Harriet Guest


MA, PhD (Cantab)

Professor Harriet Guest is the present director for the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies. Her last book was Empire, Barbarism and Civilisation: William Hodges, James Cook and the Return to the Pacific.  In recent months, she has been writing on Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Amelia Alderson Opie.

Her latest book, Unbounded Attachment: Sentiment and Politics in the Age of the French Revolution (Oxford University Press) will be published in November 2013. 

Postgraduate teaching

Professor Harriet Guest teaches the MA module From Wollstonecraft to Jane Austin: Femininity and Literary Culture

Research Interests

My current research focuses on the changing roles available to British women, and particularly women writers, in the 1790s. I discuss some of the more familiar writers of the period - Mary Robinson, Charlotte Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft, Helen Maria Williams, and Hester Piozzi, for example - in the context of the work of more obscure figures, such as anonymous writers of pamphlets, speeches and sermons who claim to be women, or women who appear briefly in newspapers, plays, caricatures and songs. I am interested in the unevenness and apparent incoherence of their writing on public issues such as the war with France , and in the extent to which this may enable or oblige them to approach the debates that dominate the period in surprising and innovative ways.

I also continue to research the eighteenth-century British presence in the South Pacific, and in particular the voyages of James Cook and William Bligh.


I have supervised PhD dissertations on a range of topics including the following: Women, privacy and religion in eighteenth-century England, Romantic Women Poets, Catharine Macaulay, Mary Hays, Eighteenth-century theories of beauty, The correspondence of Mary Delany, Gender in eighteenth-century botanical texts, The critical reception of Jane Austen, Female Spectatorship in the second half of the eighteenth century.

I am interested in supervising postgraduate research on aspects of British cultures in the period 1740-1820, and in particular on issues to do with the representation of women in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and on Pacific exploration in the C18th.


Selected Publications


  • Unbounded Attachment: Sentiment and Politics in the Age of the French Revolution (Oxford University Press, November 2013). 
  • Empire, Barbarism and Civilisation: Captain Cook, William Hodges and the Return to the Pacific ( Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • Charlotte Smith, Marchmont (1796), edited with an introductory essay by Harriet Guest and Kate Davies as vol. 9 of the Works of Charlotte Smith, gen. ed. Stuart Curran, 14 vols (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2005-2007)
  • Small Change: Women, Learning, Patriotism, 1750-1810 ( Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2000). Small Change: Women, Learning, Patriotism, 1750-1810
  • Johann Reinhold Forster, Observations Made During a Voyage Round the World, edited with introductory essays by Nicholas Thomas, Harriet Guest, and Michael Dettelbach (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1996).
  • A Form of Sound Words: The Religious Poetry of Christopher Smart (Oxford: Clarendon Press, O.U.P., 1989).

Selected Recent Articles and Essays

  • 2008  (with Judith Stanton) ‘Charlotte Smith to Thomas Cadell, Sr., and Harriet Lee: Two New Letters’, Keats-Shelley Journal, 57, 2008, pp. 32-41 .
  • 2009  (with Judith Stanton)  ‘”A smart strike on the nerves”: Two letters from Charlotte Smith to Thomas Cadell, with a title page’, Women’s Writing, ‘Charlotte Smith: The Bicentennial Issue’, edited by Antje Blank, 16 (1) 2009, pp. 6-19.
  • 2010   ‘Charlotte Smith, Mary Robinson and the first year of the war with France’, in Jacqueline Labbe, ed., The History of British Women’s Writing, 1750-1830, vol. 5 of The History of British Women’s Writing, gen. eds Jennie Batchelor and Cora Kaplan, London, Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 207-230. ISBN 978-0-230-20079-1. 
  • 2011    ‘Amelia Alderson Opie: Sociability and Politics’ in a special issue of the Bodleian Library Record, on ‘The William Godwin Diary’, edited by Mark Philp and David O’Shaughnessy 24 (1) 2011, pp. 44-50.


  •  2013 ‘Luck be a Lady: Patronage and professionalism for women in the 1790s’, in Elizabeth Eger, ed, Brilliant Women: Bluestockings in British Art and Culture, 1700-1830, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2013  ‘Commemorating Captain Cook in the Country Estate’, in Gillian Perry, Kate Retford, Jordan Vibert and Hannah Lyons, eds, Placing Faces: The Portrait and the Country House, 1650-1850, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • 2013/14  ‘Two Women Travellers in Wales in 1774: Hester Lynch Thrale and Mary Robinson’, in Catherine Ingrassia, ed., Cambridge Companion to Women’s Writing in the Eighteenth Century (1660-1780), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Harriet Guest

Contact Details 
E mail: harriet.guest@york.ac.uk
Fax: 01904 324989
Department: English and Related Literature

 Empire, Barbarism and Civilisation book cover