Valerie Sanders

Professor Valerie Sanders

Professor/ Director of the Graduate School

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education

01482 466918

Valerie was born and educated in Hull. She then left the city for 25 years - for undergraduate and postgraduate studies, and for lecturing posts at the Universities of Buckingham and Sunderland - before returning to Hull in 2001 to take up a Chair in English at the University.

She has since been Head of the English Department, Deputy Dean for Research, Acting Dean of the Faculty (2010-11) and Director of the Graduate School (2012-17).


Research Interests

  • Victorian fiction and autobiography

  • Author studies, especially Harriet Martineau and Margaret Oliphant

  • Children's literature

  • Sibling relationships in literature and culture

  • Victorian fatherhood

Research groups

External exploratory networks with the Universities of Durham, York, and Leeds Trinity, on

  • Victorian Interdisciplinarity

  • 'Born 1819' (a possible British Academy project)


Valerie Sanders and Gaby Weiner (eds.), Harriet Martineau and the Birth of Disciplines: Nineteenth-Century Intellectual Powerhouse, London and New York: Routledge, 2016, ISBN 9781472446930 (co-authored introduction and afterword plus sole-authored chapter of about 7,000 words).

Valerie Sanders (ed.), Margaret Oliphant, Hester Vol 20, Selected Works of Margaret Oliphant, London: Pickering and Chatto/Taylor and Francis, 2015, (scholarly edition with 5,000 word introduction, endnotes and textual variants).

Valerie Sanders, '"Things Pressing to be said": Harriet Martineau’s mission to inform,' in Thinking Through Style: Non-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century, (eds.) Michael Hurley and Marcus Waithe, Oxford University Press, (in press: forthcoming)

Valerie Sanders, ‘Objects of Anxiety in Nineteenth-Century Children’s Literature: Edith Nesbit and Frances Hodgson Burnett’, in Paraphernalia: Victorian Objects, (eds.) Helen Kingstone and Kate Lister, Routledge (forthcoming 2018).

Valerie Sanders, '"Pleasant, Easy Work, & Not Useless, I Hope": Harriet Martineau as a Children's Writer of the 1840s', in From Brontë to Bloomsbury: Realism, Sensation, and the New in Women’s Writing from the 1840s to the 1930s, (eds.) Adrienne Gavin and Carolyn Oulton, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017/18.

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list


  • Classics of British Children's Literature (Level 4) (Convener)

  • The Child in British and American Literature and Culture (Level 5) (Convener)

  • Brief Encounters with the Victorians (Level 5)


  • Modern Children's Literature

Research PhDs

Valerie would welcome applications from students interested in Victorian fiction and auto/biography, especially representations of parenthood, siblings and family culture generally, and children’s literature.

Completed PhDs 

Previously supervised PhD theses on the Brontës and illness, the Bronte Juvenilia 19th-century men and goodness, women and ‘things’ (using Thing Theory) in Austen and Gaskell, children's literature, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charlotte M Yonge, and the governess travel-narrative.

Current PhD supervisions 

Current supervisees are working on Dickens and small household items, the family in young adult literature, girl heroes and the fairy-tale tradition in children’s fiction 1860-2010, and Roald Dahl.

Teaching awards and accolades

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • BA English (Girton College, Cambridge)

  • D.Phil (Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford)

External roles

  • Specialist advisor for new Hull entries to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, for Hull City of Culture commemoration (2015-17)

  • Co-ordinator, Hull-Huddersfield Consortium bid, AHRC Block Grant Partnership Scheme (Capacity-Building Route): 7 studentships awarded for 2011-2017: £206.936.

  • Honorary Fellow of the English Association (2004- )

Awards and accolades

AHRC Research Leave Scheme: January-April 2008: £19,361.00

Professional highlights


  • 'Harriet Martineau', In Our Time, with Melvyn Bragg, Karen O’Brien and Ella Dzelzainis, BBC Radio 4, 8 December 2016.


  • ‘Disappearing Dad', Time Shift documentary BBC 4 29 June 2010 (expert ‘talking head’)

Reviewing and writing articles for Times Higher Education magazine (2011- )