Press Release

12 July 2012

A new research centre, The International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW), will officially open at Canterbury Christ Church University next week with an inaugural exhibition about 'Victorian Rebel', Mary Braddon.

Mary Braddon
Mary Braddon

The centre aims to connect scholars from around the world who are researching Victorian women’s writing to form a more complete picture of the era’s female literary networks. It will also explore how female writers of the time used celebrity culture of the nineteenth century; as well as how early twentieth-century women writers viewed their Victorian heritage.

Professor Adrienne Gavin, Co-Director of the ICVWW, said: “After having worked for several years towards setting up the Centre, Carolyn and I are absolutely delighted that it is now being launched. 

“We are honoured to have many prestigious scholars on our Advisory Board and we hope that the Centre will stimulate both academic and public interest in Victorian women writers for many years to come.”

Dr Carolyn Oulton, fellow Co-Director and Reader in Victorian Literature, added: “There is a huge academic interest in Victorian women writers but amazingly no research centre devoted to them. We are interested in telling women's stories, their lives and their writing.

“We want to be a focus for innovative research in the field and bring together scholars from around the world who are working in this area and also bring together researchers whose work may be complementary. By doing so we would like to form a more complete picture of women's media and literary networks.”

Research on the life and works of the extraordinary Victorian novelist Mary Braddon will be the Centre’s first exhibition, highlighting a connection with current day fiction.

Braddon pushed the literary boundaries of her time through sensation fiction, and was satirised for her lifestyle in Punch magazine by wearing a ‘mask of sensation’.

Punch cartoon (1881)
Punch cartoon (1881)

On display will also be unpublished material including correspondence with Braddon's family and famous figures of her day, working notebooks containing vital plans and drafts of some of her most celebrated works, as well as records of her career as an actress - in her day a less than respectable career choice for a woman as her stage name ‘Mary Seyton’, pronounced ‘Satan’ implies.

Other research projects by the ICVWW will include ‘From Brontë to Bloomsbury: Realism, Sensation and the New in Women’s Writing from the 1840s to the 1920s’ including work on Anna Sewell, author of children’s classic Black Beauty.

The centre is also seeking contact from anyone who may have letters, diaries, archives or items of interest related to Victorian Women Writers however famous or little known they may be.

Victorian Rebel: The Many Faces of Mary Braddon will be open from Monday, 16 July 2012 to Sunday, 22 July 2012, at Augustine House, Canterbury. For more information on the centre and the exhibition, visit: 


Notes to Editor

Notes to editor

  • The ICVWW will be led by Professor Adrienne Gavin and Dr Carolyn Oulton, of the Department of English and Language Studies. To put forward any items relating to the Centre’s work please contact the centre via

 Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students, and five campuses across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 93% of our recent UK undergraduates are in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies
  • Christ Church is the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2010 UCAS).
  • We are the South East’s largest provider of courses for public service careers (outside of London).
  • 2012 is the University’s Golden Jubilee, reflecting on 50 years of higher education and innovation.

*20010/11 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:15:00