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, and then was appointed to a lectureship. Her main teaching and research interests lie in Scottish medieval and Renaissance literature; fairy tales and ballads; the history of children's literature; Victorian neomedievalism; 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); Co-General Editor of SCROLL Scottish Cultural Review of Literature and Language) (Brill); former general co-editor of Scottish Literary Review


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.

Past PhD students supervised

Most recently, 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)

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)

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. Her work on children's literature and fairy tales has led to collaborations with Edinburgh's Museum of Childhood, and with curators and artists.

She co-edited, with Shu-Fang Lai, The Land of Story Books. Scottish Children's Literature in the Long Nineteenth Century (ASLS, 2019); with Suzanne Gilbert, 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; young masculinities; and women's affect and devotion, in early modern Scottish literature; on J.M. Barrie, children, and the Gothic; the history of Scottish children's fantasy; ghosts, revenants, and female enchanters in Scottish ballad and fairytale traditions; and Scottish c19th neomedievalism.

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 , she worked with Edinburgh's Museum of Childhood to help catalogue their book archives and culminated in an exhibition in 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 was also part of a Leverhulme funded project on women's poetry in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland 1400-1800, led by Sarah Prescott (Edinburgh), 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 curated an exhibition entitled ‘Growing Up with Books: the Hidden Heritage of Children’s Literature’.  Based on archival and research work,  it explored 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 31 publications on Research Explorer