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PhD projects

Helen is keen to supervise projects on eighteenth-century literature, book history, and/or literary heritage.

  • Source: Scopus
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Personal profile

Research 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.


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.

Education/Academic qualification

English Literature, PhD

24 Jun 201431 Dec 2099

Award Date: 24 Jun 2014

English Literature, MA

30 Jun 200931 Dec 2099

Award Date: 30 Jun 2009


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