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 and AHRC Strategic Reviewer

Reviewer for Irish Research Council (IRC) 


Research Interests

Children's literature and culture in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; 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.
These areas overlap considerably, many writers having produced both children's books and political fiction: William Godwin, for instance, plus Maria Edgeworth, Hannah More, Sarah Trimmer, Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Smith, and many others including the man sometimes thought of as the 'founder' of modern children's literature, the publisher John Newbery.

Current Work

The principal project on which I'm currently working is volume III (spanning the years 1806-1815) of an edition of the Letters of William Godwin. This is 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, children's literature and young people's engagement with antiquarianism and heritage in the past, present and future.

Finally, I am working towards is a book-length study of the birth of children's literature. I have already 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 William Godwin, who was (among many other things) a pioneering publisher and author of children's books in the early 19th century, 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 long eighteenth century.

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 have worked on subjects including these:

  • 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, Swallows and Amazons: 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 (

Member of the AHRC Peer Review College and AHRC Strategic Reviewer

Reviewer for Irish Research Council.

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

External examiner of PhDs at Nottingham, Warwick, London, Cambridge, Anglia Ruskin, Roehampton and Barcelona universities.

Advisory Board, University of Maryland Digitisation of Early Children’s Books project.

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.

Supervision of 3 PhD students.