University of Chichester academic wins fellowship at Huntington to unearth history of British novelist

A lecturer from the University of Chichester has been given a one-off opportunity to study at a leading institution after topping an international competition.

Reader in English Literature Dr Fiona Price was named alongside just 150 scholars to be awarded a fellowship to the prestigious Huntington Library in California. The independent research centre, which holds world-leading collections of British and American literature and artefacts on the history of science and medicine, is considered among the top institutions in the world.

Dr Price will study at the Los Angeles library throughout April as a Visiting Fellow to fulfil her long-standing interest in 18th-century English author Jane Porter and her family. The writer is best known for her novel The Scottish Chiefs, based on the story of William Wallace, which has seen a recent revival in popularity due to Mel Gibson’s hit blockbuster Braveheart.

The fellowship awarded to Dr Price as part of the global research competition includes a $3,000 grant to explore rare manuscripts and papers on the Porter family. The money will be used to investigate the family’s thoughts on the different ways in which the past was pictured in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

While visiting at the institution, she will also explore the work of the Porter family, including poet and novelist Anna Maria as well as historical painter Robert Ker Porter, who was appointed a personal artist to Russia’s Tsar Alexander I.

Dr Price, who is a staff governor at the University, said she was delighted to be invited to be the recipient of the award and to spend time at the historic venue. She added: “I am really looking forward to exploring this valuable archive, which has so much to tell us about the development of British national identity.”

The library’s collection, which spans from the 11th century to the present, currently includes seven million manuscripts, 400,000 rare books, 275,000 reference works, and one-and-a-half million photographs, prints, and ephemera.

Scholarly pursuits have previously led to best-selling books, Pulitzer prizes, and acclaimed documentary films, so this is an excellent opportunity to uncover the truths behind one of the 18th century’s most influential writers.

Dr Price is also working on a monograph on the development of the historical novel from the English author and politician Horace Walpole to Sir Walter Scott, and is also editing a Palgrave collection on history writing in the 18th century.

To find out more about Huntington Library visit www.huntington.org. Alternatively for more on Dr Price’s research go to www.chi.ac.uk/staff/dr-fiona-price.