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Dr Naomi Walker, from Threapwood, Cheshire and Dr Katie Baker, from Liverpool, were both interested in examining women writers and the concept and significance of place in their work as part of their studies for their PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) at the University. 

Their work led to them organising a conference at the University in 2019 when Naomi was still a student and Katie had just graduated where they were able to discuss their ideas with like-minded academics. With the encouragement of their supervisor Professor Deborah Wynne, Naomi and Katie turned the presentations and papers from the conference into a recently published book, A Space of Their Own: Women, Writing and Place 1850 – 1950 (Routledge). 

Naomi Walker, who now teaches on the Foundation Year programme in the University’s Department of English and Katie, who is a freelance editor and writer, each contributed a chapter to the book which explores how nineteenth and twentieth-century women writers incorporated the idea of ‘place’ into their writing. By writing from a specific location or focusing upon a particular geographical or imaginary place, female writers working between 1850 and 1950 valued ‘a space of their own’ in which to work.

The period on which this collection focuses crosses two main areas of study, nineteenth century writing and early twentieth century/modernist writing, enabling a discussion of how ideas of space progressed alongside changes in styles of writing. The book looks to the many ways women writers explored concepts of space and place and how they expressed these through their writings, for example how they interpreted both urban and rural landscapes and how they presented domestic spaces. 

A Space of Their Own will be of interest to those studying Victorian literature and modernist works as it covers a period of immense change for women’s rights in society. It may also be of interest to academics outside of literature such as gender studies, cultural geography, place writing and digital humanities. 

Naomi said: “I loved working on my PhD. I enjoyed the research work in the archives. My work focused on two Shropshire women writers so I spent a lot of time at Shropshire Archives in Shrewsbury. I also used G.I.S. mapping systems in my work so I enjoyed experimenting with this as a new way to approach literature.” 

Katie said: “It was wonderful to see the project through to completion and to be involved with such fantastic contributors, so it's a lovely achievement to finally have it in print.  

“I thoroughly enjoyed my research and I couldn't have asked for a better supervisor in Professor Deborah Wynne. Researching and formulating my ideas was an extremely rewarding experience.  The fact that it helped lead to the book is an added bonus!” 

Professor Deborah Wynne, Programme Leader for English Literature at the University of Chester, said: “I am so proud to see the hard work of Naomi and Kate come to fruition with the publication of this book. They are both such talented researchers and it was a pleasure to see them successfully complete their PhD journeys.” 


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English Literature