English and Related Literature
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Sophie took her PhD at York, where her thesis focused on the relationship between naming and identity in late eighteenth-century literature and culture. She then spent five years as a Lecturer at Cardiff University, where she taught a range of critical and creative modules. She has published articles addressing the writings of Frances Burney, Elizabeth Montagu, William Godwin and Jeremy Bentham, and has edited a collection of essays about the Burney family.
In 2019, along with colleagues from Manchester University, she was awarded a large AHRC grant for the three-year project 'Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers', based at the John Rylands Library. In 2022 the team published their open access digital edition The Mary Hamilton Papers (c.1740-c.1850). This open access resource presents 3000 items of life writing (diaries, letters and manuscript books) as high-resolution images, metadata, and transcribed text with an editorial gloss. In 2023 Sophie will be editing a volume of essays, Mary Hamilton and Her Circles, with her Co-Investigators David Denison and Nuria Yáñez-Bouza. She will also be finishing and submitting articles addressing Hamilton's reading practices, and her relationships with Frances Burney and with the future George IV.
Sophie is also a creative writer of prose fiction and autofiction. In 2012 she won the Arts Council England Next Great Novelist Award with her debut novel Rites (Route Publishing). She has received awards from New Writing North, the Society of Authors, and Arts Council England's DYCP scheme to support her writing. Her most recent publication, a creative-critical essay about motherhood and mobility called Walking Matilda, was aired on BBC Radio 3 and featured in Writers on Walks, an audio anthology published by Penguin, in 2023.
Sophie is an expert in British literature and culture of the long eighteenth century. Her core interests are: naming and kinship, reading practices, cultures of collection, correspondence networks and life-writing. In recent years, her research in these areas has addressed the talented and influential Burney family - particularly the novelist and diarist Frances Burney (1752-1840) and her brother, the critic and collector Charles Burney (1757-1817) – and their circles. She has published articles addressing Frances Burney's scientific sociability, Elizabeth Montagu's fictive kinship, and the personal name as unit of surveillance in the writing of William Godwin and Jeremy Bentham. She has also edited a special issue of Eighteenth-Century Life called 'New Perspectives on the Burney Family'.
Sophie is Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project 'Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers', based at the John Rylands Library. She manages the Reading Practices strand of the project, which aims to investigate how the Mary Hamilton archive might alter scholarly understanding of eighteenth and nineteenth century patterns of textual circulation, reception and response. She is currently preparing articles addressing (i) her findings in this area (ii) Hamilton's fraught relationship with the future George IV (iii) Hamilton's literary and sociable relations with Frances Burney. With her Co-investigators David Denison and Nuria Yáñez-Bouza, she is co-editing a volume of essays called Mary Hamilton and Her Circles. In 2022 the team published their open access digital edition The Mary Hamilton Papers (c.1740-c.1850). This open access resource presents 3000 items of life writing (diaries, letters and manuscript books) as high-resolution images, metadata, and transcribed text with an editorial gloss.
Sophie has a side-interest in the writing of Hilary Mantel. 2023 will see the publication of her reflective essay, 'Naming Names: Reflections on Referentiality in Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall Trilogy', in Historical Fiction Now, eds. Mark Eaton and Bruce Holsinger, forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
Other ongoing research projects include: a monograph provisionally entitled Romantic Onomastics: Naming and Identity in British Literature 1770-1800, an article called 'To Give Birth to Valuable Productions: John Trusler's Literary Society', a minigraph entitled Evelina is in Aberdeen! Reading with the Burneys, and an essay on the death writing of Hester Thrale Piozzi.
In 2012 Sophie published her debut novel Rites, which won the Arts Council England Next Great Novelist Award. Since then she has been working on a contemporary novel about motherhood and monstrosity set in present-day York, which has received funding from the Society of Authors and Arts Council England. She has also had several short stories published. Her most recent publication, a creative-critical essay about motherhood and mobility called Walking Matilda, was aired on BBC Radio 3 and featured in Writers on Walks, an audio anthology published by Penguin, in 2023.
Sophie currently convenes and teaches undergraduate modules on Jane Austen, The Business of Books, and Adventures in the Archive. She contributes to the MA modules Romantic Texts and Contexts and Wollstonecraft to Austen: Femininity and Literary Culture. She co-supervises critical and creative doctoral projects. She is an active member of the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Writers at York group.
As a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker, Sophie is passionate about communicating academic research to a wide audience. She has written, presented and guested on more than 20 programmes for BBC Radio: sample topics include marital naming, children's literature, contemporary attitudes towards death, the history of the York Retreat, Georgian entertainments, and the myth of Thomas Chatterton. She has also co-devised and appeared on a six-part podcast series for The New Statesman: 'The Great Forgetting: Women Writers Before Austen'. Amongst others, she has written for BBC Arts, the Guardian,the TLS, History Today, the Independent and the Huffington Post.