UCL English


Professor John Mullan

Lord Northcliffe Chair of Modern English Literature

John Mullan

(Head of Department)

Email: j.mullan@ucl.ac.uk
External phone: 020 7679 3144
Internal phone: 33144

Education and Experience

John Mullan studied for his BA and PhD at the University of Cambridge. 

He was a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge and a Lecturer at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, before coming to UCL in 1994. 

He has been Professor of English since 2005, and was appointed Lord Northcliffe Chair of Modern English Literature from 1st October 2016.

He was General Editor of the Pickering & Chatto series Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries, and Associate Editor for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

He is a regular TV and radio broadcaster and a literary journalist; he writes on contemporary fiction for the Guardian and was a judge for the 2009 Man Booker Prize.


John is a specialist in eighteenth-century literature and is at present writing the volume of the Oxford English Literary History that will cover the period from 1709 to 1784. 

He has edited a number of works by Daniel Defoe and his edition of Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets was published in 2008. [Editions]

In 2007 he published a study of the uses of anonymity in English Literature, from the sixteenth century to the present: Anonymity. A Secret History of English Literature.

He also has research interests in the nineteenth century, and in 2012 published his book What Matters in Jane Austen? He has edited Sense and Sensibility for Oxford World’s Classics; his edition of Emma is forthcoming.

His most recent book is The Artful Dickens (2020).

Selected Publications


Sentiment and Sociability. The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford University Press, 1988)

Eighteenth-Century Popular Culture. A Selection with Christopher Reid (Oxford University Press, 2000)

How Novels Work (Oxford University Press, 2006)

Anonymity. A Secret History of English Literature (Faber and Faber, 2007)

What Matters in Jane Austen? (Bloomsbury 2012)

The Artful Dickens (Bloomsbury, 2020)


A Selection

How Novels Work

What matters in Jane Austen

Book cover for the Artful Dickens

Edited Books

Ed. with Introduction, Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries: Shelley (Pickering & Chatto, 1996)

Ed. with Introduction, Eighteenth-Century Popular Culture: A Selection (Oxford University Press, 2000).

Introduction, Daniel Defoe, Memoirs of a Cavalier, ed. James Boulton (Oxford World’s Classics, 1991)

Ed. with Introduction, Daniel Defoe, Roxana (Oxford World’s Classics, 1988)

Ed. with Introduction, Daniel Defoe, The Political History of the Devil and A Journal of the Plague Year (Pickering & Chatto, 2004)

Ed. with Introduction, Samuel Johnson, Lives of the Poets (Oxford World’s Classics, 2009).

Ed. with Introduction, Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year (Pickering & Chatto, 2009)

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (Oxford World’s Classics, 2017)

Selected Articles and Chapters

1984 'Hypochondria and Hysteria; Sensibility and the Physicians’, in The Eighteenth Century. Theory and Interpretation, Vol. 25, No. 2, Spring 1984: 141-74.

1987 'Hume, Smith, and Henry Mackenzie', in The History of Scottish Literature. Volume II: 1660-1800, ed. A. Hook, Aberdeen University Press: 273-88.

1993 'The Gender of Knowledge: Women and Newtonianism, 1690-1760,' in A Question of Identity. Women, Science, and Literature, ed. Marina Benjamin, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ: 41-56.

1994 ‘Sterne's Comedy of Sentiments’, in Bulletin de la Société d'Études Anglo-Américaines des XVIIe et XVIIIe Siécles, 38 (June 1994): 233-41.

1996 'Sentimental novels', in The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, ed. John Richetti, Cambridge University Press: 236-54.

1997 'Feelings and Novels', in Rewriting the Self. Histories from the Renaissance to the present, Routledge: 119-31.

1997 'Sensibility and literary criticism', in The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Volume IV The Eighteenth Century, ed. H.B. Nisbet and Claude Rawson, Cambridge University Press: 419-33.

1998 'Swift, Defoe and narrative forms', in The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1650-1740, ed. Stephen Zwicker, Cambridge University Press: 250-75.

2004 ‘Dryden and anonymity’, in The Cambridge Companion to Dryden, ed. Stephen Zwicker, Cambridge University Press: 156-80.

2005 ‘Psychology’ in Contexts and Commentaries, a companion volume in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen, ed. Janet Todd, Cambridge University Press: 377-86.

2009 ‘On First Reading Never Let Me Go’. in Kazuo Ishiguro: Contemporary Critical Perspectives, ed. Sean Matthews `and Sebastian Groes, Continuum Press: 104-113.

2010 ‘Anonymity’ in The Oxford Companion to the Book, ed. M. Suarez and H. Woudhuysen, Oxford University Press.

2012 ‘Fault Finding in Johnson’s Lives of the Poets’ in Samuel Johnson. The Arc of the Pendulum, ed. Lynda Mugglestone and Freya Johnson, Oxford University Pess.

2018     ‘Dickens’s Tricks’, Essays in Criticism, Volume 68, Issue 2, 1 April 2018: 145–166