Who got that cash?

February 16, 2007

Academics at De Montfort University have won a £500,000 research grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to carry out the next phase in a literary research project that started in the 1960s.

American academic Philip Kelley began the project to produce an annotated edition of all the letters to and from Victorian poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

The British team from De Montfort's Centre for Textual Scholarship - Peter Shillingsburg, Joe Phelan and Scott Lewis - are set to help speed up the project by proofreading and annotating 5 of the letters written between 1854 and 1856.

Some 15 volumes of edited letters have been published out of a planned 45.

Professor Shillingsburg, director of the centre and the principal investigator managing the project, said: "The sheer ambition and quality of the project as a whole is extraordinary. It's a major job annotating the letters and explaining to modern readers what all the strange and really obscure references are that were commonly used by the Brownings.

"It bowls you over when you realise what's in it - not only the letters from them but to them. Explaining all the allusions they make to literature, local business and other literary people allows you to interact with the whole community that was the Brownings and their friends. The level of scholarship that's brought to bear looks mundane until you see what is involved."

But the large grant from the AHRC will not all go to the team, Professor Shillingsburg said. "Because the project is in the first round of full economic costing, we end up with about half the money," he explained.

Anthea Lipsett

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