Sophie Coulombeau

Dr Sophie Coulombeau is Lecturer in English Literature, having joined Cardiff University from the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York, where she completed a doctoral thesis on personal naming and identity formation in English literature 1779–1800. She has also held fellowships at the Burney Centre (McGill University), the Huntington Library (California) and the Lewis Walpole Library (Connecticut). As a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker 2014, she has written and presented programmes for BBC Radio 3 (‘Jeremy Bentham’s Universal Tattoo’, 12 June 2014 and ‘Is Marriage An Identity Crisis?’, 5 November 2014).


Sophie’s research focuses on British literature of the eighteenth century and the Romantic period. She is especially interested in onomastic identities,  philosophies of language, literary and political self-fashionings, acts of naming and anonymity in book history and material culture, fame and reputation, the history of funding for the literary arts, and the lives and writings of the Burney family. She is also interested in the relationship between creative and critical practice within a range of historical and contemporary contexts.

She is also a novelist, and published her debut novel Rites (winner of the Arts Council England / Route Publishing Next Great Novelist Award 2011) in the UK in 2012 and in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2014. She is currently working on a monograph, provisionally entitled Romantic Onomastics: Naming and Identity in Britain 1779–1814, and on her second novel, a historical fiction set in 1790s London called Point No Point, which has received grants from Arts Council England and New Writing North.


Articles and Essays

  • ‘”Fill up his blanks”: Making Matthew Montagu’, Huntington Library Quarterly (2015, forthcoming).
  • ‘In the name of tradition’, Guardian Saturday Review, 13 December 2014.
  • ‘In defence of the humanities: Why this government is wrong to scorn an arts education’, The Independent, 30 April 2013.
  • ‘“Men whose glory it is, to be known”: Godwin, Bentham and the London Corresponding Society’, Nineteenth-Century Prose, 41.2 (Fall 2014).


  • Rites (Route Publishing, 2012; Kein & Aber 2014).

Teaching and supervision

At undergraduate level, Sophie teaches ‘Romantic Visions, Dangerous Worlds’ and ‘Bluestockings, Britannia, Unsex’d Females: Women in Public Life 1770-1800’. At MA level she co-teaches ‘Romanticism and Revolution 1789-1805’ with Dr. James Castell.

Sophie would be happy to hear from prospective doctoral students who wish to undertake projects on any of the following: personal naming and identity 1750-1820; anonymity and reputation in the same period; the writings of Frances Burney; the writings of Hester Thrale Piozzi; the prose writings of Charlotte Smith.