Universiteit Leiden

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Michael Newton

University Lecturer

Dr. M.S. Newton
+31 71 527 2165

Michael Newton is a University Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.

More information about Michael Newton

Fields of interest

I am a cultural historian, film critic, literary critic, editor and essayist, with a strong interest in our engagement with ‘the fantastic’, whether in art or in life. I am the author of two books of cultural history, Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children (Faber & Faber, 2002; Picador USA, 2004) and Age of Assassins: A History of Conspiracy and Political Violence, 1865-1981 (Faber, 2012). On film, I have written Show People: A History of the Film Star (Reaktion, 2019) and two books for the British Film Institute’s Film Classics series, one on Kind Hearts and Coronets (2003) and one on Rosemary’s Baby (2020). I have edited Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son (2004) and Victorian Fairy Tales (2015) for Oxford World’s Classics (2004), and Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent (2007) and The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories: From Elizabeth Gaskell to Ambrose Bierce (2010) for Penguin Classics. With Evert Jan van Leeuwen, I have edited Haunted Europe (Routledge 2019), a book of critical essays on how Britain has imagined Europe as a Gothic space.



I am presently editing an anthology of Victorian and Edwardian science fiction stories, and writing a cultural history, Blithe Spirits and Demon Lovers: A History of Hauntings, Visitations and Other Encounters with the Supernatural World, both for Oxford University Press.


Curriculum Vitae

I was both an undergraduate and postgraduate in the English Department at University College London. From 1994-95, I was a visiting research fellow at Harvard University. In 1996, I was awarded a PhD for The Child of Nature: The Feral Child and the State of Nature; my supervisor was Professor Philip Horne, and the examiners were Professors Roy Porter and Tony Tanner. In London, between 1992 and 2003, I taught on a part-time or temporary full-time basis in the English Departments at UCL and Roehampton University, in the Cultural Studies Department at Central Saint Martins College, and also taught the Junior Seminar for Princeton University’s Study Abroad Programme at UCL. In 2003-4, I was a visiting lecturer at the Department of English at Princeton University. From 2004-6, I was a freelance writer, based in Berlin. I have been teaching English literature and film at Leiden University since 2006.

In addition to my academic writing, I co-wrote and co-edited The Movie Book (Phaidon Press, 1999), was a theatre reviewer for What’s On Magazine, wrote interviews for Arts International, and have written reviews and articles for The Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Times Higher Education Supplement, Poetry Review, The New Statesman, and London Review of Books. In 1992, I was awarded the Fabian Society’s Webb Essay Prize, and in 2010 I won the Royal Society of Literature’s V. S. Pritchett Short Story Prize.


Teaching activities

At Leiden I am responsible for the teaching of nineteenth and early twentieth-century literature in English, and also a course introducing Anglo-American film. I have also strong teaching interests in prose fiction from the 1840s to the 1950s, in British and American film, and in Shakespeare. I have convened MA courses on:

  • London in Literature and Film, 1800-2000
  • Gothic Fictions from Poe to David Lynch
  • An Introduction to Comedy
  • The Short Story in English, 1870-1970
  • The Literature of the Fantastic, 1880-1980
  • Alfred Hitchcock


Key Publications


  • October 2012: Age of Assassins: A History of Assassination in Europe and America, 1865-1981 (London: Faber and Faber)(726 pages). (Paperback edition due out in September 2013.)
  • August 2003: Kind Hearts and Coronets (in the BFI Film Classics series) (London: BFI Publishing) (87 pages).
  • February 2002: Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children (London: Faber and Faber); British paperback edition (2003); American hardback edition, St Martin’s Press (2003); paperback edition, Picador USA (2004); German edition, Magnus Verlag (2005); Korean edition, Jung Sim (2003); Latin American edition, Editorial Oceano (2004). (284 pages)

Selected edited books

  • February 2010: The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories: From Elizabeth Gaskell to Ambrose Bierce (London: Penguin) (introduction, selection, notes on the texts, chronology, glossary, endnotes).
  • August 2007: Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent for Penguin Classics (London: Penguin) (introduction, note on the text, appendix, endnotes)

Selected scholarly articles

  • Autumn 2013: ‘“Nihilists of Castlebar!” Exporting Russian Nihilism in the 1880s and the Case of Oscar Wilde’s Vera, or the Nihilists’, in RussiainBritain,1880-1940: From Melodrama to Modernism, eds. Rebecca Beasley and Philip Bullock (Oxford: Oxford University Press). (10,000 words)
  • June 2010: An essay on ‘Lodging’ in film and literature for Restless Cities, eds. Matthew Beaumont and Gregory Dart) (London: Verso), pp. 173-190. (Other contributors include Rachel Bowlby, Geoff Dyer, Iain Sinclair, Marshall Berman and David Trotter.)


Other publications
I write essay reviews on film and literature for The Guardian, and on occasion for the London Review of Books. In the past, I reviewed regularly for the Times Literary Supplement, and very occasionally for the Times Higher Education Supplement. I have also written an essay on assassination for the New Statesman and various interviews with figures from the arts for Arts International

University Lecturer

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Moderne Engelstalige letterkunde

Work address

Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden
Room number B1.22



  • inter-university Netherlands Secretary for the Harting Scheme
  • leiden university on the Examencommissie (ALAS) for Literary Studies (MA)
  • leiden university Harting co-ordinator / study-abroad co-ordinator
  • leiden university SAP for English Literature section
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