Dr Maureen Bell BA MA PGCE MLS PhD

Dr Maureen Bell

Department of English Literature
Honorary Reader in English Literature

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Now retired from the University, I continue to contribute to the University’s research profile as Director of the British Book Trade Index and through my continuing research and publications.


After leaving University I taught in comprehensive schools and trained as a librarian. Work for my PhD on women's roles in the early modern book trades led to a Leverhulme postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Leeds, working on the quantification of British book production before 1700 (part of the History of the Book in Britain project). I worked for the Open University and the University of Nottingham’s Department of Adult Education before moving to Birmingham in 1992. I retired from full-time work in 2008.


Early printed books - and the men and women involved in their production - are the focus of my research. I have a particular interest in women as booksellers, publishers, printers, hawkers and distributors of books; and in the development of the provincial book trade. I have recently completed work on an early C18 Derbyshire reader and his access to books: A Catalogue of the Library of Titus Wheatcroft of Ashover. I am currently working on the papers of the Franklin family of Lincolnshire.

Research groups

As Director of the British Book Trade Index I have collaborated with many colleagues - librarians, archivists, local historians as well as academics from other universities - to establish the biographical details of those in the book and allied trades before 1851. I am a member of the Bibliographical Society, and of the editorial panel of Publishing History. I have been on the advisory groups of other funded projects, such as the BookHAD Project (London College of Printing) and the Beyond the Book Project. In 1998 I was a co-founder of the Book History Research Network which supports research into the history of the book nationwide. I am a member of several Birmingham research networks, including the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern StudiesCentre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS).

Other activities

I undertook a variety of administrative roles at Birmingham, including acting as both Deputy and Head of the English Department, and supervised successful graduate work on such topics as Spenser's Faerie Queene, the early Quaker writer Martha Simmonds, the Victorian publisher Henry Colburn, medieval English and Portuguese drama, and women writers of romance fiction. I am currently a member of the academic team at the Centre for Postgraduate Quaker Studies at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre.


  •  ‘The English Provincial Trade 1700-1850’ (with John Hinks) in A History of the Book in Britain vol. V , ed. M. Suarez and M. Turner, CUP (2009), pp. 335-352. ISBN: 978-0-521-81017-3
  • A Catalogue of the Library of Titus Wheatcroft of Ashover, (ed.) (Derbyshire Record Society, 2008) ISBN: 978-0-946324-30-9
  • 'Booksellers without an author, 1627-1685' in Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture, ed. Gary Taylor, Oxford University Press (2007), pp.260-85. ISBN: 978-0-19-818570-3
  • A Chronology and Calendar of Documents relating to the London Book Trade 1641-1700, by D.F.McKenzie and M. Bell. 3 vols. (OUP, 2005). ISBN: 0-19-818410-7 (vol.I); 0-19-818176-0 (vol. II); 0-19-928558-6 (vol. III). Pages: 643 (vol. 1); 458 (vol. II); 468 (vol. III).
  • ‘The Book Trade in English Provincial Towns, 1700-1849: an evaluation of evidence from the British Book Trade Index’ (with John Hinks) in Publishing History 57, 2005, pp. 53-112. ISSN: 0309-2445
  • ‘Women Writing, Women Written' in A History of the Book in Britain vol.IV , ed. J. Barnard and D.F. McKenzie with the assistance of M. Bell (CUP, 2002). (Chapter 20, pp.431-451)
  • 'The English Provinces and Wales' (with J. Barnard) in A History of the Book in Britain vol. IV , ed. J. Barnard and D.F. McKenzie with the assistance of M. Bell (CUP, 2002). ISBN: ISBN: 0-521-66182-x (chapter 23, pp.665-686)
  • Re–constructing the book: literary texts in transmission  (with S. Chew, S. Eliot, L. Hunter and J. West) (Ashgate, 2001) ISBN: 0-7546-0360-1

Recent conference papers and invited lectures

  • ‘The Wheatcrofts and their books’, given in Oct 2009 to the Library History seminar, Institute of Historical Research, University of London.
  • ‘Thomason tracts and book history’, plenary for the British Library conference on George Thomason, July 2008.
  • ‘Reading and writing in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Derbyshire: The manuscripts of Titus Wheatcroft (1679-1762)’, Material Readings in Early Modern Culture Conference, University of Plymouth, 11-12 April 2008.
  • ‘Titus Wheatcroft: an eighteenth-century reader and his books’, Print Networks Conference, Chester, July 2007.
  • ‘Trader and Traded: starting with the book’, Bibliographical Society/Royal Historical Society Joint Conference, 4 November 2006.