Dr Emma Butcher

Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural Heritage

Department of English, History & Creative Writing


I specialise in the literature, heritage and culture of the long nineteenth-century. My research focuses on children’s experiences of war throughout this period, looking at intersections between agency, authenticity, gender, race and class. I am also an expert in the youthful writings of the Brontës, analysing how their juvenilia provides important insights in early-nineteenth-century culture and society.

My research has been published in a range of academic books and journals, including the Journal of Victorian Culture and Victorian Periodicals Review. My first monograph, ‘The Brontës and War’, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2020. I am currently working on a trade monograph titled ‘Children in the Age of Modern War’, due to be published by Oxford University Press.

Previously, I completed my AHRC-funded doctoral thesis, ‘The Brontës and War’, at the University of Hull, before being awarded a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Leicester. I have also previously held teaching positions at the University of Lincoln, and Manchester Metropolitan University. Throughout my early academic career, I have been awarded numerous visiting fellowships, including the Chawton House Fellowship (2015), and the Huntington Library Visiting Fellowship (2020).

In 2017 I was named as a BBC New Generation Thinker and have regularly appeared on TV, radio programmes relating to my research interests. I have also written for newspapers, such as The Guardian, and popular history magazines such as BBC History Magazine and History Today. I am represented by the literary agent, Kirsty McLachlan.

I teach across the BA English programme at Edge Hill, leading the modules Literary History, Romanticism, and British Children’s Literature. I welcome the supervision of postgraduate students, so if you are interested in pursuing an MA or PhD then please feel free to get in touch.


  • BA English, Brunel University
  • MA English, Brunel University
  • PhD English, University of Hull
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


  • 1024: Literary History
  • 2046: Pilgrims Progress: British Children’s Literature from the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day
  • 2050: Romanticism
  • 3054: Young Adult Fiction

Select Publications

The Brontës and War (London: Palgrave, 2020)

‘Celebrating Anne Brontë’, Times Literary Supplement, January 2020

‘JoJo Rabbit and the Hitler Youth’, BBC History Magazine, January 2020

‘A Visit to Haworth’, in Charlotte Brontë: The Lost Manuscripts (Haworth, Brontë Society Press)

‘Creating Cathy: The Story Behind Wuthering Heights’ Wilful Heroin, The Guardian, July 2018

‘War Trauma and Alcoholism in the Early Writings of Charlotte and Branwell Brontë’, Journal of Victorian Culture, vol. 22, no. 4 (2017), pp. 465-481, ISSN 1355-5502

‘Mortal Hostility: Masculinitiy and Fatherly Conflict in the Glass Town and Angrian Sagas’, co-authored with Professor Valerie Sanders, in Lucy Morrison and Judith Pike (eds.), Charlotte Brontë From the Beginnings (London: Routledge, 2017)

Media and Heritage

I have a long history of working with museums, especially The Brontë Parsonage Museum, where I co-curated their 2015 exhibition, ‘The Brontës, War and Waterloo’ and collaborated with Professor Simon Armitage on projects for The Guardian and PN Review for Branwell Brontë’s bicentenary in 2016. I have also been involved in talks and events at York Army Museum and the National Army Museum.

I am a part-time broadcaster and have appeared on TV programmes such as BBC2’s ‘Being the Brontës and Channel 5’s ‘Hitler: Countdown to War’. As a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker, I regularly appear in Radio 3’s free thinking programme and was involved in the BBC’s 2019 Proms. I’ve appeared on several podcasts, including BBC History Magazine Podcast, History Hack, Dan Snow’s ‘History Hit’, and Rebecca Rideal’s ‘Killing Time’.


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