This is my seventh year at QMUL. Previous to coming here, I taught at UCL for six years, where I completed my doctorate, which contributed to the Leverhulme-funded ‘Bloomsbury Project’. My doctoral work explored the role of fiction in the social production of Bloomsbury, a neighbourhood that in the long nineteenth century was imaginatively transformed from social marginality to cultural and intellectual centrality. Before this, I studied at Magdalen College, Oxford. My research addresses literature from the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, often focussing on the politics of urban and coastal space. I live in Camberwell, but was born in Plymouth and lived in Cornwall for my first two decades.
I serve on the editorial board of the London Journal and the advisory board of QMUL’s City Centre.
I have taught on:
- ESH123: Narrative
- ESH279: Victorian Fictions
- ESH300: Thomas Hardy and the Victorian Modern
- ESH6034: Cultures of Inequality: Narrating Class 1815-1914
- ESH6054: Victorian Texts/Early Film
I have taught on:
- ESH7024: Victorian Voices
- London; especially Bloomsbury
- Seaside resorts; especially Margate
- Railings: culture, history, politics
- Theories of space, spatial politics, spatial practice and spatial representation
- The Victorian novel, including Dickens, Collins, Trollope, Braddon, Hardy
- Early twentieth-century fiction, including Chesterton, Nesbit, Woolf
Recent and On-Going Research:
My first major phase of research addressed the interaction of cultural representation and materiality in the spatial production of the London neighbourhood known as Bloomsbury, over the course of the long nineteenth century. It explored the way this locality became culturally recoded in this period, from a place of socio-economic marginality to an autonomous centre of intellectual endeavour, through the interested mediation of literary writing. Writers I addressed in the academic monograph that emerged from this work included the critically neglected 'Silver-Forks' (Theodore Hook, Catherine Gore etc), but also much more well-known figures, such as William Thackeray, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, William Morris, and Henry James, plus a number of ‘New Women’ novelists, before considering the geographical interventions of Virginia Woolf, who moved in 1904 into what was already an exceptionally culturally mediated part of town.
Building from this account of a particular place within the city, my current project addresses the way space becomes increasingly conceived of as ‘contestable’, as the British cultural democratizes in the mid-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, towards 1945. Within this field of cultural historical research, particular topoi on which I’m concentrating include rent contestations between landlords and tenants, the role of railings in producing exclusion in the city, and the friction that arises as a result of the democratization of leisure in Margate.
- Nineteenth-Century Fiction and the Production of Bloomsbury: Novel Grounds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).
- Bloomsbury: Beyond the Establishment (British Library, 2017).
- Just Enough: The History, Culture and Politics of Sufficiency, co-edited with Samuel Randalls (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).
- Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century, co-edited with Matthew Kerr (Edinburgh University Press, 2018). Paperback, 2020.
- G. K. Chesterton, London and Modernity, co-edited with Matthew Beaumont (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013).
Essays and Articles
- ‘Dickens and Music’, in Dickens and the Arts ed. Juliet John and Claire Wood (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming).
- ‘Edith Nesbit’, in The Palgrave Encyclopaedia of Victorian Women’s Writing (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming).
- ‘Fair Exchange?: Between the Afterlives of Holmes and Raffles’, in Critical Quarterly 60.3 (2018) 37-48.
- ‘human language can make a shift’: Late-Victorian Tentacular Cities and the Genealogy of ‘Sprawl’’, in Victorian Sustainability in Literature and Culture ed. Wendy Parkins (Routledge, 2018) 146-165.
- ‘Double Standards: Reading the Revolutionary Doppelgänger in The Prophet’s Mantle’, in Victorian Fiction beyond the Canon ed. Daragh Dowes and Trish Ferguson (Palgrave, 2016) 181-200.
- ‘Thackeray and Silver-Fork Bloomsbury: Vanity Fair as Local Historical Novel’, in Thackeray in Time: History, Memory and Modernity ed. Richard Salmon and Alice Crossley (Routledge, 2016) 101-120.
- ‘Multiple Occupancy: Residency and Retrospection in Trollope’s Orley Farm and An Autobiography’, in Life Writing and Space, ed. Eveline Killian and Hope Wolf (Ashgate, 2016) 25-40.
- ‘George Crabbe’ (Long entry – 5000 words), in The Wiley Encyclopaedia of British Literature, 1660-1789, ed. Jack Lynch and Gary Day (Wiley/Blackwell, 2015).
- ‘Chemistry versus Biology: Dickens, Malthus, and the Familiarised Doppelgänger’, in Victorian Review 39.2 (2013 ), 97-114.
- ‘‘Fences...form’d of Wreck’: George Crabbe’s The Borough and the Resources of the Poor’, in Romanticism 20.2 (2014), 140-150.
- ‘Chesterton and the Romance of Burglary’, in G. K. Chesterton, London and Modernity (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), 135-156.
- ‘Bulwer-Lytton, Braddon, and the Bachelorization of Legal Bloomsbury’, in Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, 8.2 (Summer 2012) online.
- ‘Utopian Bloomsbury: the Grounds for Social Dreaming in William Morris’s News from Nowhere’, in Utopian Spaces of Modernism: British Literature and Culture 1885-1945, ed. Rosalyn Gregory and Benjamin Kohlmann (Palgrave, 2012), 87-104.
- ‘Building Plots: Metropolitan Fiction, 1848-1897, and the Conception of Urban Sprawl’, in Literatur in Wissenschaft und Untericht, ed. Ulrich Kinzeil (Winter 2011), 127-141.
My reviews and other shorter pieces have appeared in The Conversation, Times Literary Supplement, Urban Pamphleteer, Literary London Journal, Review 31, The Junket etc.
I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in literature and culture from the long nineteenth century, and, in particular, the politics of space.
Dickens in a Crisis (2020) – I recently made this 24-min film, now on Youtube, with illustrator and artist Alex Brenchley, to address a general public. Marking the 150th anniversary of Dickens’s death, it addresses the question of why we might want to read Dickens in a year like 2020, which is characterised by seemingly perpetual crisis.
I fairly frequently give talks or lead (literary-themed) walking tours, for the general public. Partners I have worked with in the past include the Being Human Festival, the Inside Out Festival, the Courtauld Gallery, Persephone Books, and Bright Club. In recent years I have annually led a new, specially themed walk
Forthcoming events include:
‘Utopian Bloomsbury walking tour’, Bloomsbury Festival, October 18th 2020, 2pm.
Further talks to the general public include:
- ‘Bloomsbury and the Grounds for Philanthropy’, 25th November 2017, as part of Being Human festival 2017.
- ‘Bloomsbury: Beyond the Establishment’, 19th October 2017, and ‘Railing Bloomsbury: Walking Tour’, 21st October 2017, as part of the Bloomsbury Festival 2017.
- ‘The Poetics of Sculpture’, for Rodin and Dance: the Essence of Sculpture exhibition, Courtauld Gallery, 20th November 2016.
- 'Bright Club', 22nd October and 'Writing Bloomsbury in the Nineteenth Century: Walking Tour', 23rd October 2016 as part of Bloomsbury Festival 2016.
- ‘Writing Cornwall: from Hardy to W. S. Graham’, for Late Showings of Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon’s Gliding Paintings, Courtauld Gallery, 26th November 2015 and 14th January 2016.
- ‘The Victorian Thames’, for Inside Out Festival, Somerset House, 22nd October 2015.
- ‘Against Railings’, for New London Architecture lunch time soap box session, Never Mind the Bollards, 18th June 2015.
- ‘The Victorian Opioid Imagination’, for Bright Club at Kew Gardens, 21st September 201