I am currently writing a book on why innovation accelerated in the eighteenth century
in Britain, which in turn led to the Industrial Revolution. One of my key findings is that
innovation is a practice that spreads from person to person. I argue that people became
innovators because they adopted an improving mentality - and that Britain experienced
an acceleration of innovation because its innovators were committed to evangelising
that mentality further.
My first book, Arts and Minds: How the Royal Society of Arts Changed a Nation, came
out in 2020, published by Princeton University Press. It tells the story of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce - essentially, Britain's national improvement agency, in any and every way imaginable. I like to think of it as a hidden history of three centuries of social reform, from eighteenth-century coffee houses, to the schemes of Victorian utilitarian reformers, the early environmentalists of the mid-twentieth century, and much more. Frankly, it's an organisation unlike any other.
As well as being a visiting fellow at King’s, I am head of innovation research at The Entrepreneurs Network, a UK-based think tank focused on encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. I am also historian-in-residence at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, having written its latest history. For two years I was also lecturer in Economic History at King's College London, and before that a post-doctoral research associate at Brown University's Political Theory Project. I received my PhD in Political Economy from King's College London in 2016.