For more specialist readers, these are my scholarly book chapters and journal articles.
‘Difficult’ and ‘contentious’ books: W H Smith’s sales and distribution strategies, 1963-1970
This article is the written-up version of a conference paper I gave at Oxford Brookes University in May 2017, about research I did in the W H Smith archive at the University of Reading’s Special Collections, on the company’s struggle to apply and adapt its usual censorship of the books it sold openly, privately or not at all, in the wake of the Lady Chatterley trial on obscene publications. It’s to be pubished in a special issue of Logos: more news when we have it.
Published for all the world to see
Virginia Woolf’s shadow: Sex bias in academic publication’, The Academic Book of the Future (University College London Press, February 2018, https://ucldigitalpress.co.uk/BOOC/Article/1/61/, DOI: 10.14324/111.9781911307679.19.
This Open Access article (packed with statistics, number-lovers) is published in the online The Academic Book of the Future by University College London Press (February 2018). I explore the old chestnut that women don’t get published as much as men, from the perspective of authors and subjects, counting books currently in print about women authors operating between 1930 and 1960, and found some extraordinary results. Basically, if they aren’t about Virginia Woolf, books about women writers from this period barely get published at all. See more on the data here. I also blogged about it here.
‘John Buchan’s short stories of the British Empire’, Nordic Journal of English Studies 16:2 (2017).
This is an Open Access article commissioned for a special issue of the journal Nordic Journal of English Studies, on the Imperial short story. It was a great opportunity to combine close reading and politics, and do an extended analysis of one of Buchan’s funniest and oddest short stories, ‘A Lucid Interval’. It’s the only fiction Buchan wrote with a non-white protagonist, and involves the public shaming of Liberal politicians and a doctored curry.
‘Introduction’, ‘Constructing a public persona: Rose Macaulay’s non-fiction’
‘Annotated bibliography of Rose Macaulay’s works, and critical studies’
both in ed. Kate Macdonald Rose Macaulay, Gender and Modernity (Routledge, 2017).
These are my three contributions to the collection of essays on Rose Macaulay that I edited, published by Routledge in 2017.
- The Introduction does what it says on the tin, with a discussion of Macaulay’s life and work.
- ‘Constructing a public persona’ is the first quantitative survey of Macaulay’s non-fiction, and argues that when she was not writing novels, she was working out her intellectual and feminist ideologies though her journalism, broadcasting and critical thinking.
- The ‘Annotated bibliography’ is the size of a small book (35,000 words) because it contains a short paragraph on everything Macaulay published herself, including over 300 essays and articles, and on every critical study on Macaulay from the size of a book chapter upwards.
‘Rethinking the depiction of shell-shock in British literature of the First World War, 1914-18’
This journal article pulls together my research on depictions of disability in First World War British popular print culture, and First World War periodicals, and argues that the popular, present-day depiction of shell-shock as a ubiquitous aspect of the historical First World War experience is actually not true. The Journal of First World War Studies published this in July 2017.
‘Popular periodicals: Wartime newspapers, magazines and journals’, in eds Ann-Marie Einhaus and Katherine Baxter The Edinburgh Companion to the First World War in the Arts (Edinburgh University Press, 2017), 245-60.
This is a book chapter, and an opportunity for a glorious wallow in some of my favourite research material, the periodicals of the First World War. I seem to have been researching this for years without realising it, but the new research I did for this chapter has spawned a database, which you can read about here.
‘Beyond the subversion / containment binary: Middlebrow fiction and social change’, in REAL. Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature. Literature and Cultural Change, ed. Ingo Berensmeyer (Narr Francke Attempto Verlag, 2016), 101-20.
(with Cornelia Waechter) This book chapter was developed from a joint conference paper that Conny and I gave at a weekend seminar by the University of Giessen. It was originally an attempt to introduce, categorise and thematise middlebrow to a non-anglophone audience, since middlebrow writing is alive and well in German literary history, if they only knew. But the chapter is focused on one important gender-twisting novel by Victoria Cross.
‘The first cyborg and First World War bodies as anti-war propaganda’, Journal of War and Culture Studies 9:4 (2016), 348-66.
This is the theoretical and academic companion piece to an article in the May 2016 issue of History Today magazine, and is now published in the Journal of War and Culture Studies. I was invited to give a paper at a conference in Italy on the strength of this: research pays, boys and girls.
‘Comic short fiction and its variety’, in ed. Ann-Marie Einhaus, The Cambridge Companion to the English Short Story (Cambridge University Press 2016), 144-57.
This chapter tackles the question of why comic fiction is not respectable (another hobbyhorse of mine), and attempts a chronological description of the funny short story in British literature. Far trickier than you might think, because there is simply so much of it.
‘The woman’s body and the disabled ex-serviceman in the First World War’, in eds Christoph Ehland and Cornelia Waechter, Middlebrow and Gender: 1880-1930 (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 60-78.
This book chapter draws on some of the same material as the journal article below, but digs deeper into the theoretical analysis of how the imagery was used, and talks about the gendered aspects of the data.
‘The woman’s body as compensation for the disabled First World War soldier’, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, 10:1 (2016) 53-70.
This is an article drawing on my First World War magazine research, and the rather astonishing amount of emphasis I found on why and how women should compensate the war-impaired soldier for his wounds, with a disability studies approach.
‘Reading speed in Dornford Yates’, Review of English Studies, 67:279 (2016), 349-366.
This article is about how Dornford Yates wrote about speed in the same way that the modernists did, whose work and influence he despised. Some excellent car chase descriptions are analysed closely, and with relish.
‘Problematic menswear in P. G. Wodehouse and Dornford Yates’, in Ann Rea (ed.), Middlebrow Wodehouse (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), 229-248.
This is a long book chapter in Middlebrow Wodehouse ed. Ann Rea (Ashgate 2015), that compares how Dornford Yates and P G Wodehouse wrote sartorial error into their fiction: was it funny? was it dangerous? I’ve made the pdf available for download here.
‘Introduction: Transitions and cultural formation’, in eds Kate Macdonald and Christoph Singer, The Middlebrow Imagination: Transitions in Publishing from 1890-1920 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 1-13.
(with Christoph Singer) Our Introduction to the book of essays we edited on transitions in middlebrow literary culture.
‘Women and their bodies in the popular reading of 1910’, Literature and History, 22:1 (2013), 62-80.
This began as a conference paper, and mutated (these things always mutate) into a deep-core sampling of the popular reading of 1910, to see if Virginia Woolf’s statement that ’round about December 1910 human character changed’, was likely to have been true for how the public expected to read about women’s sexuality. I talk about H G Wells’ Ann Veronica, Una L Silberrad’s Ordinary People, and Joseph Conrad’s Chance, and some very interesting and long-lived advertisements for abortifacients, and health manuals of the day.
‘General Introduction: Utopian ideals in Edwardian political fiction’
in Volume 1. The Empire of the Future, ed. Richard Bleiler, in Kate Macdonald (gen. ed.), Political Future Fiction. Speculative and Counter-Factual Politics in Edwardian Fiction, 3 vols (Pickering & Chatto, 2013), vii-xv.
This is an essay that links all three volumes of Political Future Fiction together, with some thoughts about utopias in fiction, and about the Edwardian variety of the utopia and the dystopia.
‘Introduction: Feminist Future Fiction’ and ‘Legions of the Dawn and The Affairs of John Bolsover: Commentary on the texts’
in Volume 2. Fictions of a Feminist Future, ed. Kate Macdonald, in Kate Macdonald (gen. ed.), Political Future Fiction. Speculative and Counter-Factual Politics in Edwardian Fiction, 3 vols (Pickering & Chatto, 2013), ix-xiv, 267-286.
Two essays from my volume of Political Future Fiction, about Edwardian feminist writing, and about these two novels. Legions of the Dawn is a simply astonishing utopian novel about a feminist and gynocratic settlement in late-Victorian East Africa. It is unlike anything I’ve ever read, because it uses the political ideals that Olive Schreiner was working towards at the same time, but expresses them in the idiom and cultural mindset of a conservative English voice. It’s a very odd phenomenon, and a very readable novel. The men visiting the settlement have to dress as women (long dresses, gloves, beautifully dressed hair), and act like women (no going out of doors without a fan or an escort, being courted by confident military women). Nothing is known of the author, Allan Reeth, except that his name was probably a pseudonym for the equally unknown ‘G H Davies’. Silberrad’s novel has a brilliant and tricksy plot that exploits our expectations of women’s behaviour, set in a very Edwardian setting, but in 1960, when women have just achieved the vote.
‘Introduction’, in John Buchan and the Idea of Modernity, eds Kate Macdonald, and Nathan Waddell (Pickering & Chatto, 2013), 1-16.
(with Nathan Waddell) In this essay we discuss why Buchan’s works are essential for understanding how modernity seemed to the writers and thinkers of his day, and how his work is a lens for re-examining writing of the past.
‘Witchcraft and non-conformity in Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes (1926) and John Buchan’s Witch Wood (1927)’, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 23:2 (2012), 215-238.
One of the very few articles in print about Lolly Willowes (such a brilliant novel) and Witch Wood (Buchan’s masterpiece). Also one of the very few academic studies of 20thC witchcraft fiction, but if you know of any others, please do tell me.
I was listening to the podcast Neil Gaiman made with Martin Rowson for Index Against Censorship, in which they talk about using fantasy fiction to get unpalatable truths past the distrustful reader (eg Neverwhere is about homeless people), and that is exactly what my Warner / Buchan article is about, rather too many years after Neverwhere for me to gain any credit whatsoever, but it’s nice to be singing from the same songbook as Gaiman and Rowson.
‘The war-wounded and the congenitally impaired: Competing categories of disability in John Buchan’s Huntingtower (1922)’, Journal of War and Culture Studies, 4:1 (2011), 7-20.
This was an article that had to be written, when I noticed that, in this novel, Buchan pitted the war-impaired soldier hero(es) against characters who were not only Bolshevik (wrong politics), foreign (foreigners), but also congenitally impaired (scoliosis, spina bifida, a neurological syndrome). From this, several years of disability studies research has arisen.
‘The use of London lodgings in middlebrow fiction, 1900-1930s’, Literary London, 9: 1 (2011).
I was interested in how ‘lodgings’ were depicted in novels where the Edwardian and Georgian heroine or hero is down on her or his luck and we are expected to root for them. Class values are very important.
‘Edwardian transitions in the fiction of Una L Silberrad (1872-1955)’ English Literature in Transition, 54.1 (January 2011), 212-233.
The first proper analysis of what Silberrad wrote, her genre-switching and her deep interest in women working in science and in business, mostly before the First World War. Oddly, she was not a suffragette.
‘Introduction: Identifying the middlebrow, the masculine, and Mr Miniver’, in ed. Kate Macdonald, The Masculine Middlebrow, 1880-1950: What Mr Miniver read (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 1-23.
In this essay I tackle the definition of ‘middlebrow’, because by this date middlebrow studies had just reached maturity, and the field needed more theorising for the next generation of the researchers to use as a basis for their thinking. I used the character created by Jan Struther, the husband of Mrs Miniver, as a fictional exemplar of the masculine middlebrow reader, as a way for us to focus on what he might have read and written himself.
‘The symbiotic relationship of Thomas Nelson & Sons and John Buchan in the publisher’s series’, in The Culture of the Publisher’s Series, vol. 1.Authors, Publishers, and the Shaping of Taste, in ed. John Spiers (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 156-170.
Over the years I have rootled around many times in the Thomas Nelson archives at Edinburgh University Library’s Special Collections. This article pulls together this material to put together a picture of Edwardian publishing at the height of the revolution in British book publishing when the cheap series was making its impact on the book-selling market.
‘Dorothy’s Literature Class: late-Victorian women autodidacts and penny fiction weeklies’, in eds Adeline Buckland and Beth Palmer, A Return to the Common Reader (Ashgate, 2011), 23-35.
This was the last tranche of my Victorian women’s magazines research to be published, on the survival of evidence for reading groups for working-class girls in the 1890s.
‘John Buchan’s breakthrough: The conjunction of experience, markets and forms that made The Thirty-Nine Steps’, Publishing History 68:3 (2010), 25-107.
Buchan’s writing life changed radically once The Thirty-Nine Steps became popular, so what had he been doing for the twenty years beforehand?
‘Finding and defining the Victorian supplement’, Victorian Periodicals Review, 43.2 (Summer 2010), 97-110.
(with Marysa Demoor) I worked very happily on Victorian periodicals for a couple of years, trying to theorise the emergence of the magazine supplement in Victorian Britain.
‘Saving, spending and serving: expressions of the use of time in the Dorothy and its supplements (1889-1899)’, Media History 16.2 (2010), 171-182.
(with Marysa Demoor) The Dorothy was a penny-weekly women’s magazine that spoke with a fractured voice about feminism, marriage, careers, proper reading, how to dress well, and how to avoid spots.
‘William Lucas’ & ‘Novelettes’, in Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, eds Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor (Ghent and London: Academia Press and The British Library, 2009), 381-82, 462.
Two short pieces about a Victorian newspaper editor and publisher, and the phenomenon of the novelette magazine.
‘Mrs Warren’s professions: Eliza Warren Francis (c. 1810-1900), editor of The Ladies’ Treasury (1857-1895) and London boarding-house keeper’, Publishing History, 66 (2009), 5-17.
(with Jolein De Ridder) This came out of a letter I found for sale online that linked the famous Victorian magazine editor Mrs Warren with boarding-house keeping, revealing her secret double life in south London suburbia.
‘Hunted men in John Buchan’s London, 1890s to 1920s’, Literary London, 7:1 (2009).
Have you ever wondered why all Buchan’s characters being chased in London run north to south, and back again?
‘The diversification of Thomas Nelson: John Buchan and the Nelson archive, 1909-1911’, Publishing History, 65 (2009), 71-96.
In the Thomas Nelson archives, looking for evidence about Buchan’s life before he became famous, I found the daily correspondence of his very complicated life as a publisher who wanted to do EVERYTHING.
‘Introduction’, in ed. Kate Macdonald K, Reassessing John Buchan: Beyond The Thirty-Nine Steps (Pickering & Chatto, 2009), 1-6.
Setting out my market stall for the sale of Buchan scholarship.
‘Aphrodite rejected: Archetypal female characters in Buchan’s fiction’, in ed. Kate Macdonald, Reassessing John Buchan: Beyond The Thirty-Nine Steps (Pickering & Chatto, 2009), 153-169.
A solid bit of research analysing just what Buchan was doing when he wrote women characters (did you know he wrote 98? Most people don’t), and why he veered towards the archetype rather than realistic representations.
‘Ignoring the New Woman: ten years of a Victorian weekly fiction magazine’, in ed. Tamara Wagner, Antifeminism and the Victorian Novel: Rereading Nineteenth-Century Women Writers, (Cambria Press, 2009), 297-316.
The messed-up voices and fractured advice of the Victorian women’s magazine.
‘Borrowing and supplementing: The industrial production of “complete story” novelettes and their supplements, 1865-1900’, Publishing History, 63 (Winter 2008), 67-95.
(with Marysa Demoor) My discoveries after immersion in the world of cheap penny-weekly magazine production in Victorian London.
‘Darkness at Pemberley: T H White and the Conventions’, in eds Gill Davies, David Malcolm and John Simons,Critical Essays on T H White 1906-1964 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2008), 123-42.
An early bit of research I put together on one of my favourite writers. An excuse to do some research in the New York Public Library while ostensibly on holiday.
‘Writing The War: John Buchan’s Lost Journalism of the First World War’, The Times Literary Supplement, 10 August 2007, 14-15.
Back in the Nelson archives at Edinburgh University, I discovered that Buchan had edited a magazine at the beginning of the war that nobody had ever heard of, or has remembered since. He took care to forget about it too. This article was the cover story for the Times Literary Supplement that week.
‘The Dorothy and its Supplements: a Late-Victorian Novelette (1889-1899)’, Publishing History, 61 (Spring 2007), 71-101.
(with Marysa Demoor) The first publication about the Dorothy, talking about how a Victorian women’s magazine for the lower middle classes was structured.
‘Translating Propaganda: John Buchan’s Writing During the First World War’, in eds Mary Hammond and Shafquat Towheed, Publishing in the First World War: Essays in Book History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 181-201.
Buchan as a multi-tasking wartime historian, publisher, journalist, and Director of the Ministry of information. My first scholarly book chapter, for which I am grateful to Mary and Shaf for taking a chance on a total unknown.
‘The Travels of John Betjeman’s Literary Voice in ‘The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel’: From the 1890s to the 1920s, and Back Again’, Belgian Journal of English Literatures and Language, New Series 5 (2007), 59-66.
My first proper article when I came back to scholarly research, after being an editor for 15 years. I plunged straight into poetry analysis, which has been my favourite thing to teach ever since.