Professor Valerie Sanders

Professor Valerie Sanders

Professor of English

Faculty and Department

  • Faculty of Arts Cultures and Education
  • Department of English and American Studies


  • PhD (University of Oxford)


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).


- '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- )



- 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)

Postgraduate: Modern Children's Literature

Recent outputs

View more outputs


Margaret Oliphant

Sanders, V. (2020). Margaret Oliphant. Edward Everett Root Publishers

Harriet Martineau and the birth of disciplines: Nineteenth-Century intellectual powerhouse

Sanders, V. (2016). V. Sanders, & G. Weiner (Eds.), Harriet Martineau and the birth of disciplines: Nineteenth-Century intellectual powerhouse. Routledge

The selected works of Margaret Oliphant, Part V Volume 20 - Hester

Sanders, V. (2015). V. Sanders (Ed.). The selected works of Margaret Oliphant, Part V Volume 20 - Hester. Routledge

Book Chapter

'Things pressing to be said': Harriet Martineau's mission to inform

Sanders, V. (2018). ‘Things pressing to be said’: Harriet Martineau’s mission to inform. In M. D. Hurley, & M. Waithe (Eds.), Thinking through style: Non-fiction prose of the long Nineteenth Century (118-134). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Journal Article

Charles Kingsley's Anthropology of the Generations

Sanders, V. (2019). Charles Kingsley's Anthropology of the Generations. Journal of Victorian Culture, 24(3), 316-322.

Research interests

'Neglected' Victorian women novelists, especially Harriet Martineau (1802-76) and Margaret Oliphant (1828-97); also Charlotte Bronte and Charlotte Mary Yonge

Life Writing: auto/biography

Victorian Family cultures: especially fatherhood and sibling cultures

Postgraduate supervision

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 and recently submitted supervisees are working on Dickens and small household items; the body in young adult literature, girl heroes in fiction from Little Women to Harry Potter; Wilkie Collins, medicine and madness; and morality, fantasy and trauma in Roald Dahl's writing for children