Oliver Herford

Colleges, School and Institutes

Research interests

I work on British and American literature of the long nineteenth century, with a special focus on the late writings of Henry James. I am interested in the place of style in literary non-fiction, the practice of editing, and the relations between personal correspondence and other types of life-writing (autobiography, biography, and memoir). 

My monograph Henry James’s Style of Retrospect: Late Personal Writings, 1890-1915 was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. The book examines the changes James’s style underwent in the last twenty-five years of his writing life, as his focus gradually turned from the fictional observation of contemporary manners to biographical commemoration and autobiographical reminiscence. Closely analysing James’s style across a remarkable sequence of non-fictional works – the ‘late personal writings’ of my title: commemorative essays and obituary tributes, textual revisions and accounts of revisiting familiar places, cultural and literary criticism, biography and autobiography, and family memoir – I offer a revisionist account of the way style itself challenges and preoccupies the very late James. I am currently editing James’s Prefaces to the New York Edition (1907-9) for The Complete Fiction of Henry James (Cambridge University Press). I am also beginning to explore directions for future research on the writing, circulation, and publication of literary correspondence in the long nineteenth century, and on historical fiction from Walter Scott to Robert Louis Stevenson.


I joined the University of Birmingham in 2014 after five years’ teaching in Oxford colleges, including three years as Darby Fellow and Tutor in English at Lincoln College. I took my BA and MSt at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and completed my doctoral studies at University College London.

Education/Academic qualification

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University College London

    The Style of Retrospect: Henry James's Late Non-Fiction

  • Master of Studies, University of Oxford

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Oxford

Professional Qualifications

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy,

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

I welcome enquiries about research supervision in the following areas: Henry James, John Keats and his circle, life-writing from the Romantic period to the early twentieth century, literary editing, revision and textual history, collective editions, historical fiction, and the letters of nineteenth-century authors.