Rosemary Mitchell

Professor Rosemary Mitchell

Professor of Victorian Studies

Phone: +44 (0)113 283 7100 ext.396
Visiting address:

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Education/Academic qualification

  • PGCertLTHE, Open University

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford

  • Diploma, University of Oxford

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Oxford

Professional Qualifications

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy,


Rosemary Mitchell is Professor of Victorian Studies and took her BA Hons. and D.Phil. at Lincoln College, Oxford, before becoming a Research and Associate Editor at The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  There she worked on the nineteenth century and art and architecture sections, and she has written more than 150 articles for the project; she still continues to write for the dictionary, her most recent entry being the life of Mary Ann Stodart, an early Victorian Evangelical advice book writer. She is an interdisciplinary cultural historian.

Professor Mitchell joined the academic staff of Leeds Trinity in 1999.  She is also Associate Editor of the Journal of Victorian Culture and Deputy Director of the Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies, and sits on the management committee for the British Association of Victorian Studies.  She is the author of Picturing the Past: English History in Text and Image, 1830-1870 (2000), and has published articles in Women's History ReviewNineteenth-Century ContextsClio, and the Journal of Victorian Culture

Her research specialism is in Victorian historical culture, with particular reference to gender. Her teaching commitments range from big turning points in British history such as the Black Death and the Norman Conquest, to Victorian architecture and the modern heritage industry.  Because of her research interests, she particularly enjoys teaching courses on the use of history in the Victorian and contemporary periods, and gender and cultural topics.

Research interests

I am currently writing a monograph entitled Men, Women, History: Constructions of Gender and Domesticity in Victorian Historical Cultures. This will examine the construction of middle-class Victorian gender and domestic ideologies through the medium of historical paintings and other texts such as history books, textbooks and historical novels.  Both the construction of, mediation of, and the audience response to gendered stereotypes will be considered, the latter being examined through the evidence of art and book reviews and other similar sources.  I  aim to demonstrate that such constructions remained unstable and flexible, focusing on tensions within gendered representations of the roles of men and women and the family and home.  Chapters on John Everett Millais's Sir Isumbras at the Ford (1857) and on William Bell Scott's Wallington series have already been published.  Papers on the representation of Sir Thomas More and his family; Cavalier children; and Catherine of Siena have also been given in a variety of venues.

An additional recent project is nineteenth-century economic and commercial chivalry, which explores how the Victorian urban middle classes made use of the medieval past to negotiate and define new civic and industrial identities.  I am currently working on the neo-Gothic architecture of the Yorkshire Penny Bank in Infirmary Street, Leeds, exploring how the building expresses the bank's shifting ethics and identity in the late nineteenth-century. I have received funding from the Scoloudi Trust, IHR, to write a journal article on this topic.  I have also recently published a chapter for an edited collection of essays on non-literary medievalisms, which draws on the autobiography of the engineer, James Nasmyth, and the sculptural landscape of Albert Square in Manchester. 

Other research projects include The past laugh: historical comedy in Victorian culture.  This examines the role of historical comedy in subverting and critiquing contemporary historical cultures and discourses – such as the picturesque, the antiquarian, and the positivist – in the Victorian period.  It builds on research undertaken for my first book, on the text and images of historical novels of W.P. Thackeray and Gilbert A’Beckett’s The Comic History of England.  An article on historical comedy in R. H. Barham’s Ingoldsby Legends has been delivered as a conference paper in Malibu, London, and St Deiniol’s Library in North Wales, and was published in the interdisciplinary academic journal, Clio, in spring 2011.  Further work will focus on examples of historical comedy in Punch and the work of illustrators such as John Leech.

A minor project, examining the historical works of Charlotte M. Yonge, also continued to interest me: a paper on Yonge’s Anglo-Catholicism in her Anglo-French novels, which was delivered to the Charlotte Mary Yonge Fellowship, was recently published in 2013 inMutual (In)Comprehensions, while a further paper on her utilization of Scott’s historical fiction in her autobiographical novel, Chantry House, has appeared in a special issue of Nineteenth-Century Contexts, which I co-edited.  An article on C. M. Yonge’s historical publications has been published in a special issue of Women’s History Review on nineteenth-century women’s contribution to national historiographies.  This project will serve as the basis for a future research topic - the conservative imagination, community, and the national past in Victorian Britain.

Teaching and Administration


Undergraduate - Patterns and Periodisation; History in Contemporary Society; Problems in History: Historiography of the Italian Renaissance; Writing History: Tales and Textbooks; Professional Attachments; Presenting the Past – The Heritage Industry; The Roots of Ideas – The Foundations of Western Thought; Special Subject: Representations of Middle Ages, 1750-1900; Dissertations and Reports.

M.A. in Victorian Studies – The Victorians: Politics and Society; Victorian Senses (art historical options); Victorian Identities (gender, religion, and childhood studies); supervision of M.A. extended essays/reports/extended essays.

PhD. Supervision - I have supervised two PhD students to completion, one of whom was awarded a prize for Research Excellence by the University of Leeds. 

I am currently supervising four Phd students, whose topics include: representations of Robin Hood in the long nineteenth-century; Victorian consumer and commodity cultures.

I welcome enquiries from Phd candidates seeking supervision within my areas of interests:

Victorian history-writing

- text and images studies in the nineteenth-century

- Victorian historical imagery

- representation of historical women

- the Victorian heritage industry

- Victorian masculinities



Progress Tutor

Level 4 tutor and Induction Tutor for History

Co-ordinator for the Staff-Student Academic Committee for Humanities

Director of the Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies

Committee member, Reseach and Knowledge Exchange Committee

External Examiner for History programmes, Anglia Ruskin University

Willingness to take PhD students