Karen O’Brien is Professor English and Vice-Principal (Education) at King’s College London.
Professor O'Brien's research focuses on the British, American and French Enlightenments, and on British literature more generally between 1660 and 1820.
She has written two monographs, Narratives of Enlightenment: Cosmopolitan History from Voltaire to Gibbon, which won the British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay prize, and Women and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century Britain.
In 2000, she gave the British Academy’s Warton Lecture on “Poetry Against Empire: Milton to Shelley”. She has also co-edited the 1750-1820 volume of The Oxford History of the Novel (forthcoming Oxford University Press), and is editing a Cambridge Companion to Gibbon.
Her current work focuses on the work and impact of TR Malthus, the first censuses from 1801 and the “population” issue in Britain in the early 19th century.