Dr Oliver Herford BA, MSt (Oxford), PhD (London)

Dr Oliver Herford

Department of English Literature

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I work on British and American literature of the long nineteenth century, focusing on questions of non-fictional style, and on the relations between literary correspondence and other types of life-writing. I have a particular research interest in Henry James. I teach widely across eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature.


BA, MSt (Oxford), PhD (London)


I joined the University of Birmingham in 2014 after five years’ teaching at Oxford, including three years as Darby Fellow and Tutor in English at Lincoln College. I took my BA and MSt at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and completed my doctoral studies at University College London.


I currently contribute to the first-year modules 'Literary Aesthetics After 1800' and 'Transatlantic Literary Relations', the second-year modules 'Stories of the Novel' and 'Victorian and Decadent Literature', and the third-year 'Gothic' module. I also teach on the MA module ‘Victorian Modernity’.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries about research supervision in the following areas: Henry James, John Keats and his circle, Romantic and Victorian life-writing, textual revision and collective editions, and the writing, circulation and editing of literary correspondences.


I have recently completed a monograph on the style of Henry James’s late personal writings, a richly heterogeneous set of works spanning the period 1890-1915: commemorative essays, biography, travelogue, revised travel impressions, literary criticism and family memoirs. I am currently editing one group of these writings, the autobiographical Prefaces to the New York Edition, for a multi-volume edition of The Complete Fiction of Henry James (CUP, 2014-16). I am also beginning to explore directions for future research in the field of nineteenth-century literary correspondence (an essay on this topic was published in the Cambridge Quarterly in 2013), and in the historical novel from Walter Scott to Robert Louis Stevenson.

Other activities

On 26 June 2012 I co-organised an international conference at St Anne’s College, Oxford to mark the centenary of Henry James’s honorary Oxford DLitt. Speakers included Christopher Ricks, J. Hillis Miller, Anthony Lane and Philip Horne; an issue of Literary Imagination was devoted to papers from the conference.



  • The Prefaces, vol. 33 of The Complete Fiction of Henry James(Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2016)


  • Henry James’s Style of Retrospect: Late Personal Writings, 1890-1915(Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2015)

Articles and reviews

  • ‘John Keats by Joseph Severn: On Likeness and Life-Writing’, The Cambridge Quarterly, 42 (2013), 318-41
  • ‘Commencement or Commemoration’, Literary Imagination, 15 (2013), 20-34
  • Essay-review of The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1872-1876, 3 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008-11), The Henry James Review, 33 (2012), 285-92
  • ‘James and the Habit of Allusion’, in Henry James’s Europe: Heritage and Transfer, ed. Annick Duperray et al (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2011), 179-89
  • ‘The Roman Lotus: Digestion and Retrospect’, The Henry James Review, 31 (2010), 54-60