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Professor Laurel Brake

Professor Emerita of Literature and Print Culture, Birkbeck, University of London

(Elected 2008)

Laurel Brake is a distinguished scholar and author whose long affiliation with Birkbeck began in 1971, when she completed her doctorate at the college and took up a three-year Research Assistant post.

Returning to Birkbeck in 1988 to head the Literature in English programme in Continuing Education, Professor Brake taught at the College for 20 years before retiring in 2008 as Professor of Literature and Print Culture. During that time she helped found the Certificate in Creative Writing, an interdisciplinary MA in Gender and the MA in Creative Writing. She also helped develop college-wide learning support for academic studies.

Professor Brake served as a staff Governor and was for many years equal opportunities officer for the AUT, working closely across the College to develop equal opportunities monitoring and harassment procedures.

She has an international reputation as a leading specialist in the field of nineteenth-century journalism and print culture. With Birkbeck’s Professor Isobel Armstrong and Professor Mark Turner at Kings College London, Professor Brake led the ground-breaking AHRC-funded research project, Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition, a free online scholarly edition of six 19th-century journals.

Since her formal retirement Professor Brake has continued to teach an MA module at the University of London’s renowned Institute of English Studies, and is actively involved in Birkbeck’s Centre for 19th-Century Studies. Chair of the Friends of Senate House Library, University of London, she is also President of the International Walter Pater Society and a member of the advisory boards of the major international research societies in her field. Professor Brake is currently co-editing a collection of articles on the News of the World, and writing Ink Work, a biography of Walter Pater, Clara Pater and print culture.

She said: ‘I was delighted, touched - and a little surprised! - to be invited to become a Fellow. Through my committee and union work, as well as my academic links, I feel very deeply aligned to the Birkbeck mission, and being a Fellow is a lovely way for me to continue to be involved in that, and to contribute to the College community. I am very glad to be able to stay within the Birkbeck fold.’