Charley Matthews

Thesis title: The Queer Woman Reader in the Nineteenth Century


Charley is pursuing his AHRC-funded PhD on nineteenth-century reading practices and queer book cultures. He has previously worked in the book trade (contemporary and antiquarian), and he currently teaches undergraduate English Literature. He has published articles on Anne Lister in the Journal of Lesbian Studies, and Reception. Charley is also training as a professional indexer.



MSc Book History & Material Culture, University of Edinburgh, 2019

MA English Literature, Durham University, 2014

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Tutor for undergraduate course Literary Studies 1A
  • Reader for the James Tait Black prize (biography category), 2021, 2022, and 2023
  • Member of the LLC lifewriting research network
  • Member of the Eighteenth Century Studies Society at the University of Stirling
  • Member of SHARP
  • Member of the Society of Indexers

Undergraduate teaching

Tutor on Literary Studies 1A and 1B

Research summary

Charley is interested in recovering marginalised voices within book history. Their AHRC-funded PhD thesis aims to recover the reading practices of queer women and gender-nonconforming people from the nineteenth century, drawing on diaries, letters, and book reviews. They use both qualitative and quantitative data analysis to understand how private and social reading practices intersected with and influenced emerging queer identities and lived queer experiences in the nineteenth century. Their case studies include Anne Lister, Geraldine Jewsbury, Frances Power Cobbe, and Mary Diana Dods/Walter Sholto Douglas.


Charley's research interests also include trans theory, radical publishing histories, gothic fiction, reading practices and the development of the novel, and the digital humanities.

Affiliated research centres

Current project grants

AHRC/SGSAH Doctoral Training Programme, 2020-2024
SGSAH Engagement funding, awarded November 2022
SGSAH RTSG funding, awarded June and July 2023

Past project grants

Una Europa Digital Cultural Heritage workshop funding, 2022
SGSAH Research Showcase funding, 2022
Maggs Bros LRBS funding, 2021

Papers delivered

"'The cleverest and keenest of that race of Vipers': trans identities and book reviews in the early nineteenth century," Queer Bibliography: Tools, Methods, Practices, Approaches, IES, University of London, 2023.

"Reading practices in the nineteenth century - a workshop," co-leader, SGSAH symposium, University of Glasgow, 2022

"Anne Lister's reading habits: a queer quantitative approach," Eighteenth Century Studies seminar series, University of Stirling, 2022

"Non-normative lives and the ethics of the private diary," Lifewriting seminar series, UoE, 2021

"Anne Lister, reading, and the creation of genderqueer knowledge," CHAPTER seminar series, IES London, 2021

"Mary Hays' Female Biography," Gender and the Book Trades, University of St Andrews, 2021

"The Queer Woman Reader," lightning talk at Moving Texts: SHARP 2021, online

"Ecofeminism and Thresholds of Disaster in Sylvia Townsend Warner's Kingdoms of Elfin​," Threshold, Boundary, and Crossover in Fantasy, University of York, 2020

More video

In the press

Interview for the Journal of Lesbian Studies podcast -


Matthews, C. (in press). “Mary Hays’ Female Biography (1803), the anthology, and reading as gendered labour in the early nineteenth century book trades.” Gender and the Book Trades. E. Watson and J. Farrell-Jobst (Eds.). Brill’s Library of the Written Word.

Matthews, C. (2023). "'To do a little and well': Anne Lister’s reading routine." Reception: Texts, Readers, Audiences, History 15, 25-31.

Matthews, C. (2022). “‘I feel the mind enlarging itself’: Anne Lister’s gendered reading practices.” Journal of Lesbian Studies 26(4), 367-381. DOI: 10.1080/10894160.2022.2125142