Kirsten McKenzie studied at the University of Cape Town. She completed her doctorate as a Rhodes Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, and joined the History Department of the University of Sydney in 2002. She employs the perspectives of cultural history to ask questions about the relationship between identity, social status and political liberties in the early nineteenth-century British Empire. Her publications include Scandal in the Colonies: Sydney and Cape Town, 1820–1850 (2004) and A Swindler's Progress: Nobles and Convicts in the Age of Liberty (2009). She is co-editor with Robert Aldrich of The Routledge History of Western Empires (2013). Scandal in the Colonies was awarded the Max Crawford Medal by the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2004. A Swindler's Progress, described in the Sydney Morning Herald as 'one of the most riveting books of the year' (18 December 2009), was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards (non-fiction prize) in 2010 and the Prime Minister's Prize for the best work of Australian history in 2011.