Dr Anna Barton

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


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.


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.



  • 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


I am a member of the teaching team for the MA in Literature, Culture and Society, 1700-1900.


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.


  • Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Liberal Thought: Forms of Freedom (London: Palgrave, 2017)
  • The Poetry of Christina Rossetti (Connell Guides, 2017)
  • Interventions: Rethinking the Nineteenth Century (co-edited with Andy Smith) (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2017)
  • Tennyson’s Name: Identity and Responsibility in the Poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson (Aldershot : Ashgate, 2008)
  • In Memoriam: A Reader’s Guide (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012).
Book chapters
  • ‘“Poetry, as I comprehend the word”: Charlotte Brontë’s Lyric Afterlife’, in Amber Regis and Deborah Wynne (ed.), Charlotte Brontë: Legacies and Afterlives (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017), pp.145-64.
  • ‘The Sense and Nonsense of Weariness: Edward Lear and Gertrude Stein read Tennyson’, in Matthew Bevis and James Williams (ed.), Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry (Oxford: OUP, 2016), pp. 243-60.
  • ‘Perverse Forms: Reading Blake’s Decadence’, in Mark Sandy and Kostas Boyiopoulos (ed.), Decadent Romanticism: 1780-1914 (Aldershot; Ashgate, 2015), pp. 15-27.
  • ‘Beautiful Things: Nonsense and the Museum’, in Jonathan Shears (ed.), Literary Bric-à-Brac: Victorian Oddities and Commodities (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2012), pp. 49-65. Co-authored with Dr Catherine Bates.
  • ‘By An Evolutionist: Poetic Language in Chambers and Tennyson’, in Nicholas Saul (ed.), The Evolution of Literature (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011), pp. 87-100.
  • ‘Long Vacation Pastorals: Tennyson, Clough and the Poetry of the Liberal University’, Victorian Literature and Culture 42.2 (2014), pp. 251-266.
  • ‘Delirious Bulldogs and Noisy Crockery: Tennyson as Nonsense Poet’, Victorian Poetry, 47. 1 (Spring, 2009) pp. 313-330.
  • ‘Boz, Ba and Derry Down Derry: Names and Pseudonyms in Victorian Literature’, Literature Compass (March, 2009).
  • ‘Letters, Scraps of Manuscript, and Printed Poems: The Correspondence of Edward FitzGerald and Alfred Tennyson’, Victorian Poetry 46.1, (Spring, 2008), pp. 19-35.
  • ‘Lyrical and Responsible Names in Maud’, Tennyson Research Bulletin 9.1 (November, 2007), pp. 42-60.
  • ‘Nursery Poetics: An Examination of Lyric Representations of the Child in Tennyson’s The Princess’, Victorian Literature and Culture 35 (2007), pp. 489-500.
  • ‘“What profits me my name?” the Aesthetic Potential of the Commodified Name in “Lancelot and Elaine”’, Victorian Poetry 44, (Summer, 2006), pp. 135-152.
  • ‘“Eternal honour to his name”: Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington and Victorian Memorial Aesthetics’, The Victorian Newsletter, No. 106 (Fall, 2004), pp. 1-8.
Selected reviews
  • ‘Cornelia Pearsall, Tennyson’s Rapture’, Journal of Victorian Culture 13.2 (Autumn, 2008), pp. 331-4.
  • Emma Mason, Woman Poets of the Nineteenth Century, and Catherine Maxwell, Swinburne, and John Schad, Arthur Hugh Clough’, Journal of Victorian Culture (Autumn, 2007), pp. 326-329.
  • ‘Victorian Poetry’, Year’s Work in English Studies (Oxford University Press, 2007 onwards).