Professor Gaynor Johnson studied History at the University College of North Wales, now Bangor University, where she received her BA and PhD. There, she developed an interest in international history, in particular the role of ambassadors in the conduct of British foreign policy in the first half of the 20th century.
Professor Gaynor Johnson also has a podcast called 'The War & Diplomacy Podcast'.
Gaynor's first major publications were The Berlin Embassy of Lord D'Abernon, 1920-1926, Palgrave, 2002, and on the Treaty of Locarno (Locarno Revisited: European Diplomacy 1920-1929, Routledge, 2004).
In more recent years, Gaynor's research interests led to a co-edited book on how fanaticism is understood in the contemporary world (Fanaticism and Modern Warfare, 1890-1990, Frank Cass, 2005). Her interest in diplomats and British foreign policy led to The Foreign Office and British Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century, Routledge, 2005, and to Our Man in Berlin: The Diary of Sir Eric Phipps, 1933-1937, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008. She then went on to edit a number of books on how states interacted with each other in the years leading to the outbreak of the Second World War, what appeasement meant to the British government and on the statecraft of diplomacy. These themes are also explored in her most recent book, Lord Robert Cecil: Politician and Internationalist, Ashgate, 2013).
She is currently working on a major AHRC-funded project with Professor John Keiger, University of Cambridge, Networks and Actors in British and French Foreign Ministry Responses to the Idea of European Integration, 1919-1957. The work examines British and French foreign policy from the perspective of civil servants/permanent officials rather than through the political elite. It also analyses the effect of formative influences, such as education, social background etc on these people’s thinking about foreign policy issues.
Gaynor's teaching at Kent focuses on the international history of the 20th century; the origins and consequences of war in the modern era and the British policy of appeasement.
Gaynor has supervised a number of PhD theses in her areas of interest and is happy to consider taking on more.
Gaynor is a member of the executive committee of the British International History Group, is Secretary to the Transatlantic Studies Association and is the book reviews editor of the International History Review. She has also written for a number of A level history magazines and been interviewed on BBC national radio about her work.