Born into a working-class family in the mid-1960s, David Holland is the child of a white English mother and an Asian Muslim father but was raised primarily by his maternal grandparents. After finishing formal education without much in the way of qualifications, David studied for a diploma at a local college and, at the age of 46, attended the University of Sheffield to read History. He won a Wolfson Foundation scholarship for his doctorate, receiving his PhD in 2019 from the University of Sheffield. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, and a member of the Royal Historical Society. His publications include articles in Past and Present and Twentieth Century British History.