Summary: My thesis examines the role of Mont Blanc in British culture 1740-1825.
Mont Blanc was a towering presence in the imaginative geography of British eighteenth and early nineteenth century writing, featuring in poetry, fiction, travel literature, and natural philosophy. My work uses a broadly chronological and geocritical approach to investigate the cultural prominence of Western Europe's highest mountain. The period of my study addresses the 'discovery' of Mont Blanc by William Windham's party of 'Eight Englishmen' in 1741, Mont Blanc's first ascent by the Horace Benedict de Saussure-sponsored Paccard and Balmat in 1786, and the mountain's literary blossoming during the Romantic period when it played a key role in the re-evaluation of mountain topography and the formation of identity for British writers including William Wordsworth, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
My Supervisors are Dr David Higgins and Dr Jeremy Davies.
I am the grateful recipient of the Frank Parkinson Scholarship.
Europe's High Points: Reaching the Summit of Every Country in Europe (Cicerone, 2009)
Walking in the Auvergne: 42 Walks in Volcano Country (Cicerone, 2013)
Yorkshire Gritstone, vol. 2, Hawkcliffe chapter (YMC, 2014)
Update of Scrambles in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton, with Rachel Crolla (Cicerone, August 2017)
"A City of Death": The Shelleys and Mont Blanc (The Shelley International Conference, University of London, 15th-16th September, 2017)
Coleridge, Napoleon and Mont Blanc - A Search for Political, Physical and Emotional Improvement (Romantic Improvement, BARS International Conference, 27th-31st July 2017)
Mont Blanc and the Anxiety of Climate Change - 1741-2017 (Mediating Climate Change International Conference, University of Leeds, 4th-6th July 2017)
"Mad, bad and dangerous to know": Lord Byron's Manfred (Ilkley Literature Festival, October 2016)
Mont Blanc in the Year without a Summer (Summer of 1816: Creativity and Turmoil International Conference, University of Sheffield, 24th-27th June 2016)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Poetics of Rock Climbing (Poetry, Creativity, and Environment, University of Leeds, 26th-27th February 2016)
Counter-Classical Geography: Helen Maria Williams, Thomas Whalley and Mont Blanc (University of Leeds, 26th November 2015)
Writing Critically, semester 1, 2015
Poetry: Reading and Interpretation, semester 2, 2016
Writing Critically, semester 1, 2016
Literature of the Romantic Period, semester 2, 2017
Writing Critically, semester 1, 2017
Poetry: Reading and Interpretation, semester 2, 2018
I feel my research benefits from the insight offered by a climbing and mountaineering background. I have had a varied career that for the most part has prioritised spending time in mountain ranges. Nonetheless, I momentarily settled down to teach and left my most recent post as a secondary English teacher to commence the PhD at Leeds. I studied at Lancaster University for my undergraduate degree, where the tutorship of the poet Paul Farley was an inspiration for future academic and creative writing.