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Dr Anna Mercer

Dr Anna Mercer


School of English, Communication and Philosophy

2.05, 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.

I have just published my first monograph with Routledge: The Collaborative Literary Relationship of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (2019). This book is the inaugural text in the new series ‘Routledge New Textual Studies in Literature’.

As well as teaching at Cardiff, I also work at Keats House in Hampstead, where I run their evening talks programme and support the delivery of the #Keats200 project.

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: monographs

Mercer, Anna. The Collaborative Literary Relationship of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (London: Routledge, 2019).

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 2020).

---.‘“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've also written several reviews and articles for online publications including the British Association for Romantic Studies, the Keats-Shelley Association of America, Romantic Circles, Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition, Romantic Textualities, the University of York and The Wordsworth Trust


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’. 
  • 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.
  • 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.

Speaking engagements

Recent and forthcoming conference papers 

  • 'Romantic interaction in London: Hazlitt, Keats and the Shelleys’, The Hazlitt Day School, London, 19 September 2020.
  • ‘The Inkstand Used by Percy Bysshe Shelley’, Dreaming Romantic Europe: Romantic Authorship, Ravenna, 18-19 October 2019.
  • Keats House, Hampstead’, Dreaming Romantic Europe: Romantic Authorship, Ravenna, 18-19 October 2019.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘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. [Panel organised: ‘Engaging creativity: interactions between texts and authors towards the end of the long eighteenth century’.]
  • ‘“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.
  • ‘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.

Public and research talks

  • ‘Mary Shelley’s hand in the manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron’, public talk for the Byron Society, forthcoming.
  • ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, public talk at Keats House, forthcoming (online).
  • Carmilla for ‘Cardiff BookTalk’, public talk at Cardiff University, 3 February 2020. 
  • ‘Manuscripts as Evidence of Collaboration: The Shelleys in 1819’, research talk at Cardiff University Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, 19 November 2019. 
  • 'New Directions in the Field of Eighteenth Century and Romantic Studies', research talk at Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar, Cardiff University, 14 October 2019.
  • ‘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. 
  • ‘Why is Romanticism Relevant Today?’, public talk at Keats200 launch at Keats House, 1 December 2018.
  • Mary Shelley’ public talk at ‘Cardiff BookTalk’. Part of the international event ‘Frankenreads’. 29 October 2018. 
  • ‘Shelley’s Creation’, manuscript workshop and public 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. 
  • ‘Beyond Frankenstein: The Writings of Mary Shelley’, public talk at the University of York, 8 March 2017. International Women’s Day celebration event.
  • ‘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.

Conferences organised and forthcoming 

2022 ‘The Shelley Conference 2022’, Keats House, London, co-organiser.

2017 ‘The Shelley Conference 2017’, Institute of English Studies, London, main organiser.

2015 ‘Difficult Women 1680-1830’, Humanities Research Centre, University of York, co-organiser.

2012 ‘Conflict and Catastrophe in the Long Eighteenth Century’, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, co-organiser.

Selected events organised 

2019-present Co-organiser, Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar (CRECS).

2018-present Keats House Museum #Keats200 public events (primarily academic talks).

2016 ‘On This Day in 1816: The Bicentenary of the Composition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’. The Keats-Shelley House, Rome, and the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, University of York, July 2016. Reprised at Chawton House Library, November 2016.

2014-15 Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies Postgraduate Forum, University of York, co-chair.

Interviews, media and other public engagement

  • Ambassador for Keats House at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere. Site and archival visit, December 2018.
  • ‘Dr Anna Mercer on Keats and Shelley, Vlog on YouTube channel for The Wordsworth Trust. February 2019.
  • Interview for the AHRC website: ‘Why Frankenstein still stalks readers 200 years later’, March 2018.
  • Interviewee on the Chawton House Library podcast, January 2017.
  • Personal blog:

Committees and reviewing

  • Reviewer of papers submitted for publication in the American Journal of Political Science (2017).
  • Blog Editor/Communications Officer, 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 2019/20:

  • 'Bluestockings, Britannia and Unsex'd Females: Women in Public Life 1770-1830' (Autumn, y3)
  • ‘Jane Austen in Context’ (Autumn, y2)
  • 'Fictive Histories/Historical Fictions' (Spring, y3)
  • ‘Second-generation Romantic Poets' (Spring, y3)

Postgraduate teaching 2019/20:

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

I have also previously provided teaching on the module 'Romanticism, Politics, Aesthetics'. 

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