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About me

Simon Avery's interests include nineteenth-century literature and culture, queer history and culture, and the relations between literature and politics. 

I have taught at the University of Westminster since 2007, where I am currently Reader in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture. Along with Dr Leigh Wilson, I co-ordinate the PhD programmes for the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies, and I have previously been Course Leader for the Single Honours English Literature degree (2009-14).

Before coming to Westminster, I taught in the School of Humanities at the University of Hertfordshire (1999-2007) and the Department of English and Drama at Anglia Ruskin University (1996-1999), where I was also Deputy Director of a HEFCE-funded project on graduate and transferable skills. I hold an MA in Victorian Literature (University of Nottingham), a PhD in nineteenth-century literature and politics (Anglia Ruskin), and a postgraduate certificate in learning and teaching in higher education (University of Hertfordshire).

My key areas of teaching and research interest are nineteenth-century poetry and fiction; the relations between literature and politics in the long nineteenth century; queer history and culture; the 1890s; and travel writing. With Dr Katherine M. Graham, I am Director of the Queer London Research Forum, which was established in 2013 in order to investigate the histories of queer London from c.1850 to the present.


My teaching lies principally in the areas of nineteenth-century literature and culture; gender and sexuality studies; and poetry and poetics. Many of the modules I teach emphasise the relations between literary/cultural products and the historical and political moments from which they emerge, thereby inviting participants to think widely about past cultures and their significances for today. 

I am co-module leader for the English Literature Dissertation module (level 6), the English and History Dissertation module (level 6), the year-long Nineteenth Century module (level 5), the level 4 Poetry and Politics module, and the Literature & History tutorial programmes (levels 4 and 5). I also teach on the Level 6 Sexualities in Literature and Culture module and the level 5 Sexual History of London module. 


My research lies in two key areas:

Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

I have a long-standing interest in nineteenth-century women's writing and particularly the relations between women's writing and politics. I have published monographs and editions in this area on Elizabeth Barrett Browning (2003, 2004 and 2011) and Mary Coleridge (2010), and articles and book chapters on Barrett Browning, the Brontës, Eliza Ogilvy, Mathilde Blind and Eleanor Marx. I also have an interest in the writings of Thomas Hardy and have previously published a critical history of The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure (2009) and the Broadview edition of The Return of the Native (2013). I am currently working on a book-length study of the writings of the Brontë family in relation to nineteenth-century politics, due to be completed in 2018. 

Queer London and Queer Literature

I am Director, with Dr Katherine M. Graham, of the Queer London Research Forum, which is housed within the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies. The Forum was established in 2013 with the aim of developing research into the histories of queer London from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Events to date have focused on queerness and the digital archive; London's ageing queer populations; London's queer literatures; filmic representations of queer London; and rethinking the queer Renaissance. In 2016, our co-edited collection, Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London, c.1850 to the Present, was published by Bloomsbury, including my authored chapter on theories of queer space. I have also published work on Alan Hollinghurst's The Folding Star (in Sex and Sensibility in the Novels of Alan Hollinghurst, ed. Mark Mathuray, 2017). Current projects are focusing on the writing of Sarah Waters and the 1889 Cleveland Street Scandal. .

Research Students

I welcome enquiries from postgraduate students looking to work on any of the above topics and especially nineteenth-century women's writing, nineteenth-century political cultures, and queer history and culture. 

I have been Director of Studies for successful PhDs on Christina Rossetti and liminality, the early drama of 'Michael Field', and the politics of exiled English convents, c.1600-1829; and second supervisor for PhDs on Victorian female detectives, and queerness and post-devolution Scottish Literature. 


For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.