TECHNE AHRC funded PhD studentship – Dickens and the Heritage Sector

 TECHNE AHRC funded PhD studentship – Partnership Award offered by Royal Holloway, University of London and the Charles Dickens Museum

Project: Dickens and the Heritage Sector

Supervisors: Royal Holloway supervisors – Professor Juliet John (Department of English) and Dr Jane Hamlett (Department of History)

Charles Dickens Museum supervisors – Dr Cindy Sughrue (Museum Director) and Ms Louisa Price (Museum Curator)

The Studentship

Applications are invited for a TECHNE Partnership PhD studentship, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, starting in October 2017. The studentship includes a stipend of £16,553 (plus fees at home/EU rates) for three years. In addition, the student will receive £550 per annum to support engagement with the Partner from the AHRC. Students can apply for an additional six months stipend to engage in extended development activities such as work placements.

As a TECHNE student, the person selected will have full access to the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership development activities and networking opportunities, joining a cohort of about 50 students per year from across seven universities in London and the south-east. See . TECHNE students can apply for additional funding to support individual or group training and development activities.

Project Description

Despite the fact that Dickens and Shakespeare are Britain’s most prominent global literary exports, the role of the heritage sector in facilitating Dickens’s rise to international iconhood has received very little critical attention. Though there is a great deal of work available on the role of the film and television industries in making Dickens the most adapted author for the screen of all time, Juliet John remains one of the few academics to have published work on his relationship to the concept of heritage as it plays out on screen and in other contexts, for example, museums, literary tourism and heritage organisations. The off-screen heritage sector is fast becoming one of the main growth areas in Victorian Studies today, with conferences like ‘Placing the Author: Literary Tourism in the Long Nineteenth Century’ (Elizabeth Gaskell House, Manchester, 2015), bringing academics working on English Literature, public history, geohumanities and cultural memory, together with academics and practitioners from the museum and tourist Industries. There remains, however, no monograph on Dickens’s relation to the heritage sector when there is in fact room for a sub-field, as there is indeed in Shakespeare Studies. Given Dickens’s global cultural status, a significant research project in this area would cast important light on the processes (technological, affective, political, economic, geographical, institutional, and mnemonic) by which literary culture more generally can exert influence or impact on the public sphere.

The PhD proposed here will take as its research base the museum itself (the former Doughty Street home of Dickens in Bloomsbury), examining its history, exhibitions, visitor information, merchandise, educational outreach, and archives. It will also utilise the Dickens bicentenary website hosted by the Museum and funded by the AHRC, which is the most comprehensive record which exists of the global celebrations which took part in 2012. The archives themselves comprise the biggest uncatalogued collection of newspaper clippings relating to Dickens in the world, charting all things Dickensian in the news from Dickens’s death in 1870 to the early twentieth century. The Museum houses all the records of the Dickens Fellowship, a world-wide society of Dickens scholars and amateur enthusiasts which publishes the Dickensian magazine and whose mission is dedicated to preserving Dickens heritage. In addition, the Museum owns an expansive, uncatalogued collection of objects which is housed onsite and an unrivalled collection of books on Dickensian topography and Dickens walks, a side to the Dickens publishing industry which is still thriving.

Although the PhD student in receipt of the studentship may wish to link their core research to some work on other heritage institutions and bodies which have played a part in the Dickens industry (e.g. the Museum of London, the V&A, the smaller Dickens museums in Portsmouth and Broadstairs, the now defunct Dickens World in Chatham, Eastgate House in Rochester, the British Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and relevant tourist boards), there is more than enough material at the Charles Dickens Museum for this to comprise the focus. It holds well in excess of 100,000 items ranging from letters and manuscripts to furniture, personal effects and the only clothing of Dickens known to have survived. The student will have the opportunity to play a full part in the 150-year anniversary conference and celebratory activities.

The project will be archivally and empirically based, yet in dialogue with theoretical frames from all the disciplines already mentioned. Chapters can be formulated by the successful applicant but might be divided as follows:

  1. What is Literary Heritage? A scene-setting chapter reviewing work on literary heritage in the context of theoretical work on heritage, literary tourism, and cultural memory more broadly, pushing towards an analysis of why literary heritage taps into distinct cultural and affective dynamics.
  2. Housing History – This chapter will consider the history and evolution of the museum in the context of other Dickens museums and the fascination with authors’ houses more broadly. It will tap into work in museum studies, Victorian studies and public history on the material culture of the home but will also examine Dickens’s particular fetishisation of the home and the importance of the ‘aura’ of the Dickensian home to the Dickensian ‘brand’ and its longevity.
  3. Dickens in the Press – This chapter will examine the ways in which the press has ‘heritagised’ Dickens in the years since his death, emphasising certain aspects of his work and values above others (his role as a social reform, domesticity, Christmas and convivial company) in order to give the public what it imagines the public wants. Although there has been historical and geographical variation over the years, which the research will highlight, the ‘feedback loop’ created by these narratives underpins the public understanding of the commonly used adjective ‘Dickensian’.
  4. Exhibiting Dickens – This chapter will examine the back catalogue of exhibitions at the Dickens Museum through the ages (most recently ‘Restless Shadow: Dickens the Campaigner’) alongside visitor data to analyse how Dickens has been exhibited and to which audiences. Consideration will also be given to the Museum of London’s Dickens and London Bicentenary Exhibition in 2012, for which Juliet John acted as academic advisor, and the upcoming V&A 2020 exhibition.
  5. Dickens and tourism – This chapter will use the museum’s collection of books on Dickensian topography and walking, alongside the museum’s visitor books and work with tourist and heritage agencies which promote places through their associations with Dickens, to examine the international appeal of Dickens. It will also try to establish the economics underpinning perceptions of Dickens’s cultural value.
  6. Heritage education – The museum’s work with schools will be situated in a broader study of the uses of Dickens on the school curriculum. Sarah Winter’s The Pleasures of Memory (2011) provides some brilliant insights into the role of education in the the Dickens brand, but she examines only local examples from the American education system. The uses of Dickens in the British education system is an untapped field.


The primary PhD supervisor Juliet John is based in The Department of English at Royal Holloway. The Royal Holloway English Department has an international reputation for advanced research. We have an excellent record of PhD completion and a thriving postgraduate community. Currently we have around 50 PhD students researching topics across the full range of literary studies, Creative Writing and Poetic Practice. Royal Holloway has excellent research facilities, including electronic resources and the largest library in the University of London. Our historic Victorian campus has a reputation for being one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.

Royal Holloway’s long-standing Centre for Victorian Studies (, run by the English department, is one of the leading international Centres for Victorian research, many of its events held in the stunning picture gallery (, which houses a world-famous collection of Victorian art. Royal Holloway is an award-winning centre for Victorian postgraduate training, moreover, each year hosting the residential London Victorian Studies Colloquium ( which brings together aspiring Victorian academics from all parts of the UK and beyond as well as masterclasses. We are a centre of excellence for research on Dickens and offer unrivalled opportunities for aspiring Dickensians: we have an official partnership with the Dickens Museum and are a member institution of influential the Californian consortium, the Dickens Project. Among other benefits, this means that each year a postgraduate student is funded to attend the Dickens Universe conference in Santa Cruz, the biggest annual gathering of Dickensians in the world. We are the only member institution in London and one of the few in the UK.

Jane Hamlett will be second supervisor on the project and is based in the Department of History, one of the largest in the country, with over 100 PhD students. The History department is also home to the London Centre for Public History, which will provide a stimulating context for this interdisciplinary PhD project. Dr Cindy Sughrue and Ms Louisa Price, the Director and Curator of the Dickens Museum, both have experience of supervising and training doctoral students, and will guide day-to-day research at the Museum. Skills that will be developed at the Museum are archival research, interviewing, object handling, curating, conference organisation, marketing, social media, and data analysis.


The successful applicant should have a good first degree and a Masters (or be due to complete a Masters) in English Literature, Victorian Studies, Public History, Museum Studies and/or Heritage Studies. S/he should have a committed interest in Dickens.

Applicants must meet the RCUK residency requirements as described in paragraphs 43-46 of the ‘Conditions of Research Council Training Grants’ and comply with conditions set out in the AHRC Training Grant Funding Guide

A formal agreement regarding the Partnership between Royal Holloway and the Dickens Museum will be signed at the commencement of the project and the student will be asked to confirm that they have read and understood this agreement.

Enquiries and Application procedure

Informal enquiries about the project or the application should be directed to The closing date for applications is 5pm Monday 25th July. Interviews will take place in early August (date tba).

You should complete a Postgraduate Research Application form and send the following to by the deadline. Please also ask two referees to write to this address by the closing date:

A covering letter explaining what you would bring to the project in terms of experience, qualifications and knowledge

  • A covering letter explaining what you would bring to the project in terms of experience, qualifications and knowledge
  • An up-to-date CV
  • Two examples of written work completed during either Masters or undergraduate study.

Murder in Victorian Lanarkshire: ‘Annville’ and ‘The Flourish’ – Prof Kirstie Blair

In 1883 Charlotte Spears, a music teacher, and her maid, Katie Cameron, were brutally murdered in Kirkfieldbank, a small village by the Clyde, by Charlotte’s cousin, Willie Brown. Charlotte had been taking care of a house owned by her aunt and uncle (Helen and John Brown), Annville, where their son Willie, a former medical student at Glasgow, came to recuperate from a dangerous fever. In November 1883, Willie killed both Charlotte and Katie with a kitchen knife, and then committed suicide: the case was very widely reported, in Scotland and beyond.

In 2004 Canadian writer Heather Spears published The Flourish, a haunting and very readable novel which richly recreates the provincialism and rigid social structures of late Victorian Lanarkshire. As a relative of Charlotte’s, Heather told me that she ‘felt I knew my characters in my very bones’ and that her account, based on detailed research, ‘almost fits into “true crime” if it fits anywhere’. This year, Scottish playwright Martin Travers has returned to the story of the Kirkfieldbank murders for a new dramatic adaptation. I asked him about the creative process involved.

KB: What drew you to the story of these murders?

MT: I moved to Lanark seven years ago and one of the first things I did was join the local library. I was keen – like I’m sure most people are – to find out more about a place they move to. The librarian pointed me to The Flourish – he had helped Heather when she was over here researching the novel. That’s how I found out about the story.

Sometimes it’s what I don’t know about a true story that draws me in. The facts are there but the tumbling decent towards them and what motivated the people – that’s what I find really intriguing.

KB: What do you find particularly interesting, or challenging, about writing a play set in late nineteenth-century Scotland?

MT: The language! I normally write plays in a bastardised modern Scots – A Glasgow and Lanarkshire tipped brogue – the language I grew up with. This is so different. So specific. So rich and yet almost lost to us. When I stayed with Heather in Copenhagen last year it was one of the things we talked about the most. It’s the main strength I can bring to the adaptation. There’s lots of great (and wonderful) effort going into saving Gaelic. The more I study Scots words the more I care about the language. I think Scots is treated a bit like a grey squirrel compared to Gaelic but it’s poetic and mucky – very onomatopoeic. And there are barrel loads of words that are a joy to read and shout out loud. It’s like being on a beach collecting shells – and every one I pick up is too lovely or funny or gnarly to throw away. Scots make the limited modern English we use in our lives feel like the cooking instructions on the back of a ready meal.

The 19th century research Heather conducted and that went into The Flourish is amazing. So lots of the hard work has been done by her already. Thanks Heather!

KB: How will you convey the culture of Scotland in this period on the stage?

MT: It’s particularly important to find distinct and believable voices for the characters in a play. Otherwise you only hear actors reciting the playwright’s words. When that happens it isn’t a satisfying theatrical experience for the audience. They smell a vain rat. So I’ve been working really hard getting to know the five characters from the novel that are in the play. If I don’t know them inside out then I’m not doing my job.

So the language and the predicaments and how the characters react to them given their individual upbringings – their different classes – their religious beliefs. All of this goes into creating a believable 19th centaury world.

KB: Related to this, what do you think this murder case tells us about life in small-town Lanarkshire in this period?

MT: Loads – but I think it tells us even more about their society’s limited understanding of mental health and illness than anything else. I don’t think Willie Brown was born capable of murder. He seems a bright, fragile and impressionable boy who wanted to good. A single dose of antibiotics would have cured his Milk Fever. He would have gone on with his studies in Glasgow – probably became a doctor or surgeon and saved lives. Charlotte would probably have married and fulfilled her musical ambitions. Katie the scullery servant would have gone to work for someone else somewhere else. That’s dramatic. That’s tragic. That’s what makes this such a powerful story. It’s the world they lived in that sets the wheels in motion and on the road to darkness.

KB: Spears’ novel gives the reader a very strong impression of the difficulties faced by a woman trying to make an independent life for herself in a close-knit community. Will you be taking a similar line?

MT: Charlotte Spears (the protagonist in the story) was brave. Her mother died in childbirth. She put her life on hold for years – nursing her brother Robert, then her father, until both past away. Her aunt Helen (I think it’s important that Helen was Charlotte’s mother’s sister) brings her to Annville to start a new life. That’s brave. To leave Glasgow’s West End and come to a foreign rural world where people spoke what must have seemed like a foreign language. Then out of the blue she’s back in a vortex of sickness and patient care looking after Willie. And even then she teaches singing, piano and harmonium – she runs two choirs and is a woman precentor at the kirk and plays full classical piano concerts. That takes an unbelievable strength of character and will.

And for me it’s all about the language again. I’ve chosen to write Charlotte’s voice in Christian English – the language of the aspiring classes. It’s this distinction that keeps her separate and detached from the world she finds herself in. Helen and Willie will flit between English and Scots as their emotions get the better of them. Roddy and Katie will speak in Scots. Charlotte is a stranger in this world. That’s got so much dramatic potential for me.

KB: How will your adaptation differ from Spears’ interpretation of the events that led up to these murders?

MT: The main distinction is I have focused in on five characters from the novel and set everything in Annville House. The fifth character (another real person) being the local policeman Sub Inspector Roddy Monro. I’ve expanded his character to take on elements of Charlotte’s other romantic interests in the novel.

A true story is like a join the dots puzzle. When you dramatise it you add some of our own dots. So Annville takes lots of Heather’s dots and she’s very graciously allowed me to add my own dots too.

KB: Your play is titled Annville, which is the name of the house at the centre of the narrative. Why choose this title, and what does the house signify?

MT: For me the house represents everything Helen has worked so hard all her life to achieve. It’s her investment. It’s initially a place of sanctuary for Charlotte – then a place of recuperation for Willie – a place of work for Katie – and ultimately the scene of the horrific events.

The house and what it represents – wealth, security, power of sorts. I think this plays a huge role in Willie’s paranoia near the end. He thinks the house should be his but fears Helen will give it to Charlotte. This is all in his head but in my opinion could have been a major factor in why Willie did what he did.

I also really like the connection with the word anvil. The weight of an anvil. That constant battering it takes.

Heather told me recently she almost called The Flourish Miss Spears of Annville – so it feels epic – feels strong – feels right.

KB: What do you hope audiences will take away from your adaptation?

Initially we only have the funding for rehearsed readings in October. The hope is that this will lead to funding for a full production. But what I hope from the readings is for people to get a chance to be gripped by these fascinating characters like I was when I read the novel and be immersed in their world and language.

I want people to take away a sadness of knowing that Charlotte’s strength and Christian devotion couldn’t save her or Katie. I want them to wish it had been different. I want them to talk about the play and women’s rights then and now – both here and abroad.

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Cally Phillips, ‘Stepping Out of the Shadow of Peter Pan’

by Herbert Rose Barraud, sepia carbon print on card mount, 1892

I first encountered J. M. Barrie when I was seven. But not through Peter Pan. In 1970 my mum was working in the costume department at the Dundee Rep during a production of The Admirable Crichton and due to a child-care crisis I ended up in the stalls one day after school. Family legend has it that I got upset by the director’s ‘robust’ exchange with the actors and was taken backstage afterwards to see that it was all a theatrical illusion, not ‘real’. I met Crichton himself, removing his makeup. I was hooked on theatre from that point.

In 1978 I saw Andrew Birkin’s J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys on TV and became interested in Barrie himself. In the early 1980s, while a student at St Andrews, I frequented the coffee shop which claimed from a blue plaque outside to be the home of the ‘real’ Admirable Crichton and inside had a beam bearing Barrie’s name on the roll call of former Rectors. The man and the play just wouldn’t let me go.

Fast forward to 1989 and I encountered Dear Brutus and Mary Rose at Drama School. I was amazed and impressed by the complexity of the plays, which weren’t ‘fashionable’ at that time but under radical directorship they revealed all kinds of things beyond the light Edwardian drawing room fare they were then categorised as.

A decade later I started on a PhD looking at S. R. Crockett and J. M. Barrie’s ‘ordinary heroes’ as examples of the Scots Romance tradition. Health and finances meant I had to abandon formal study, but neither author fully let me go.

In 2002 I was dramatist in residence for Dumfries and Galloway and tried at every turn to champion Barrie and his Dumfries connection – including a symposium day to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Admirable Crichton. The day included a talk by Prof Ronnie Jack and a production of my own modern version of the play Down the Line. The play was performed by OUDS in Oxford the following year and in 2004 (the 100th anniversary of Peter Pan) I was involved with a number of projects, including writing a Peter Pan education pack.

More than another decade has passed. Life goes on. Barrie stays there in the background of my life, like a shadow I can’t get rid of. Not Peter Pan, never Peter Pan, (though I’ve dabbled with some of the earlier incarnations lately) and not so much the drama as the prose – including the ‘crossover’ works such as A Well-Remembered Voice. Whichever other Scots writer I am focusing on at any time, Barrie always seems to be there in the background.

I would have joined a J. M. Barrie Society any time in the last 40 years had one existed. The death of Prof Ronnie Jack late last year (and my experience setting up and running the S. R. Crockett literary society The Galloway Raiders) got me thinking that perhaps it was time to stop waiting and start doing something.

So, I’m in the process of setting up the J. M. Barrie Literary Society. I have no idea what form it will take. That depends on who joins and what they want from a society – and what they are prepared to contribute. I only know it will not be a Peter Pan society. It will be a grown up J. M. Barrie society which takes him out of Peter’s shadow and brings him and his work into the light.   The ‘launch’ date is set for May 9th. So if you’re interested in Barrie and his work and would like to be involved or have got ideas of the sort of society you’d like to be a member of – then get in touch. The email address is and the website is

Somewhere between the now cliched quotes: ‘to die will be an awfully big adventure’ and ‘there are few more impressive sights than a Scotsman on the make’ I hope we’ll be able to dig a bit deeper, set up and offer a tribute to Barrie and in the process honour the memory of Prof Ronnie Jack who was his greatest advocate of recent years. Someone has to do it. Why not join me?

Cally Phillips is an independent researcher, with strong interests in Scottish Victorian literature. For more information on her interests, see our Associates page.

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‘To Capture What We Cannot Keep’: Beatrice Colin’s 1880s fiction

Beatrice Colin’s To Capture What We Cannot Keep, published in 2016, is set in 1887, when a young Scottish widow, Caitriona Wallace, finds herself chaperoning two siblings in Paris. A chance meeting with an engineer engaged in the construction of the Eiffel Tower, Émile Nouguier, leads to romance. The plot investigates the tensions between their social positions, their assigned gender roles, their affiliations to Scotland and France, and between duty and desire in the late Victorian period. I asked Beatrice some questions about the process of writing a ‘neo-Victorian’ Scottish novel.

What drew you to set a novel in this particular period?

To write about Paris in the 1880s was a real joy. I love the city and know it well – my great aunt lived near the Bois de Bolougne. Also, I am drawn to times of change – I’ve written about the birth of the German film industry and the early days of Jazz in America. The Eiffel Tower was at the forefront of a new style of engineering, one which used iron instead of stone, and this meant large structures could be built in novel ways. Eiffel was initially a bridge builder and most of the structures he supervised were fashioned in his workshops and then put together on site like huge Meccano sets. I set the novel in 1887-1889, the two years the tower took to build, in the hope of capturing something of those times. I found that although it was a time of innovation in engineering, art and music, for example, Paris at that time was quite rigidly conservative city. The class system was still very much in place and while the Neo-Impressionists were painting the island of Le Grande Jatte in dots, at the same time and in the same spot, men were engaged in the archaic ritual of duelling.

Also, from a selfish point of view, I was tired of writing about war (I was and still am working on a novel about the Spanish Civil War) and wanted to write about something completely different.

To Capture What You Cannot Keep is set primarily in late nineteenth-century Paris and Glasgow. Were you consciously thinking about the differences – and similarities – between these cities? How did you want to represent these?

I was very conscious of the differences and similarities. Paris was, and is, a city where artists flock, to which people escape to paint or write and experience a certain kind of bohemian freedom. This idea of the city as the destination of choice for the artistic so they can starve in a garret has been portrayed in dozens of books and films from George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London to Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

What I discovered when I started to research the novel was that my impression of both cities wasn’t quite accurate. Glasgow in the late 19th century was a manufacturing city where vast wealth was generated, fortunes could be amassed and where successful men from lowly backgrounds, such as William Arrol, could rise quite quickly up the social ladder. It was very provincial compared to Paris but there is evidence of traffic between the cities. James Duncan, who owned Benmore House on the Cowal Pennisular, was an art collector and sugar baron, who regularly visited Paris to buy paintings and had a large collection of work by French artists. Gustave Eiffel knew William Arrol and was at the opening of the Forth Rail Bridge.

Paris was a city of huge contrast; as well as being at the centre of many artistic movements, it was also a city that stuck rigidly to the social seasons and where the ‘upper crust’ still locked themselves away on Bastille Day. But it was also a city that was good at hiding its past – only thirty years earlier it had been at war and yet you wouldn’t know it. Haussmann’s programme of demolition and construction had banished all the poverty and squalor to the outer arrondissements and the centre of Paris was, and still is, solidly affluent. The tower, however, was constructed specifically to people could look over the city; in Roland Barthes words, ‘it gives us the world to be read.’

In my novel, I wanted to show both cities in ways that we haven’t seen before. In Paris, I wanted to show the contrast between the very rich to the very poor, as well as between the artistic and the less celebrated, but equally creative, engineers. I also wanted to re-imagine Glasgow in the same period and portray a city as a powerhouse of manufacturing.

Following on from this, the novel sets up a strong contrast between the relative freedoms of France and the limitations of Cait’s life in Scotland. What impression did you want to convey of late Victorian Scotland?

I think being a woman in this period was hard in any city. Any sense of freedom granted to women in Paris was illusory; women were either wives, mistresses or prostitutes. Having said that, there were some extremely wealthy prostitutes, known as ‘Le Grande Horizontals,’ such as Emilienne d’Alencon. Cait is only thirty but she is a widow. In that period women without an income of their own had to either marry again or live in genteel poverty. Although technology and culture were changing fast, the position of women was the same as it had been for hundreds of years. The difference in Paris was wealth; rich women had more freedom.

How did you go about researching the historical background to the novel, and were any works particularly useful?

I looked for books printed in the mid-20th century when 1880s were still in living memory, such as Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals; Paris-La Belle Epoque by Cornelia Otis Skinner (Michael Joseph, 1963). I also consulted many books on Eiffel such as Gustave Eiffel by Henri Loyette (Rizolli, New York, 1985). I used a Baedecker from 1900 to make sure all the practical details were correct. Otherwise, I consulted photographs, paintings, costume archives and, of course, visited all the locations.

Were you influenced by French and/or British writers from the late nineteenth century?

I read some Zola when researching the novel. I also read Henry James, Edith Wharton (although she was American she lived in Paris). I read a lot of contemporary fiction, rather than Victorian. Indeed, I see my work as contemporary fiction written about a historical period rather than ‘historical fiction’ which is a genre which comes with its own conventions.

Engineering is a central theme and provides a set of metaphors that run through To Capture What You Cannot Keep. What interested you about nineteenth-century engineering and engineers?

Partly the way that iron had such a huge and lasting impact on construction but it’s an area that no one ever talks about. The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic structures in the world and yet few people know when it was built, by whom and why. Likewise, structures such as the Forth Rail Bridge, which was constructed by William Arrol’s company, is both beautifully light and aesthetically pleasing – it’s a joy to cross on the train! And yet although other figures of the 19th century – the artists, writers and composers – are celebrated, few people have heard of William Arrol or Emile Nouguier. Most people don’t realise the Eiffel Tower was named after a man.

Do you consider To Capture What You Cannot Keep a part of a ‘neo-Victorian’ genre?

I feel that there are some similarities between my work and the work of writers such as Sarah Waters and Andrew Miller in that we look at the 19th century through a 21st century lens. I am actively drawn to representing the era in a way that is true and shy away from ‘mis-remembering’ the period for the sake of the plot, or simply transposing a 21st century story into corsets and stays. It was such a fascinating era and there was so much that changed in a relatively short time. I discovered much more that I couldn’t fit into the book that I want to write about. Steam locomotives, for example.

Interview by Kirstie Blair. Beatrice Colin is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Strathclyde.