Kathleen Burk

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Kathleen Mildred Burk[1] (born March 1946) is Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary History at University College London. Her field of research is international history, especially politics, diplomacy and finance.[2][3]

Early life and careerEdit

Burk grew up in a California grape farming family.[4] She has undergraduate degrees from University of California at Berkeley and Oxford University, and a D.Phil. from Oxford University, where she studied under A. J. P. Taylor.[5] Her early books focused on economic diplomacy and were driven by her insight that “While governments come and go, the need for money is inexorable.”[6]

After finishing her studies, she held a temporary job at Dundee University, as Tutorial Assistant in Modern History in the academic year 1976–77. From 1977-1980 she was as a Rhodes Research Fellow back at Oxford. From 1980-1992 she worked at Imperial College London as a Lecturer in History and Politics. The two final years of that service were shared with University College London, before Burk moved on to UCL full-time in the 1990s, becoming Reader in Modern and Contemporary History in 1993 and a Professor in 1995. At the time she was appointed to her Chair, only seven per cent of the professoriate were women.[7]

A 2013 issue of the academic journal Diplomacy & Statecraft was devoted to essays in her honour.[8]

Subject matterEdit

Burk founded the journal Contemporary European History in 1992, taking the role of editor for the first 13 years. In the 1980s, with two colleagues she founded The Historians' Press which ran for 25 years.[9][10]

In addition to her main field of research, Burk is a freelance writer on wine and has a diploma in wine and spirits from the London Wine & Spirit Education Trust.[11][12]

In October 2017, Burk discussed the Congress of Vienna on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time and has previously spoken on the programme about Thomas Paine's Common Sense pamphlet (2016), the California Gold Rush (2015), the War of 1812 (2013), Custer's last stand (2011), Thomas Edison (2010), Thoreau and the American Idyll (2009), the Statue of Liberty (2008) and the Pilgrim Fathers (2007).[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

Other workEdit

She was on the governing body of Abingdon School from 2001 to 2013.[21]


  • Burk, Kathleen (2014), War and the State (RLE The First World War) : The Transformation of British Government, 1914-1919, Routledge Library Editions: The First World War., Taylor and Francis, ISBN 1317700333
  • Burk, Kathleen (2014), Britain, Routledge, ISBN 9781306708364
  • Burk, Kathleen (2009), Old World, New World : Great Britain and America from the Beginning, Grove Press, ISBN 0802144292
  • Burk, Kathleen; Bywater, Michael (2008), Is this Bottle Corked? : The Secret Life of Wine, Harmony Books, ISBN 0307462919
  • Burk, Kathleen (2002), Troublemaker : The Life and History of A. J. P. Taylor, New Haven, ISBN 9780300094534
  • Burk, Kathleen; Stokes, Melvyn (1999), The United States and the European alliance since 1945, Oxford, OCLC 606324961
  • Burk, Kathleen (1997), We Are Down on our Knees to the Americans : Anglo-American relations in the Twentieth Century, Printed by Central Services, University College London, OCLC 941053033
  • Burk, Kathleen (1988), The First Privatisation : The Politicians, the City and the Denationalisation of Steel, Historians', ISBN 9780950890074
  • Burk, Kathleen (1982), War and the State. The Transformation of British Government, 1914–1919. Edited by Kathleen Burk, Allen & Unwin, OCLC 848258495