Dr Madeleine Pelling is a historian, writer and broadcaster.
She holds a PhD from the University of York, and her first book, Writing on the Wall: Graffiti, Rebellion and the Making of Eighteenth-Century Britain, is out with Profile Books in March 2024.
Madeleine is co-host of History Hit's After Dark: Myths, Misdeeds and the Paranormal, and is a regular contributor to television made by broadcasters including Channel 4, Sky and Warner Bros. Her words appear in The Guardian, The Independent, BBC History Magazine and History Today.
Writing on the Wall: Graffiti, Rebellion and the Making of Eighteenth-Century Britain
OUT 24 MARCH 2024 - Pre-Order HERE
What if walls could talk? For historian Madeleine Pelling, they can - if you know where to look.
A brilliant new cultural history of the long eighteenth century, Writing on the Wall is told through the marks its citizens left behind, bringing into focus lost voices from the highest to the lowest in society. From the centre of London to the islands of the Caribbean, Pelling goes in search of graffiti, evidence of how ordinary people experienced the world-changing events that defined their lives - from political prisoners to sex workers, homesick sailors, Romantic poets and the artisans of the industrial revolution.
Here are lives, loves, triumphs and failures, scratched into the walls of prisons and latrines, chalked up on doors and etched into windows. The names of their creators may be lost to history, but together they tell the real story of Britain's most rebellious and transformative century.
"You've read the Austen and seen the Gainsboroughs, well this is the real eighteenth century in the words of those who walked the streets, worked the coal seems and clung to the topsail yards." -- Dan Snow
"From the ingenious starting point of a humble scratch on glass or daub on brick, Madeleine Pelling crafts a rich and complex portrait of a society in transition" -- Jacqueline Riding, author of Hogarth: A Life in Progress
"An erudite, dazzling and thought-provoking study of the graffiti of the period - be its creator Romantic poet or Jacobite, King Mob or Caribbean prisoner of war, Pelling teases out lost narratives with humanity and flair" -- Flora Fraser, author of Pretty Young Rebel
Madeleine is host, along with Dr Anthony Delaney, of History Hit's After Dark: Myths, Misdeeds and the Paranormal, a podcast that takes listeners to the shadier corners of the past to shine a light on folklore, superstition and true crime.
"A rather more grounded podcast than many, its great to have real context offered in this fascinating area."
"Hosted by historians Anthony Delaney and Maddy Pelling, this podcast dives into history’s scariest and strangest stories exploring everything from haunted pubs and witch trials to odd UFO sightings."
Madeleine has interviewed guests including Dr Tracy Borman (historian and author, Historic Royal Palaces), Professor David Wilson (criminologist, BBC Crime Files), and Edward Carey (novelist and illustrator, Little). She is also available as an expert contributor to other podcasts.
Madeleine is a History Hit presenter and regular expert contributor for television. Most recently, she has filmed for Royal Autopsy (Sky, 2025) Mayhem! Secret Lives of the Georgian Kings (2025), Queens That Changed The World (Channel 4, Woodcut Media) and Who Do You Think You Are? Australia (Warner Bros).
Her words appear in The Guardian, The Independent, BBC History Magazine and History Today.