Category Archives: 19th Century

New Book Releases: ‘Irish London: A Cultural History 1850-1916’

By Richard Kirkland

Written by Professor of Irish Literature & Cultural Theory Richard Kirkland, Irish London: A Cultural History 1850-1916 was published by Bloomsbury in September 2021, and has a paperback release forthcoming in 2022.

What drew you to this subject?

I’ve always written about Irish culture – it’s been my life really – and in the area of Camden where I live the history of Irish London is inescapable and compelling. So I hoped the book would be a way of connecting my research interests with my day-to-day experience and the friends I have here. I’ve also thought a good deal about London itself over the years, partly because it is such a strong research and teaching area in the English department. In fact, so many of the events I describe in the book happened within a few hundred yards of what is now the Virginia Woolf Building!

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An Office of One’s Own: Introducing Dr Emma Butcher

By Emma Butcher

I’m writing this sat in my lovely new office. I’m not used to having a space all to myself, so it feels apt that my first ‘office of one’s own’ is situated in the Virginia Woolf Building. It’s quite a lovely moment at this point in the year, even if slightly chaotic, with the new term around the corner and the campus once again starting to bustle after a year and half’s painful lull caused by the pandemic.

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Serial Forms

By Clare Pettitt, Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture at King’s College London

The 5th of June 1846 was a boiling hot day. It was so hot that Elizabeth Barrett, soon to become Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘could do nothing but lie on the sofa and drink lemonade and read Monte Cristo’. She wrote to Robert Browning that she had started ‘“Le Comte de Monte Cristo,” the new book by Dumas, (observe how I waste my time . . .) & really he amuses me . . . six volumes I am glad to see.’ She was not alone: Dumas’s newspaper novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, was everywhere that year. It was running in various languages in serial magazines and abridged in the cheap penny papers across Europe and America. Ralph Waldo Emerson remembered “falling back” on long serial novels by Dumas and Dickens on his voyage to Europe from America in 1847. Dickens’s new novel Dombey and Son was coming out between October 1846 and April 1848 and was eagerly consumed by the literate and semi-literate alike. In the 1840s, then, the print serial had begun to cross languages, countries, classes, and genders. The form was creating new international readerships and a new rhythm of reading.

Alexandre Dumas photographed in 1855 by Nadar. His proto-revolutionary The Count of Monte Cristo showed how seriality could be put to revolutionary use and proved remarkably prophetic.

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Lockdown Reading Recommendations from the English Department

Six members of the King’s English Department have pulled together a list of the books, poems, and writing that have been inspiring them during lockdown.

This post was originally posted on Between the Acts, a space for writing by students of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, and shared via the Offer Holder Hub by Ellen Englefield and Hannah Hungerford.

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Erasing History? Colston in Bristol

by Brian Murray, Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature, King’s College London

The toppling of the statue of slave trader and MP Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bristol on 7th June has led to a predictable wave of outrage at the ‘erasure of history’. But what kinds of history might a statue be said to embody or project? The Colston statue was 125 years old. But it is also an idealised late-Victorian representation of seventeenth-century subject (unveiled 174 years after Colston’s death). What did Colston mean to Bristolians in 1895? Contemporary reports of the statue’s erection in the Bristol Mercury – accessed via the British Library Newspapers database – offer a glimpse of the new monument at its first unveiling.
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