Prof. Chris Williams

Robert Owen: Wales’s Greatest Radical Thinker

Robert Owen (1771-1858) was a pioneer of co-operation and social enterprise. Born in Newtown, he made his business reputation in the Manchester cotton industry before taking over the management of the mills at New Lanark in Scotland in 1800. A visionary and philanthropist, Owen's model industrial community on the banks of the Clyde attracted global renown and inspired his own subsequent critique of capitalism and articulation of ‘A New View of Society’. This he and his followers pursued in utopian settlements in the United States as well as across the British Isles. Owen’s ideas underpinned the growth of both trade unionism and the co-operative movement in Britain from the 1830s onwards. For the Welsh Liberal MP Tom Ellis, Robert Owen was ’the bearer of Neges Cymru [the message of Wales] to the world’.



Prof. Chris Williams is a Historian and the Head of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences at University College Cork.

Chris read Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford, graduating in 1985, before gaining a doctorate at University College Cardiff. He was appointed to a lectureship in Nineteenth-Century British History at University of Wales College of Cardiff in 1988 and taught there until 2001. From 2001 to 2004 he was Professor of Modern and Contemporary Wales at the University of Glamorgan, and from 2005 to 2013 Professor of Welsh History at Swansea University.

In 2013 he returned to Cardiff University as Professor of History and Head of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion and took up his current appointment as at University College Cork in 2017.

Chris’ research is focused on the history of political cartooning and political caricature in Britain from the French Revolution to the Second World War. He is also working on the social and political history of Newport, South Wales, from the late eighteenth century to the First World War.