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Dr Brian Murray

Brian H. MurrayLecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature, Post 1830

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 7826


Address Department of English
King's College London
Room 6.29, Virginia Woolf Building 
22 Kingsway
London WC2B 6LE

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Brian Murray studied at Trinity College Dublin and Oxford before completing his PhD at King’s in 2011. From 2012 to 2015, Brian was Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Cambridge, where he worked with ten other scholars on a collaborative European Research Council project ‘The Bible and Antiquity in Nineteenth Century Culture’. He returned to King’s as Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature in 2015.
Research interests

Brian’s research interests include travel writing, religion, empire and the reception of the classical and biblical past in the nineteenth century. 

His forthcoming monograph, H.M. Stanley and Literature of Exploration: Empire, Media, Modernity, will investigate the ways in which exploration literature interacted with narratives of modernity and progress in the late nineteenth century. Rather than focusing on the diffusion of technology and ‘civilisation’ from centre to margin, he is primarily concerned with how the exploratory frontier is itself represented as a modernising space, and how the exploits of the explorer were paradoxically re-presented in the metropolis as both evocations of a heroic past and parables of progressive modernity. 

Victoria’s Martyrs: Modern Lives and Ancient Forms, 1840–1918

Brian’s current project examines the persistence of martyrology as a literary form in the nineteenth century by examining both Victorian representations of early Christian martyrdom and the recapitulation of these tropes in accounts of contemporary martyrs. Although we are used to thinking of the Victorians as relentless historicizers, the ancient form of martyrology threatened to radically reformulate the linear and contingent events of progressive history into a recurring, circular model of devotional time. The project will explore representations of martyrdom in historical novels, paintings, sermons, hymns, drama, travel writing, and stained glass.  

For more details, please see Brian's full research profile.
Selected publications
  • Commodities and Culture in the Colonial World, 1851-1914, ed. Supriya Chaudhuri, Josephine McDonagh, Brian H. Murray and Rajeswari Sunder Rajan (London: Routledge, 2017)
  • ‘Ulysses in “Darkest Africa”: Transporting Tennyson with H.M. Stanley and Edwin Arnold’, in Commodities and Culture in the Colonial World, 1851-1914 (London: Routledge, 2017)
  • ‘The Last of the Milesians: In Search of Ireland’s Biblical Past, 1760-1900’, in The Bible in Ireland: A Social and Cultural History, ed. Brad Anderson and Jonathan Kearney (Forthcoming 2017)
  • ‘The Battle for St Peter’s Chair: Mediating the Materials of Catholic Antiquity in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, Word & Image (forthcoming 2017)
  • ‘Building Congo, Writing Empire: The Literary Labours of Henry Morton Stanley’, English Studies in Africa, 59. 1 (2016)
  • Travel Writing, Visual Culture and Form, 1760-1900, ed. Brian Murray and Mary Henes (London: Palgrave, 2015)
  • ‘H.M. Stanley, David Livingstone, and the staging of “Anglo-Saxon” Manliness’, Scottish Geographical Journal, 129.3 (2013)
  • ‘Primitive Man and Media Time in H. M. Stanley’s Through the Dark Continent’, Victorian Time: Technologies, Standardizations, Catastrophes, ed. Trish Ferguson (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013)
  • ‘“Mere shadows in the water”: Travel Writing, Fresco, and Form in Dickens’s Pictures from Italy’, English, 61 (2012).
  • ‘“Lay in Egypt’s lap each borrowed crown”: Gerald Massey and Late-Victorian Afrocentrism’, African Athena: New Agendas, ed. Daniel Orrells, Gurminder Bhambra and Tessa Roynon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)

For a complete list of publications, please see Brian's full research profile.


Brian teaches broadly in the nineteenth century at BA and MA level, including the following courses:

  • Reading Poetry
  • Fin de Siècle
  • Memory and Time in the Nineteenth Century
  • Text Culture Theory: London and Urban Modernity
  • Pagans and Christians in Nineteenth-Century Britain

He also convenes the MA English: 1850–Present. 

Expertise and public engagement

Brian has a special interest in giving public talks and walking tours on the literary, cultural, and architectural history of nineteenth-century London.

He is also currently pursuing several collaborative projects with contemporary visual artists. Some recent events include:

  • In conversation with Oliver Campbell about his solo exhibition ‘Good God’ at Lewisham Art House, London. 14 Aug 2016.
  • ‘Objects of Narrative’: a specially commissioned conversation with Sybren Renema on the occasion of his exhibition ‘The Milk of Paradise’. Dürst Britt & Mayhew, The Hague, The Netherlands, 2016.
  • Introductory catalogue essay for ‘Pleasures of a grave desire’, an exhibition of new work by Sybren Renema at Intermedia, Glasgow. October 2015.









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