Centre for Studies in Literature

Victorian Literary Heritage

The Victorian Literary Heritage project, hosted by the Centre for Studies in Literature (CSL), is led by Dr Patricia Pulham. The project centres on Victorian figures of global importance that have significant links with Portsmouth and/or the Isle of Wight, such as Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It  builds on the University’s commitment to support and drive forward innovation and create partnerships between the private and public sectors by bringing together a range of arts and educational bodies to produce resources that publicise Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight’s Victorian heritage and cultural assets. Collaborators on this project include Portsmouth City Council, Farringford House, Dimbola Lodge and the Isle of Wight Library and Museum Services.

In 2009, Dr Pulham, Dr Páraic Finnerty (CSL), Dr Charlotte Boyce (CSL), and Dr Brad Beaven (CEISR) received grants from the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) to create resources to raise local, national, and international awareness of the region’s rich cultural history. Drs Pulham and Beaven focused the Dickens 2012 bicentenary while Drs Finnerty and Boyce examined the Tennyson celebrity circle which included figures such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, John Millais, G. F. Watts and Ellen Terry.

Dickens 2012

To mark the Dickens bicentenary, Dr Pulham, with Brad Beaven (CEISR), published Dickens and the Victorian City, and set up a web resource: www.dickens.port.ac.uk to provide further information on Dickens and Portsmouth. In addition, Dr Pulham, in collaboration with other CSL members, organised a series of events to celebrate the bicentenary including film screenings of Dickens adaptations in association with the Portsmouth Film Society; a co-hosted performance by Miriam Margolyes of her play Dickens’ Women at the Portsmouth Grammar school; public talks on Catherine Dickens given by Professor Lillian Nayder and the author, Gaynor Arnold  [view video of event]; and a major international academic conference: ‘The Other Dickens: Victorian and Neo-Victorian Contexts’. A collection of essays stemming from the conference, co-edited by Dr Boyce and Dr Elodie Rousselot (CSL), will be published in the Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies in 2013.

Tennyson’s Celebrity Circle

Drs Boyce and Finnerty, working with their research assistant Dr Anne Marie Millim, have produced a glossy booklet and web resource on the Circle, and gave a public lecture on this research at Dimbola Lodge in June 2013. In addition, Drs Boyce, Finnerty and Millim’s co-authored book, Victorian Celebrity Culture and Tennyson’s Circle (Palgrave, 2013), explores the nature, significance and activities of this coterie of artists, writers, performers; the cultural importance of the Isle of Wight in the nineteenth-century Britain; Victorian celebrity; and interconnections between literature and the visual and performing arts.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Portsmouth is the birthplace of the most famous literary character ever invented: Sherlock Holmes. His creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle originated from Edinburgh, but worked as a doctor in Portsmouth from 1882-1890, and wrote the first Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, here in 1887. In 2005 the City acquired an extraordinary collection of Doyle-related memorabilia, including important books and documents, bequeathed to Portsmouth by the collector Sir Richard Lancelyn Green. Led by Dr Christopher Pittard (CSL), The Centre for Studies in Literature and Portsmouth City Council are working together to combine the CSL's research interests in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and crime fiction with the City Council's commitment to ensuring material in the collection is accessible to all. A temporary exhibition of artefacts from the collection formed part of a major international conference, ‘Crime Cultures: Figuring Criminality in Literature, Media and Film’, co-organised by Bran Nicol, Patricia Pulham, and Eugene McNulty, and held at the University of Portsmouth in July 2008.