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. Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

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

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

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 (OUP).

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),

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