Professor Richard Holt

Job: Emeritus Professor

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities and Performing Arts

Research group(s): International Centre for Sports History and Culture

Address: De Montfort University, the Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 257 7399



Social Media:


Personal profile

Richard Holt read Modern History at St. Johns College, Oxford where he also completed his  doctorate on the social history of sport in France (1977), which was published in revised and expanded form as Sport and Society in Modern France (Macmillan 1981). From 1974 to 1990 he was a lecturer in French history at Stirling University, Scotland. He then took up a position as Senior Research Fellow at the University of Leuven in Belgium before moving to the newly formed International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University in 1994. In 1989 he published Sport and the British: a modern history (Oxford University Press, 1999) and then Sport in Britain 1945-2000 with Tony Mason (Blackwell, 2000). He has acted as the Victorian sport editor for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and co-curated the ‘British Sporting Heroes’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 1999. With Wray Vamplew and Peter Lewis he co-wrote the official history of the Professional Golfers Association (2003). From 2007 to 2011 he was Director of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, retiring in April 2011, and continuing part-time as co-director of the International Master in the Humanities, Management and Law of Sport (‘FIFA Master’). With Tony Collins and Tony Mason, he part-scripted and edited the 30 part BBC Radio 4 series ‘Sport and the British’ presented by Clare Balding and broadcast in February and March 2012. With Dino Ruta of the Bocconi Business School, Milan, he is currently editing the Routledge Handbook of Sport and Legacy.

He has published very widely in English and in French journals as well as in edited books. He has been invited to lecture throughout Europe, in Australia and in North America. He has been visiting professor at the University of Rouen and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He has examined doctorates at a wide range of British and French Universities. He is a board member of Musée National du Sport, has served on a range of academic editorial boards and is currently and co-editor (with Matthew Taylor) of the Peter Lang monograph series Sport, History and Culture.

Research group affiliations

International Centre for Sports History and Culture 

Key research outputs


Sport and the British: a modern history (Oxford University Press 1989), pp.396

Sport in Britain, 1945-2000 (Blackwell 2000) co-authored with Tony Mason, pp.212

Edited books

Sport and the Transformation of Europe (Routledge, 2011), jointly with Dr. Christopher Young and Professor Alan Tomlinson

Chapter (selected)

‘Sport and the body in the nineteenth century’  with Georges Vigarello,  in French in Alain Corbin (ed)  ‘L’histoire du corps’ (Editions de Seuil), 2005, vol. 2, 331-364;

Articles (selected)

‘The Amateur Body: work, health and style in Victorian Britain, Sport in History , 26, 3, Dec 2006, pp. 352-369

Research interests/expertise

History of British and European sport with special reference to France; the history of regional and national identities; the history of amateurism; the sporting hero; the study of sport and legacy.

Areas of teaching

The history of modern sport and leisure, primarily at post-graduate level.


  • MA Modern History, St. Johns College, Oxford, 1970
  • D.Phil in Modern History, Oxford 1977

Courses taught

Current teaching: International Master in the Management, Law and Humanities of sport (‘Fifa Master’) Birth of Modern Sport Module. 

Honours and awards

  • Life Fellow of the British Society for Sport History
  • Fellow of the European Society for Sports History (CESH)

Membership of external committees

  • Board of the Musée National du Sport (France)
  • Editorial Board: Lancilloto e Nausica (Rome); Sport in History; 

Membership of professional associations and societies

British Society for Sports History; the Social History Society; the North American Society for Sports History

Conference attendance

(Invited International Conference Papers, selected since 2000)    *keynote)

‘Sport, Jews and Anti-Semitism in Britain’, (with Dr. T. Collins) ‘Juden in Europaischen Sport, Institute of Jewish History, University of Munich, May 2001

* ‘Amateurism’: the rise and fall of a British ideal: European Society for the Study of English, Strasbourg, Sept. 2002 (plenary)

*‘Anglomania’, sport and the French’, Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France, University of Paris XIII (plenary) Sept. 2003 (plenary)

* ‘La culture sportive britannique et la France’: inaugural lecture for the programme Sport, nationalism and Internationalism, (2003-6), Sciences Po, Paris, Jan 2004

* ‘The state of sports history’, address to the inaugural meeting of the Conference of Irish Sports Historians, University College, Dublin, Jan 2005

*‘The North in English sport’, University of Copenhagen, April 2005, invited lecture to the annual research seminar of the English Studies Faculty

*‘The English Hero’, Centre for British Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin, May 2006 

* ‘The Nature of sporting culture in Britain and France’, International Society for the Study of Physical Education and Sport’, Slovenia July 2007

‘Cricket and English identity’, University of California, Berkeley, European identities and sporting culture, April 2008

‘Historians and the History of Sport’, University of Leuven, June 2009

‘Sport, Gender and History’, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon, June 2009

*‘The nature of amateurism’, Distinguished Lecture to East Asian Society for the History of sports’, Hiroshima, Japan, Aug 2009 

*‘Sport, anthropology and history’, Univ. Aix-en-Provence, CNRS, Nov 2010

*‘Sporting heroism in cross cultural perspective’, University of Rouen, April 2012

‘The interpretation of amateurism’, North American Society for Sport History, University of California/Berkeley, USA, June 2012;

‘The Sporting Gentleman: English Culture and National Identity’, Research Seminar, University of Utrecht, Jan 2013

Consultancy work

Overall editorial responsibility (with Tony Collins) for the 30 part Radio 4 series ‘Sport and the British’ broadcast in Feb/March 2012;

Consultant on new acquisitions for the French Musée National du Sport

Current research students

Pearse Reynolds, PhD, part time, first supervisor, started 2009 (interrupted one year 2011)

Externally funded research grants information

Sport and learning disability: the Special Olympics in Leicester 2009 jointly with John Williams, Leicester University, £80,000 – Leicester City Council, Special Olympics; the Leicester Primary health Care Trust; 2008-10.

Sport and Legacy, jointly with Prof. Dino Ruta, Bocconi Business School – 30,000 euros from the Centre International d’Etude du Sport, Switzerland, 2011-13.

Professional esteem indicators

Professor Holt acted as consultant editor on Victorian sport for Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and continues to advise on sports subjects. He was a member of the AERES panel (French equivalent of the REF) for post graduate sports research centres; Richard has reviewed funding applications for the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique; the Leverhulme Trust, the ESRC,  the AHRC and the Irish National Social Science Research Council. He has examined a large number of doctorates both in Britain and in France (approx 30) and co-edits the series ‘Sport, Culture and Society’ (with Prof. Matthew Taylor) for the publisher Peter Lang. He has reviewed for the English Historical Review, Sport in History, Modern and Contemporary France and other journals and acted as reader for OUP, C UP, MUP, Routledge  as well as Chicago UP and Yale UP. He has lectured widely outside the academy, most recently giving the Shetland Museum Annual Memorial Lecture (Nov 2012) and at the Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle upon Tyne, in January 2013.

Professor Richard Holt