I grew up in the suburb of Woolton in south Liverpool and my childhood landscape was dominated by the long, tree-lined avenues which lead towards the city centre and which Peter Robinson documents in a highly recommended long poem (There Are Avenues) published in 2006. I then made the short journey down one of those avenues to study English Language and Literature at the University of Liverpool where I was fortunate enough to be taught by both Jonathan Bate and Ralph Pite: two great readers and teachers of landscape poetry and poetics.
After my first degree, I headed north and spent several unfeasibly happy years working for the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere. The front of our converted Victorian guest house immediately faced Wordsworth’s home of Dove Cottage and, at the rear, we were able to look over the main road towards the lake and beyond to Silver Howe. It was during those years that my interest in, and love for, the literature of landscape truly developed. Saliently, though, I turned my back on Romantic pastoralism and imaginatively gravitated towards the south-western, post-industrial fringes of the Lake District as documented in the work of the Millom poet, Norman Nicholson. After a brief sojourn (on the wrong side of the Pennines!) as Literature Development Officer for the City of York, I studied for a PhD at Lancaster University under the supervision of the Wordsworthian, Sally Bushell: a doctoral thesis which examined how Nicholson – an unjustly neglected poet and a fine writer of topographic prose – perceived and recorded the difficult-to-define landscape in which he spent all but twenty months of his life.
Since completing my PhD, I have worked as a Senior Teaching and Senior Research Associate at Lancaster University and as a Lecturer in English at the University of Cumbria. All of my recent and ongoing research is underpinned by an interdisciplinary interest in critical literary geographies with an especial emphasis on post-war/contemporary landscape poetry. Over recent years, I have also found myself increasingly preoccupied with digital technologies and, more particularly, the ways in which different forms of digital mapping might open up thinking about the writing of landscape, space and place.
I am currently Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University based at their Cheshire campus in Crewe. I was appointed as a Director of Landscape Research Group in 2012.