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Mary Joannou

Emeritus Professor of Literary History and Women’s Writing

Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Humanities and Social Sciences
Areas of Expertise:
Research Supervision:

Mary is an authority on late Victorian and early 20th-century women’s writing, having organised two international conferences on the 1930s and others on Rosamond Lehmann, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Winifred Holtby, Storm Jameson and Elizabeth Taylor.

[email protected]


Mary joined Anglia Ruskin in 1993 after completing a PhD as a mature student at Cambridge University. She'd previously taught in schools, adult and higher education.

Mary is the author of nine books and edited or co-edited volumes, of some 35 book chapters and essays in scholarly journals, and guest editor of special issues of Literature and History, Critical Survey and Women: a Cultural Review. She is a former Convenor of the Women’s History Network, a Fellow of the English Association and a former holder of the Fleur Cowles Research Fellowship at the Harry Ransom Center in the University of Texas.

Mary is a publishers’ reader for many of the main publishing houses with lists in English literature and a regular peer reviewer for several journals. She is currently on the editorial board of the OUP journal, Contemporary Women’s Writing. She acquired Emerita status in July 2014 and is working on a new monograph. Mary continues to supervise postgraduate students and to teach on our MA English Literature.

Research interests

  • Late Victorian and early 20th-century women’s writing
  • The literature and history of the 1930s
  • The women’s suffrage movement
  • Literary Englishness
  • Autobiography, the literature of labour, working- class writing
  • Contemporary women’s writing
  • Sylvia Townsend Warner, Elizabeth Taylor, Virginia Woolf

Areas of research supervision

Mary is currently supervising two PhD students:

  • Amanda Jones: ‘Psychoanalysis and the Wartime Child in Women's Fiction 1930 to 1960’
  • Talla Abdullah Rashid: ‘Gender, Culture and Social Change in the Fiction of Margaret Drabble’

Mary has examined PhD and other postgraduate theses in many universities including Oxford, Cambridge, London, Huelva (Spain), Hong Kong, Bergen (Norway), Cardiff, Essex, Warwick (3), Kent, Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan, Middlesex, Bedfordshire, Nottingham Trent, Sheffield Hallam (2), Plymouth, and the Open University and always welcomes further invitations to examine in her specialist fields.


MA English Literature


  • PhD, University of Cambridge
  • MA, University of Hertfordshire
  • BA, University of Manchester
  • Diploma in Film Studies, University of London
  • PGCE, University of Cambridge
  • Diploma in Education University of Cambridge

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Fellow, the English Association
  • The Contemporary Women’s Writing Association (foundation member)
  • The Women’s History Network (one time Convenor)
  • The AHRC Middlebrow Network
  • Friends of The Women’s Library
  • The Sylvia Townsend Warner Society
  • Trustee, The Raymond Williams Foundation

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Mary has advised the Killam Foundation, The Research Council of Canada and the Academy of Finland on the allocation of research grants in English literature and the University of Bergen on academic appointments. She has served as a judge on the Women’s History Network Essay prize for the best new book in women’s history. She is to judge the essay prize for the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society in 2015.

Selected recent publications

Joannou, M., and Nicholson, N. (Eds.), 2013. The Women Aesthetes: British Women Writers,1870-1900, vol.1, 1870-1880. London: Pickering and Chatto, 3 vols. Jane Spirit (gen. Ed). ISBN 978-184893227-2 (hb), 339 printed pages.

Joannou, M., 2012. Women’s Writing, Englishness, and National and Cultural Identity: The Mobile Woman and the Migrant Voice,1938-1962. Basingstoke: Palgrave. ISBN 978-230-28577-5 (hb), 234 printed pages.

Recent presentations and conferences

Invited speaker on a day dedicated to the Mitford sisters at Sutton House, organised by the London Borough of Hackney and the National Trust, 2013.

Headline speaker at the Festival of Englishness organised by the Institute of Public Policy Research and Queen Mary, University of London, 2013.

Keynote speaker at conferences on the 1930s in Swansea and New York, and at the Sylvia Townsend Warner Conference organised by The University of Exeter and the Dorset County Museum, 2012.