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Prof John Mullan
Appointment
  • Professor of English Literature
  • Dept of English Lang & Literature
  • Faculty of Arts & Humanities
Role
Head of Department
Biography

    I studied for a BA in English at King's College Cambridge. After graduating I taught for a year in Pentonville Prison before returning to King's to work on a PhD about the cult of sentimentalism in eighteenth-century writing, particularly novels. I finished this in 1984, when I became a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge. In 1987, after a term teaching at what was then Queen Mary College, London, I became a Lecturer at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge, where I remained for the next seven years. In 1988 my first book, Sentiment and Sociability. The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century was published by Oxford University Press.

    In 1994 I moved to UCL, where I have been ever since. I continued to specialise in eighteenth-century literature, editing works by Daniel Defoe and Samuel Johnson, and putting together the annotated anthology Eighteenth-Century Popular Culture with Chris Reid from Queen Mary College. Working in London began to involve me in literary journalism and in broadcasting. I began writing for the Guardian, and eventually conducting the newspaper's monthly Book Club. This involved interviewing a leading writer before an audience. I have also worked a good deal for BBC radio and TV.

    My book How Novels Work (OUP, 2006) combined the interest in contemporary fiction that I pursued in my literary journalism with my research into the development of the Novel in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In 2007 I published Anonymity. A Secret History of English Literature (Faber and Faber), an account of the varieties of anonymous and pseudonymous literary publication, from the sixteenth century to the present day. My most recent book is What Matters in Jane Austen? (Bloomsbury, 2012), an exploration of Jane Austen's formal audacity and ingenuity. I lecture widely on Austen's fiction outside academia, in the USA and Europe as well as the UK. I have edited Sense and Sensibility fort Oxford World's Classics and am working on a new edition of Emma.

Research Summary

I am currently working on the eighteenth-century volume (1709-84) of the Oxford English Literary History. I am also writing a book on Dickens's fictional techniques, intended for the general reader as well as for students and academics.

Academic Background
1984 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – English Literature by period University of Cambridge
1980 BA Bachelor of Arts – English studies University of Cambridge
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