David Copperfield and Fairy Stories

October 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm (Uncategorized)

Just, briefly, to draw your attention to a brief post on Dickens and Fairy Tales occasioned by a stimulating seminar discussion on that very topic with the undergraduate third-year ‘Dickens Special Option’ crowd. I’ve just posted it at The Valve. [AR]


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Victorian Zombies

October 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm (Uncategorized)

I think we can file this post under ‘shameless self-publicity’: but I’m just shameless enough to go along with that. I Am Scrooge, a mash-up Christmas Carol and Zombie novel, is in the shops now. You could buy a copy if you liked. I wouldn’t mind.

What’s that? You want to know what the reviews say? Well, I’ll tell you: ‘Imagine a historical Shaun of the Dead written with as many bad zombie puns as you can think of – if you’ve got a long memory, add that it’s been written by the I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again team – and you’ve got an idea of the tone … Given that Roberts is a professor of 19th Century literature, it’s hardly surprising that there are multiple references to different stories, some well-known, others obscure … Ranks alongside Blackadder’s Christmas Carol as a great comic take on Dickens.’ [AR]

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BL ‘Victorian Values’ event, 20th Nov

October 21, 2009 at 10:32 am (Uncategorized)

Dear MA students,

The British Library is holding a fun night of Victoriana on the evening of the 20th November.


Admission (£7.50) includes the chance to view their Points Of View: Capturing the 19th Century in Photographs exhibition, which includes some materials that Hannah Lewis-Bill, one of last year’s Victorian MA students, worked on as part of her internship at the BL.

Thanks to Hannah for drawing this event to our attention.

All best,


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The Quickening Maze

September 24, 2009 at 2:28 pm (General Victoriana, Uncategorized)

Adam Foulds, The Quickening Maze 2009

I’d like to reiterate the general greeting, and say hello to everybody: good to see you all at this afternoon’s meeting! And in the spirit of interdisciplinarity, I’d also to direct you to a review I’ve written of Adam Foulds’ new novel, The Quickening Maze (2009) … it has been shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, and has accordingly been in the news a little bit.  This is not coursework, of course; but it’s an example of contemporary Victoriana that might be of interest to you nevertheless: John Clare, the poet, and Alfred Tennyson, also a poet, are both characters; and the mileu of the 1840s is well-captured.  I’ve reviewed it over at The Valve; the same review, but with different readers’ comments, is also at my own reviews blog.  I’d be interested to know your opinion, if you’ve read it.  Feel free, indeed feel actively encouraged, to put your thoughts in the comments to the post below.

This year’s Booker has a couple of Victorian-y titles on the shortlist, actually: I’m in the middle of A S Byatt’s The Children’s Book right now, and will blog about it when I’ve finished.  [Adam Roberts]

[7th October, update; I finished the Byatt, but didn’t think overmuch of it: you can read my thoughts here. But neither it nor the Foulds won the prize in the end … the 2009 Man Booker went, as I’m sure you know, to Hilary Mantel’s excellent Wolf Hall. I’ve a review of that too, here.]

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Welcome 2009-10 students!

September 23, 2009 at 12:13 pm (Aestheticism, Core Course, General Victoriana, Nineteenth-century novel, Uncategorized)

Welcome to the RHUL Victorian MA blog.

We use this site to post materials and weblinks related to seminar texts and to post notices of interest to RHUL Victorianists, including notices of relevant exhibitions and talks in and around London.

There’s also a facility to post your comments so it’s a great place to follow up on seminar discussions and continue your conversations outside of class.

We look forward to meeting you at the MA Induction, Thurs 24th.

The RHUL Victorian MA team.

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Upcoming William Morris exhibition

August 19, 2009 at 11:07 am (Uncategorized)

A new exhibition on ‘Experiments in Colour: Thomas Wardle, William Morris and the Textiles of India’ will run at the William Morris Gallery and Vestry House Museum, Walthamstow from 10th Oct 2009-24th January 2010.

There will also be a lecture attached to the exhibition on 11 November. For more details see http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/museums-galleries


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Professor Sally Ledger

January 23, 2009 at 11:14 am (Uncategorized)

It is with enormous regret that we must announce the sudden and tragically early death of Professor Sally Ledger. Sally joined the Department of English in Autumn 2008 as Hildred Carlile Professor in English and Director of the Centre for Victorian Studies. Even in this short time she had established herself as an indispensable presence in the life of the Department. This was not only because of her outstanding scholarly distinction ─ exemplified in her recent book on Dickens and the Popular Radical Imagination as well as preceding studies of Ibsen, the New Woman, and the cultural politics of the late nineteenth century ─ but also, and at least as importantly, because of her vibrant personal qualities: her warmth, her infectious sense of humour, great good sense, and sheer intellectual energy. Under her leadership, the College had already taken important steps towards becoming the leading centre for Victorian Studies in the country. Before joining us here, Sally was Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature at Birkbeck, University of London, where she had worked in the School of English and Humanities since 1995. As a PhD supervisor and mentor of junior colleagues, Sally was second to none. A rising generation of scholars will be for ever indebted to her for showing how exemplary interdisciplinary scholarship, collegiality and sense of the value of sociability and family life could be combined. Her colleagues past and present, and indeed the world-wide community of nineteenth-century scholars, will be as shocked and saddened as we are by this news, and will join us in sending our most heartfelt condolences to her husband, Jim Porteous, and son, Richard. There will be a further announcement in respect of the funeral arrangements and a memorial service for her.

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Victorian London: The City of Dreadful Night

December 10, 2008 at 11:48 am (Uncategorized)

Dear All,

In case any of you are hunting up a last-minute copy, the text is available online at Project Gutenberg at


I look forward to hearing your responses to the poem tomorrow!


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Aestheticism & Decadence: ‘Pygmalion and the Image’

December 10, 2008 at 11:45 am (Uncategorized)

Dear All,

Morris’s ‘Pygmalion and the Image’ is included in his The Earthly Paradise (1868-70), a multi-volume work: this tale is in Vol. II.

It can be easily accessed online. The Victorian Web has it online here, and, brilliantly, follows the ending of the poem with a series of links to Burne-Jones’s paintings on the poem’s subject, and a few critical articles that deal with key issues for both Morris’ and Burne-Jones’ approach to the topic.


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Secondary Criticism for Hard Times, Mary Barton and Middlemarch

December 7, 2008 at 4:13 pm (Uncategorized)

Herewith some suggested secondary readings for these texts. Low marks for scholarly presentation, for which, in haste, I apologise! I’ve also put up (see side bar) a lecture on Mary Barton and Hard Times that I gave at a conference last summer.

Rosemarie Bodenheimer, ‘Private Grief and Public Acts in Mary Barton,’ Dickens Studies Annual 9 (1981), 195-216.
Elaine Freedgood,
Catherine Gallagher, The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction (U. Chicago Press, 1995).
Elaine Freedgood, ‘Checked Curtains and Global Cotton Markets in Mary Barton’, in The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel (Chicago Up, 2006).
Jonathan Grossman, ‘Mary Barton’s Tell-Tale Evidence’, in The Art of Alibi: English Lawcourts and the Novel (Johns Hopkins UP, 2002).
Jill Matus (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Gaskell (CUP, 2007).
Mary Poovey, Making a Social Body: British Cultural Formation, 1830-64 (Chicago UP, 1995)
Hilary Schor, Scheherazade in the Marketplace: Elizabeth Gaskell and the Victorian Novel (Oxf. UP, 1992).
Kathleen Tillotson, Novels of the Eighteen Forties (Clarendon Press, 1954)
Jenny Uglow, Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories (Faber and Faber, 1993) [biography]

Catherine Gallagher, The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction (U Chicago Press, 1995)
Anne Humpherys, ‘Louisa Gradgrind’s Secret: Marriage and Divorce in Hard Times’, Dickens Studies Annual 25 (1996), 177-95.
Robert E. Lougy, ‘Dickens’s Hard Times’, in Dickens Studies Annual 2 (1972), 237-54
Hilary Schor, ‘Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities: The Social Inheritance of Adultery’, in Dickens and the Daughter of the House (Cambridge UP, 1999).
Hilary Schor, ‘Novels of the 1850s: Hard Times, Little Dorrit and A Tale of Two Cities’, in John O. Jordan (ed.) Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens (Cambridge UP, 2001), 64-77.
Sally Ledger, ‘From Flunkeyism to Toadyism in the Age of Machinery: From Bleak House to Little Dorrit’, in Dickens and the Popular Radical Imagination (Cambridge UP, 2007)
Raymond Williams, Culture and Society 1780-1950 (chapter on the Industrial Novel)

Gillian Beer, Darwin’s Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth Century Fiction (London: Routledge, 1983)
Robert M Young, Darwin’s Metaphor (1984)
David Amigoni ed. Charles Darwin’s Origins of Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays (Manchester University Press, 1995)
George Levine, Darwin and the Novelists: Patterns of Science in Nineteenth-Century Fiction (Harvard University Press, 1988)
Josephine McDonagh, George Eliot (Northcote House, 1997)
Sally Shuttleworth, George Eliot and Nineteenth Century Science: The Make-Believe of a Beginning (1984)
Bernard Semmel, George Eliot and the Politics of National Inheritance (Oxford University Press, 1994)
J Hillis Miller, ‘Narrative and History’ English Literary History 41 (1974) 455-73
Neil McCaw, George Eliot and Victorian Historiography: Imagining the National Past (2000)

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