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Photo of Professor Katherine Newey

Professor Katherine Newey

Chair in Theatre History


01392 724529

I am an historian of nineteenth century British literature and culture, specialising in teaching and research in theatre history and women's writing. I have published on Frankenstein, Jane Austen, Victorian women playwrights, Fanny Kemble, Australian theatre, Victorian theatre and popular culture, John Ruskin, and Victorian pantomime and dance. I'm currently working with Professor Jim Davis on the AHRC-funded project  ‘Theatre and Visual Culture in the Long Nineteenth-Century’

You can read what I've written about pantomime for the TImes Literary Supplement here:



I have taught specialist courses in Women's Writing, Gender Studies, Melodrama, Women and Theatre, Theatre History and Historiography, and VIctorian Studies. I have also taught courses in Radical Theatre, Performance Analysis, and DIrecting. I contribute to a range of team-taught courses at FIrst and Second Year level, particularly in studio-based modules such as Staging the Text.


I welcome enquiries for research supervision in:

Theatre history and historiography

Women's writing

Popular culture and popular entertainment

Victorian Studies

I am currently supervising several Doctoral research projects in theatre history topics. I have supervised Masters and PhD dissertations in theatre and Victorian studies topics, as well as practice-based research in contemporary performance and dance.


Other Professional Work

I am Chair of the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments (SCUDD), that national subject association for drama and theatre departments in UK universities.

Until 2014, I co-edited the journal Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film (Manchester University Press), and now serve on its Advisory Board.

I was a founding member of the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS), and served on its Executive Committee for three years, as well as convening the annual BAVS conference in 2001: ‘Victorian Performances,’ and the 2011 Conference at the University of Birmingham

I was a founding member of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA), and served as Conference Secretary and General Secretary, from 2005 to 2015.

I have in the past been convenor of the Historiography Working Group of the International Federation of Theatre Research, and a judge for the Society for Theatre Research Book Prize. 

I review grant applications for the European Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Australian Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Commonwealth Universities Scholarships scheme.

Research interests

  • Women's writing in the Romantic and Victorian periods
  • Nineteenth-century popular theatre in Britain and Australia
  • John Ruskin and the theatre
  • British popular culture of the nineteenth century

Research Projects

I am currently Principal Investigator for a collaborative project with Professor Jeffrey Richards (Lancaster University) and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Dr Peter Yeandle: “A Cultural History of English pantomime, 1837 – 1901,” funded by the AHRC.

This follows our earlier collaboration on ‘Ruskinian Theatre: the Aesthetics of the Late Nineteenth-Century Popular Stage,’ also funded by a large grant from the AHRC, and supported by the Ruskin Programme, Lancaster University.

My other ongoing research interests include the work of women playwrights in the Romantic and Victorian periods, and English theatre in the early nineteenth century, particularly in its political dimensions.

I recently gave the opening lecture for the Special Collections exhibition of women's theatre at the Templeman Library, University of Kent at Canterbury.

From 1996-98, I received large grant funding from the Australian Research Council and Research Leave funding from the AHRC for my work on Nineteenth Century Women Playwrights. I have also held fellowships from the Australian Academy of Humanities (1995), the Mellon Foundation, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre, University of Texas (Austin), and the Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington, DC).

Research collaborations

I have worked on several collaborative projects, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UKRI) and the Australian Research Council.

2018-21: ‘Theatre and Visual Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century,’ Co-I with Prof. Jim Davis, Warwick University. Funded by AHRC Standard Research Grant.

2009-12: ‘A Cultural History of English Pantomime, 1837-1901.’ AHRC, Principal Investigator, with Co-Investigator Professor Jeffrey Richards

2004-08: ‘Ruskinian Theatre: The Aesthetics of the Late Nineteenth Century Popular London Stage, 1870-1901.’ Co-Investigator with Principal Investigator, Professor Jeffrey Richards, Lancaster University, funded by the he Arts and Humanities Research Council (UKRI) Standard Grant scheme.

1994-96: Nineteenth Century Women Playwrights, with Professor Penny Gay, University of Sydney, funded by the Australian Research Council.




I took Double Honours in English Literature and History, and then a PhD in English Literature at the University of Sydney. I taught in the English Department at Sydney, and as a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Wollongong. I returned to the UK to become Head of Department of Theatre Studies at Lancaster University in 1999, and took up the Chair of Drama and Theatre Arts at Birmingham in 2005.

I arrived at Exeter as Professor of Theatre History in 2012.

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