Dr Emily Bell

Dr Emily Bell


I am a Lecturer in Digital Humanities & Digital Skills, joining the School of English in this role in 2022, and Digital Education and Assessment Lead.

I have been part of the School as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow since 2020, working with Professor Richard Salmon on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘The Society of Authors, 1884–1914: Professional Association and Literary Property’. You can find full project details here.

I received my BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Warwick, before moving to York to undertake an interdisciplinary MA in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture and a PhD in English. From 2017–2018, I conducted a pedagogical evaluation of teaching and learning practice across the University of York. From 2018–2020, I was a Research Associate in Digital Humanities at Loughborough University working with Dr M. H. Wood on two projects: ‘Oceanic Exchanges Tracing Global Information Networks in Historical Newspaper Repositories, 1840–1914’, funded by an AHRC/ESRC ‘Digging into Data’ grant, and a follow-on Enterprise Projects Group-funded project, ‘Empowering Users of Historical Digitised Newspapers Collections’. In 2020, I was Research Associate in Archiving and Preserving Open Access Books on the ‘Community-Led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs’ (COPIM) project at Loughborough.

I have undertaken two residential fellowships for research into literary circles at the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere (2018), and at the Huntington Library, California (2019), and I have been a Fellow of the Software Sustainability Institute since 2020.

I have acted as a researcher and consultant for media projects including Nineteenth Circle, Homeschool History (Radio 4, Muddy Knees Media), and Horrible Histories (BBC, Lion Television).


  • Digital Education and Assessment Lead

Research interests

Digital Humanities

I am a digital humanist with training in corpus linguistics, social network analysis, data visualisation, GIS mapping, TEI, metadata creation and transformation, and coding in Python and R. I have published on using corpus linguistics tools to analyse Dickens’s fiction, and on digitised newspaper archive structures and user experience in Archival Science. I am a Fellow of the Software Sustainability Institute, acting as an advocate for better software practice in literary studies.

Dickens Studies

I am editor of the oldest journal in Dickens Studies, The Dickensian, and an editorial board member for the Oxford Edition of Charles Dickens (OUP). I’m in the process of finalising a new edition of Dickens’s later short fiction, 1851–1868 for the series with Professor Michael Slater. I also act as a consultant editor for the Charles Dickens Letters Project, which publishes newly discovered Dickens correspondence, and have recently launched a new website, Dickens Search (co-edited with Dr Lydia Craig), which combines book history with digital tools, offering a browsable and searchable database of Dickens’s collected and uncollected output. In 2020 I published an edited volume, Dickens After Dickens, with an introduction and my own chapter on Dickens in biofiction (available open access from White Rose UP), and a special issue of Victoriographies on Dickens, Death and Afterlives with Dr Claire Wood, including my own article on representations of Dickens’s death in biography. I am a network participant for the AHRC-funded project ‘The Dickens Code’, which seeks to solve the mysteries of Dickens’s undeciphered shorthand.

Newspapers and Periodicals

I am co-editor of the Curran Index, which identifies writers of over 160,000 anonymously published articles in Victorian periodicals, with Dr Lara Atkin. I am co-author of the Atlas of Digitised Newspapers & Metadata (2020), an open access report which is the first of its kind, bringing together a multidisciplinary team of researchers from six countries with archivists and library scientists to foster new ways into digital collections. The Atlas offers a guide to digitised newspaper collections through analysis of the metadata and the history of the newspaper itself. The full dataset of metadata from ten digital collections can also be downloaded. I have further publications forthcoming on using word vector models to trace conceptual change in multilingual newspaper corpora, 1840-1920, and on identity creation among late-Victorian journalists including George Augustus Sala and Edmund Yates.

The Society of Authors, 1884–1914

The Incorporated Society of Authors, founded in 1884 by the novelist Walter Besant (and continuing in existence to this day), occupied a prominent place in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century literary culture, attracting widespread attention for its campaigns in defence of ‘literary property’. Our collaborative project examines the early history of the Society of Authors, from its formation in the 1880s through to the beginning of WW1. The project has three main research questions:

  1. How did the Society of Authors operate, and in what ways was it conceived, as a professional association?
  2. How did the Society affect change within the literary profession through its campaigns to reform copyright legislation and contractual relationships between authors and publishers?
  3. How did the Society provide practical assistance to individual members, and in what ways did it shape the careers of late-Victorian and Edwardian authors?
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in English, University of York
  • MA Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, University of York
  • BA English and Comparative Literature, University of Warwick

Professional memberships

  • Advance HE (Associate Fellow)
  • British Association for Romantic Studies
  • British Association for Victorian Studies
  • Dickens Fellowship
  • Dickens Society
  • European Association for Digital Humanities
  • Research Society for Victorian Periodicals
  • Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing
  • Wilkie Collins Society

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for the Comparative History of Print
  • Textual Histories Research Group