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Personal profile


Helena Ifill received her PhD in English Literature from the University of Sheffield (where she also took an MA in Nineteenth-Century Studies) in 2009. She taught at the University of Sheffield from 2010-2019 before taking up a lectureship at the University of Aberdeen in 2019. Her research centres on Victorian popular fiction and the Gothic, especially in connection with issues of gender, science and medicine.

Dr Ifill is an active member of the Victorian Popular Fiction Association, and has co-organised the annual conference for the last five years. She is also co-series-editor for the Edward Everett Root series, Key Popular Women Writers, and New Paths in Victorian Popular Fiction and Culture, and is the Associate Editor of Victorian Popular Fictions.

Research Interests:

My research centres on Victorian popular fiction, especially sensation fiction and the Gothic. I am particularly interested in how these genres engage with issues concerning gender, science and medicine. My monograph, Creating Character: Theories of Nature and Nurture in Victorian Sensation Fiction, explored how the novels of Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Wilkie Collins respond and contribute to nineteenth-century debates about identity formation and free will. I have also published work on vampire fiction and Victorian stories of mesmerism.


Current Research

I am currently working on two projects. One concerns the representation of doctors and patients in nineteenth-century Female Gothic texts. The other is a study of the Victorian popular author and journal editor, Charlotte Riddell, part of which has resulted in an article on the representation of professional female authors in Victorian Britain.  

Teaching Responsibilities:

I currently co-ordinate the following modules:

EL30VC    Fallen Women and Self-Made Men: Representing Gender in Victorian Literature

EL35VB    'From Bildungsroman to Alien Invasion: Exploring Genre in the Victorian Novel


I also teach on EL1009: Acts of Reading and the MLitt module EL5089: Novel Ideas: Reading Prose Fiction.

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Research Output

Open Access
  • The Female Professional as Orphan in Charlotte Riddell’s A Struggle for Fame

    Ifill, H., Jul 2019, In : Victoriographies. 9, 2, p. 129-146 18 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Creating character: Theories of nature and nurture in Victorian sensation fiction

    Ifill, H., 28 Feb 2018, Manchester: Manchester University Press. 240 p. (Interventions: Rethinking the Nineteenth Century)

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  • Mesmeric Clairvoyance in Mid-Victorian Literature: Eliot, Bulwer-Lytton, and MacDonald

    Ifill, H., Jul 2015, In : Supernatural Studies. 2, 2, p. 118-132 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • Wilkie Collins’s Monomaniacs in Basil, No Name, and Man and Wife

    Ifill, H., 2013, In : Wilkie Collins Journal. 12

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle