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Durham University

Department of English Studies


Academic Staff

Professor Sarah Wootton

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42568
Member of Steering Group in the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture

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Byronic Heroes and Consuming Keats

Professor Sarah Wootton joined the English Department at Durham University in 2002. Her research and teaching interests are in the Romantic and Victorian periods, with a particular focus on the afterlives of nineteenth-century writers in fiction, art, and screen adaptation.

Sarah's first book, Consuming Keats: Nineteenth-Century Representations in Art and Literature (2006), examines the creative legacy of Keats's poetry in the literary and visual arts of the Victorian period and beyond. She won the Keats-Shelley Memorial Prize for research on this topic. Her second monograph, Byronic Heroes in Nineteenth-Century Women's Writing and Screen Adaptation (2016), explores the legacy of a unique cultural phenomenon in the fiction of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, and George Eliot, together with screen versions of their novels. This book won the 2016 Elma Dangerfield Prize, awarded by the International Association of Byron Societies. Sarah is also co-editor of two books, Venice and the Cultural Imagination (2012) and The Persistence of Beauty: Victorians to Moderns (2015); co-editor of special issues of the journals Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net (2008) and Women's Writing (2018); and editor of a special issue of the journal Romanticism (2016).

Sarah is an academic organiser of the Keats Foundation International Conference, a series of bicentennial events to mark the life, work, and afterlives of this Romantic poet. Conference venues include the Keats House in Hampstead and Guy's Hospital. She has been a Co-Director of the Romantic Dialogues and Legacies Research Group at Durham University since 2005. In 2016, Sarah organised a special event, 'Celebrating the Brontës', to commemorate the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë's birth and to mark International Women's Day. 

Sarah has given public lectures at the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Keats-Shelley Memorial House in Rome, as well as plenaries and invited talks at a range of venues, including the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and St Andrews. She has given keynote lectures at the Wordsworth Summer Conference (2015) and the Brontë Society Conference (2017), as well as the Annual Lucy Edwards Lecture (2015) and the inaugural Cross Street Lecture in Manchester (2018). 

Sarah welcomes PhD applications in the areas of nineteenth-century literature and the visual arts, the cultural legacies of Romantic and Victorian writers, and nineteenth-century women's writing. She has supervised students on screen adaptations of the nineteenth-century novel and on various aspects of the Brontës' fiction and their cultural afterlives.

Research Groups

  • Romantic and Pre-Romantic Studies
  • Victorian Studies

Research Interests

  • Afterlives of Nineteenth-Century Writers, inc. Screen Adaptation
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature and the Visual Arts
  • Nineteenth-Century Women's Writing
  • Romantic Poetry and the Prose of Jane Austen
  • Victorian Literature

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Wootton, S. (Planned). ''Tis an uncertain thing': Landon's Encounters with Byron. In Byron Among the English Poets. Bucknell, Clare & Ward, Matthew Cambridge University Press.
  • Wootton, S. (Planned). Byron and the Victorians. In The Oxford Handbook of Lord Byron. Rawes, Alan. & Shears, Jonathon. Oxford University Press.
  • Wootton, S. (Planned). John Keats and Scottish Artists. In John Keats and Romantic Scotland. Garner, Katie. & Roe, Nicholas. Oxford University Press.
  • Wootton, S. (2017). Biographies and Film. In John Keats in Context. O'Neill, M. Cambridge Cambridge University Press. 9-18.
  • Wootton, S. (2015). Female Beauty and Portraits of Self-Effacement in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. In The Persistence of Beauty: Victorians to Moderns. O'Neill, M., Sandy, M. & Wootton, S. Abingdon; New York: Pickering & Chatto. 15-30.
  • Wootton, S. (2015). Keats's Visual Legacy in Book Illustration at the Turn of the Century. In Decadent Romanticism: 1780-1914. Boyiopoulos, K. & Sandy, M. Ashgate. 75-87.
  • Wootton, S. (2013). Shelley, the Visual Arts, and Cinema. In The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley. O'Neill, Michael. & Howe, Anthony. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 561-576.
  • Wootton, S. (2012). Henry James's Venice and the Visual Arts. In Venice and the Cultural Imagination. O'Neill, M., Sandy, M. & Wootton, S. Pickering & Chatto. 127-140.
  • Wootton, S. (2012). Here then is a maze to begin, be in': Michael Ondaatje's Byronic inheritance. In Romantic Presences in the Twentieth Century. Sandy, Mark. Aldershot: Ashgate. 163-174.
  • Wootton, S. (2010). Close Reading Romanticism. In Teaching Romanticism. Higgins, David. & Ruston, Sharon. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan. 134-145.
  • Wootton, S. (2008). ''The wind blows cold out of the inner shrine of fear': Rossetti's Romantic Keats'. In Romantic Echoes in the Victorian Era. Sandy, M. & Radford, A. Ashgate. 51-66.
  • Wootton, S. (2007). ''Picturing in me a hero of romance': The Legacy of Jane Eyre's Byronic Hero'. In A Breath of Fresh Eyre: Intertextual and Intermedial Reworkings of 'Jane Eyre'.. Rubik, M. & Mettinger-Schartmann, E. Amsterdam New York: Rodopi. 229-241.
  • Wootton, S. (2005). 'Keats’s Poetry as a Common Thread in English and American Pre-Raphaelitism.'. In Worldwide Pre-Raphaelitism.. Tobin, Thomas J. New York: State University of New York Press. 279-301.
  • Wootton, S. (1999). Ghastly Visualities: Keats and Victorian Art. In The Influence and Anxiety of the British Romantics: Spectres of Romanticism. Ruston, S. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press. 159-180.
  • Wootton, S. (1999). Reinventing Keats: The Late Victorian Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Thomas Hall Caine. In Representing Victorian Lives. Hewitt, M. University of Leeds: Trinity and All Saints. 113-126.

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