Category Archives: Literary Studies

Waterloo’s bicentenary and the Napoleonic Wars in Portugal and Spain – a guest post from Susan Valladares

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

This is a guest post from Susan Valladares, author of Staging the Peninsular War: English Theatres 1807-1815.


The year 2015 marks the bicentenary of the end of the Napoleonic Wars. This summer, the Battle of Waterloo has been remembered through Europe-wide celebrations ranging from heritage open days to themed balls, musical concerts, art exhibitions, lectures and even a large-scale re-enactment in Belgium featuring thousands of actors and hundreds of horses. It shouldn’t be forgotten, however, that between 1808 and 1814, Britain’s major contribution to the war effort took place in the Iberian Peninsula.

Napoleon’s opportunistic attempt to invade Portugal and Spain rapidly expanded into a struggle characterised by popular resistance and violent guerrilla warfare, resulting in one of Britain’s largest land campaigns and an Anglo-Spanish alliance that put pressure on hereditary images of Spain as the national bugbear. The Peninsular War, as it came to be known in Britain, saw Arthur Wellesley’s promotion to the Duke of Wellington, a national hero, and constituted an early example of what historians have labelled ‘the total war experience’ – the kind of unrestrained warfare that we generally associate with the First World War.

Staging the peninsular warMy book, Staging the Peninsular War, offers the first in-depth study of theatre-going during this period; exploring how English theatres helped mediate the conflict to the nation at large. It draws on archival research conducted in London, Bristol and Lisbon in order to recover a period considered something of a ‘black hole’ in British theatre history. To this end, the book presents a fully-indexed, and hitherto unpublished Calendar of Plays for Covent Garden, Drury Lane, and Bristol Theatre Royal spanning 1807 to 1815.

Archival research also resulted in the discovery of the book’s colourful cover image, Embotadas de las Siguidillas Boleras. This hand-coloured etching by Marcos Téllez Villar was brought back from Spain for the celebrity actor’s John Philip Kemble’s Madrid Album. Not only does it invite us to interrogate the value of cultural signifiers – such as the Spanish guitar, traditional dress and religion (the female dancer wears a crucifix) – but it also invites us to think about the transmission of objects and narratives more generally. The cover image gestures towards some of my book’s main research questions: Did the theatre offer a platform for cultural redress? How was the Peninsular War depicted on stage? Did representations of Spain and Portugal undergo any significant change as a result of Britain’s campaign in the Iberian Peninsula?

For the answers to these (and many other) questions, I invite you to join me in the recovery of the visually spectacular, politically engaged and pointed wartime plays and entertainments that captured the imagination of contemporary audiences, and can still instruct and entertain us today.


Staging the Peninsular War is Susan Valladares’ first book. Susan is a Junior Research Fellow and Lecturer in English at the University of Oxford, and is Editor of The BARS Review.

Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations – an ‘enormously entertaining and vivid book’

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

A review of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations: A Cultural Life, 1860-2012 has been published in the Times Literary Supplement.

Charlotte Mitchell is honorary senior lecturer at University College London, and has worked on a range of nineteenth-century writers. She writes of Mary Hammond’s study:

‘Mary Hammond’s enormously entertaining and vivid book about Great Expectations approaches the novel from a variety of angles, all of them illuminating. At one moment we find her listing translations into forty-seven languages, at another looking at the occurrence of the phrase “great expectations” before and after its publication. She gives a detailed and humorous account of the history of its reception; its current high status among Dickens’s fictions is a surprisingly recent development. In relation to the vast number of adaptations she deals deftly with her multiplicity of sources and with the theoretical issues of adaptation and remediation. … Great Expectations has meant a lot of different things in its 150-odd years, and no one has teased out so many of them so acutely before. ’

Charles Dickens Great ExpectationsHammond’s book, the product of a 9-month AHRC Fellowship, follows the long, active and sometimes surprising life of Great Expectations since its first appearance in All the Year Round (1860-61). She covers the formative history of the novel’s early years, and analyses the significance of its global reach and its literature, stage, TV, film, poetry, art, popular music and radio adaptations over its 150-year history. It is revealed that the third most adapted Dickens story did not always possess its current influence and popularity, and that book’s identity as a ‘universal favourite’ or ‘timeless classic’ was dependent, to a great extent, on modern mass-media technologies.

About the Author: Mary Hammond is Associate Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture at the University of Southampton, UK. She is the author of a number of books and articles on nineteenth-century book history including Reading, Publishing and the Formation of Literary Taste, 1880-1914 (Ashgate, 2006).

Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations is one of the seven published titles in the Ashgate Studies in Publishing History: Manuscript, Print, Digital series. Edited by Ann R. Hawkins and Maura Ives, the series supports innovative work on the cultural significance and creative impact of printing and publishing history, including reception, distribution, and translation or adaptation into other media.

Alice’s Adventures in Brewing Land – a guest post from Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens are co-authors of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass: A Publishing History.


Research towards the book led us to seek reappropriations of Alice in the UK and abroad, especially the US and Japan. We took a particular interest in Carroll’s effect on culinary history. The real-life Charles Dodgson was fastidious about his diet, and his books reflect a similar obsession with consumption.[1] As we discuss in chapter two, Carroll was shocked that the Looking-Glass biscuit tins he had informally licenced were being sold with biscuits inside, and he insisted that his share of the tins be delivered empty.

Modern culinary responses to Alice, some no doubt that would perplex Carroll, are discussed in the fifth chapter of our book.

Dish from the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo

Dish from the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo

Space constraints meant that we could not pursue our food-related research, in writing at least, as fully as we wished, but we did gather material on recipes ranging from Victorian mock-turtle soup to Heston Blumenthal’s Alice banquet. We also encountered a number of Wonderland-themed alcoholic drinks being brewed around the world. Alice in modern times is strongly linked to cultures of intoxication. [2] Guinness, for instance, frequently used Alice in its marketing campaigns, and the British Library currently sells a ‘Drink Me’ sparkling wine.

Beer-makers have also taken up this association through a variety of Alice-inspired brews. Arguably the ‘drink me’ flavours of ‘cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast’ are best found in malt and hops, perhaps in a red Rodenbach or a vintage J. W. Lees Harvest Ale. In the hopes of discovering some of these flavours, we have opened three beers with an Alice connection

Alice beers and books

Alice beers and books

Mad Hatter Down the Rabbit Hole – 8.1%

The cherry tart is certainly present in this sour beer. It’s fizzy and lemony with tropical fruit and elements of pine, biscuit, flowers, and grapefruit. Plenty of hoppy complexity.

Humpty Dumpty Bad Egg – 4.1%

A ruby ale with plums and hints of banana, packed with berries. A light, malty beer that starts out dry and turns creamy (perhaps we’re imagining the custard).

BrewDog Alice Porter – 5.2%

Although not explicitly named after Carroll’s Alice, it’s hard to believe that the canny marketers at BrewDog were unaware of the association. Indeed, the Alice Porter comes closest of our trio to embracing the ‘drink me’ tastes. Cherry, toffee, and burnt toast are strongly in evidence, as is a meaty flavour akin to roasted turkey skin.

This missing element here is pineapple, which we hope to find in other (sadly yet-untasted) Alice beers:

New Holland Brewing’s Mad Hatter Midwest IPA

Rabbit Hole Brewing’s Off with Your Red and Tweedleyum

Wonderland Brewing Company’s Alice Blonde

Weetwood Ale’s Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter

[1] See, most recently, Michael Parrish Lee, ‘Eating Things: Food, Animals, and Other Life Forms in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Books’, Nineteenth-Century Literature 68 (2014), 484-512.

[2] See Thomas Fensch, Alice in Acidland (Woodlands, TX: New Century Books, 1970).

Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens

Erika Gaffney Honored at the Attending to Early Modern Women Conference

Erika Gaffney award Early Modern WomenWe are exceedingly pleased and proud to share the news that Ashgate’s Publishing Manager for Literary & Visual Studies, Erika Gaffney, was honored at this year’s Attending to Early Modern Women conference. The Society feted her not only with an impressive cake but also with a most beautiful gift: an etching after Rembrandt by Master Engraver Amand Durand presented by Merry Wiesner-Hanks, editor of the Sixteenth-Century Journal and the Journal of World History.

Professor Wiesner-Hanks writes,

“The Attending to Early Modern Women conference and the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women were pleased to present a small token of our thanks to Erika Gaffney for her inspirational and tireless work at Ashgate Press at a book launch of Mapping Gendered Routes and Spaces in the Early Modern World at the ATW conference in Milwaukee in June. Her sponsorship of the series Women and Gender in the Early Modern World, and other books on topics dear to our hearts, has allowed exciting multidisciplinary scholarship to flourish and scores of able young scholars to advance in their careers. When members of the audience at the launch were asked to stand if they had been published by Ashgate, nearly half did, and when asked to stand if they WISHED to be published by Ashgate, all did. To a woman (and a few men), they told stories about how wonderful it has been to work with Erika, and the way she has helped the field to remain dynamic and growing at a time when other publishers are slashing their lists. We truly could not have come as far as we have without her.”

We congratulate Erika on receiving this well-deserved acknowledgment of her outstanding service to the profession.

Celebrating 150 years of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

It’s been 153 years since Charles Lutwidge Dodgson rowed up the River Isis with Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell, entertaining his young companions with a story of a girl named Alice who goes off in search of an adventure. Three years later, in 1865, Dodgson’s tale (much elaborated and revised) was published as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with illustrations by the political cartoonist John Tenniel.

Fast forward 150 years, and the boat trip on the Isis has given birth to a multi-million pound industry, and a multiplicity of different versions of Alice across time and space. The parodies, theme park rides, computer games, exhibitions and film, television and theatre adaptations of the tale right up until the present day stand testament to Alice’s longstanding ability to capture the imagination of children and adults alike. ‘Like Shakespearean drama or Dickensian novels’, Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens write in their publishing history, ‘the Alice books, and the myths surrounding them, have become a part of our literary and cultural imagination, and as such have an influence and reach that is difficult to isolate or delimit’ (Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass: A Publishing History, 2013, p. 156).

As Alice’s imaginary universe continues to expand and diversify, so too does scholarly interest in Alice Liddell’s alter ego and her fictional Wonderland. Carroll’s creation has given rise to academic studies on the work’s relationship with material culture, gender, theatre, adaptation, science, philosophy, politics, religion – even intellectual property, mathematics and psychoanalysis.

To celebrate its own place in the rabbit-warren of Alice’s 150-year history, Ashgate has brought together a selection of books that probe features of Carroll’s pioneering works – you can browse it for a limited time here.

Renaissance Mad Voyages and the ‘Cultures of Play, 1300–1700’ series

Posted by Emily Ferro, Marketing Coordinator

While the idea of play may not immediately draw to mind images of research and academia, the study of games and play in culture is a growing topic for research, and one that Ashgate is eager to delve into. A new series has emerged, Ashgate’s Cultures of Play, 1300–1700 which focuses on a 400-year period of Renaissance European thought and culture. Interdisciplinary in scope, this series considers the ludic elements of the early modern period from all angles, including history, art, religion, literature, and beyond. The series editor is Bret Rothstein (Indiana).

Renaissance Mad VoyagesAs an exciting start to the series, Ashgate is thrilled to announce the release of Anthony Parr’s Renaissance Mad Voyages. Parr closely examines the strangely playful activities of these “madde voiages,” (as writer William Rowley referred to them). Dive into the history of these travel practices and explore their classical and medieval origins. “Renaissance Mad Voyages is one of those exciting scholarly books that make you realize how important and interesting its apparently obscure subject is”, according to Jeremy Lopez of the University of Toronto. Exciting, important, playful, and breaking through the barriers of obscurity, this Renaissance voyage is one you won’t want to miss.

For more information about Renaissance Mad Voyages, such as reviews, an index, and ordering details, visit

For more information about the Cultures of Play, 1300–1700 series, or for information about submitting a book proposal, please visit

Mary Shannon’s book on Dickens’ social network launches at King’s College London

The close proximity of the London offices of Charles Dickens to a network of nineteenth-century publishers, including Dickens’ arch-competitor the radical publisher G.M.W Reynolds, has been revealed for the first time in a new study by Mary L. Shannon, Research Fellow at the University of Roehampton.

Mary Shannon signing copies of her book

Mary Shannon signing copies of her book

Joanne Shattock addressing the gathering

Joanne Shattock addressing the gathering

Mary Shannon’s book, Dickens, Reynolds, and Mayhew on Wellington Street, which is the latest title in Ashgate’s The Nineteenth Century Series, launched on the 20th May at King’s College London, and the event included an address from series editor Joanne Shattock and Director of the Menzies Centre, Ian Henderson. The 60+ attendees were delighted to have the opportunity to peruse information boards and illustrations revealing a selection of the author’s findings.

Commissioning editor Ann Donahue reflected upon some of these findings in a few words shared at the event:

“When I walk down the main thoroughfare of my hometown, I pass a mix of independent specialty shops and generic chain stores. The experience was very different for Londoners striding down Wellington Street in The Strand. If you were fortunate, you might observe Charles Dickens or G.W.M. Reynolds or Henry Mayhew taking a break from their labors. Great noticers themselves, these authors and editors must have had frequent encounters with their neighbors, and these chance meetings in turn could not have failed to remind them of how their competitors advanced print culture in Britain and beyond. Mary Shannon’s book has the effect of turning her readers into eye-witnesses to the ways in which the close proximity of nineteenth-century publishers affected their relationships with each other and with a network of readers in Britain and beyond. Like the nineteenth-century readers who influenced the direction of newspapers and periodicals, Shannon has written a book that cannot fail to shape the work of scholars whose research brings them to Wellington Street.”


‘Mary L. Shannon’s informative book offers an entirely new way to think about print culture. In focusing on Wellington Street off the Strand, where important Victorian writers such as Dickens, Mayhew, and Reynolds maintained their offices, she demonstrates the significance of geography for understanding the print networks that developed in midcentury London.’

Anne Humpherys, City University of New York, USA, author of Travels into the Poor Man’s Country: The Work of Henry Mayhew