Dr Claire Brock

Personal details | Publications | Research | Teaching | Supervision

Associate Professor

Department: English

+44 (0)116 252 2533

Email: cb178@leicester.ac.uk

Office: Room 1512, Attenborough Tower

Address: School of Arts, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH

Personal details


Between 2012 and 2014, I held a Wellcome Trust Research Leave Award; the findings of which are published as British Women Surgeons and their Patients, 1860-1918 (CUP, 2017). More about my recent research can be found here.

I was the recipient of the British Society for the History of Science’s prestigious Singer Prize for young scholars in 2005. My winning article, ‘The Public Worth of Mary Somerville’, was published in the British Journal for the History of Science in June 2006.


  • BA Hons, Cardiff University
  • MA, Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, Cardiff University
  • PhD, University of Warwick
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy



  • British Women Surgeons and their Patients, 1860-1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017; paperback 2019)

For Open Access to this monograph, please go to: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/british-women-surgeons-and-their-patients-18601918/19ED55AFB1F1D73AF0B101C74ECF9E87

  • New Audiences for Science: Women, Children, and Labourers, Volume V of Victorian Literature and Science, eds., Bernard Lightman and Gowan Dawson (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2012)
  • The Comet Sweeper: Caroline Herschel's Astronomical Ambition, ‘Revolutions in Science’ Series (Cambridge: Icon Books, 2007; reissued 2017)
  • The Feminization of Fame, 1750-1830 (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)


  • 'Surgery, Success, and the Role of the Patient in Cleft Palate Operations, c.1800-1930', forthcoming in Isis.
  • 'The Disappearance of Sophia Frances Hickman, M.D.', History Workshop Journal, 80.1 (Autumn 2015), 161-182.
  • 'Risk, Responsibility and Surgery in the 1890s and Early 1900s', Medical History, 57.3 (July 2013), 317-337.      Available via Open Access: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=MDH
  • 'Surgical Controversy at the New Hospital for Women, 1872-1892', Social History of Medicine, 24.3 (December 2011), 608-623
  • ‘Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and the Professionalism of Medical Publicity’, special issue: ‘A Cultural History of Celebrity’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, 11 (2008), 323-344
  • ‘The Public Worth of Mary Somerville', British Society for the History of Science Singer Prize winning article, British Journal for the History of Science, 39.2 (June 2006), 255-72
  • ‘William Hazlitt: On Being Brilliant', Studies in Romanticism, 44.4 (Winter 2005), 493-513
  • ‘Rousseauvian Remains', History Workshop Journal, 55 (Spring 2003), 136-53
  • ‘“Then smile and know thyself supremely great”: Mary Robinson and the “splendour of a name”', Women's Writing, 9.1 (2002), 107-24

Book chapters

  • 'Women in Surgery After the Great War', in The Palgrave Handbook of Women and Science since 1660, ed., Claire G. Jones, Alison E. Martin, and Alexis Wolf (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021).
  • 'Scientific and Medical Genres', in The History of British Women's Writing, 1830-1880, ed., Lucy Hartley (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp.229-243.
  • 'Women in Surgery', in The Palgrave Handbook of the History of Surgery, ed., Thomas Schlich (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp.133-152.
  • 'The Fitness of the Female Medical Student, 1895-1910', in Francesca Scott, Kate Scarth and Ji Won Chung, eds., Picturing Women's Health (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2014), pp.139-157
  • ‘The Lancet and the Campaign Against Women Doctors, 1860-1880’, in Amanda Mordavsky Caleb, ed., (Re)Creating Science in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars’ Publishing, 2007), pp.130-145

Essay reviews

  • ‘Astronomical Ambition', History Workshop Journal, 61 (Spring 2006), 249-55
  • ‘Public Experiments', History Workshop Journal, 58 (Autumn 2004), 306-12

I have also reviewed works in the following areas:

  • ballet;
  • surgery on television (The Knick);
  • Russian history;
  • women's writing in Britain, Europe and America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries;
  • metropolitan geographical space and architecture;
  • literature and science;
  • scientific writing (both primary reprints and secondary criticism).


My research interests include gender and medicine (especially women surgeons), the history of surgery, nineteenth-century scientific literature, and medicine and literature in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

My publications include three monographs: British Women Surgeons and their Patients, 1860-1918 (Cambridge University Press); The Feminization of Fame, 1750-1830 (Palgrave Macmillan); and The Comet Sweeper: Caroline Herschel’s Astronomical Ambition (Icon).


  • Gender and the History of Medicine - Women Surgeons, 1918-present;
  • The Experience of the Surgical Patient in the Age of Specialism, 1880-1930.



  • EN7921: MA: Bodies, 1850-1918



I have supervised PhD projects on Olive Schreiner (Ruth Bromiley); on male eating disorders in the Victorian period (Lisa Coar); on pioneering woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell (Jennie Brosnan); on visual images of madness and insanity in European artistic traditions from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century (Janet Couloute); and health and unhealth: the condition of women in the fiction of Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Richardson and May Sinclair (Rhiannon Cogbill).

I am currently supervising research on the representations and realities of pregnancy in Georgian Britain (Amber Vella); female identity and relationships in the lives and writings of the Potter sisters (Florence Heath); Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and the role of women in the surgical field in 19th-century Britain (Lauralie Possenti); the trajectory of care in narratives of the late modern period (Mariella Scerri); empire and pathology in Victorian addiction narratives (Wen-wei Wu); the institutionalisation of the insane poor: causes; treatment and recovery in Victorian Leicester (Carrie Laverick); navigating workhouses, 1834-1896 (Caroline Walton); the Medical Women's Federation between 1879 and 1948 (Sophie Almond); the Scottish Women's Hospitals' Serbian Unit during the Great War (Natasha Stoyce).

I would welcome postgraduate students (MA or PhD) with research interests in any of the following:

  • Gender, health, and medicine;
  • Science, medicine, and literature in the 19th and early 20th centuries;
  • History of surgery;
  • The body;
  • Clinical encounters and patient narratives from late 19th century to present.

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