Research and teaching

Here’s some info about the academic side of what I do: my current and forthcoming publications, my teaching, and presentations I’ve made / conferences I’ve convened. Very happy to hear from anyone interested in any of these areas!


I joined Cardiff University in September 2014 from the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York, where I completed a doctoral thesis on personal naming and identity formation in English literature 1779-1800.  I have held fellowships at the Burney Centre (McGill University), the Huntington Library (CA), the Lewis Walpole Library (CT), and the John Rylands Library (Manchester). As a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker 2014, I have written and presented programmes for BBC Radio 3 (‘Jeremy Bentham’s Universal Tattoo’, June 2014 and ‘Is Marriage An Identity Crisis?’, November 2014) and BBC Arts (‘Treason, Trials and Tribulations’, April 2015). I have published articles about the history of naming practices and about arts and higher education policy in the Guardian, the Independent and BBC Arts. I am also a novelist, and published my debut novel Rites (winner of the Arts Council England / Route Publishing Next Great Novelist Award 2011) in the UK in 2012 and in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2014. I am currently working on my first monograph, provisionally entitled Romantic Onomastics: Naming and Identity in Britain 1779-1814, and on my second novel, a historical fiction set in 1790s London called Point No Point, which has received grants from Arts Council England and New Writing North. At Cardiff University, I teach the undergraduate modules ‘Bluestockings, Britannia, Unsex’d Females: Women in public life 1775-1814’ and ‘Fictive Histories / Historical Fictions’, and the MA module ‘Narrative and Nation: Romantic Prose, 1770-1840’.

Research Interests

British literature and culture of the eighteenth century and the Romantic period. I am especially interested in: the role of personal naming and anonymity in literary and political self-fashionings; fame and reputation; the history of funding for the literary arts; women’s writing, especially that of Frances Burney and Hester Thrale Piozzi; and the lives and work of the Burney family. I am also interested in the relationship between creative and critical practice within a range of historical and contemporary contexts.

Selected Publications

‘A Philosophical Gossip: Science and Sociability in Frances Burney’s Cecilia‘, Eighteenth-Century Life, forthcoming, 2017.

‘Fill up his blanks: Making Matthew Montagu’, Huntington Library Quarterly, forthcoming, 2016.

‘Biting satire: The political caricatures of James Gillray’, BBC Arts, 26 March 2015,

‘In the name of tradition’, Guardian Saturday Review, 13 December 2014.

‘Men whose glory it is, to be known: Godwin, Bentham and the London Corresponding Society’, Nineteenth-Century Prose, 41:2 (Fall 2014)

Rites (Route Publishing, 2012; Kein & Aber 2014; Winner of the Arts Council Next Great Novelist Award)

Selected Presentations

‘Evelina is in Aberdeen: Charles Burney Jr’s Scottish Tour’, Burney Society Annual Conference (Durham, July 2016).

‘Mrs. Montagu and Mrs. Delvile: The ‘point of the name’ in Frances Burney’s Cecilia’ American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference (Pittsburgh, April 2016).

‘My name would carry every thing before it: Naming [Mrs.] Charlotte Smith in the Preston Manor correspondence’ British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference (Oxford, January 2016).

‘Immur’d in the Bastille of a Word: Radical Onomastics in the 1790s’, ‘Marilyn Butler and the War of Ideas: A Commemorative Conference’ (Chawton House Library, December 2015).

‘Adieu, dear name: Wifehood, authorship, self-fashioning, 1786-1813’ Difficult Women, 1680-1830’ (University of York, November 2015).

‘Nata Nupta Obiit: Hester Thrale Piozzi’s Post-Mortem’, ‘Silence in the Archives: Censorship and Suppression in Women’s Life Writing in the Long Nineteenth Century’ (Wolfson College, Oxford, November 2015).

‘A Philosophical Gossip: Science and Sociability in Frances Burney’s Cecilia’, ‘Scandal and Sociability: New Perspectives on the Burney Family’ (Cardiff University, September 2015).

‘Life is a Magic Lanthorn’, ‘The Light Fantastic’ (Edinburgh International Science Festival, April 2015).

‘”O’ my life, I think he makes talk for the whole county”: Naming Caleb Williams’, ‘Leisure and Entertainment’ (British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies Annual Conference, University of Oxford, January 2014.)

‘Prerogative, Petitions and Parliament: the politics of surname change in Britain 1679 – 1800.’ ‘Credit, Money and the Market’ (British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies Annual Conference, University of Oxford, January 2013.)

‘“Ne suis-je pas son mari?”: Frances Burney, Charlotte Smith and cross-channel conjugality’. ‘Romantic Connections: Networks of Influence’ (British Association for Romantic Studies Early Career and Postgraduate Conference, Newcastle University, June 2012.)

‘Celia’s Bits: Demystification of the feminine in the writing of Angela Carter and Jonathan Swift.’ ‘Celebrating Carter: A Symposium’ (University of York, February 2012.)

‘“Nothing the nearest our own hearts and interests”: The point of the name in Burney’s Cecilia.’ ‘Landscapes & Environments’ (British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies Annual Conference (BSECS), University of Oxford, January 2012). Awarded the BSECS President’s Prize.

Selected Awards and Fellowships

Research Fellowship (John Rylands Library, Manchester, August 2016). Jointly awarded Joint Visiting Research Fellowship with Dr. Elizabeth Edwards (Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, University of Wales) to carry out scoping archival work and collaborative discussions relating to a large future project, ‘More of Herself: The Lives of Hester Thrale Piozzi, 1741-1821’.

Research Fellowship (Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, CT) July 2015. Project entitled ‘Time to write: John Trusler’s Plan for a Literary Society’.

W.M.Keck Research Fellowship (Huntington Library, San Marino, CA) June-August 2014. Project entitled ‘Surname change by Royal Licence in the correspondence of Elizabeth and Matthew Montagu’.

ASESCS-McGill Fellowship 2013 (Burney Centre, McGill University, Montreal) August 2013. Project entitled ‘Surname change by Royal Licence in the Burney circle’.

Northern Writers Award (New Writing North), June 2013. To be used to support writing Point No Point, second novel.

Grant for the Arts (Arts Council England), April-July 2013. To be used to support writing Point No Point, second novel.

Next Great Novelist Award (Arts Council England / Route Publishing), June 2011. For Rites, first novel.

Conferences convened

‘Fictive Histories / Historical Fictions’, Huntington Library (San Marino), 12-13 May 2017. Two-day international conference bringing together leading international scholars interested in the relationship between history and fiction, with a particular emphasis on the work and archives of Hilary Mantel. Funded by the Huntington Library.

‘Scandal and Sociability: New Perspectives on the Burney Family’, Cardiff University, 1 September 2015. One-day international symposium, funded by the Department of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University and the Burney Society (UK).



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