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Sharon Ruston supervises 2 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Professor Sharon Ruston


Sharon Ruston

Lancaster University

County College



Tel: +44 1524 592248

Research overview

My main research interests are in the relations between the literature, science and medicine of the Romantic period, 1780-1820. My first book, Shelley and Vitality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), explored the medical and scientific contexts which inform Shelley's concept of vitality in his major poetry. In 2010 I published Romanticism: An Introduction (Continuum). In 2013 I published Creating Romanticism: Case Studies in the Literature, Science, and Medicine of the 1790s (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). With Tim Fulford, I co-edited the Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy, published in four volumes by OUP in 2020. The Science of Life and Death in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was published in November 2021 by the Bodleian Library Press.

PhD supervision

Romantic literature and science, medicine and technology; Romantic poetry; literature and science; literature and medicine; animals and literature; Romantic women's writing and science and/or medicine; literature and chemistry; literature and natural history.

Career Details

2019-2023: Lancaster University: Head of English Literature and Creative Writing Department

2013-present: Lancaster University: Chair in Romanticism

2009–2013: University of Salford: Chair in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

2006–2009: Keele University: Senior Lecturer in English

2000–2006: University of Wales, Bangor: Lecturer in English Literature

Research Grants

AHRC Research Grant: 'Humphry Davy's Notebooks: How Poetry Helped Create Scientific Knowledge' (2021-2024): £1,008,000.

AHRC Follow-on-Funding: Crowdsourced Transcriptions of Humphry Davy's Notebooks (2019): £78,758

AHRC Leadership Fellow: A Man of Science and a Poet: Humphrey Davy's Letters, Life and Legacy (2015-17): £238,812

British Academy Small Research Grant (2017): £9947

Chemical Heritage Foundation Fellowship (2017): $6000

British Society for Literature and Science (2017): £378

Society for the History of Chemistry and Alchemy (2017): £750

Scouloudi Institute for Historical Research funding bid (2016): £400

AHRC Being Human festival (2014): £4000 (Co-I)

MHRA Senior Research Associate for the Davy Letters Project (2014-15): £2300

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards: Extended Programme with the Working-Class Movement Library (2010-15): £230,000 (Co-PI)

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Training Programme (2009-11): ‘Theories and Methods: Literature, Science and Medicine’ (www.LitSciMed.org.uk): £48,131

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Royal Institution (2009-12): £50,040

British Academy Small Research Grant (February 2010): £7390. Project: The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy and his Circle

RISF Funding, University of Salford (January 2010): £3750. Project: The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy and his Circle

Society for the History of Chemistry and Alchemy (SHAC) (January 2010): £1000. Project: The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy and his Circle

Wellcome Trust Research Expenses Grant (January 2010): £4993.50. Project: The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy and his Circle (Co-PI)

British Society for the History of Science Grant (October 2009): £500. Project: The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy and his Circle

British Academy Small Research Grant (July 2008): £4575. Project: ‘Vital Romanticism: Literature, Science and Medicine in the Romantic Period’

British Academy Small Research Grant (July 2007): £2125. Project: ‘Mary Wollstonecraft and Natural History’

AHRB Research Leave to match institutional leave granted by University of Wales, Bangor (September  British Academy Small Research Grant for research in the British Library and the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine (February 2004): £2871

British Academy Small Research Grant for research during the summer of 2003 in the British Library and the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine (January 2003): £2668

British Academy American Libraries Exchange Agreement grant for research at the Huntington Library in California (June 2002): $5000

Current Teaching

British Romanticism

External Roles

I am a Fellow of the English Association and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I sit on a number of editorial boards.

Web Links

Interview for Shelley200 (October 2021): #Shelley200 Interview: Professor Sharon Ruston – The Shelley Conference

Davy Notebooks Project website: https://wp.lancs.ac.uk/davynotebooks/


Real science that 'inspired' the gruesome story of Frankenstein's monster revealed | The Sun

PressReader.com - Digital Newspaper & Magazine Subscriptions (The Sunday Telegraph)

Pilot Project transcriptions of 5 Humphry Davy Notebooks: http://humphrydavy.org.uk/notebooks/

The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy (to be published in four volumes by OUP in 2020). The project website is here: http://www.davy-letters.org.uk/

LitSciMed: www.litscimed.org.uk

‘When respiring gas inspired poetry’, The Lancet, 381 (2 February 2013), 366–67: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2813%2960157-9/fulltext

Guardian Blog Post (November 2013): http://www.theguardian.com/science/the-h-word/2013/nov/12/mary-wollstonecraft-gbbo-feminism-nature-nurture

Royal Society Podcast (September 2012): http://royalsociety.org/events/2012/rights-of-woman/

Aeolian Harp Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/sounding-out-aeolus/sounding-out-aeolus-podcast-4

BBC New Generation Thinkers: Science and Poetry (2014): https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04n2zcp

BBC Making History: Joseph Priestley and Warrington (2015): https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b065vrl6

Medium Brow Podcast on Frankenstein (April 2016): http://poddirectory.com/episode/12348341/ep-93-medium-brow-starring-dr-michael-brooks

Little Atoms Podcast on Frankenstein (July 2017): http://littleatoms.com/science/little-atoms-launches-converging-cultures-podcast

Interview with Keats-Shelley Association of America on Shelleys and Chemistry (2017): https://k-saa.org/shelley-conference-sharon-ruston-on-chemistry-and-the-shelleys/

Radio 4 - Archive on 4, Frankenstein Lives! (Jan 2018): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09lvy6l

Big Issue North on Frankenstei (Jan 2018): https://www.bigissuenorth.com/features/2018/01/creature-discomforts/

Optima Magazine on Frankenstein (March 2018): http://www.optimamagazine.co.uk/read/leisure/books/1802-frankensteins-legacy

Vox: The real experiments that inspired Frankenstein (May 2019): https://www.vox.com/videos/2019/5/10/18564319/real-experiments-inspired-frankenstein-history-club

LitSciPod podcast (January 2020), 'Science isn't separate': https://open.spotify.com/show/6t9VqpsReFJqG5Zcvr4Fbt



University of Liverpool

  • 1995–99      Ph.D. thesis, ‘P. B. Shelley and the Science of Life’
  • 1994–95      M.A. degree in English Renaissance and Romantic Literature
  • 1991–94      B.A. (hons) degree in English Language and Literature (First Class)


University of Wales, Bangor

  • 2003            Postgraduate Certificate of Teaching in Higher Education (Distinction)


Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (from 2015)

PhD Supervisions Completed

  • Alison Morgan, ‘P. B. Shelley’s Popular Songs’ (2009-12). Completed.
  • Wahida Amin, ‘Science and Poetry: The Case of Humphry Davy’ (AHRC Funded; 2009-13). Completed.
  • Jessica Roberts, ‘Vitalism in the Periodical Press’ (2010-14). Completed.
  • Jennifer Morgan, ‘Transmission and Reception of P. B. Shelley in Working-Class Journals’ (AHRC Funded; 2010-14). Completed.

PhDs Examined

  • January 2018: External Examiner to Ashleigh Blackwood, ‘Managing Maternity: Reproduction and the Literary Imagination in the Eighteenth Century’ (Northumbria University, PhD)
  • November 2012: External Examiner to Leanne Stokoe, “Poetry […] concealed by facts and calculating processes”: political economy in the prose of Percy Bysshe Shelley (University of Newcastle, PhD)
  • November 2012: Examiner for Prof. Dr. Ralf Haekel: ‘The Soul in British Romanticism’ (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Habiliitation, second PhD thesis)
  • January 2009: External Examiner to Jane Darcy, ‘The interaction of medical and literary constructions of melancholy and madness in biographical writing, 1750–1900’ (King’s College, London, PhD)


Contact me

Professor Sharon Ruston

B92, County Main

Department of English and Creative Writing

Lancaster University LA1 4WY

Tel: 01524 592248

Email: s.ruston@lancaster.ac.uk

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