Skip to main content

Professor Claire Harman

Professor in Creative Writing

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor in Creative Writing in the Department of English StudiesRoom A75, Elvet Riverside 1 


Claire Harman studied English at Manchester University and began her career in publishing, at Carcanet Press and the Manchester-based poetry magazine, PN Review. She won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for her first book, a biography of the novelist and poet Sylvia Townsend Warner (1989), and has since published biographies of Fanny Burney (2000), Robert Louis Stevenson (2005) and Charlotte Brontë (2015), and Jane’s Fame (2009), a study of Jane Austen’s legacy and influence. She has also edited Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Collected Poems (1982), Selected Poems (1985), Diaries (1994) and New Collected Poems (2008). Her books have been shortlisted for prizes including the Whitbread Award, the Duff Cooper Award and the Saltire Award. She won the Forward Prize for Poetry in 2015 (for Best Single Poem) and the Tom-Gallon Award for short fiction in 2016. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006 and in 2016 became President of the Alliance of Literary Societies.

Claire Harman has written extensively for the literary press over the past twenty five years and is a frequent reviewer for Times Literary Supplement, Guardian and Evening Standard. She has taught English at the universities of Manchester and Oxford and Creative Writing at Columbia University in New York City and has contributed to many radio and television programmes, most recently Radio 3’s The Essay, In Tune and Proms Extra, the World Service’s World Book Club and Lucy Worsley’s A Very British Romance.



1989 Sylvia Townsend Warner: A Biography (Chatto & Windus, London 1989; Minerva, London, 1991). Reissued by Penguin Books, 2015.
2000 Fanny Burney: A Biography (HarperCollins, London, 2000; Alfred A.Knopf, New York, 2001; Flamingo, London, 2001, reissued 2010).
2005 Robert Louis Stevenson: A Life (HarperCollins, London, 2005; Myself and the Other Fellow: A Life of Robert Louis Stevenson HarperCollins US, New York, 2005 and 2006; Harper Perennial, London 2006, reissued 2010.)
2009 Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World (Canongate, Edinburgh, 2009; Text Publishing, Melbourne, 2009; Henry Holt, New York, 2010; Canongate, Edinburgh (paperback edition), 2010.
2015 Charlotte Brontë: A Life (Viking Penguin, London; Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 2016)
2016 Five Poems, (Clutag Five Poems Series, Clutag Press)
2018 Murder by the Book: A Sensational Chapter in Victorian Crime (Viking Penguin, London; Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2019).


1982 Collected Poems of Sylvia Townsend Warner Carcanet (Manchester, 1982);
Viking Press (New York, 1982)
1985 Selected Poems of Sylvia Townsend Warner Carcanet (Manchester, 1985);
Viking Press (New York, 1985); Carcanet (Manchester, 1986)
1992 Robert Louis Stevenson, Essays and Poems Everyman (London, 1992)
1994 The Diaries of Sylvia Townsend Warner Chatto & Windus (London, 1994);
Virago (London, 1998; 2000)
2008 New Collected Poems of Sylvia Townsend Warner, enlarged and revised
edition, Carcanet (Manchester, 2008)

Contributions to books

1986 Sylvia Townsend Warner, Summer Will Show (introduction)
1987 Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Corner That Held Them
1991 Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry (7 entries: Charlotte Mew, Vita Sackville-West, James Burns Singer, Edgell Rickword, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Katherine Mansfield, Michael Roberts)
1992 Writers’ Houses, ed. Kate Marsh - chapter on RL Stevenson, Walter Scott
and Robert Burns
1992 Femmes de Siècle (short story anthology, ed. Joan Smith) - story, ‘An Act of Kindness’
1992 Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Stories (introduction and notes)
Robert Louis Stevenson, The Master of Ballantrae and Weir of
Hermiston (introduction and notes)
1998 Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Flint Anchor (introduction)
2000 Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Salutation and other stories (introduction)
2001 British Writers Retrospective Supplement 1 (Scribner’s/Gale) - ‘Robert Louis Stevenson’
2001 British Writers Supplement VII (Scribner’s/Gale) - ‘Sylvia Townsend Warner’
2002 British Writers Retrospective Supplement 2 (Scribner’s/Gale) - ‘Jane Austen’
2002 British Classics (Gale) - ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’
2004 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (3 entries: Edgell Rickword, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Valentine Ackland)
2004 ‘Who is Sylvia?’, Lives For Sale: Biographers’ Tales, ed. Mark Bostridge (Continuum; paperback edition 2005)
2007 Robert Louis Stevenson, The Body-Snatcher and Other Stories (introduction)
2009 Sylvia Townsend Warner, Summer Will Show (new introduction)
2009 Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped (introduction)
2013 'Portrait of Fanny Burney by Edward F. Burney' Art and East Anglia
2014 ‘“My Immense Mass of Manuscripts”: Fanny Burney as archivist, biographer and autobiographer’, in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol 90, number 2 (2014/15, Manchester University Press).
2015 The Forward Book of Poetry 2016 (Forward Worldwide in association with Faber and Faber)
2017 ‘Some Notes on George Moir and Flora Warner’, Journal of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society, 2017.
2018 The Oxford Companion to the Brontës, ed. Christine Alexander and Margaret Smith (Oxford University Press), preface.
2019 Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Corner That Held Them (NYRB Classics, New York), introduction

Esteem Indicators

  • 0000: : Member of English Heritage Blue Plaque Panel, 2021-

    Royal Literary Fund Fellow, St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, 2017-18

    President of The Alliance of Literary Societies, 2016-

    Trustee of the J.R.Ackerley estate and judge of the Pen Ackerley Prize (for memoir and autobiography) 2016 -

    Tom-Gallon Award for Short Fiction (Society of Authors) 2016

    Forward Prize for Poetry 2015

    Member of editorial board, The Journal of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society, 2015-


Authored book

  • Claire Harman (2018). Murder by the Book: A Sensational Chapter in Victorian Crime. Penguin Books.

Journal Article


  • Harman, Claire (2016). Charlotte Bronte: A Life. Penguin Random House.