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Professor Simon James


MA. PhD. (Cantab.)

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor in the Department of English StudiesStables 3, Hallgarth House+44 (0) 191 33 42583


Personal Details

My research interests are largely in the literary culture of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century periods, especially late-Victorian and Edwardian fiction.

I have co-curated the following exhibitions at Palace Green Library: Outrageously Modern!' Avant-garde magazines 1884-1922, Robots! and Books for Boys: Heroism, Adventure & Empire at the Dawn of the First World War. I curated an exhibition of H. G. Wells books and manuscripts for the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, for Wells's 150th birthday in 2016. Summer 2017 will see an exhibition on time travel at Durham's Palace Green Library.

Unsettled Accounts: Money and Narrative in the Novels of George Gissing was published by Anthem Press in 2003, the centenary year of Gissing's death. I have also published in The Gissing Journal and in four edited collections; I co-edited, with Christine Huguet, George Gissing and the Woman Question: Convention and Dissent (Ashgate, 2013), and, with Pierre Coustillas, George Gissing's Charles Dickens: A Critical Study.

In 2012, OUP published my second monograph Maps of Utopia: H. G. Wells, Modernity and the End of Culture, the first full-length study of H. G. Wells's aesthetics. I have also edited four H. G. Wells novels for Penguin. Until the 2016 issue, I am the editor of The Wellsian, the scholarly journal of the H. G. Wells Society. I have published with Nicholas Saul a collection of essays on literature and Darwin, The Evolution of Literature.

I have also completed articles on Victorian best-selling authors Marie Corelli and George du Maurier. I have edited Wells's The First Men in the Moon for World's Classics and am working on Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall for Oxford University Press's Collected Works of Evelyn Waugh. Current research also includes a monograph on the male bond in fin-de-siècle literature, an interdisciplinary project on time, memory and consciousness in Dickens, and an online edition of the states of The Time Machine.

During the academic years 2017-19, I was the Principal Investigator for the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education. A partnership between Arts Council England and Durham University, the Durham Commission investigated the benefits of teaching young people to be creative and to think creatively. The report can be read here 

I am happy to supervise work on Victorian, Edwardian and contemporary fiction, on the fantastic and the Gothic, on masculinity and narrative theory. I will be on research leave 2020-21.


I teach in most areas and periods offered by the Department, from Classical and Biblical Background to the Postwar Period. The largest parts of my teaching commitments are my undergraduate Special topic in Fin-de-Siecle Fiction and Taught MA Module Literary Masculinity at the Fin-de-Siecle. I have supervised or am supervising research students working on the Literature of the Fantastic, H. G. Wells, Decadence, Henry James, Victorian Children's Writing, Censorship and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Research interests

  • Victorian and Twentieth-Century Fiction, especially Fin-de-Siècle Literature, George Gissing, H.G.Wells, Evelyn Waugh
  • Literature and Gender, especially masculinity in late-Victorian and Edwardian writing
  • Literary Theory, especially Narrative Theory, Psychoanalysis and Gender; Theories of Pleasure
  • Textual editing, including digital editing

Research groups

  • Twentieth-Century Studies
  • Victorian Studies

Research Projects

  • Notions of Creative Thinking in Higher Education in Different Disciplines

Esteem Indicators

  • 2010: Christopherson-Knott Fellowship, Durham Institute of Advanced Study:

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Language, Literature & the Arts: Victorian Literature
  • Language, Literature & the Arts: Charles Dickens
  • English Literature & Drama: Charles Dickens
  • Language, Literature & the Arts: H. G. Wells
  • English Literature & Drama: H. G. Wells
  • Language, Literature & the Arts: George Gissing
  • English Literature & Drama: George Gissing
  • Language, Literature & the Arts: The Novel
  • English Literature & Drama: The Novel
  • Language, Literature & the Arts: Contemporary Fiction
  • English Literature & Drama: Contemporary Fiction
  • Science & Technology: Evolution and Literature; Charles Darwin
  • People: Evolution and Biology: Evolution and Literature; Charles Darwin


Authored book

  • James, Simon J. (2003). Unsettled Accounts: Money and Narrative in the Novels of George Gissing.. London: Anthem Press.

Book review

  • James, Simon J. (1998). The Correspondence of H G Wells. The Times Literary Supplement (4962): 14.
  • James, Simon J. (2010). Review of Keith Williams, H. G. Wells, Modernity and the Movies. Science Fiction Film and TV 3(1).
  • James, Simon J. (2008). Review of Peter Edgerley Firchow, Modern Utopian Fictions. The Wellsian 31: 55-57.
  • James, Simon J. (2013). Review of Dickens and Victorian Print Cultures. Ed. Robert L. Patten. Dickens Quarterly 30(2): 156-159.
  • James, Simon J. (2019). Review of 'Science, Fiction, and the Fin-de-Siècle Periodical Press' by Will Tattersdill. Victorian Popular Fictions Journal 1.

Chapter in book

  • Saul, Nicholas & James, Simon J. (2011). Introduction: The Evolution of Literature. In The Evolution of Literature: Legacies of Darwin in European Cultures. Saul, Nicholas & James, Simon J. Rodopi. 9-18.
  • Simon J. James (2000). 'George Gissing'. 'Demos'. 'In the Year of Jubilee'. 'The Odd Women'. In The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Margaret Drabble. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • James, Simon J. (2013). Island of Memory. In Desert Island. James, Simon J. Institute of Advanced Study. 10-13.
  • James, Simon J. (2008). Fin-de-Cycle: Romance and the Real in The Wheels of Chance. In H. G. Wells: Interdisciplinary Essays. McLean, Steven. Amersham: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 34-48.
  • James, Simon J. (2011). Realism and the Fiction of Modern Life: From Meredith to Forster. In The Reinvention of the British and Irish Novel 1880-1940. Parrinder, Patrick. & Gasiorek, Andrzej. Oxford University Press. 4: 87-102.
  • James, Simon J. (2014). Afterword. In The Time Machine by H. G. Wells; with an Introduction by Greg Bear and a New Afterword by Simon J. James. New York: Penguin. 119-128.
  • James, Simon J. (1999). 'Pathological Comsumption: Commodities and the End of Culture in H G Wells' Tono-Bungay'. In Consuming for Pleasure: Selected Essays on Popular Fiction. Julia Hallam & Nickianne Moody. Liverpool: Liverpool John Moores University Press. 44-61.
  • James, Simon J. (2014). Q is for Queen: The Reading Nation. In Books for Boys: Literacy, Nation and the First World War. James, Simon J. Durham: Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University. 6-9.
  • James, Simon J. (2004). 'Pip's Counterfeit Money: Forgery and Great Expectations.'. In Fakes and Forgeries. Knight, Peter. & Long, Jonathan. Amersham: Cambridge Scholars Press. 41-49.
  • James, Simon J. (2016). Charles Dickens, Mental Time-Travelling and Autobiographical Memory. In Unsettling Dickens: Process, Progress and Change. Huguet, Christine & Vita, Paul Paris: Éditions du Sagittaire. 33-54.
  • James, Simon J. (2011). H. G. Wells's The Time Machine and the End of Literature. In The Evolution of Literature: Legacies of Darwin in European Cultures. James, Simon J. & Saul, Nicholas. Rodopi. 113-123.
  • James, Simon J. (2005). 'The Discontents of Everyday Life: Civilization and the Pathology of Masculinity in The Whirlpool'. In George Gissing: Voices of the Unclassed. Ryle, Martin. & Bourne Taylor, Jenny. Aldershot: Ashgate. 93-105.
  • James, Simon J. (2018). H. G. Wells’s London. In The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban Literary Studies. palgrave. 1.
  • James, Simon J. (2005). In Public: George Gissing, Newspapers and the City. In Gissing and the City: Cultural Crisis and the Making of Books in Late-Victorian England. Spiers, John. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 189-188.
  • James, Simon J. (2008). The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In A Companion to Charles Dickens. Paroissien, David. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 444-451.

Edited book

  • Simon J. James (2005). H.G. Wells, The History of Mr Polly. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • James, Simon J. (2013). Desert Island. Insitute of Advanced Study.
  • Simon J. James (2005). H.G. Wells, Kipps. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • James, Simon J. (2014). Books for Boys: Literacy, Nation and the First World War. Insitute of Advanced Study.
  • Simon J. James (2004). George Gissing, Charles Dickens: A Critical Study. London: Grayswood.
  • James, Simon J. (2022). Decline and Fall. The Collected Works of Evelyn Waugh. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Simon J. James (2005). H.G. Wells, Love and Mr Lewisham. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • Saul, Nicholas. & James, Simon J. (2011). The Evolution of Literature: Legacies of Darwin in European Cultures. Internationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft 152. Rodopi.
  • James, Simon J. (orig.) (2017). Wells, H.G., The First Men in the Moon . Oxford: Oxford University Press

Journal Article

  • James, Simon J. (2013). Marie Corelli and the Value of Literary Self-Consciousness: The Sorrows of Satan, Popular Fiction, and the Fin-de-Siècle Canon. Journal of Victorian Culture 18(1): 134-151.
  • James, Simon J. (2008). A Prophet Looking Backwards: H. G. Wells's Curriculum for the Future. English 57(218): 107-124.
  • Simon J. James (1997). Negotiating The Whirlpool. The Gissing Journal 33(2): 15-25.
  • James, Simon J. & Miller, Emma V. (2016). A Body Undressed for Text: Trilby in Parts. Feminist Theory 17(1): 83-105.
  • James, Simon J. (2018). Daily bread: food and drink in the Holmes canon. Critical Quarterly 60(3): 5-13.
  • Ward, Sophie, James, Simon, James, Kate, Brown, Chris, Kokotsaki, Dimitra & Wigham, Jade (2021). The Benefits of Music Workshop Participation for Pupils’ Wellbeing and Social Capital: The In2 Music Project Evaluation. Arts Education Policy Review
  • James, Simon J. (2001). The Truth about Gissing: Reassessing the Literary Friendship of George Gissing and H.G. Wells. The Wellsian 24: 2-21.
  • James, Simon J. (2011). Teaching Gissing in the Twenty-first Century. The Gissing Journal 47(4): 1-3.
  • James, Simon J. (2011). Research-Led Teaching? The Gissing Journal 47(4): 11-14.
  • James, Simon J. (2016). We should remember HG Wells for his social predictions, not just his scientific ones. The Conversation
  • James, Simon J. (2012). Witnessing the End of the World: H. G. Wells's Educational Apocalypses. Literature and Theology 26(4): 459-473.
  • James, Simon J. (2016). The Worlds of H. G. Wells. Nature 537: 162-164.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • James, Simon J. (2011). Science and Literature. The Grove 17: 33-35.
  • Simon J. James (2002). Tell Me a Story: Lesley Glaister. Bloomsbury Magazine
  • James, S.J. (2010). The Wells Archive at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The H. G. Wells Society Newsletter 5(20): 5-7.

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • James, Simon J. (2013). The Idea of a Planned World: H. G. Wells's 'The First Men in the Moon'. youtube podcast. .
  • James, Simon J. (2015). Ghosts and Dickens.
  • James, Simon J. (2016). H. G. Wells, Time Traveller: An Online Exhibition.
  • James, Simon J. (2013). In conversation with Professor Simon James.
  • Simon J. James & Walker, David. (1993). Sissinghurst.


  • James, S.J., Houston, A., Newton, L., Daniels, S., Morgan, N., Coho, W., Ruck, A. & Lucas, B. (2019). Durham Commission on Creativity and Education. Arts Council UK.

Supervision students