Award 2011, the Museums + Heritage Award for Excellence 2012, and the Nancy Roelker Prize 2012
- She is an award-winning presenter, winning Silver Award for Best Branded Content at the British Podcast Awards 2018 for ‘Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places’ with Historic England
- She is a columnist for History Today
- She was Creative Director of the award-winning 'We Are Bess' exhibition at the National Trust's Hardwick Hall, 2018-19
- She was the Chair of Judges of the Costa Book of the Year award in 2020, having been the head judge of the biography and memoirs section in 2019.
Research and writing
Suzannah's research focuses on the sixteenth century, both on English and French history. She works on Henry VIII and the early Tudor court, and is especially interested in the intersection of religious, gender, political, social, and psychological history. This has led her to write about Henry VIII’s annus horribilis, 1536; Anne Boleyn’s fall; and the creation of Henry VIII’s last will and testament. She is also interested in ordinary women's lives, faith, marriages, and sexuality in sixteenth-century France, which is the subject of her latest major book, and in witchcraft and the witch-trials. She has additionally published on heritage and public history, writing a regular column for History Today that explores the role of history outside the academy.
Witchcraft, a Ladybird Expert book (Penguin Random House, 2018)
The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII (UK: Head of Zeus, 2015, 2018; US: Pegasus, 2016)
A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England, (UK: Ebury, 2012, 2015; US: Pegasus, as A Journey Through Tudor England, 2015)
1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII, (Lion Hudson, 2009)
as co-editor, a collection of essays, Henry VIII and the Court: Art, Politics and Performance, with Thomas Betteridge (Ashgate, 2013)
She is now writing Six Queens: The Wives of Henry VIII, to be published by Head of Zeus.
Suzannah's articles have appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator, BBC History Magazine, and she writes a regular column for History Today.
Suzannah was educated at Epsom College (where she is now a Governor) and Lincoln College, Oxford. After taking a double first in Modern History and a distinction in her Masters in Historical Research, she won the Jowett Senior Scholarship at Balliol College, Oxford, to read her D.Phil. in history.
She has been Royal Historical Society Marshall Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research and Research Curator at Hampton Court Palace (Historic Royal Palaces), where was one of the lead curators responsible for creating a new visitor experience to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne in 2009. Her post was funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership. For this, Suzannah won the AHRC 2011 ‘Humanities in the Creative Economy’ Award.
In 2010, Suzannah was appointed Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and, the following year, Iwas awarded a public engagement grant (People Award) from the Wellcome Trust to fund ‘All the King’s Fools’, a performance project in which actors with learning disabilities played the Tudor period’s ‘natural fools’ at Hampton Court Palace. This won a 2012 Museums + Heritage Award for Excellence. In 2011-2017, she was Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the New College of the Humanities, London. She was also Head of the Faculty of History from 2011 to 2016, and a member of the Academic Board.
In 2012, she was awarded the Nancy Roelker Prize by the Sixteenth Century Society for her journal article, ‘Crossing Boundaries: Women’s Gossip, Insults and Violence in Sixteenth-Century France’ in French History (Vol 25, No. 4), and was made a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
In 2017, she joined the University of Roehampton, as a Reader in Early Modern History. She was made a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2018 and, in February 2019, was promoted to a personal chair as Professor of History. In 2018-19, she was Creative Director of the 'We Are Bess' exhibition at the National Trust's Hardwick Hall, which won two National Trust Awards - for 'Programming Through Story' (2018) and 'Great Experiences' (2019).
Suzannah has presented 18 television history documentary series:
Nicholas and Alexandra: The Letters with Suzannah Lipscomb - a two-part series for UKTV, Viasat History, Polstar Viasat History and SBS.
The Great Fire of London - a three-part series presented by Suzannah, Dan Jones, and Rob Bell in May and June 2017 on Channel Five.
Elizabeth I - a three-part series written and presented by Suzannah and Dan Jones in May 2017 on Channel Five, the programme starred Lily Cole as Elizabeth I (one of five Elizabeths, portraying the queen at different ages).
Hidden Killers of the Post-War Home, Suzannah wrote and presented, this and it aired on BBC Four in May 2016.
Henry VIII and His Six Wives, a four-part series that she co-wrote and co-presented with Dan Jones, which aired on Channel Five in April and May 2016.
Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder, a two-part series that she wrote and presented, which aired on Channel Five on 13 and 20 October 2015.
Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home, which she wrote and presented, and which aired on BBC Four on 20 January 2015 as part of the Wolf Hall season. Also, as part of the Wolf Hall season, The Last Days of Anne Boleyn (in which Suzannah was interviewed) was repeated on BBC Two.
Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History was a two-part series for Channel Five(which aired in February-March 2014) that Suzannah wrote and presented.
I Never Knew That About Britain was an eight-part series for ITV that Suzannah co-presented with Paul Martin and Steve Mould (which aired March-April 2014 and was repeated in January-February 2015)
The first Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home, which she wrote and presented, and which aired on BBC Four, in April 2013.
Secret Life Of… co-presented on Yesterday, UK and History, Canada
Inside the World of Henry VIII - co-presented on History, UK
Insert Name Here - Suzannah appeared on this comedy panel show as one of the two resident historians, on BBC Two, in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Her list of credits also includes appearances on on The Last Days of Anne Boleyn (BBC Two),Pointless Celebrities (BBC Two), Celebrity Antiques Road Trip (BBC Two), The One Show (BBC One), BBC Breakfast (BBC One), Newsnight (BBC Two), The Great British Weather Show (BBC One), GMTV (ITV), Sky News, Museum Secrets (Yesterday, UK and History, Canada), The Book Show (Sky Arts), BBC News, ITV London etc.
She regularly appeared on Time Team’s Season 20, (2013, Channel 4). As a royal historian, she commentated live from a studio at Buckingham Palace on the 2011 Royal Wedding for CTV, and on the birth of HRH Prince George of Cambridge for BBC News, BBC World, NBS, Sky News, LBC and BBC Radio 5 Live.
Suzannah's radio work includes:
- talking about the value of apologies for historic wrongs on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, and other appearances on this programme
- her choice for BBC Radio 4's Great Lives, C.S. Lewis, with Matthew Parris and Malcolm Guite
- Free Thinking on BBC Radio 3
- BBC Radio 3′s The Essay
- presenter’s friend on BBC Radio 5 Live and LBC
- Front Row on BBC Radio 4
- Making History on BBC Radio 4
- and the Six O’Clock News, BBC Radio 5 Live, LBC, NPR and many local radio stations.
She was the presenter of Historic England's podcast Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places, which won the Silver Award for Best Branded Content in the 2018 British Podcast Awards.
Suzannah is an accomplished public speaker, and has given many keynote and invited public lectures all over the world, from the USA to Singapore. She also speaks regularly at literary festivals, and at universities and schools.