Helene von Bismarck was born in Brussels to German parents, and grew up in Russia, Germany and Belgium. After her European Baccalaureat and a sabbatical in Italy, she studied History and Politics at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich and Humboldt-University in Berlin. Since 2004, Helene has regularly conducted research in the National Archives of the United Kingdom at Kew. From 2006 to 2007, she worked as a lecturer of western european history at Humboldt-University before winning a full scholarship from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung for her graduate studies. In 2011, she received her PhD in modern history from Humboldt-University with the distinction magna cum laude. Her first book, a monograph entitled Conceptions of Informal Empire. British Policy in the Persian Gulf, 1961-68, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013. She has published peer-reviewed academic articles in Middle Eastern Studies and the British Scholar Journal. She is now working on a second book project about Margaret Thatcher and Jacques Delors. In February 2018, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (F.R.Hist.S.) in recognition of her contribution of historical scholarship.
In a time of rapid change, the study of history is more essential than ever. This is why it is important to Helene to engage with wider audiences beyond the ivory tower. She has written essays and op-eds for The Times Red Box, History & Policy, The Imperial and Global Forum, The UK in a Changing EU and The British Scholar Society, discussing topics as varied as Brexit, British policy in the Middle East, decolonization, globalization, the Anglo-German relationship, the history and future of the West and the philosopher Isaiah Berlin. As a speaker, Helene has addressed academic and non-academic audiences in Britain, Germany, the United States, Italy, France, Turkey and the Czech Republic, including the Cabinet Office in London and Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft in Berlin. In 2014, she featured in a television documentary for the Zweite Deutsche Fersehen (ZDF). In 2016, she commented in Spiegel Online on the outcome of the British EU Referendum.
Helene has won grants from a number of international sources. In 2010, she was among fifteen young scholars from around the world chosen by the US National History Center to spend the summer at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress in Washington DC and attend a research seminar on decolonization financed by the Andrew W. Mellon-Foundation. In 2013, she won an International Outreach and Diversity Grant from the Society for the Study of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR). Helene undertakes peer-review for The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth Studies, the American Historical Review and Diplomacy and Statecraft. In 2015, she joined the board of directors of the British Scholar Society, an international organization of historians dedicated to foster the intellectual exchange about Britain’s interactions with the wider world.
Helene has travelled widely in Europe, America and the Middle East. She speaks German, English, French and Italian.