Vanessa Taylor

Membership:  2017

Member Bio

Vanessa Taylor is a historian of modern Britain interested in the political and environmental histories of water and energy. Much of her work has focused on the politics of water use and debates around urban rivers (especially the River Thames). More recently she has been researching transitions in energy consumption and everyday life as part of the project team for "Material Cultures of Energy: Transitions, Disruption, and Everyday Life in the Twentieth Century," funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Vanessa completed her PhD (on Victorian temperance and the free drinking water movement) in 2006 at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is now a lecturer in history at the University of Greenwich, London.


  • “Watershed Democracy or Ecological Hinterland? London and the Thames River Basin, 1857–1989.” In Rivers Lost, Rivers Regained: Re-thinking City-River Relations, edited by Martin Knoll, Uwe Lübken, and Dieter Schott, 63–81. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.
  • “Whose River? London and the Thames Estuary, 1960–2014.” In “London's River? The Thames as a Contested Environmental Space,” edited by Vanessa Taylor and Sarah Palmer. Special issue, The London Journal 40, no. 3 (2015): 244–71.
  • with Frank Trentmann. “Liquid Politics: Water and the Politics of Everyday Life in the Modern City.” Past and Present211 (2011): 199–241.
  • with Heather Chappells, Will Medd, and Frank Trentmann. “Drought Is Normal: The Socio-technical Evolution of Drought and Water Demand in the UK, 1893–2006.” Journal of Historical Geography 35, no. 3 (2009): 568–91.
  • with Frank Trentmann. “‘Hosepipes, History, and a Sustainable Future.” History & Policy website (2008), available at
  • with Frank Trentmann. “From User to Consumer: Water Politics in Nineteenth-Century London.” In The Making of the Consumer, edited by Frank Trentmann, 53–79. Oxford, NY: Berg, 2006. Full text at: