School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Professor Matthew Grenby

Professor of 18th-Century Studies


Roles and Responsibilities

Director, Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute (NUHRI)

Newcastle Institute of Social Renewal theme leader: 'The Past in the Present'


M.A. University of Edinburgh, 1992.

Ph.D. University of Edinburgh, 1997

Previous Positions

1998-1999: Fulbright-Robertson Professor of British History, Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, USA.

1999-2004: Senior Research Fellow, Department of English, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

2005-2011: Reader in Children's Literature, School of English, Newcastle University, UK


President of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS).

Member of the AHRC Peer Review College

AHRC Strategic Review Group

Trustee at Seven Stories: the National Centre for Children's Books


Research Interests

Children's literature and culture in the 18th and 19th centuries; children and antiquarianism and ‘heritage’, from the 17th century to the present; William Godwin and his correspondence; book history; the Romantic-era novel in Britain; political fiction of the 1790s and early 1800s, particularly so-called 'anti-Jacobin' writing; popular literature in Europe, c.1600-1900.

Current Work

I am in the closing stages of editing Volume III (1806-1815) of an edition of the Letters of William Godwin  to be published by Oxford University Press. This work was supported by an AHRC Fellowship.

A second ongoing project, supported by an exploratory grant from the AHRC's Care for the Future programme, is on children and young people's engagement with antiquarianism and ‘heritage’ in the past, present and future. One output of this was an innovative app, designed in collaboration with computer scientists, heritage professionals, teachers, parents and children to pioneer new embodied and immersive ways for young people to engage with Belsay Hall, an English Heritage property in Northumberland.

In the longer term, I am working towards is a book-length study of the birth and early development of children's literature. I have explored the consumers of the 'new' children's literature in the long 18th century in my book The Child Reader 1700-1840. My work on Godwin, who was (among many other things) an innovating publisher and author of children’s books, is focussing my attention on the production side. I want to join the consumption and production sides together, and ask just how 'Children's Literature' came to establish itself as a separate and successful sector of print culture in the period c.1740-1840. Some of this research – on John Newbery, on what the archives of early children’s publishers can tell us, and on the production and dissemination of popular literature – has already been published.

Postgraduate Supervision

I supervise M.Litt. and Ph.D. work on both children's literature, and eighteenth-century writing and culture. I would be very interested in hearing from students wishing to work in any of these areas.

Students I have supervised or am supervising have worked on subjects including these:

  • Children, Heritage and Digital Technology
  • Reimagining children’s spaces with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books
  • Shelley and the Utopian Tradition
  • Romantic Childhoods and Romantic Heirs 1800-1850
  • Nation-Making and Nation-Breaking: Masculinities in European Literature, 1761-1817
  • Working-class writers for children in the mid-twentieth century
  • The historical novel for children
  • Clothes and clothing in British children's literature
  • Use of Narrative Structure in the Young Adult Novels of Margaret Mahy and Diana Wynne Jones
  • Camping and tramping: Interwar children's fiction and the search for England
  • Sleeping beauties and laughing Medusas: Myth and Fairy Tales in the work of Angela Carter, A. S. Byatt and Marina Warner
  • Almost English: Jews and Jewishness in British Children’s Literature
  • ‘The bold tear of manhood’:  Masculinity and the Revolution Crisis of the 1790s

Esteem Indicators

President of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (, 2015-18

Member of the AHRC Peer Review College, and panel member and chair, 2009-

AHRC Strategic Reviewer, 2013-

Research Council of Norway Panel Member, 2016-

COST Association Review Panel Member, 2016-

External examiner of PhDs at Nottingham, Warwick, UCL, QMUL, Cambridge, Anglia Ruskin, Roehampton and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

External Examiner, MA in Romantic and Sentimental Literature, University of York, 2012-16

General editor, Palgrave-Macmillan Classics of Children’s Literature series.

Visiting fellowships at Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in the History of the Emotions, Perth, Australia (2014); Mansfield College, Oxford University (2011-12); Pforzheimer Fellowship, New York Public Library (2011); Mitzi Myers Memorial Fund Research Fellowship, UCLA (2004)

Numerous key-note and invited conference lectures in UK, Western Europe, north America and Taiwan. 


Writing New Worlds, 1688-1789 (stage two undergraduate module)

Various teaching for first year undergraduates, and at master's level, including supervision of an annual cohort of students undertaking the MLitt in English Literature specialising in children's literature.

Currently (co-)supervising of 5 PhD students.