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Name: Colette Davies

PhD: English Literature

Thesis Title: The Minerva Press, Women Writers and the Literary Marketplace, 1770-1820.

Thesis Description:

The novels and women writers of the Minerva Press have often been dismissed as lowbrow and valueless. My thesis contributes to a new wave of scholarship which analyses and understands the value of the Minerva Press and its women writers in the formation of the Romantic-era novel as well as the Romantic-era literary marketplace. My study of the Press will shed important new light on interactions between authors, publishers and readers, and between culture, politics and society.

            Building on Brewer’s (1997) claim that ‘the ways in which the arts worked in eighteenth-century England are often best understood…through…those we have now largely forgotten’, my research explore novels written for the Minerva Press by a range of neglected professional women writers (e.g. Meeke, Helme, Charlton). These works contain politically-loaded characters, scenes and debates, and thus shed light on how women writers responded to a politically turbulent context.  By analysing how the Minerva Press and its authors participated in wider literary networks (e.g. with publishers William Lane and John Murray, J.F. Hughes and Henry Colburn) I explore how they transformed the market for fiction in 1770-1820. I will expand current thinking by recasting Minerva Press novels as dynamic vehicles of social commentary, whose authors made inroads into a male-dominated literary marketplace.

            This project addresses the following key research questions: How did the literary marketplace change between 1770-1820? How did the Minerva Press impact on this? Who were the Minerva Press writers? What socio-political debates did their novels engage with and why? Why was there a divide between contemporaneous critics’ and readers’ reactions to the Press? Does this account for its subsequent neglect?

            My thesis builds on my longstanding interest in women writers, fostered and developed throughout my academic career in by BA Hons English (University of Nottingham, 2011-14) and my MA English Literature (University of Nottingham, 2016-17). It draws on my Master’s dissertation in which I focused on the literary lives and interactions of Mary Wollstonecraft and Amelia Opie: a study which provided foundational work regarding the literary marketplace and print culture in 1780-1815. 


Supervisors and Institution(s): Professor Lynda Pratt (University of Nottingham), Dr Máire Ní Fhlathúin (University of Nottingham), Dr Felicity James (University of Leicester).


Publications and Conference Papers:

Conference Paper: 'Throw Aside Your Pen'!: Mary Wollstonecraft's Reviews as Means of Instruction to Women Writers'. Presented at 'Romanticism Goes to University', Edge Hill University, May 2018. 

Symposium Paper: 'Names on the Page: The Chameleonic Presentation of Female Author Figures on Minerva Press Title-Pages, 1785-1800'. Presented at M3C Research Festival, Birmingham. May 2018. 

Conference Paper: 'Deserving Authors? Minerva Press women writers applications to the Royal Literary Fund, 1790-1815'. Presented at 'Romantic Exchanges', BARS Early Career and Postgraduate Conference, University of Glasgow. June 2018.



BSECS Postgraduate Bursary Award for paper at 'Islands and Isolation', BSECS' 48th Annual Conference, Oxford. Awarded in January 2019. 

BARS ECR & PG Bursary, 'Romantic Novels 1818'. Awarded in June 2018.

Best Postgraduate Course Representative 2018. Awarded in June 2018 by the University of Nottingham Students' Union, Education Network Awards. 

'Best Newcomer', informal prize of signed book. Awarded at 'Romanticism Goes to University', May 2018.


Published Blogs:

'BARS 2019 Blog' - a series of blog posts exploring organising a conference and the special features of BARS' 16th International Conference, held at The University of Nottingham. Available at:

'Report from ‘Romantic Novels 1818’ – Anna Maria Porter’s The Fast of St. Magdalen'. Available at:

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

2017-present - Second Year PG Representative on the Learning Community Forum, University of Nottingham.

2017-2018 - Postgraduate Representative for Open Business on the School of English Teaching Committee.

2017-2018 - Postgraduate Representative on the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee, University of Nottingham. 

2016-2017 - Research Assistant on The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. I was responsible for producing and collating scans of manuscript letters by Southey and for preparing them for transcription by the editors on the edition.


Other Research Interests:

The literary life of Amelia Opie (1769-1853), her influences and networks in the literary marketplace, specifically as revealed through her letters. 

Professional Activities:

2017-present. Member of the British Association of Romantic Studies (BARS).

2018-present. Member of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS).

2018-present. Founded 'UoNRomanticism'; a reading group interested in discussing a wide range of writers and texts from the Romantic literary period for PGR, ECR and other researchers. 

2018-present. Teach First Futures Mentor. I mentor two college students through the final year of their A-Levels and through the UCAS process. 

October 2018 - organised and hosted 'Frankenreads: An Interdisciplinary Approach' in association with the Keats-Shelley Association of America. Half-day symposium with 6 speakers from Midlands universities. 



September 2016 – May 2017: Mentor to final-year undergraduate students at the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham.

            I supported students in developing as independent learners in a collaborative pharmaceutical business setting by conducting regular team meetings, coaching them to reflect on and improve their pharmaceutical capability, and motivate them to achieve further. I was proactive in creating a facilitated learning environment for my groups by digitally tracking their achievements in relation to specific tasks and holding one-to-one sessions with them so that they could assess for themselves where and how they will improve.

            This role furthered developed my skills in: mentoring and providing feedback; Higher Education teaching and learning; professional conduct; and analysing and evaluating hard and soft data and problem solving.


 September 2014 – August 2016: Secondary School English Teacher, Harris Academy South Norwood, London.

            I taught KS3, KS4 and engaged with KS5 students for two years whilst completing my PGCE in the first year, 2014-2015. Completing my PGCE through the Teach First scheme, graduating with Distinction and awarded Oftsed ‘Outstanding’ demonstrates my time-management and pedagogical skills. I engendered a love of reading literature within students to explore and play with the possibilities of language and interpretations.

            I gave students personalised feedback on their work to assist them to reach their full potential and analyse data so as to plan future lessons to ensure progress. I contributed to the design of an engaging curriculum for KS4 students; this included creating schemes of work on A View from the Bridge, Twelfth Night and the enactment of gender in a range of Shakespeare’s and Browning’s texts. I contributed to the development of our staff by leading ‘Teach Meet’ sessions to share best practice. 

2014-2015 Canterbury Christ Church University: PGCE in Secondary Education, awarded with Distinction. (Teach First)


University email address:

University of Nottingham profile: 







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