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Dr Anna Mercer

Dr Anna Mercer


School of English, Communication and Philosophy

2.38, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU

I am a Romanticist, interested in literary relationships, women writers, and manuscript studies (1770-1830). I completed my AHRC-funded doctorate at the University of York in 2017. My thesis - to be published as a monograph by Routledge in 2019 - explores the collaborative literary relationship of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. This book will be the inaugural text in their new series ‘Routledge New Textual Studies in Literature’.

As well as teaching at Cardiff, I also work at Keats House in Hampstead.

I am the Director of Communications for the Keats-Shelley Association of America (K-SAA).

I am the Communications Officer for the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS).

Prior to my PhD I've studied at the University of Liverpool and Jesus College, University of Cambridge.

Publications: essays and chapters 

Mercer, Anna. ‘“All of great and glorious which that country contains”: Mary Shelley’s Italian Scenes’ in Mary Shelley in/and Europe; Essays in Honour of Jean de Palacio ed. Antonella Braida Laplace (forthcoming 2019).

---.‘“Writing reading & walking”: The Shelleys in 2019’ in The Keats-Shelley Review, Vol. 33, No. 1 (2019), 18-24.

---. ‘Rethinking the Shelleys’ Collaborations in Manuscript’ in The Keats Shelley Review, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2017), 49-65.

---. ‘Beyond Frankenstein: The Collaborative Literary Relationship of Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley’ in The Keats-Shelley Review, Vol. 30, No. 1 (2016), 80-85.

---. ‘“What aspect wears the soul within?”: Sara Coleridge and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Poetical Connections, and the Image of Childhood’ in The Coleridge Bulletin, New Series 41 (Summer 2013), 85-96.

Other publications 

---. ‘Keats’s Poetry’ in What’s On: Keats House Museum, May-August 2019.

---. ‘Difficult Women in the Long Eighteenth Century’ [contributor and editor] in Garageland (No. 2, 2018).

---.  ‘Mary Shelley’s Life of Learning’ in History Today (Volume 68, Issue 3: March 2018).

---. ‘“On This Day in 1816”: The Bicentenary of Frankenstein’s Composition’ [Notice of upcoming event] in The Keats-Shelley Review, Vol. 30, No. 1 (2016), 7-9.

Co-authored/co-edited volumes

Anna Mercer and James Grande (eds.) The Keats Shelley Review: The Shelley Conference Special Issue, Vol. 33, No.1.

I joined ENCAP in October 2018. I have previously taught in the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York.

Honours and awards

- Keats-Shelley Essay Prize (Runner-up) 2015 for the essay ‘Beyond Frankenstein’. Published in a 2016 issue of The Keats-Shelley Review.

- Awarded AHRC Travel Award Scheme grant to travel to the USA to study manuscripts in Washington D.C. and New York City, October/November 2015.

- Recipient of BARS Stephen Copley Postgraduate Research Award 2015 for the same research trip as above.

- Awarded various sums from the Graduate Research Support Fund at the University of York for travel/accommodation costs to attend conferences and study at archives in the period 2013-2016.

- Recipient of a full AHRC Doctoral Award.

- Essay entitled ‘Shelley and Mary in 1816’ shortlisted for the Keats-Shelley Prize 2012.

- Awarded Jesus College University of Cambridge Graduate Scholarship 2012.

Professional memberships

Member of the British Association for Romantic Studies.

Member of the organisation ‘The Friends of Coleridge’.

Member of the British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies.

Speaking engagements


‘Mary Shelley’s Valperga and its connections with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Julian and Maddalo’, 16th BARS International Conference ‘Romantic Facts and Fantasies’, 25-28 July 2019.

‘Keats and the Shelleys’, Keats Bicentenary Conference 2019, Keats House, Hampstead, 17-19 May 2019.

‘The Shelleys’ Frankenstein review notebook: a discussion of MSS 13, 290 in the Library of Congress’, ‘Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein 1818-2018: Circuits and Circulation’, University of Bologna, Italy, 19-21 September 2018.

‘“Mrs. S. is now transcribing [...] the best thing I ever wrote”: the Shelleys’ collective working as evidence of collaboration in Italy, 1818-22’, The Shelley Conference 2017, Institute of English Studies, 15-16 September 2017.

‘Mary Shelley’s role in the construction of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s prose 1814-1817: The Assassins and History of a Six Weeks’ Tour’, 15th BARS International Conference ‘Romantic Improvement’, University of York, 27-30 July 2017.

‘Childhood and the Poetical Dialogue of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Sara Coleridge’, The Coleridge Summer Conference, University of Bristol, 1-5 August 2016

‘Beyond Frankenstein: how else did the Shelleys collaborate in 1816?’, ‘Summer of 1816: Creativity and Turmoil’ Conference, University of Sheffield, 24-27 June 2016.

‘Rethinking the Shelleys’ Collaborations in Manuscript’, BARS Early Career and Postgraduate Conference ‘Romantic Voices, 1760-1840’, University of Oxford, 22-23 June 2016.

‘Expanding perceptions of the Shelleys’ community: Epipsychidion and “The Bride of Modern Italy”’,‘Community and its Limits, 1745-1832’ Conference, University of Leeds, 4-5 September 2015.

‘“Such a strong echo in my mind and heart”: Sara Coleridge’s poems to her father’, 14th BARS International Conference ‘Romantic Imprints’, Cardiff University, 16-19 July 2015.

‘“Thou hast a voice, great Mountain”: Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley and the literary collaboration of 1816’, 44th BSECS Annual Conference ‘Riots, Rebellions and Revolutions’, St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford, 6-8 January 2015.

‘“Dreadful or beautiful realities”: Mary Shelley and perceptions of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Julian and Maddalo’, BSECS Postgraduate and Early Career Conference, ‘Encounters’, University Ca’ Foscari, Venice, 23-24 July 2014.

‘Creative tension: the post-Frankenstein collaboration of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’, Romantic Realignments Seminar, University of Oxford, 6 March 2014. Paper also given at University of York Postgraduate Forum, Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, 25 February 2014.

‘The origin of the Shelleys’ literary relationship in 1814’, ‘Romantic Origins’ Conference, University of Sheffield, 5 April 2013.

‘Coleridge and his children: the conflicts of literary influence’, ‘Conflict and Catastrophe in the Long Eighteenth Century’ Conference, University of Cambridge, 21-22 April 2012.


‘Women Writers of the Romantic Period’, public talk at Keats House, July 2019.

‘The Younger Romantics: Byron and the Shelleys’, educational lecture for visiting students at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge, May 2019.

‘Dr Anna Mercer on Keats and Shelley’, Vlog on YouTube channel for The Wordsworth Trust. February 2019.

‘Why is Romanticism Relevant Today?’, public talk with Q&A, Keats200 Launch at Keats House, 1 December 2018.

'Mary Shelley’ at Cardiff BookTalk, a talk in response to the 2017 ‘Mary Shelley’ biopic and then Q&A. Part of the international event ‘Frankenreads’. 29 October 2018.

Presented a manuscript workshop and short academic talk at the event ‘Living Frankenstein’ on 23 May 2018 at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Repeated at Keats House on 31 October 2018.

Public lecture ‘Beyond Frankenstein: The Writings of Mary Shelley’. University of York, 8 March 2017. International Women’s Day celebration event.

Main organiser and speaker at the international public event ‘“On This Day in 1816: The Bicentenary of the Composition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’. July 2016, The Keats-Shelley House, Rome, and the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, University of York. I gave an academic talk at both events on the Shelleys’ collaboration on texts composed in 1816. The event was then reprised at Chawton House Library, 24 November 2016.

Conferences Organised

International conference, Institute of English Studies, London (2017): 'The Shelley Conference' (main organiser).

International conference, University of York (2015): ‘Difficult Women 1680-1830’ (co-organiser).

Co-chair of the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies Postgraduate Forum at the University of York (2014-15).

Graduate conference, University of Cambridge (2012): ‘Conflict and Catastrophe in the Long Eighteenth Century’ (co-organiser).

Committees and reviewing

Reviewer of papers submitted for publication in the American Journal of Political Science (2017).

Blog Editor, British Association for Romantic Studies Executive Committee (2016-present).

Editor of the University of York poetry journal Eborakon (2015-2017). Assistant Editor and founding team member (2013-2015).

Undergraduate teaching 2018/19:

I currently deliver lectures and seminars for the following modules.

- 'Bluestockings, Britannia and Unsex'd Females: Women in Public Life 1770-1830' (Autumn, y3)

- 'Fictive Histories/Historical Fictions' (Spring, y3)

- 'Romanticism, Politics, Aesthetics' (Spring, y2)

Postgraduate teaching 2018/19:

I currently deliver seminars for the following modules (co-teaching with Professor Anthony Mandal).

- 'Narrative and Nation: Politics, Gender, History, 1780-1830' (Spring, MA)

My research focuses primarily on the writings of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

My PhD thesis (University of York, 2017) is a reassessment of the literary relationship and instances of creative collaboration between the Shelleys. I establish that their written works are profoundly influenced by and constructed through their intellectual exchange. Spoken discussions can never be recovered, but the evidence provided in the Shelleys’ writings, manuscripts, and non-fiction allows informed inferences to be made about how their compositions are inter-related. Recent studies in Romanticism have shown a marked interest in the significance of collective creativity: Percy and Mary Shelley have the potential to provide one of the most intriguing examples of this paradigm.

My analysis reveals the reciprocity of a relationship that in popular culture - including much of the discourse surrounding the Frankenstein manuscript - is often misrepresented as that of a patriarchal husband exerting intellectual dominance over his wife. My research explores how the Shelleys’ collaboration goes beyond Frankenstein. I also emphasise the reciprocity of the Shelleys’ literary relationship, by further establishing how Mary was able to contribute ideas to (and critique) Percy's works, both during his lifetime and as his widow. Archival and intertextual study enables a voyage through the corpus of the Shelleys, finding evidence of their textual practices of reading, writing, and copying. I suggest that by reading Percy's and Mary's works in parallel, and examining their extant manuscripts, we can make informed suppositions; this method crucially pays attention to biographical details in order to gauge how their shared lives (and specifically, their shared travels) influence their texts, as opposed to the texts revealing truths about their lives.

Following my PhD research I have continued to study the Shelleys, and have been working on a collaborative project with Professor Nora Crook and Dr Bysshe Coffey to publish the only notebook containing Percy Shelley's hand that has not appeared in facsimile print edition: MSS 13,290 in the Library of Congress. In my future research I am hoping to examine other women writers of the Romantic period - I am particularly interested in women’s self-education from 1770-1830. I’m also thinking about the works of other canonical Romantic writers with regards to creative collaboration (especially S T Coleridge and his poet-children, John Keats, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft).

Areas of expertise

External profiles