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Ruby Hawley-Sibbett

Languages and Literature, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

English and Welsh regional spaces in female-authored prose fiction, 1810-1820

My research analyses the use of space in female-authored Romantic-period prose fiction set in Wales and a selection of English regions, including the West Country and the Midlands. My thesis is a bibliographical project: I aim to provide a comprehensive overview of female-authored novels published in the 1810s which use settings in Wales and the West Country. This includes observing trends in geographical representation of these spaces, but also discussion of key themes including female freedom and remoteness.

My thesis will discuss a multitude of female authors, whose work continues to be overlooked by critics at present, despite recent advances in feminist literary history. Welsh novels are particularly under-studied, in contrast to their Scottish and Irish counterparts. My thesis will begin the recovery of these novels and explore what they can reveal about regionality in the Romantic period. 

I will also undertake a reassessment of Jane Austen’s use of regional settings in the light of these observations I will make on her forgotten contemporaries. My research will therefore provide a new impetus for the discussion of regionality and a reassessment of the ‘four nations’ framework, as well as a new reading of Austen’s regionality.



Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


  • 'The Romantic Novel' in The Years Work in English Studies [co-author of review section] [Forthcoming 2020]
  • BARS Blog: Report from 'Romantic Novels 1818' seminar – 'Susan Ferrier's Marriage' [July 2018]


  • School of English Symposium, University of Nottingham: 'Cambrian Fictions: the female-authored 'Welsh' novel of the 1810s' [November 2019]
  • British Association for Romantic Studies, Nottingham: 'Cambrian fantasies: female freedom in Anglophone Welsh novels' [July 2019]
  • Borders and Crossings, Leicester: 'Catherine Hutton's "factual" and fictional travel writing' [July 2019]
  • Midlands3Cities Research Festival: 'I has sin the gret salt sey'; contrasting descriptions of Aberystwyth in Catherine Hutton's The Miser Married (1813) and 'Letters from a Tour in North Wales' (1815-1818' [May 2019]

Public Engagement & Impact

Public Talks and Seminars

  • 'Angelic Austen and Beasty Byron' at History Readers' Day, Beeston Library, two seminar-style public engagement sessions, in collaboration with Amy Wilcockson [to take place in March 2020]
  • Lecture given at Newstead Abbey Byron Society: ‘Cambrian Fantasies: Representations of Wales by Jane Austen's Contemporaries’ [October 2019]

  • Nottingham Lakeside Arts free public lecture: 'Romantic Reputations: Angelic Austen and Beastly Bryon', in collaboration with Amy Wilcockson – sold out ticketed audience of 200, plus Facebook live stream with over 600 views [July 2019]

 Exhibition curation

  • 'Romantic Facts and Fantasies' exhibition at Lakeside Arts – over 5000 visitors [Exhibition ran May-August 2019]

I was part of the team who coordinated and put together the exhibition. This involved: archive work, selecting and procuring manuscripts and objects, researching and writing captions and labels, promotional material, social media and filming. I also delivered a guided tour of the exhibition as well as a public lecture.

Other Research Interests

  • Susan Ferrier
  • The gothic novel in the early nineteenth century
  • 'Forgotten' women writers 


British Association for Romantic Studies 

Academic roles

  • Co-organiser of University of Nottingham Romanticism Reading Group [September 2019 – present]
  • Organisational assistant for the British Association of Romantic Studies Conference [Nottingham, July 2019]. This role involved: administration, social media promotion, blogging and public engagement, as well as assisting at the conference with stewarding and logistics


Leeds Romantic Studies and Environmental Criticism bursary [Forthcoming April 2020]

Nineteenth Century Matters Travel Grant for Digital Mapping Training Day at Lancaster University [May 2019]

BARS ECR and PG Bursary, 'Romantic Novels 1818' [July 2018]