Menu Close
Lecturer in Archives and Material Culture, University of Exeter

My research focuses on the literature of the late eighteenth and early-to-mid nineteenth centuries. I am particularly interested in the intersections between literature, history and politics in nineteenth-century Britain and in the public significance of the private life in Romantic and post-Romantic literature. As a practicing biographer I am also interested in the history of life-writing and archives, and in current developments in biographical form.

My first book, Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives, was published by Bloomsbury (UK) and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (US) in 2010. Young Romantics focuses on the families of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Leigh Hunt and on the political, intellectual and emotional significance of Romantic sociability. It was awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize by the British Academy and was also highly commended by the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Biographers’ Club First Biography Prize.

My second book, Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance, is due out with Chatto & Windus and Farrar, Straus and Giroux in January 2015. This book traces the history of the Disraelis’ unusual courtship and marriage and is particularly concerned with the afterlife of Romanticism, the relationship between fact and fiction and the stories of Victorian women who, like Mary Anne Disraeli, sought to move beyond the circumstances of their birth to create for themselves fulfilling and stimulating lives.

From 2006-9 I was a Bye-Fellow at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, and in 2009-10 I was the Alistair Horne Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford. I have held a visiting scholarship at Wolfson College, Oxford, and in 2012-13 was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. I am an occasional reviewer of fiction and literary non-fiction for the Guardian, Observer, Telegraph and the Times Literary Supplement and a regular contributor to the literary magazine Slightly Foxed. I am also an AHRC/ BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker for 2013-2014. For details of reviews, interviews and forthcoming public events please see


  • –present
    Lecturer in Archives and Material Culture, University of Exeter