Jacob Fredrickson

Jacob Fredrickson

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Crimes of Passion: Law, Emotions and Sexuality in early Twentieth Century Britain
SupervisorProfessor Matt Houlbrook and Dr Chris Moores
PhD History


  • BA (Hons), History, University of Bristol
  • MA with Distinction, Modern British Studies, University of Birmingham


I read history at the University of Bristol, before moving to Birmingham for a MA in Modern British Studies. Before starting my PhD, I worked at the British Library, as a researcher and project manager.


As a postgraduate tutor I have taught on the first year module 'People and Places: A', exploring the history of race and immigration in Smethwick, Birmingham and the West Midlands.


My research examines crimes of passion committed in Britain between 1914 and 1960. It explores how English criminal law has approached crimes, mostly homicides, where the motive was ostensibly caused by the emotional demands of romantic and sexual intimacy. This is often, but as my research suggests by no means limited to, lethal responses to discovering the adultery of a spouse, partner or lover and the emotional fore of jealousy, anger or rage.

I am interested in the cultural history, and significance, of these crimes. It follows the huge popular interest taken in these exceptional criminal cases to explore what attitudes to this sort of crime can tell us about changing gender and sexual norms. Crimes of passion - even if English criminal law has consistently disavowed the term - have been privileged legal and cultural sites through which gendered norms and sexual morality has been contested and reshaped. In the testimonies of different historical actors, from lawyers, judges and politicians to the accused, witnesses, victims and survivors, the crime of passion has left in its wake a rich archive through which I chart not only how norms have changed, but the changing terrain of the sexual and gendered self.

Other activities

I am part of the Centre for Modern British Studies here at Birmingham, where I co-organise the activities and events of the postgraduate research group.