Emma was raised in Hertfordshire and studied in London as an undergraduate before moving to Trinity College, Cambridge to study for a PhD under the supervision of Gareth Stedman Jones. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge and a one year temporary post at Sheffield University, she joined the University of East Anglia in 2005, where she is now a professor of Modern British History.
In 2012 she was selected as one of BBC Radio 3's New Generation Thinkers, and is a regular contributor and consultant to radio and television. She writes and reviews for scholarly journals and the popular press, and speaks frequently at festivals, seminars and conferences.
Emma teaches courses on the social and cultural history of Victorian Britain and is active within the wider historical community. She is the Literary Director of the Royal Historical Society and helps edit two historical journals (History and Cultural and Social History).
She lives in Norwich with her husband, David Milne, and two children, Benedict and Anna.