Dr Anna Barton

School of English

Reader in Victorian Literature, Co-Director of the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies

English Anna Barton
+44 114 222 8483

Full contact details

Dr Anna Barton
School of English
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

I joined the School of English at Sheffield in 2010 having previously taught at Keele University.

My research and teaching focuses on the literature, especially the poetry, of the nineteenth century. My work is informed by my interest in the way poetry understands its relationship with its historical moment and the ways it worries about and seeks to assert its ability to intervene into the politics, culture and philosophy of its day. My PhD (at the University of Glasgow) addressed these questions via a study of the names and acts of naming in Tennyson's poetry. I developed this project into my first monograph, Tennyson's Name: Identity and Responsibility in the Poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Ashgate, 2008). My most recent publication, Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Liberal Thought: Forms of Freedom, explores the interplay between the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Arthur Hugh Clough, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Robert Browning and Matthew Arnold and the rise of modern liberalism in Victorian Britain. 

My work on Tennyson also led me to develop a research interest in his friend, Edward Lear and in traditions of nonsense in literature and beyond.

I am currently developing a new research project focusing on the life and work of Mary Elizabeth Coleridge and her circle.

Research interests

My primary research interests lie in nineteenth-century literature, particularly Victorian poetry. I have published work on a range of poets including Tennyson, Swinburne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Arthur Hugh Clough and Edward Lear.

I am interested in the relationship between poetry and other kinds of intellectual and cultural production. My most recent monograph, Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Liberal Thought: Forms of Freedom (Palgrave, 2017) seeks to read nineteenth-century poetry through the lens of liberal philosophy.

My next project will focus on the life and work of Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, late nineteenth-century poet, novelist and essayist. It will trace the development of Coleridge’s career and the network of friends and associates that influenced her work.

A second focus of my research is Nonsense Literature. With James Williams (University of York), I am co-editor of the Edinburgh Companion to Nonsense (under contract with Edinburgh University Press).

I am co-Director of the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies here at Sheffield and I am also Series Editor of ‘Interventions: Rethinking the Nineteenth Century’, published by Manchester University Press, Commissioning Editor of the Victorian Literature section of Literature Compass and member of the editorial board of the Tennyson Association.



Edited books

  • Smith A & Barton A (Ed.) (2017) Interventions: Rethinking the Nineteenth Century. Manchester: Manchester University Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Barton AJ (2017) The Liberal Self: Wordsworth and Barrett Browning In Barton A (Ed.), Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Liberal Thought: Forms of Freedom View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Barton AJ (2017) 'Poetry as I comprehend the word': Charlotte Brontë's lyric afterlife In Wynne D & Regis A (Ed.), Charlotte Brontë: Legacies and Afterlives Manchester University Press RIS download Bibtex download
  • Barton AJ (2016) The Sense and Nonsense of Weariness: Edward Lear and Gertrude Stein read Tennyson In Williams J & Bevis M (Ed.), Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry (pp. 243-260). Oxford University Press View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Barton AJ (2015) Perverse Forms: Reading Blake's Decadence In Boyiopoulos K & Sandy M (Ed.), Decadent Romanticism: 1780-1914 (pp. 15-27). Farnha: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Barton A & Bates C (2013) 'Beautiful things': Nonsense and the museum, Literary Bric-a-Brac and the Victorians: From Commodities to Oddities (pp. 49-65). RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

  • Anna Barton (2016) . The Modern Language Review, 111(1), 238-238. RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers

  • Barton A (2011) By An Evolutionist: Poetic Language in Chambers and Tennyson Anna Barton. EVOLUTION OF LITERATURE: LEGACIES OF DARWIN IN EUROPEAN CULTURES, Vol. 152 (pp 87-99) RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

I have supervised and examined doctoral work on the literature of the long nineteenth century and would welcome PhD applicants who are interested in Victorian poetry, with particular reference to its relationship with aspects of nineteenth-century identity and culture.

Teaching activities


  • LIT 108: Studying Poetry
  • LIT 2000: Genre
  • LIT 270: Nonsense Literature
  • LIT 3100: Romantic and Victorian Poetry
  • LIT 3101: Romantic and Victorian Prose
  • LIT 3046: Sappho’s Granddaughters: Poetry by Women, 1789-1901