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Dr Victoria Mills

  • Overview



    Prior to joining Birkbeck I held a Research Fellowship at Darwin College, Cambridge and a Teaching Fellowship in Nineteenth-Century Literature at King’s College, London. My first career was in the museum sector including roles at the Victoria and Albert Museum and The Museum of the Home (formerly the Geffrye Museum).

    I have research interests in the broad areas of museums, collecting and the history of the book, in gender and sexuality and in classical reception. Much of my work focuses on the relationship between literature, visual and material cultures. I have published on the work of a range of nineteenth-century writers including George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Charles Kingsley. I co-edited (with Tatiana Kontou) the six-volume series, Victorian Material Culture for Routledge (2022).  

    From 2017-18 I was Co-Convenor of the IES London Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar and from 2018-2020, Co-Director of the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies. I was General Editor of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century from 2019-2021 and am currently Programme Director for the MA in Victorian Studies.





    • PhD, University of London
    • MA Victorian Studies, University of London
    • MA Museum Studies, University of Leicester
    • BA (Joint Hons.) Ancient and Modern History, University of Oxford

    Web profiles

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Programme Director MA Victorian Studies
    • MA Director, Department of English, Theatre and Creative Writing

    Professional memberships

    • British Association for Victorian Studies (Committee Member)

      North American Victorian Studies Association

      Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

  • Research


    Research interests

    • Museums, material culture and collecting
    • The history of the book
    • Gender and sexuality, especially Victorian masculinities
    • Nineteenth-Century classical reception

    Research overview

    I have interconnecting research interests in the literature, material and visual culture of the long nineteenth century.

    Museums, material culture and collecting

    I co-edited, (with Tatiana Kontou) the six volume series Victorian Material Culture for Routledge (2022). I have published on representations of collectors in Victorian literature and I am interested in the histories of museums and collecting.  I write on how contemporary museums and galleries present the Victorians and I edit 19 Live on this theme. I co-curated 'Victorian Sentimentality' with Alison Smith and Nicola Bown at Tate Britain in 2011. In 2015 I was the Researcher for the 'Fallen Woman' exhibition held at the Foundling Museum.

    The history of the book

    I work on the relationship between written, visual and material cultures and on questions of mediation. I have published on the photographic extra-illustration of Victorian novels and on Victorian book illustration. I co-organised the book history workshop 'Mediating History's Materiality' at the University of Freiburg in 2013, and from 2023-5 I am co-organising 'Books in and out of time', a series of workshops at the University of Passau.

    Gender and Sexuality

    I am interested in the relationship between gender and material culture. I am completing a monograph Collecting, masculinity and the Victorian imagination, which focuses on the literary depiction of male collectors and the significance of collecting as theme and method in late-Victorian writing. You can read about my work on Victorian bibliomania here. I have also published on the figure of the female collector and on the imagination of museums by Victorian women writers. 

    Classical Reception

    Some of my recent work explores the ways in which nineteenth-century cultural forms respond to and reshape the classical past. I have published on late-Victorian illustrated editions of Charles Kingsley's Hypatia. I am currently editing a book on nineteenth-century classical reception with the provisional  title  Classical Material Culture in the Nineteenth Century: Reception, Mediation, Reimagining

    Research Centres and Institutes

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students interested in working on aspects of nineteenth-century literature and culture that relate to my research interests.

    Current doctoral researchers



    Vicky teaches across the BA in English literature and on the MA in Victorian Studies. She has supervised BA dissertations on literature from the Renaissance to the present day and MA dissertations on topics ranging from Walter Pater and the poetics of antiquity to opium eating in the Cambridgeshire fens.  

    Teaching modules

    • Modernising Victorians (AREN166S7)
    • Victorian Masculinities (AREN230S7)
    • Writing the Planet (AREN292S7)
    • Curating the Nineteenth Century (AREN302S7)
    • Fin-De-Siecle (ENHU049S6)
  • Publications




    • Mills, Victoria and Nichols, K., eds. (2022) Victorian arts. Victorian Material Culture. Routledge. ISBN 9781138225329.
    • Kontou, T. and Mills, Victoria, eds. (2022) Victorian material culture. Victorian Material Culture. Routledge. ISBN 9781138225268.

    Book Section




  • Business and community

    Business and community


    Co-Curator 'Victorian Sentimentality' (with Alison Smith and Nicola Bown) Tate Britain, 2011

    Exhibition Researcher, 'The Fallen Woman', Curated by Lynda Nead, Foundling Museum, 2015. My catalogue essay on the research I undertook for the exhibition. A film based on this project.

    Silent Orchid Summer School in association with Birmingham Arts and Science Festival July 2020