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Mark Roodhouse
Reader in Modern History



BA (Cantab), MSc (Oxon), PhD (Cantab)

Mark Roodhouse is a Reader in Modern History, a Leverhulme Research Fellow, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He was educated at Cambridge and Oxford before coming to York in 2003. Mark works on the economic and social history of modern Britain, taking a keen interest in black markets, underground economies and the informal sector. He is currently researching and writing his second book about organised crime in mid-twentieth-century Britain with funding from the Leverhulme Trust. His first book Black Market Britain: 1939-1955, published by Oxford University Press, was shortlisted and awarded Proxime Accessit for the 2013 Royal Historical Society Whitfield Book Prize.

Mark is an Elected Member of University Senate, serving from 2017 to 2020. He served on University Teaching Committee from 2012 to 2015, and was Chair of the Board of Studies in History from 2013 to 2016. He served on the Vice-Chancellor's Student Mental Ill-health Task Group, which produced a report that received attention in the national media. As a result of this proven and sustained track record of leadership in teaching and learning at departmental and university level, the Higher Education Academy made him a Senior Fellow in 2016.




Mark is currently working on his second book project: a history of organised crime in mid-twentieth-century Britain. There has been no detailed research into the history of British organised crime groups, the illegal markets in which they operated, or the underground economy of which these markets formed a part for the period 1920-1970. The project will transform knowledge of these vital topics. Focusing on the London underworld, Mark aims to chart the development of illegal markets, assess the part organised crime played in these markets, and evaluate the importance of these markets to the wider economy. The project has been made possible through the award of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

Mark stumbled across the topic when writing his first book Black Market Britain: 1939-1955. In the book, he argues that illegal markets did not pose a serious threat to rationing and price control because of Britons’ self-restraint. The means, motives, and opportunities for evasion were not lacking. The shortages were real, regulations were not watertight, and enforcement was haphazard. Fairness, not patriotism and respect for the law, is the key to understanding this self-restraint. By invoking popular notions of a fair price, a fair profit, and a fair share, government rhetoric limited black marketeering as would-be evaders had to justify their offences both to themselves and others.

Black Market Britain underlines the importance of fairness to those seeking a richer understanding of economic life in modern Britain and its vital role in securing compliance with economic regulation. Mark has shared these findings with the general public through his contributions to television programmes like Wartime Farm and The One Show as well radio programmes like Broadcasting House.

Drawing on his work, Mark has contributed to ongoing debates about climate change, producing a policy paper evaluating carbon rationing proposals in the light of historical experience, writing an op-ed for the Financial Times and submitting written evidence to a parliamentary committee. These interventions attracted national and international press coverage.


Mark welcomes proposals to work on any area of British history since 1914.

Recent PhD students




External activities


  • Fellow Royal Historical Society, 2013-
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy, 2007-16
  • Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academcy, 2016-

Editorial duties

  • Editorial Board Member, History of Crime, Deviance and Punishment series, Bloomsbury, 2016-
  • Editor, Borthwick Papers, Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York, 2009-13

Invited talks and conferences

  •  "'In Racket Town': Exposing Organised Crime in Wartime Leeds, 1941-45," Yorkshire Philosophical Society, York, 15 November 2016
  • "An East End Underworld at War," Crime as Counterculture, FKK Cultural History of Crime Research Network, Copenhagen, 6 May 2016
  • "Serious and Disorganised: Professional Crime in Twentieth-Century Britain," Home Office, London, 23 July 2015
  • "Beyond the Market: Community Exchange in Austerity Britain, 1939-54," Cabinet Office Efficiency and Reform Group, HM Treasury, London, 7 November 2011
  • "'Fair Prices, Fair Profits and Fair Shares': What We can learn from feeding the British, 1939-54," Global Health Histories Seminar, World Health Organisation, Geneva, 28 September 2011

Media coverage



  • Interview by Chris Bowlby. 'Austerity Measures will Open the Door to the Black Market.' BBC History Magazine 11, no. 12 (December 2010).
  • 'City Bankers - Spivs or Profiteers?' History & Policy Opinion Piece. September 28, 2010.
  • 'Carbon Copies?' History Today 57, no. 7 (July 2007): 4-5.
  • 'Feeding Britain: Food Control, 1940-45.' Everyone’s War 15 (Spring/Summer 2007): 39-43.
  • 'Enlist the Blitz Spirit, Get Out the Carbon Ration Book.' Financial Times, March 13, 2007.
  • Interview by Chris Arnot. 'Enemies of the Fairer Society.' Education Guardian, July 12, 2005, 21.
  • 'Nye Bevan, Black Marketeer.' History Today 55, no. 7 (July 2005): 2-3.


  • Interview by Giles Coren. 'Food: A Scandalous History.' BBC Radio 4. London: BBC, May 28, 2013, 16:00hrs.
  • 'Meet the Spiv.' Broadcasting House. BBC Radio 4. London: BBC, September 26, 2010, 10:00hrs. [audio essay]
  • Interviews for BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio York, BBC Wiltshire


  • Interview by Ruth Goodman. 'Episode Two.' Wartime Farm. First broadcast September 13, 2012, 20:00hrs on BBC Two. [2.7 million viewers (BARB)]
  • Interview by Stuart Maconie. A History of the World: Cumbria’s Atomic Pioneers. First broadcast May 17, 2010 on BBC One (North East and Cumbria only). [Winner of the Royal Television Society Best Broadcast Factual Production 2011]
  • Interview by John Sergeant. 'Black Market Cosmetics.' The One Show. First broadcast May 17, 2010 on BBC One, 19:00hrs. [4.35 million viewers (BARB)]
  • Interview by Dan Snow. 'A History of Hair.' The One Show. First broadcast November 27, 2009 on BBC One.
  • Interview by Gareth Hughes. 'Nye Bevan.' A Date with Destiny. First broadcast October 2, 2006 on ITV1 Wales.
  • Interview. Spivs. First broadcast October 24, 2005 on BBC Four.
  • Interview. When Britain Went Bananas. First broadcast October 8, 2005 on BBC Four.

Contact details

Dr Mark Roodhouse
Vanbrugh College V/217
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 2964, External (01904) 322964

Student hours