Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor Matthew Grenby

Dean of Research & Innovation


Roles and Responsibilities

Dean of Research and Innovation, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (sabbatical April 2021-March 2022)

Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies


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


Past 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

Google scholar: Click here.


Research Interests

  • Children's literature and culture in the 18th and early 19th centuries
  • Political culture and participation in the long eighteenth century
  • Children and heritage
  • William Godwin and his correspondence
  • Book history, particularly popular print
  • Political fiction of the 1790s and early 1800s, particularly so-called 'anti-Jacobin' writing

Current Projects

My current funded projects include:

Eighteenth-Century Political Participation and Electoral Culture (ECPPEC), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council from 1 January 2020 to 2023 (£865,000), with Co-Investigators Dr Tom Schofield (Digital Cultures, Newcastle), Prof. Elaine Chalus (History, Liverpool) and partners History of Parliament and the Institute of Historical Research.This explores how people were able to participate with politics even if they did not have the vote. I am particularly interested in the opportunities for considering how voting behaviour (available from poll books) can be matched to the progress of election campaigns. 

Children and Transnational Popular Print, 1700-1900 (CaTPoP), funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 programme as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions to bring Dr Elisa Marazzi to Newcastle (€212,934), 2019-21

Nineteenth-Century European Picture-Books in Colour (PiCoBoo), funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 programme as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions to bring Dr Francesca Tancini to Newcastle (€212,934), 2018-21

Children and Heritage, funded by Newcastle University's Research Investment Fund, to work with Dr Barbara Gribling on a new history of young people's engagement with antiquarianism and built heritage from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries, 2019-20

Beyond these, 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.

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. Another fascinating element is popular print for children - whether 'literary' (such as chapbooks and ballads), didactic (such as ABCs, catechisms and conduct books), or even more ephemeral material (notices, tickets, cards, prints).

Postgraduate Supervision

I supervise M.Litt. and Ph.D. work on both children's literature, and eighteenth-century culture and writing. 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:

  • 19thC cheap print
  • Children, Heritage and Digital Technology
  • Reimagining children’s spaces with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books
  • 18thC maritime writing
  • 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

  • Past President of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (http://www.bsecs.org.uk)
  • Member of the AHRC Peer Review College, and panel member and chair, 2009-
  • AHRC Strategic Reviewer, 2013-
  • Research Council of Norway Panel Member, 2016-20
  • COST Association Review Panel Member, 2016-19
  • External examiner of PhDs at Nottingham, Warwick, UCL, QMUL, Cambridge, Roehampton, Anglia Ruskin, Chichester, Northumbria, Glasgow, De Montfort, Lancaster and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • External Examiner, English programme at the University of Cumbria, 2016-; and 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, Singapore and Taiwan. 



Currently (co-)supervising of 5 PhD students.