School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Eighteenth-Century & Romantic Literature

Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Literature

We work at the forefront of research into eighteenth-century and Romantic literature, with a strong emphasis on archival-based research and the literature of Scotland, Ireland and continental Europe as well as England.

We have particular expertise in the following:

  • Writing and Revolution
  • Poetry of the Romantic Period
  • Drama & Theatre Studies
  • Popular Print Culture
  • Women’s Writing
  • Scottish and Irish Romanticism
  • Cosmopolitanism and European literary culture
  • Children's Literature
  • Scholarly Editing
  • Robert Burns
  • James Hogg
  • Britain's 'first family of writers' (Wollstonecraft; Godwin, Mary Shelley; Percy Shelley)


Professor Matthew Grenby is the President of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. He has particular interests in the development of children's literature in the eighteenth century, popular literature of the period (research which uses the world-class collections of chapbooks in the University's Robinson Library), anti-Jacobin writing, and young people’s role in the development of antiquarianism and ‘heritage’.

Dr James Harriman-Smith studies what James Boswell, in 1770, called 'literary productions relative to the art of acting': a heterogeneous range of materials from across the long eighteenth century, including letters, biographies, articles, and scholarly editions as well as acting treatises and manuals. He is currently preparing a book that presents this material as a key arena for aesthetic reflection between 1740 and 1800. His other research interests include: Shakespeare’s reception, early celebrity, and literary adaptation and translation. He is a trustee of the British Shakespeare Association.

Dr Laura Kirkley’s research focuses on the transnational literary exchange between Britain, France, and other European nations in the long eighteenth century. She has particular interests in the French Revolutionary period, Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, literary translation, and women’s writing, especially the works of Mary Wollstonecraft and Germaine de Staël. She is currently completing a monograph which redefines Wollstonecraft as a polyglot profoundly influenced by the European commerce des lumières and committed to a philanthropic ideal of world citizenship. She is also preparing a second monograph, The Politics of Maternal Sentiment: 1712-1798, co-authored with Jenny Mander (Cambridge). Her edition of Caroline of Lichtfield (1786), Thomas Holcroft’s translation of Isabelle de Montolieu’s bestselling sentimental novel, was published in 2014. As a member of the research project, ‘Animating Text at Newcastle University’, she is now investigating how digital editing can promote research across linguistic and disciplinary boundaries.

Dr Meiko O'Halloran specialises in British and Scottish Romanticism, with a particular focus on the work of the labouring-class Scottish writer, James Hogg, and second-generation Romantic poets (e.g. Byron, Shelley, and Keats). She has published widely on Hogg, including the first major monograph on his work, James Hogg and British Romanticism: A Kaleidoscopic Art (2015). She has also published essays and articles on Burns, Gothic literature, and Keats and the figure of the poet, and is currently preparing a second monograph that explores how Romantic poets used other-world spaces in their poetry to interrogate and develop ideas about the role of the poet in society following the French Revolution. Her other research interests include Romantic responses to literary ancestors such as Virgil, Dante and Milton, and Romantic-era fiction (especially Austen, Scott, and Mary Shelley).

Dr Jennifer Orr has interests in British and Irish Romanticism, with a specialist interest in poetic networks, including the circles of Robert Burns, William Wordsworth, Thomas Percy and United Irish circles.  She has recently published a monograph on radical poetry in Ireland before and after the French Revolution, Literary Networks and Dissenting Print Culture (Palgrave, 2015), and is currently working on transatlantic radical networks between the early American republic and Europe in the ‘long’ Eighteenth Century. She is also working on ballad culture of North East England, particularly songs associated with industrial Tyneside, held across archives in Newcastle, including the University's Robinson Library.

Professor Michael Rossington has particular interests in bibliography, comparatist approaches, life-writing, manuscript studies, poetry, republican thought and translation; the writings of Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley (and those authors closely associated with them) and their reception, especially in the nineteenth century; and textual editing. He is currently working on scholarly editions of poems and plays for the fifth and final volume of the Longman Annotated English Poets edition of The Poems of Shelley which he is co-ordinating for Routledge. He is part of the 'Animating Text at Newcastle University' research project.

Library resources

Newcastle University Library has excellent resources to support this area, including important archival material. The Library's Special Collections is home to the White Collection (4,400 volumes) which is especially rich in English literature from this period, particularly in ballads and chapbooks. The Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society, founded in 1793 and the largest independent library in the UK outside London, holds unique manuscript and print records from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Other important archives are held at  Newcastle City Library, particularly material on the history and literature of Newcastle and North-East England and including the celebrated Pease Bequest of material connected to Thomas Bewick and his school.

Postgraduate study

Staff contribute to the MA in English Literature, and supervise Masters by Research (MLitt), as well as PhD, students. We help to organise, and contribute to, the North East Forum in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies, which brings together staff and postgraduate researchers from Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, and Sunderland universities. Our doctoral students also benefit from the opportunity for specialist training through the Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership.

National and international Partnerships

Through placements and training events with The Wordsworth Trust and Keats-Shelley House, Rome. our postgraduate research students are strongly positioned to develop career experience and enhance archival skills with prestigious, internationally-renowned archives and museums.