The rise and fall of the historical novel?

Everyone agrees that the historical novel is an almost impossible genre to write successfully. Yet it keeps being written, and being successful. It’s having rather a boom in the early 21st century, with the success of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy and others.  And it had its biggest boom in the early Victorian period, propelled into the limelight by Walter Scott and his Waverley novels, and proliferated by many anonymous and many now sidelined authors including John Galt, sisters Jane

Read more

Emily Bowles, ‘Writing Lives Together: A Conference on Romantic and Victorian Biography’

Emily Bowles is a PhD candidate at the University of York. Her research focuses on Charles Dickens’s self-representation 1857-1870, and representations by Dickens’s friends and family in life writing 1870-1939. She is also a postgraduate representative for the Northern Nineteenth Century Network, and you can find her on Twitter @EmilyBowles_. She has co-edited a special issue of ‘Peer English’ on Victorian biography. Writing Lives Together was a one-day conference that took place on 18 September 2015, put together with the

Read more

‘The Masque of Anarchy’ at the Manchester International Festival, 2013.

‘The sun looked down through a sultry and motionless air’ (Samuel Bamford, Passages in the Life of a Radical, i (London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co, 1844), p. 208. Monday 16 August 1819 was a hot day, the weather contributing to the size of the crowd that assembled at St Peter’s Field to attend a political meeting that entered the annals of history under the name ‘Peterloo’. Nearly two hundred years later, around two thousand people a night (12–14 July 2013)

Read more

Inside the Doll’s House: experiencing Ibsen at the Young Vic

I recently realized that in my ‘Victorian life’, I have been harbouring a rather shameful secret: in my thesis research, seminar preparation, reading group suggestions, and even leisure-time choices, I am guilty of focusing almost solely on nineteenth-century novels. Thinking back to undergraduate days, it was the same in my Victorian modules then: I would almost always choose to read, talk about, or write on a novel, shunning poetry and plays for what I saw as the comparative ‘safety’ and

Read more