My primary area of research is the fiction of the Victorian novelist, Anthony Trollope (1815-1882). Victorian contexts, attitudes, beliefs, language and leisure all differ subtly from our own, and I have tried to point out ways in which this is so in the various Trollope works I have edited. These include the Complete Short Stories, the late comic novel Ayala’s Angel, the brief mystery Cousin Henry, and the poignant love-story, The Small House at Allington, which many Trollopians regard as their favourite book. I have written a detailed study of Trollope’s obsessive attitude to work and an internet guide to his most highly regarded serial fiction, the six Palliser novels. I am currently engaged on a study of the subtlety and variety of Trollope’s presentation of the inner life of women.
In addition I have edited the Complete Shorter Fiction of Trollope’s near-contemporary, Wilkie Collins, and have thus helped to get some out-of-the-way items by this still underestimated writer back in print. I’ve contributed two podcasts to the Faculty Great Writers Inspire project, on Collins and shamefully neglected Sir Walter Scott. I am fascinated by the strange circumspection with which that prolific literary professional Kingsley Amis seems to have ensured he would go down to posterity as a drunken, woman-hating bigot, and I have published a long essay on the seriousness and profundity of his writings on religion. I am assembling a series of meditations on (generally unfamiliar) spiritual literature as a contribution to the college’s commitment to interdisciplinary study in Theology and Literature. I have also published on the classic English Ghost-Story.
Teaching and Examining
Mainly for Modern and Victorian periods in Prelims, but also 1760-1830, dissertations in several periods and American Literature. I have examined American Literature, Wilde, Dickens and Romantic Period Literature in Oxford FHS.
I have been a senior examiner for OCR and its constituent bodies at AS/A2 since 1995, working on the Advanced Extension Award (2002-09). I have also written and edited a number of AS and A2 study guides for OCR.
I have taught for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education since 1984; I am currently teaching and examining for the English Foundation Certificate.