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Centre for Victorian Studies

Centre for Victorian Studies

The Department of English is home to the College's longstanding Centre for Victorian Studies, one of the leading national and international Centres for Victorian Studies.

In 2009, Royal Holloway was the venue for the first summit meeting bringing together all staff belonging to Victorian Studies Centres in the UK. The Centre for Victorian Studies is twinned with the established and popular MA in Victorian Literature, Art and Culture. Unique to the college and its history of excellence in Victorian Studies is world-famous collection of Victorian art; the Picture Gallery functions as a stunning venue for numerous events as well as an irreplaceable object of study in its own right.

The Centre provides a stimulating environment for a large, thriving and international postgraduate community. Under the direction of Professor Juliet John, Hildred Carlile Chair of English Literature from 2011-2017, it is now under the direction of Dr Katie McGettigan, assisted by Natalie Reeve.

Home to the annual Victorian Studies Colloquium, the Centre for Victorian Studies at Royal Holloway is also host to a variety of events throughout the year.

Click here for a list of current Centre for Victorian Studies events.

To join our mailing list, or enquire about the Centre please contact Assistant Director Gursimran Oberoi,

Members of this interdisciplinary Centre are all international leaders in their fields, authors of world-leading publications. We have established links with the media and cultural institutions such as the Museum of London and the Charles Dickens Museum.

Their research interests are stimulatingly diverse:

Professor Juliet John, English

Victorian Literature and Culture, including books on Dickens’s Villains: Melodrama, Character, Popular Culture and Dickens and Mass Culture. She was Principal Investigator of ‘Gladcat’ between 2006-9, an AHRC-funded project on Gladstone’s books and annotations, undertaken at Gladstone’s library, Hawarden, and is editor of The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Literary Culture (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Professor Tim Armstrong, English

Modernism, American literature, literature and technology, the body (including such areas as sexology, bodily reform, cinema, and sound); and the poetry of Thomas Hardy.

Professor Jacky Bratton, Drama and Theatre

Research ranges widely across the history of theatre and culture in Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,

Dr Gilli Bush-Bailey, Drama and Theatre

The histories of theatre in terms of archeologies of performance, particularly the way we tell stories about women as performance practitioners.

Professor Barrie Bullen, English

Interdisciplinary studies from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries with particular focus on the relationship between word and image.

Professor Greg Claeys, History

Social and political reform movements from the 1790s to the early 20th century, with a special focus upon utopianism and early socialism.

Professor Felix Driver, Geography

The history of geography, empire and visual cultures of exploration and travel.

Professor Katharine Ellis, Music

Cultural historian of music in nineteenth-century France. Exploring what different kinds of music meant to those who experienced them, used them and avoided them, and to probe how music and musicians operated in light of cultural, social and regulatory frameworks.

Dr Sophie Gilmartin, English

Varies widely over the nineteenth century, from work in progress on Jane Austen's Persuasion and early insurance companies to, at the other end of the century, a book co-authored with Rod Mengham, on Thomas Hardy's shorter fiction.

Dr Vicky Greenaway, English

The interconnections of literature and the visual arts in the nineteenth century generally, with an additional interest in the relationship of poetry and painting in Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic poetry.

Dr Jane Hamlett, History

Society and culture in modern Britain, the history of women and gender, the history of intimacy and emotion, and material and visual culture.

Professor Robert Hampson, English

Modernism, notably on works on Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford. In addition, he has had a long-term involvement with contempory innovative poetry as editor, critic and practitioner.

Dr David Lambert, Geography

Cultural, historical and political geography, and postcolonial theory, bringing a conceptual concern with space, power and identity into engagement with other fields to promote interdisciplinary dialogue.

Professor Ruth Livesey, English

Editor of the Journal of Victorian Culture, on the editorial board of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century and I am also on the advisory board of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies,currently supervising PhD students in a variety of fields relating to nineteenth-century literature, culture, and political thought.

Dr Giuliana Pieri, Modern Languages

Reader in Italian and The Visual Arts, recently published The Influence of Pre-Raphaelitism on fin-de-sicle Italy: Art, Beauty and Culture and undertook a research project on Anglo-Italian Artistic Relations in Victorian Britain.

Professor Adam Roberts, English

Teaching divides itself between literature and creative writing; a novelist himself, he has published widely on nineteenth century literature, culture and society with a focus on Victorian poetry.

Dr Hannah Thompson, Modern Languages

Nineteenth-century French prose fiction with a particular interest in issues of gender, sexuality and identity construction. Currently involved in a number of projects around Disability Studies and French Culture.

Professor Anne Varty, English

Wide ranging interests in the development of Aestheticism, both in Britain and Europe; strong interests in nineteenth-century theatre, as well as work on aspects of contemporary literature and theatre. Her current nineteenth-century research focuses on fairy tales on the Victorian stage, and opium in British culture since 1800.

Prospective PhD students are invited to make contact with Juliet John or the member of staff most closely aligned to their areas of interest for informal discussion of developing research proposals. The Department of English has a strong record of providing AHRC funding and other scholarships for suitably qualified students pursuing research in Nineteenth Century Studies. Recent doctoral students in the Department of English have gone on to academic positions in the University of London and been the recipients of major postdoctoral research awards. All PhD students affiliated to the Centre are invited to participate in our nineteenth century Reading Group and other activities. The English Department Research Committee also supports student-led initiatives such as postgraduate conferences and symposia.

Pursuing doctoral research in nineteenth-century studies at Royal Holloway not only offers the opportunity of working within the outstanding atmosphere and resources of this Victorian Institution but also a chance to engage in dialogue with the exceptional international interdisciplinary community of scholars in the wider University of London. The Centre for Victorian Studies ensures that the Library at Royal Holloway supports the needs of our research students with excellent digital and physical provision, augmented by easy access to the British Library and the resources of Senate House Library in the University of London.

The Royal Holloway Archives and Special Collections are part of Library Services and located in Founder’s Library. We hold records relating to Royal Holloway College, Bedford College, Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, as well as personal papers of former staff and students. Using the collections, you can find out about people who have lived, worked and studied in Egham and Bedford Square, York Place and Regent's Park, the former locations of Bedford College.

We also hold Special Collections donated to the College, including the Gay Sweatshop, Half Moon and Red Shift Theatre Collections, the Alfred Sherman papers, Dom Anselm Hughes collection and Roy Waters theatrical ephemera.

We hope you will enjoy using these pages to discover more about our collections and services, search our catalogues and find out how to arrange a reading room appointment. 

Professor Ruth Livesey, Writing the Stage Coach Nation

Why is it that so many of the best-loved novels of the Victorian era take place not in the steam-powered railway present in which they were published, but in the very recent past? Ruth Livesey brings to the surface the historical consciousness of such novels of the 'just' past and explores how they convey an idea of a national belonging that can be experienced through a sense of local place.


Professor Juliet John, Reading and the Victorians

What did reading mean to the Victorians? This question is the key point of departure for Reading and the Victorians, an examination of the era when reading underwent a swifter and more radical transformation than at any other moment in history. Co edited with Matthew Bradley.


Dr Jane Hamlett, Gender and Material Culture in Britain

What does material culture tell us about gendered identities and how does gender reveal the meaning of spaces and things? If we look at the objects that we own, covet and which surround us in our everyday culture, there is a clear connection between ideas about gender and the material world. This book explores the material culture of the past to shed light on historical experiences and identities. Co edited with Hannah Greig and Leonie Hannan.


Professor J. B. Bullen, Thomas Hardy: The World of his Novels

J. B. Bullen explores the relationship between reality and the dream, identifying the places and the settings for Hardy’s writing, and showing how and why he shaped them to serve the needs of his characters and plots. The locations may be natural or man-made, but they are rarely fantastic or imaginary.


Keith Alcorn (History)

'The Empire in the Garden: Empire, Gardens and National Identity in 19th and 20th century Britain'

Supervisor: Dr Zoe Laidlaw

Kelly Bushnell

'19th Century Sea Narratives'

Supervisor: Dr Sophie Gilmartin

Marie Cambefort (Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures)

'Neither Salon nor Goldfish Bowl: the Consumption of British Paintings at the Venice Biennale, 1895-1914'

Supervisor: Professor Giuliana Pieri

Katie Carpenter (History)

'The Kitchen as Scientific Space in England, 1870-1914'

Supervisor: Dr Jane Hamlett

Michelle Clarabut

'On the repatriation of Italian art after the Napoleonic period'

Supervisor: Dr Guiliana Pieri

David Curran (Music)

'A Study into the aesthetic outlook of the French composer Hector Berlioz'

Co-Supervisor: Dr Mark Berry

Co-Supervisor: Professor Stephen Downes

Advisor: Professor David Charlton

Ghoncheh Dolatshahi (German and History)

'The variations of Goethe's Orientalism and German-Iranian relations'

Co-Supervisor: Professor W. Daniel Wilson

Co-Supervisor: Dr Ilker Evrim Binbas

Advisor: Dr Emily Jeremiah

Tamsin Evernden

'Dickens and Character'

Supervisor: Professor Juliet John

Advisor: Dr Sophie Gilmartin

Lyndsay Galpin (History)

'By His Own Hand: Suicide and Masculinity in Victorian Britain'

Supervisor: Dr Alex Windscheffel

Second Supervisor: Professor Ruth Livesey

Alina Ghimpu-Hague

'Equilibrium through Disorder: A Physiology of Nonsense Literature'

Supervisor: Dr Sophie Gilmartin

Advisor: Professor Tim Armstrong

Krissie Glover (History)

'Class, Gender and Property Crime in South East England 1861-1901'

Supervisor: Dr Jane Hamlett

Advisor: Dr Graham Smith

Michelle Gordon

'British Colonial Violence in Perak, Sierra Leone and the Sudan'

Supervisor: Professor Dan Stone

Johanna Holmes

'Strong women: Images of womanhood and middle-class women 1820-1880'

Supervisor: Dr Alex Windscheffel

Katy Jackson

'Cutlery in Victorian Literature'

Co-Supervisor: Professor Juliet John

Adviser: Dr Jane Hamlett

Lee Jackson


Supervisor: Professor Juliet John

Michaela Jones (History)

'Christiana Herringham and the Art Collection of Royal Holloway and Bedford New College'

Supervisor: Dr Stella Moss

Supervisor: Dr Laura MacCulloch

Vivi Lachs (History and Music)

'Anglo-Jewish immigrant history through Yiddish texts in the public sphere, such as poetry in the press and music hall and theatre songs which reflect the British immigrant experience'

Co-Supervisor: Professor David Cesarani

Co-Supervisor: Professor Rachel Beckles Willson

Tim Moore (English)

'Adolescence, Anxiety and Loneliness in the British Novel, 1770-1850'

Supervisor: Professor Ruth Livesey

Benjamin Newman (Geography)

'Geographies in dialogue: Print Culture at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), c. 1830-c. 1930'

Co-Supervisor: Dr Innes M. Keighren

Co-Supervisor: Professor Klaus Dodds

Co-Supervisor: Dr Catherine Souch, Head of Research and Higher Education Division at the RGS-IBG

Jamie Nightingale (History)

'The School Board for London and the training ship tradition: reading the Shaftesbury’s literal, metaphorical, and institutional spaces'

Supervisor: Dr Jane Hamlett

Gursimran Oberoi (external affiliate)

'Global Watts: Allegories for All 1880-1980 with the Watts Gallery and the University of Surrey'

Co-Supervisor: Dr Vicky Greenaway (RHUL)

Co-Supervisor: Dr Constance Bantman (University of Surrey)

Co-Supervisor: Professor Patricia Pulham (University of Surrey)

Co-Supervisor: Dr Nicholas Tromans (Watts Gallery)

Colette Ramuz

'Dickens and Mouth Fetish: identity, desire and consumption in selected works of Charles Dickens'

Supervisor: Professor Juliet John

Advisor: Professor Ruth Livesey

Romany Regan (Drama/ Practice-based)

'Audio Aalks for Abney Park Cemetery'

Supervisor: Professor Helen Nicholson

Rebecca Swartz (History)

'Ignorant and idle: Indigenous Education in Natal and Western Australia, 1830-1875'

Supervisor: Dr Zoe Laidlaw

Daniel Simpson (History)

'The Royal Navy and Colonial Collecting in Australia, c. 1820-1870'

Co-Supervisor: Dr Zoe Laidlaw

Co-Supervisor: Dr. Gaye Sculthorpe, British Museum

Emily Smith

'Charles Dickens and the Heritage Industry'

Co-Supervisor: Professor Juliet John

Co-Supervisor: Dr Jane Hamlett

Zoe Thomas (History)

'The Women's Guild of Arts: gender, spatiality and professional identity in London, c. 1880-1930'

Supervisor: Dr Jane Hamlett

Brooke Weber (History)

'Female emigration (particularly single women) to Australia in the latter half on the nineteenth century'

Supervisor: Dr Zoe Laidlaw

Rosalind White

'Masculinity under the Microscope: Natural History's Feminine Frame'

Supervisor: Professor Ruth Livesey

Susan Woodall

'Institutions for fallen women in Victorian England'

Supervisor: Dr Jane Hamlett

Stuart Wrigley (History)

'Johannes and Bertha Ronge: a case study in Anglo-German relations'

Supervisor: Dr Rudolf Muhs

Radicalism and Reform in the Long Nineteenth Century: The London Victorian Studies Colloquium

Friday 26th and Saturday 27th April 2019

Plenary Speakers: Dr Carol Jacobi (Tate Britain) & Dr Helen Goodman (Bath Spa)

The London Victorian Studies Colloquium is an annual residential colloquium for postgraduates and postdocs working in Victorian Studies. The Colloquium is an informal two days, combining postgraduate papers, training and professionalisation workshops, and time for networking in the beautiful Victorian surroundings of Royal Holloway.

This year, the colloquium seeks to explore the themes of Radicalism and Reform in the Long Nineteenth Century. The event will include:
• Plenary talks from Dr Carol Jacobi (Curator of British Art, 1850-1915, Tate Britain) and Dr Helen Goodman (Bath Spa University)
• Research Beyond the Article with Professor Redell Olsen (RHUL) and Dr Joanna Taylor (Manchester)
• Panel Discussion on Academic Careers and the Place of ECRs in the University
• Training in Nineteenth-Century Collections and Designing Innovative Teaching

Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis and the colloquium is open to Masters, doctoral students and postdocs from the UK or abroad, working on any nineteenth-century topic. Registration will open shortly.

Participants do not have to give papers, but we do seek proposals for a small number of 15-20 minute papers on interdisciplinary topics related to the conference theme. These may include, but are in no way limited to:
- Reforming Movements: Theosophy, the Salvation Army, women’s movements, animal rights, prison reform, law reform
- Radical Politics: socialism, anarchism, anti-slavery
- Reform as a return to past practices: Tractarianism/the Oxford Movement, anti-industrialism, artistic revivals
- Imperialism and its afterlives
- Radical Networks: local, national, transnational
- Radical Bodies: Women’s Suffrage and Queer Histories
- Past, Present, Future Time: From Utopias to Apocalypse
- Representing social problems and constraints in the ‘Condition of England’ novel
- Artistic, literary and cultural reforms, radicals and movements
- Scientific and technological progress
- Radical approaches to Victorian Studies; reforming the discipline

Please submit 200-250 word abstract and a brief biography to Gursimran Oberoi ( by 15th February 2019.

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