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- )