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Margaret Gray

Margaret Gray

Doctoral Student in Literature.



Dr Ella Dzelzainis and Dr Jacob Jewusiak

Research project

Women’s Travel Writing and the Political Economy of Material Objects, 1837-1911

Female explorers in the nineteenth century took a particular interest in detailing domestic objects and textiles displayed in homes, bazaars, festivals, and temples across the Middle East and Asia in the nineteenth century, and in pointing out the monetary or aesthetic values placed on those objects in their country of origin. Many critics have taken this interest as a signal that Victorian women had to maintain their place within the ‘domestic sphere’ even while writing in a conventionally ‘masculine’ genre. However, this critical interpretation does not account for the contextualisation of ‘domestic’ descriptions within larger discussions of global trade activity and the cultural, social, and political ramifications of those activities. Placed in context with political economic debates of the same period, women’s comparisons of the British industrial exports and locally-produced items sold together in Eastern marketplaces betray the authors’ anxieties about the cultural decline and social ennui resulting from the rise of global, industrial capitalism in the late nineteenth century. Specifically, I argue that women’s reporting on the impact of global industrialisation on traditional craftsmanship in Egypt, Persia, China, and Japan acts as a mirror to the decline of traditional craftsmanship and class identity in Great Britain.

Research interests

  • travel writing
  • 19th and 20th century women’s writing
  • history of the book
  • political economy
  • feminism and economics
  • globalisation
  • Christianity in literature
  • comparative studies (European and Asian literature)
  • detective fiction
  • tolkien
  • dramatic literature and criticism
  • film studies

Research activities

Placements and funding

  • Newcastle University Overseas Research Scholarship
  • Global Excellence Scholarship, University of Exeter
  • Florida Bright Futures Medallion Scholarship


  • Departmental Award for Excellence in Historical Writing, University of West Florida, December 2015 for “Publishing Women: The Publication History of Women Writers in England from 1610-1857”


  • Women, Money, and Markets 1600-1900, University of Zurich, June 2021: ‘“A Most Desirable Object”: Victorian Women, Travel Writing, and the Suez Railway Controversy of the 1840s’

Research groups

  • Middle Modern
  • North East Research Group for Commerce and Culture
  • Director, SELLL PG Peer Presentation Group

Creative publications

  • “Five Good Years – An Excerpt”, Emerald Coast Review Vol. XX, Pensacola, Florida, November 2019
  • “Blazon Injustice”, St. Edmund Hall: A Gallery, St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University, June 2015


  • English (native)
  • Japanese (basic)

Academic background

  • MA English Literary Studies, University of Exeter
  • BA English - Creative Writing, University of West Florida