Sarah Dunnigan

Senior Lecturer


After graduating in English and Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow, Sarah completed a PhD at the University of Edinburgh where she went on to hold a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship for three years. She was appointed to a lectureship at Edinburgh in 2002. Her main teaching and research interests lie in medieval and Renaissance literature, especially Scottish; in fairy tales and ballads; children's literature; neomedievalism; and in the history of Scottish women's writing, and she has published in all these areas.


MA (Glasgow); PhD (Edinburgh)

Responsibilities & affiliations

Co-founder, SELCIE (Scotland's Early Literature for Children Initiative); Association for Scottish Literary Studies Council Member; Co-General Editor of SCROLL Scottish Cultural Review of Literature and Language) (Brill); Edinburgh University Press Committee member; former general co-editor of Scottish Literary Review


Undergraduate teaching

  • Fairy Tales
  • Falling in Love in the Middle Ages
  • Feminising the Word: Women and Literature c1100-c1500
  • Haunted Fictions: Scotland and the Supernatural
  • The Field Full of Folk

Postgraduate teaching

Fairy Tales (MSc option)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Past and present doctoral supervisions include medieval women's writing; fantasy, fairy and folktales from the medieval to the nineteenth century periods; children's literature; medieval and Renaissance Scottish literature; and I would be happy to hear from interested applicants in all these and related fields.

Current PhD students supervised

As 1st supervisor:

Lucy Hinnie (the querelle des femmes and the representation of women in the Bannatyne manuscript);

Anna McKay (representations of women weaving and St Veronica in medieval British literature)

Past PhD students supervised

As first supervisor:

Sara Hines (on Andrew Lang's fairy books);

Yuki Yoshino (fairies in c18th and c19th Scottish literature);

Phoebe Linton (female space and marginality in Le Morte Darthur)

Research summary

Sarah's main research interests lie in medieval and Renaissance literature, especially Scottish, and in particular with the literature and culture of Mary, Queen of Scots' reign; in fairy tales, traditional literature, and ballads; Scottish women's writing; and the history of Scottish children's literature. Most recently she has co-edited, with Suzanne Gilbert of Stirling University, The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Traditional Literatures (2013); edited Violet Jacob’s 1904 collection of children's fairy tales, The Golden Heart and other stories (2011); and written essays on childhood and youth, and on masculinities, in early modern Scottish literature; on J.M. Barrie, children, and the Gothic; the history of Scottish children's fantasy;and on ghosts and revenants, and female enchanters, in Scottish ballad and fairytale traditions.

Sarah is co-founder, along with Valentina Bold, of SELCIE: Scotland's Early Literature for Children Initiative, a collaborative research project devoted to recovering the forgotten history of Scottish children's literature.  With a team of graduate researchers from LLC and ECA (Danielle Howarth; Joanna Witkowska; Morgan Boharski; Niamh Keenan; Katie Forrester), she is working with Edinburgh's Museum of Childhood to help catalogue their book archives. This will culminate in an exhibition to be held in the summer and autumn of 2018. Further details of the project and the exhibition can be found on the dedicated blog (hosted by 'engage: blogs from the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences).

Sarah is also part of a Leverhulme funded project on women's poetry in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland 1400-1800, led by Sarah Prescott (Dublin), with Cathryn Charnell-White (Aberystwyth), Kate Mathis (Edinburgh), and Marie-Louise Coolahan (National University of Ireland, Galway).

Knowledge exchange

  • In 2018, during Scotland’s Year of Young People, the SELCIE project in collaboration with Edinburgh’s Museum of Childhood will devise an exhibition entitled ‘Growing Up with Books: the Hidden Heritage of Children’s Literature’.  Based on the archival and research work,  it will explore the hidden heritage of children’s literature contained within the Museum of Childhood’s archives.
  • On 26th and 27th June 2015, Sarah and Valentina Bold  organised the first extended symposium dedicated to the subject of Scottish children’s literature from the eighteenth century onwards. Hosted by The Solway Centre for Environment & Culture, the University of Edinburgh, and the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, two days of discussion and performance began to stitch together this forgotten history and its contemporary vitality. A special event was held at The Minerva Hall, Dumfries Academy, organised by the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, currently developing Scotland’s Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling, based in the Dumfries house and garden which inspired J.M. Barrie’s iconic Peter Pan. Scottish Youth Theatre performed the first reading of Barrie’s earliest play, Bandelero the Bandit, since he premiered the work whilst still a pupil at the school. It was introduced by the late Professor R.D.S. Jack of Edinburgh University who produced the first published edition of Barrie’s early plays.

Project activity

View all 27 publications on Research Explorer