Professor Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Subject: English

Department: English Language and Literature

College appointment: Tutorial Fellow


Pembroke College, Cambridge: BA (1990), MA (1994), PhD (1998); Procter Visiting Fellow, Princeton University, 1991-1992; Junior Research Fellow, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, 1995-1996; Fellow and Tutor, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 1996-2002; Fellow and Tutor, Magdalen College, Oxford, 2002-present. In 2015 I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Most of my teaching is in the period 1700-present; this means that I teach Victorian and Modern Literature in the first year of the undergraduate course (together with literary theory and practical criticism), Romantic period literature in the second year, and a number of special options in the final year.

Research Interests

I have published widely in the field of nineteenth-century literature. Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist (Harvard University Press, 2011), was featured on ‘The Review Show’ (BBC2), and won the 2012 Duff Cooper Prize; it was also selected as a book of the year in the Irish Times, Library Journal, New Statesman, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, TLS, and Wall Street Journal, and was an Editor’s Choice in the New York Times. The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland (Harvill Secker; Harvard University Press, 2015) was featured on Start the Week (BBC R4) and BBC1 Breakfast, and serialised as Book of the Week on BBC R4 read by Simon Russell Beale; it was shortlisted for the Costa Prize in 2015. The Turning Point: A Year that Changed Dickens and the World (Jonathan Cape, 2021; Alfred A. Knopf, 2022) was selected as a book of the year in the Times, Financial Times, Spectator, and New Statesman. My new book Metamorphosis: A Life in Pieces will be published by Jonathan Cape in 2023. TV and radio work includes ‘Mrs Dickens’s Family Christmas’ (BBC1), ‘Lingua Franca’ (ABC Radio National Australia), ‘The Charlie Rose Show’ (PBS) and ‘Queen Victoria’s Children’ (BBC2). I write regularly on books and film for the Times, Spectator, Literary Review, Guardian, and TLS; other essays and reviews have appeared in publications including the Daily Telegraph, Prospect, and Vogue. In the past I have worked as a consultant on BBC adaptations of Jane Eyre (2006), Emma (2009), and Great Expectations (2011); in 2015-16 I worked on the 20-part BBC1/Red Planet series Dickensian; in 2019 I was an advisor on the feature film Enola Holmes, and in 2022 I worked on the sequel Enola Holmes 2.

Selected Publications