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Rosemary Ashton

Rosemary Ashton is Quain Professor of English Language and Literature in the English Department at UCL. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, of the Royal Society of Literature, and of the Royal Society of Arts, and sits on a number of editorial and literary boards, including the George Eliot Fellowship, of which she is a Vice-President, the advisory board of Carlyle Studies Annual, the advisory board of the Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations at Queen Mary, University of London, and the board of the Dr Williams's Centre for Dissenting Studies in London.

Her areas of specialisation include Romantic and Victorian literature and culture, Anglo-German literary, philosophical, and cultural relations, and the cultural history of nineteenth-century London. Her publications include critical biographies of Coleridge, Thomas and Jane Carlyle, George Eliot, and G.H. Lewes, and two works of 'group biography' set mainly in 19th-century London. Little Germany: Exile and Asylum in Victorian England (Oxford University Press, 1986) is a study of the interaction of a number of German political exiles - arrivals in Britain after the failed 1848 revolutions across Europe - with English intellectual life. 142 Strand: A Radical Address in Victorian London (Chatto & Windus, 2006) traces the professional and personal interconnections among an extraordinary circle of writers - George Eliot, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, John Stuart Mill, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Henry Huxley - who gathered at 142 Strand, the London house of the radical publisher John Chapman.  It reconstructs the cultural life of mid-19th-century London through these progressive thinkers.

Her most recent research has been on 19th-century Bloomsbury.  Between October 2007 and April 2011 she was Principal Investigator and Director of the UCL Leverhulme-funded Bloomsbury Project, leading a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from literature, history, geography, and history of medicine in a comprehensive study of the evolution of 19th-century Bloomsbury into London’s most progressive intellectual and cultural quarter, the area in which over 300 innovative educational, medical, and cultural institutions were founded between 1800 and 1900.  The Project’s website gives comprehensive information, gleaned from a rich array of Bloomsbury archives, about the institutions, from the founding of the radical University of London (now UCL) in 1826 to the establishment of the Passmore Edwards Settlement (now Mary Ward House) in Tavistock Place in 1897 to offer education and play to the children of working parents after school and at weekends, and the opening there of the first school for disabled children.  It includes accounts of influential Bloomsbury residents, information about the area’s developing streets and squares during the 19th century, and essays on a wide range of ‘Bloomsbury’ subjects, from flower shows in Russell Square to R.L. Stevenson’s connection to Queen Square,  by experts in a variety of fields.  The Project website went live in April 2011, and can be accessed at  It is due to be archived by the British Library. 


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