Skip to main content
School of English and Drama

Professor Markman Ellis, MA (Auckland) PhD (Cambridge)


Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies

Twitter: @markmanellis


I grew up in New Zealand, in Wellington and Auckland. I attended Selwyn College, a local state secondary school in Auckland, and then studied English, History and Philosophy for my BA at the University of Auckland. For my MA, I continued in English at Auckland, doing my dissertation on Laurence Sterne with Jonathan Lamb. After some time working, I went to the University of Cambridge to research and write my PhD dissertation on the sentimental novel in the mid-eighteenth century, supervised by Marilyn Butler.  Since 1992 I have taught eighteenth-century literature in the English Department at Queen Mary.

Undergraduate Teaching

Undergraduate Teaching

I teach literature from the ‘long eighteenth century’, that is from 1660 to the mid-nineteenth century. These are the modules I have co-designed:

  • ESH288 Representing London: the eighteenth century. This is a lecture-seminar module using the idea of the city to organise an approach to a wide range of texts about London (novels, poems, plays, travel writing, criminal biographies, and drama).
  • ESH264 Terror, Transgression and Astonishment: Gothic Fiction in the long-nineteenth century.
  • ESH6067 Writing Empire: the eighteenth century. This module meets twice a week for two 2-hour classes. We read novels and poetry that engage with slavery and race, colony formation and empire, and savagery and primitivism by Behn, Defoe, Cook, Equiano, Prince and Locke.
  • ESH223 Satire Scandal and Society 1700-1740. This module explores literary modes of satire in the early eighteenth century, with a special focus on satire on and by women.

As these courses suggest, I like teaching that mixes canonical works with less well-known writing from the period, developing a more richly textured approach to the literature and history of the eighteenth century.

Postgraduate Teaching

In some years I teach a module on the MA in English Studies: Eighteenth Century Literature and Romanticism pathway called Sociability: Literature, Life and the City. This course reads a range of eighteenth century texts, from Ned Ward to the Spectator, city poetry, town georgic, satires on coffee-houses and tea-tables, to explore the interaction between literature and the new urban form of the city.


Research Interests:

  • Eighteenth-century literature and culture
  • Science, criticism and intellectual culture in the eighteenth century
  • Sensibility and women's writing in the eighteenth century
  • Slavery and empire in eighteenth-century culture
  • Gothic fiction in the long-eighteenth century
  • The cultural history of coffee and coffeehouses, and the history of tea

My research concerns eighteenth-century literature and culture in English.  My first book was on the eighteenth-century sentimental novel, entitled The Politics of Sensibility: Race Gender and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel (Cambridge University Press, 1996, now in paperback), which explored sensibility and political controversy in eighteenth-century Britain. My next book was The History of Gothic Fiction (Edinburgh University Press, 2000), on the idea of history in the gothic novel. My monograph entitled The Coffee-House: a Cultural History (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004) focussed on the representation of the coffee-house in the period 1650-1750. The research for this book formed the basis of a four-volume facsimile edition of coffee-house texts (1657-1780) entitled Eighteenth-Century Coffee House Culture (Pickering and Chatto, 2006). I was the general editor of the History of Tea Project at Queen Mary, which produced a four-volume edition of texts on tea and its cultures entitled Tea and the Tea-Table in Eighteenth-Century England (Pickering and Chatto, 2010).  In 2015 we published a monograph, Empire of Tea: The Asian Leaf that Conquered the World (Reaktion, 2014), which was co-authored with Richard Coulton and Matthew Mauger, which has been translated into Japanese and Chinese. While writing the book we wrote a blog describing our research called QM History of Tea, which we are no longer updating. I co-edited Discourses of Slavery and Abolition with Brycchan Carey (Palgrave, 2004) and Prostitution and Eighteenth-Century Culture: Sex, Commerce and Morality with Ann Lewis (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2012). Other topics within eighteenth-century studies that I have addressed in articles and chapters include:  panoramas and spectacle in 1790s London; natural history and museums; georgic poetry and ideas of empire; travel writing and the rhetoric of wonder; the invention of the kangaroo; and slavery and sensibility. Recent publications include essays on the essay form in The Spectator; on the archive of slave narratives in the eighteenth century; on the tea-table as a social formation; and on Defoe and colonialism. 

My current research is on the sociability of science and literature in the eighteenth century republic of letters, focussing on the archives of Elizabeth Montagu and Thomas Birch. In relation to Montagu’s Bluestocking circle I have published essays on ideas of authorship; Bluestocking reading cultures; and the familiar letter and correspondence management systems in the eighteenth century. In relation to Birch and the Hardwicke circle I have published a short monograph Science and Reading in the Eighteenth Century: the Hardwicke Circle and the Royal Society, 1740-1766 (Cambridge University Press, 2023); as well as articles on the newsletter and correspondence management systems; on the English Mercurie hoax; and on Birch’s contribution to Elizabeth Carter’s Newtonianism for the Ladies.

I am a section editor for the Elizabeth Montagu Correspondence Online project, for which I am preparing an edition of Montagu’s correspondence with William Pulteney Lord Bath. With Jack Orchard I am editing a collection of essays on Bluestockings and the landscape garden, entitled The Prospect of Improvement.

With Nicole Aljoe (Northeastern) and Oliver Ayres (NCH Northeastern London) I am preparing an edition of The Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African (1782) for Oxford University Press World’s Classics.

I am General Editor (with Eve Bannet) of the Eighteenth-Century Connections series in the Elements format for Cambridge University Press.

I am Director of the Queen Mary Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, which runs a regular seminar

I have held visiting research fellowships at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington DC); Gakushuin University, (Tokyo); Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee); the Huntington Library (San Marino, California); and the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University (Farmington, Connecticut).



Science and Reading in the Eighteenth Century: the Hardwicke Circle and the Royal Society, 1740-1766, Elements: Eighteenth-Century Connections (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023).

Empire of Tea: the Asian Leaf that Conquered the World, co-authored with Richard Coulton and Matthew Mauger (London: Reaktion, 2015). Chinese translation: April 2019, China Friendship Publishing, Beijing. Japanese translation: August 2019, trans Tomohiko Koshi, Kenkyusha Co., Tokyo. 紅茶の帝国 世界を征服したアジアの葉

The Coffee House: A Cultural History (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2004). Paperback published by Orion in 2005. Translation: Chinese (Mandarin) translation by Li Meng, Guangxi University Press, 2008. 

The History of Gothic Fiction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000)

The Politics of Sensibility: Race, Gender and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996)

Edited collections of essays

The Prospect of Improvement: Bluestockings and Landscape in Eighteenth-Century Britain,  ed. by Markman Ellis and Jack Orchard (Boydell and Brewer, forthcoming 2024).

Prostitution and Eighteenth-Century Culture: Sex, Commerce and Morality, ed. by Markman Ellis and Ann Lewis (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2011). Now published by Routledge.

Discourses of Slavery and Abolition: Writing in Britain and its Colonies 1660-1832, ed Brycchan Carey, Markman Ellis, and Sarah Salih, (London: Palgrave, 2004)

Scholarly Editions

Tea and the Tea-Table in Eighteenth-Century England, 4 vols (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2010). Now published by Routledge.

Eighteenth-Century Coffee House Culture, 4 vols (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2006). Now published by Routledge.

Refereed Articles in Journals

‘“Pray send back this foul proof”: Thomas Birch and the correction of Elizabeth Carter’s Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophy Explain’d for the Use of the Ladies (1739)’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol. 55, no. 3 (2022), pp. 277–98. 10.1353/ecs.2022.0018

‘Philip Yorke and Thomas Birch: scribal news in the mid-18th century’, ed. Robin Eagles and Michael Shaich, Parliamentary History, 41 (2022), pp. 202-20.

The English Mercurie hoax and the early history of the newspaper’, Book History, 22 (2019), pp. 100-132. doi:10.1353/bh.2019.0003.

‘Letters, organization and the archive in Elizabeth Montagu’s correspondence’, Huntington Library Quarterly, special issue edited by Nicole Pohl, 81: 4 (2018), pp. 603-631. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/hlq.2018.0025.

‘Thomas Birch’s ‘Weekly Letter’ of ‘Literary Intelligence’ (1741-1766): correspondence and history in the mid-eighteenth century Royal Society’, Notes and Records: the Royal Society Journal for the History of Science, 68:3 (September 20, 2014) pp. 261-278. Open Access.   DOI:

‘River and Labour in Samuel Scott’s Thames Views in the Mid-Eighteenth Century’, The London Journal, 37: 3 (November 2012), pp. 152-173. DOI: 10.1179/174963212X13451695770313

‘"An Author in Form": Women Writers, Print Publication, and Elizabeth Montagu's Dialogues of the Dead’, ELH, 79: 2 (Summer 2012), pp. 417-445. DOI: 10.1353/elh.2012.0012

‘Coffee-house Libraries in Mid Eighteenth-Century London’, The Library: Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, 10: 1 (March 2009), pp. 3-40.

‘Coffee-House Library Short-title Catalogue’, Bibliographical Society: Electronic Publications, online pdf publication <>

‘An introduction to the coffee-house: a discursive model’, Language and Communication, 28: 2 (2008).

‘“Spectacles within doors”: panoramas of London in the 1790s’, Romanticism, 14: 2 (2008), pp. 133-148. Project MUSE

‘Pasqua Rosee's Coffee House 1652-1666', London Journal, 29: 1 (2004), 1-21,

Chapters in Books

‘Macklin’s Coffeehouse: public sociability in mid-eighteenth century London’, Charles Macklin and the Making of Georgian Theatre, ed. Ian Newman and David O’Shaughnessy (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2021)


‘Sociability and polite improvement in Addison’s periodicals’, in Tercentenary Essays on Addison, ed. Paul Davis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021).

‘Time and the Essay: The Spectator and Diurnal Form’, in Of Essays: Montaigne to the Present, ed. by Tommy Karshan and Katie Murphy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), pp. 97-112.

‘Narratives of Resistance in the Literary Archives of Slavery’, in The Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing, ed Susheila Nasta and Mark Stein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), pp. 25-39.

‘The British way of Tea: Tea as an Object of Knowledge between Britain and China, 1690-1730’, in Curious Encounters: Voyaging, Collecting, and Making Knowledge in the Long Eighteenth Century, ed. by Adriana Craciun and Mary Terrall (Los Angeles and Toronto: UCLA Clark Memorial Library and the University of Toronto Press, 2019), pp. 19-42 [9000 words]

‘The tea-table, women, and gossip in early eighteenth-century Britain’, in A History of Sociability in Britain (1660-1832): Emergence, Evolution, Resistance, co-edited by Valérie Capdeville and Alain Kerhervé (London: Boydell and Brewer, 2018), pp. 69-87 [8500 words]

 ‘The Buzz of Business’ in Sound, Space and Civility in the British World, 1700-1850, edited by Peter Denney, Bruce Buchan, David Ellison, and Karen Crawley (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018), pp. 81-105.

‘Poetry and Civic Urbanism in the Coffee-House Library in the Mid-eighteenth Century’, in Before the Public Library: Reading, Community, and Identity in the Atlantic World, 1650-1850, ed. by Kyle Roberts and Mark Towsey (Leiden: Brill, 2017), pp. 52-72

‘Coffee-house sociability and public life in John Hill’s “The Inspector”’, in Fame & Fortune: Sir John Hill and London Life in the 1750s, ed. Clare Brant and George Rousseau (London: Palgrave, 2017)

‘Salon and conversation’, in Samuel Richardson in Context, edited by Peter Sabor and Betty Schellenberg (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)

'Novel and Empire', in Alan Downie (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Eighteenth Century Novel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)

The Coffeehouse’, British and Irish Literature: Oxford Bibliographies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) — online.

'Reading Practices in Elizabeth Montagu's Epistolary Network of the 1750s', in Bluestockings Displayed: Portraiture, Performance and Patronage, 1730-1830, ed. by Elizabeth Eger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 213-232.

‘“That Singular and Wonderful Quadruped”: The Kangaroo as Historical Intangible Natural Heritage in the Eighteenth Century’, in Intangible Natural Heritage: New Perspectives on Natural Objects, ed. E. Dorfman (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 56-87

‘The Emergence of Cultural History’, Dandelion, 2: 2 (2011)

‘Enlightenment or Illumination: the spectre of conspiracy in gothic fictions of the 1790s’, in Charlotte Sussman and Jillian Heydt-Stevenson (eds), Recognizing the Romantic Novel: New Histories of British Literature (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008)

‘Suffering Things: Lap-dogs, slaves and counter-sensibility’, in The Secret Life of Things: Animals, Objects, and It-Narratives in Eighteenth-Century England, ed. by Mark Blackwell (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Bucknell University Press, 2007)

‘Poetry and the City’, in The Blackwell Companion to Eighteenth Century Poetry, ed. Christine Gerrard (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006)

‘Trade', in Jane Austen in Context, ed by Janet Todd (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)

‘Georgic Poetry and the problem of unfree labour', in Discourses of Slavery and Abolition, ed by Brycchan Carey, Markman Ellis, and Sarah Salih (London: Palgrave, 2004)

‘Islands of empire: the West Indies in eighteenth century georgic and pastoral poetry', in Islands in History and Representation, ed by Rod Edmond and Vanessa Smith (London: Routledge, 2003), pp 120-42

‘Ignatius Sancho's Shandean sentimental letters and the politics of form', in "Genius in Bondage": Literature of the Early Black Atlantic, ed. by Vincent Carretta and Philip Gould (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001), pp 44-68

The coffee-women, The Spectator and the public sphere in the early-eighteenth century', in Women and the Public Sphere, ed by Elizabeth Eger and Charlotte Grant (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp 27-52

‘The Coffee-house, a discursive model', in A Coffee-House Conversation on the International Art World and its Exclusion , ed by Hatice Abdullah and Geoff Cox, PDF format (London: Kahve-Society, 2002)

Tails of Wonder: constructions of the kangaroo in late-eighteenth-century scientific discourse’, in Science and Exploration: European exploration of the South Pacific, ed. Margarette Lincoln (London: Boydell and Brewer in association with the National Maritime Museum, 1998), pp. 163-82.

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile


I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research, especially women’s writing, slavery and empire in eighteenth-century literature, sociability and the city; and cultural history.

I have supervised the following successful PhD projects:

  • Ava Arndt, 'Pennies, Pounds, and Peregrinations: Circulation in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture' (1999)
  • Brycchan Carey, 'The Rhetoric of Sensibility: Argument, Sentiment, and Slavery in the Late-Eighteenth Century' (2000)
  • Carol Barker, '"To Suffice to Herself": Female Self-Sufficiency in the Work of Women Writers, 1740-1840' (2002)
  • Jennie Batchelor, 'Dress, Distress, and Desire: Clothing and Sentimental Literature' (2002)
  • Richard Coulton, 'Curiosity, Commerce, and Conversation in the Writing of London Horticulturists during the Early-Eighteenth Century' (2005)
  • Megan Hiatt, 'Domestic Regulation: The Marriage Act of 1753 and the Language of Nuptial Reform' (2007)
  • Li Hui Tsai, 'Women, Autobiography, and Criticism: The Life Writing of
  • Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Robinson, 1770-2009' (2009)
  • Annie Watkins, 'Richardson, Barbauld, and the Construction of an Early Modern Fan Club' (2011)
  • Jenn Chenkin, 'The Purse Proud Title-page Monger': Representations of London Booksellers and the Social World of Print, 1730-1760' (2012)
  • Daisy Hildyard, 'The Work of Robert Hooke' (2013)
  • Peter Jones, 'Disowned Relations: Social Exploratory Literature and London's Unsettling Streets, 1838-1914', co-supervised with Sam Halliday (2014)
  • Jill Gage, ‘My Schoolfellows, My Patrons, My Public: English Schoolboy Authorship 1660-1798’, co-supervised with Chris Reid (2016)
  • Dr Nydia Pineda de Avila, ‘Selenography in Seventeenth Century Britain’ (2017)
  • Anna Kretschmer (MPhil) ‘Theatrical Spaces in Eighteenth-Century London’ with Miles Ogborn (2018)
  • Hannah Stockton, ‘The Thames as Imperial Design Object’ with Miles Ogborn AHRC CPD with National Maritime Museum (2017)
  • Stephanie Howard-Smith: ‘The Cultural History of the Lap-Dog in the Long-Eighteenth Century’ (2018)


Public Engagement

Coffee’, In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, BBC Radio 4, 12 December 2019.

A Tea Journey: from the mountains to the table, historical advisor for the summer exhibition at Compton Verney in Warwickshire July 6-Sept 22 in 2018.

Coffee Shop Culture’, Radio Times with Marty Moss Coane, WHYY Philadelphia (NPR), 10 Aug 2016

The spectacle of the panorama’, British Library Picturing Places, 2017.

Why Britain is Losing its Taste for Tea’, The Conversation, February 18 2016 [online].

Man-Made Creatures [Frankenstein], for Joanna Coates, National Theatre Films, Feb 2011

'Tea Tables', Thinking Allowed with Laurie Taylor, BBC4, Feb 2010

Coffee-houses’, Thinking Allowed with Laurie Taylor, BBC4, December 2004

The Devil’s Ordinary’, Cabinet Magazine (New York), 8 (Fall 2002), pp. 28-33

I have reviewed for the TLS and Los Angeles Review of Books, and many academic journals.

Back to top