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Dr Helen Williams

Associate Professor

Department: Humanities

Helen Williams is Associate Professor of English Literature and leads the Scholarly Editing and Print Cultures Research Group. 

Helen received her BA from Northumbria University and her MA from Durham University. She then returned to Northumbria, completing a PhD in collaboration with the Laurence Sterne Trust at Shandy Hall in 2014. She joined the faculty at Northumbria in 2012. 

Helen is the author of Laurence Sterne and the Eighteenth-Century Book (Cambridge University Press, 2021) and co-editor of John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Broadview, 2018) and Laurence Sterne and Sterneana (Cambridge Digital Library, 2019). She has also published on Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Christopher Smart, and Susanna Rowson. Her current research explores the roles of women in the English and Irish book trades in the long eighteenth century.

Helen Williams

Campus Address

Office: Lipman 024

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Helen’s research interests broadly lie in eighteenth-century book history, professional authorship and literary heritage, and she is particularly interested in work incorporating digitisation and heritage collaboration. Her publications explore manuscript, print and eighteenth-century authorship whilst interrogating the effects of writers’ relationships with their patrons and publishers on the production of bestselling literary texts.

Helen is Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded ‘Sterne Digital Library’ project, a two-year collaboration between Northumbria, Cambridge University, Cambridge University Library and the Laurence Sterne Trust. The project edits and digitises works inspired by Sterne to examine the dynamic culture of eighteenth-century adaptation. Laurence Sterne and Sterneana is a digital resource platforming Sterne's works alongside Sterneana, allowing users to explore the wider implications afterlives hold in literary culture.

With Clark Lawlor, Allan Ingram, and Leigh Wetherall Dickson, Helen is co-investigator of a three-year Leverhulme-funded project entitled Writing Doctors: Representation and Medical Personality ca. 1660-1832. The project analyses writing by and about doctors and other health practitioners, including midwives, apothecaries, quacks, and cunning-women, during the period in which the English vernacular first became the primary mode of medical communication. The project employs a postgraduate research assistant and funds a PhD student.

Helen’s monograph, Laurence Sterne and the Eighteenth-Century Book (CUP, 2021), undertakes a historical contextualisation of the visual effects in Sterne’s work and thereby offers new readings of Tristram Shandy alongside a recovery of lesser known eighteenth-century printing practices and popular print ephemera. She shares a contract with Richard Terry and Peter Sabor to publish an edition of John Cleland’s correspondence for Cambridge University Press, the result of a project which has been in part funded by the British Academy.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Laurence Sterne and the Eighteenth-Century Book, Williams, H. 1 Apr 2021
  • Communing with the Fictional Dead: Grave Tourism and the Sentimental Novel, Williams, H. 2020, British Sociability in Enlightenment Europe: Cultural Practices and Personal Encounters, Palgrave Macmillan
  • The Good Humour Club or Doctors’ Club and Sterne’s Political Romance, Williams, H. 27 Aug 2020, In: The Shandean
  • The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Williams, H. 9 Jan 2020, How to teach a play, London, Bloomsbury Methuen Drama
  • Reading Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure against Cleland's life and letters, Terry, R., Williams, H. 1 Apr 2019, In: Eighteenth-Century Life
  • Samuel Pepys and His Books: Reading, Newsgathering, and Sociability, 1660-1703: By Kate Loveman. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2015. iixx + 308 p. 13 b. and w. illus. £60 (hb). ISBN 978‐0‐19‐873268‐6, Williams, H. Mar 2019, In: Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • The Publication of Plays in London 1660‐1800: Playwrights, Publishers and the Market. By Judith Milhous and Robert D.Hume. London: British Library. 2015. xxvi + 484 p. £50 (hb). ISBN 978‐0‐7123‐5773‐9., Williams, H. 1 Jun 2019, In: Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, Williams, H., Wildgust, P., Rowson, M. 27 Feb 2018
  • Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Williams, H., Terry, R. 23 Jul 2018
  • Prose Immortality, 1711‐1819: By Jost, Jacob Sider. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press. 2015. viii + 239 p. $45 (hb). ISBN 978‐0‐8139‐3680‐2, Williams, H. Mar 2018, In: Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies

PGR Supervision

Joanne Edwards Women, the Arts and Patronage: The Delavals of Seaton Delaval Hall Start Date: 01/10/2020


  • English Literature PhD June 24 2014
  • English Literature MA June 30 2009

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