Valerie Sanders

Professor Valerie Sanders

Professor/ Director of the Graduate School

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education

School of Arts

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- )