Francis O'Gorman (MA DPhil (Oxford) FRHistS FEA)

Saintsbury Professor of English Literature


Francis O'Gorman is Saintsbury Professor of English Literature. Until August 2016 he worked at the University of Leeds where, from 2006, he held a personal chair in Victorian Literature. He was Head of the School of English from 2007-11 (one of the largest English departments in the UK) and before that directed the Leeds Humanities Research Institute, and, before that, served as the School of English's Director of Learning and Teaching. Prior to arriving in Leeds, he had been Lecturer in English Literature at Pembroke College Oxford, Senior Lecturer at Westminster College Oxford, and Research Fellow at what is now the University of Gloucestershire. From English, Irish, and Hungarian families, Francis O'Gorman took his undergraduate degree (double first) and doctorate from Lady Margaret Hall Oxford where he also served as the college's organ scholar, directing the college choir and playing the organ. He won the Violet Vaughan Morgan prize for English Literature in the University of Oxford as an undergraduate in 1987 (writing about Sir Walter Scott) and was an academic scholar in English Literature as both an undergraduate and graduate student. He is now a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the English Association, a Companion of the Guild of St George, and Honorary Professor in the Ruskin Library  and Research Centre at the University of Lancaster. He remains a very active performing musician and writes widely on choral and organ music.


MA DPhil (Oxford) FRHistS

Responsibilities & affiliations

UK director, Victorian Lives and Letters Consortium

Co-convenor, the Cornhill Colloquiua in the City of London

Research summary

Francis O'Gorman wrote a DPhil on John Ruskin and has continued to work thereafter mainly though not exclusively on nineteenth-century literature. 

At the moment, he has particular interests in, among others, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Anthony Trollope, John Ruskin, A.C. Swinburne, and Edward Thomas. He has written or edited 24 books (including 6 on or by Ruskin) and his most recent are The Cambridge Companion to John Ruskin (CUP, 2015), Worrying: A Literary and Cultural History (Bloomsbury, 2015, pbk 2016), an edition of Trollope's The Way We Live Now (Oxford World's Classics, 2016), and the Twenty-First Century Oxford Authors edition of Algernon Charles Swinburne (OUP, 2016). His edition of volume 5 of the Selected Prose of Edward Thomas will be published by OUP in 2017. Francis O'Gorman's recent essays have covered authors including Tennyson, Larkin, Yeats, Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, Joyce, Matthew Arnold, and Trollope. In terms of topics, he has particular interests in what it feels like to read; in writing and the inner or mental life; in elegy; in the interrelations of literature and law; and in the working and imaginative, as well as literal, meaning of advanced finance. For many years, he has written about the city of Venice.

Francis O'Gorman's earlier books include John Ruskin (1999), Late Ruskin: New Contexts (2002, rpt. 2016); The Victorians and the Eighteenth Century: Reassessing the Tradition (co-ed., 2004); Victorian Literature and Finance (ed., 2007);  and The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Culture (ed., 2010).  He edited the Blackwell Anthology of Victorian Poetry (2004), the Blackwell Guide to Criticism on Victorian Fiction (2002), and the Blackwell Concise Companion to Victorian Fiction (2005). Francis O'Gorman has edited for Oxford World's Classics , in addition to the texts mentioned above, Elizabeth Gaskell's Sylvia's Lovers (2014) together with Trollope's The Duke's Children (ed, 2011), and Framley Parsonage (ed, 2014) and Ruskin's Praeterita (2012). His edition of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles was published by Broadview in 2007. Francis O'Gorman is currently editing Ruskin's The Stones of Venice (1851-3) for OUP, Trollope's Orley Farm (1861-2) for the same press, and has just completed a book called Forgetfulness: Making the Modern Culture of Amnesia (Bloomsbury, 2017). He is now writing, also for Bloomsbury, a book provisionally called The Limits of Liberalism.

_Worrying_ was a Guardian 'Book of the Week', a Sunday Times 'Must Read', and one of Bookbag's 'History books of the Year'. It was described by John Carey in The Sunday Times as 'subtle, exploratory, completely original'. Its publication was followed by live interviews on BBC Radio 3; BBC Radio Wales; BBC Radio York and Irish, Swedish, and Australian national radio. Francis O'Gorman's contribution to Radio 3's 'The Essay', 23-6 June 2016, was on 'The Rituals of Worry'. He has also contributed articles derived from the book to magazines and newspapers in the UK and US.

_Forgetfulness: Making the Modern Culture of Amnesia_ was published on 5 October 2017 and described by John Gray in The New Statesman as follows: 'A book as acutely intelligent and as original as this is a rare gift of fortune ...' '[it] will change how readers think of their lives ...'. Two contributions to radio Three's 'The Essay', on forgetting, will be broadcast in January 2018.

The Cambridge Companion to John Ruskin won the Ruskin Society's 'Book of the Year 2016' award, announced in the birthday meeting in the Art Workers' Guild, 11 February 2017.

Francis O'Gorman's work has been externally supported by the British Academy, the Italian Cultural Institute, the British Association for Victorian Studies, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. 

He can be followed on Twitter @francis_ogorman.

Francis O'Gorman is Chairman of the Ruskin Society and co-organiser with the Right Revd Dr Stephen Platten of the Ludgate Colloquia in the City of London.

Research activities

View all 8 activities on Research Explorer

Project activity

Victorian Lives and Letters Consortium

Past project grants

Awards from the British Academy, the Italian Cultural Institute, the British Association for Victorian Studies, and the AHRC.

View all 63 publications on Research Explorer