Professor Deborah Wynne

Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature


BA, MPhil, PhD, FHEA


I am Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature and Director of Research for the English Department. I also act as the Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) English degree at University Centre Shrewsbury, where I teach modules such as ‘Ways of Reading’, ‘An Introduction to Literature and Film’, and ‘Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing’.

My current research projects emerge from an interest in textile cultures in Victorian and Edwardian Britain, particularly the ways in which novelists represented the role of cloth in social life.  I received an AHRC Fellowship in 2013-14 for my Literary Fabrics project, an examination of how writers represented textile manufacture, clothing, needlework and tapestry, as well as the retailing and trading of textiles. My research explores the work of Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, William Morris, H.G. Wells and Arnold Bennett. A number of articles and book chapters have since been published related to this project: on rags and recycling in Dickens’s work; on Arnold Bennett and material culture; and on the life-writing of men involved in the drapery trade. I am currently developing the research into a book on cloth manufacturing in Victorian novels.

My research on Victorian material culture also informs my teaching. As well as encouraging students to explore the key roles played by objects in nineteenth-century literature and culture, I also teach thing theory as an important new approach to contemporary fiction and film.


I specialise in nineteenth-century literature, theory, and women’s writing. I have taught on the following modules:

  • Women’s Writing and Feminist Theory
  • Language and Gender
  • Reading Contemporary Fiction and Film Through Theory
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature: The Canon and Beyond 

Postgraduate supervision:

I currently supervise four PhD students and have supervised three PhD candidates to successful completion. I have also examined eleven PhD theses, five of them externally. My graduate students work in the fields of Victorian and twentieth-century literature and culture. I welcome enquiries about research projects on:

  • Nineteenth-century literature and culture
  • Nineteenth-century women writers
  • Charles Dickens
  • Charlotte Brontë
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Arnold Bennett
  • Costume drama and screen adaptations of nineteenth-century literature


My AHRC-funded Literary Fabrics: Textile Languages and Costume Dramas 1837-1914 project has been the main focus of my research recently. However, I am also involved in other ventures. My interest in the relationship between literary texts and material culture informs my collaborative research with Dr Amber Regis (from the University of Sheffield). We explore the afterlives of Victorian novels and novelists and have co-authored an essay on Dickens’s Miss Havisham in Neo-Victorian Studies in 2012, focusing on her remarkable wedding dress.  Our co-edited book of essays focusing on Charlotte Brontë’s cultural impact, Charlotte Brontë: Legacies and Afterlives will be published by Manchester University Press in 2016, the year of Brontë’s bicentenary. My chapter, ‘The “Charlotte” Cult: Writing the Literary Pilgrimage, from Gaskell to Woolf’, looks at the emergence of Charlotte Brontë as a cult figure in the fifty years after her death and the establishment of Haworth as a literary shrine. Forthcoming projects include a book on Victorian manufacturing for the new Routledge series, Victorian Material Culture; an article, ‘Approaching Charlotte Brontë in the Twenty-First Century’ for Literature Compass; and a monograph based on Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell and the textile industries of the north. 

External Research Funding:

2014-16: AHRC Grant (Co-Investigator/ mentor of ECR) project: Marie Duval Presents Ally Sloper: The Female Cartoonist and Popular Theatre in London, 1869-85. Dr Simon Grennan (PI) 2014-2016. [ref. AH/M000257/1: total grant £250,000]

2013-14: AHRC Leadership Fellow (Principal Investigator) project: Literary Fabrics: The Textile Languages of Novels and Costume Dramas [ref. AH/K00803X/1: total grant £59,057] 

2008-09: AHRC Research Leave Grant (Principal Investigator), Women and Personal Property in the Victorian Novel [ref. AH/G002940/1, total grant: £17, 647]

1997-98: Postdoctoral Leverhulme Trust Fellowship (£17,500), Project title: The Collaborations of Dickens and Collins, Keele University

Published work


Women and Personal Property in the Victorian Novel (Ashgate, 2010).

A study of Victorian women and property, this book was supported by a generous AHRC research leave award for the academic year 2008-09. It focuses on the representations of women’s portable property in the work of Charles Dickens, Henry James and George Eliot. For a review of the book in the journal Victorian Studies see:

The Sensation Novel and the Victorian Family Magazine (Palgrave, 2001)

My first book, The Sensation Novel and the Victorian Family Magazine was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2001, a development from my PhD thesis, written at the University of Keele (1994-7). Although I have not published subsequently on sensation fiction and periodicals, I continue to think about the fluid boundaries between popular and canonical fiction in Victorian culture.


Journal articles and book chapters:

‘The “Charlotte” Cult: Writing the Literary Pilgrimage, from Gaskell to Woolf’, in Charlotte Brontë: Legacies and Afterlives (eds) Amber K. Regis and Deborah Wynne (forthcoming, Manchester University Press, 2016)

‘Approaching Charlotte Brontë in the Twenty-First Century’, Literature Compass (forthcoming)

‘Reading Victorian Rags: Recycling, Redemption and Dickens’s Ragged Children’, Journal of Victorian Culture 20: 1 (2015): 34-49
DOI: 10.1080/13555502.2014.991747      Open Access:
‘The “Despised Trade” in Textiles: H.G. Wells, William Paine, Charles Cavers and the Male Draper’s Life, 1870-1914’, Textile History 46:1 (May 2015): 99-113
DOI: 10.1179/0040496915Z.00000000059     Open Access:

‘Arnold Bennett and Material Culture’ in A Companion to Arnold Bennett (ed.) John Shapcott (Leek: Churnet Valley Press, 2015): 193-207 [ISBN: 978-0-9928-8793-3]

‘Charlotte Brontë’s Frocks and Shirley’s Queer Textiles’ in Literary Bric-a-Brac and the Victorians: From Commodities to Oddities (eds) Jonathon Shears and Jan Harrison (Ashgate, 2013): 147-163 [ISBN: 978-1-4094-3990-5]

Amber R. Regis and Deborah Wynne, ‘Miss Havisham’s Dress: Materialising Dickens in Film Adaptations of Great Expectations’, Special Issue: The Other Dickens: Neo-Victorian Appropriation and Adaptation, Neo-Victorian Studies, 5:2 (2012): 35-58    Open Access:

‘Circulation and Stasis: Feminine Property in the Novels of Charles Dickens’, Dickens, Sexuality and Gender ed. Lillian Nayder (Ashgate, 2012): pp. 593-624 [ISBN 978-1-4094-3095-7] 

‘Readers and Reading Practices’ in The Oxford History of the Novel in English: Vol. 3: The Nineteenth-Century Novel 1820-1880, ed. Jenny Bourne Taylor and John Kucich (Oxford University Press, 2011): pp. 22-36 [ISBN 978-0-19-956061-5]

‘Critical Responses to Sensation’ in A Companion to Sensation Fiction ed. Pamela Gilbert (Blackwell, 2011): pp. 389-400 [ISBN: 978-1-4051-9558-4]

‘The New Woman, Portable Property and The Spoils of Poynton’, The Henry James Review 31: 2 (May 2010): pp. 142-153

‘The Victorians’ in Studying English Literature, (eds) Ashley Chantler and David Higgins (Continuum, 2010).

The Spoils of Poynton’ in Critical Companion to Henry James: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, (eds) Kendall Johnson and Eric Haralson (Clearmark Books, 2009) 

‘The Materialisation of the “Austen World”: Film Adaptations of Jane Austen’s Novels’, (ed.) Brian Baker, Textual Revisions (Chester Academic Press, 2009) 

‘Equivocal Objects: The Problems of Property in Daniel Deronda’, in nineteen: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, (Spring, 2008)

‘Scenes of “Incredible Outrage”: Dickens, Ireland and A Tale of Two Cities’, Dickens Studies Annual vol. 37 (2006/7): pp. 51-64

‘Hysteria Repeating Itself: Elizabeth Gaskell’s Lois the Witch’, Women’s Writing, 12:1 (2005): 85-97.

‘Responses to the 1851 Great Exhibition in Household Words’, The Dickensian 455:97, Part 3 (Winter 2001/2): pp. 228-34

‘See What A Big Wide Bed It Is!: Mrs Henry Wood and the Philistine Imagination’ (eds) Emma Liggins and Daniel Duffy Feminist Readings of Victorian Popular Texts: Divergent Femininities(Ashgate, 2001)

‘“We Were Unhealthy and Unsafe”: Great Expectations and All The Year Round’s Anxiety Stories’, Journal of Victorian Culture (Spring, 2000):  45-59 

I am regularly asked to review for major academic publishers and journals such as Ashgate; Cambridge University Press; Manchester University Press; Ohio State University Press; Palgrave Macmillan; State University of New York Press; Victorian Studies; Victorian ReviewJournal of Victorian CultureMLR; English; Women’s Writing; American Periodicals; Literature Compass; Tulsa Studies in Women’s LiteratureTextile History; Victorian Periodicals Review; Journal of Family Studies; and Nineteenth-Century Contexts. I have also provided entries on Henry James and Victorian Material Culture to the Oxford Bibliographies Online published by Oxford University Press.


Public Engagement:

As part of my Literary Fabrics project I organise a range of public engagement events and activities. I am the director of the Textile Stories Project, designed to harness contemporary interest in textiles, fashion, and costume dramas in order to raise awareness of the continuing relevance and significance of nineteenth-century literary texts, along with the role of costume and textiles in screen adaptations.

UoC 175th Anniversary Quilt

The University of Chester’s 175th Anniversary Quilt (the focus of the  2015 Textile Stories Study Day) Photographed by Fiona Roberts, organiser of the Quilt Project.

The Textile Stories Project has a blog, a record of our activities and contributions from people interested in textiles and the stories they tell: