Dr Peter Blake lectures and researches in English literature, specialising in Victorian journalism. He is an authority on the work of the prolific nineteenth-century journalist George Augustus Sala.
Peter's wider scholarly interests include Charles Dickens; race and slavery; travel narratives and the history of Brighton; nineteenth-century periodicals, novels and print culture. His work encompasses the disciplines of history, media, print culture and literary theory and his latest research looks to further the scholarship on late nineteenth-century Bohemianism.
Dr Peter Blake lectures and researches in English Literature, specialising in Victorian journalism. Recent research has focused primarily on the prolific Nineteenth century journalist George Augustus Sala who wrote essays for a wide variety of newspapers and periodicals including the Daily Telegraph and Charles Dickens’s Household Words magazine.
Building on his work on George Augustus Sala, Dr Peter Blake's research will focus on wider issues of mid to late C19th Bohemianism in relation to print culture, investigating the linear connections to be found in the Bohemian print culture of Paris, London, Melbourne and New York, with reference to authors and publishers such as Henry Vizetelly, Robert Brough and Marcus Clarke.
With teaching interests across a wide range of nineteenth-century literature, Peter's scholarshiop also draws on American literature and history; Charles Dickens; race and slavery; travel narratives; nineteenth-century periodicals and print culture; the nineteenth-century novel; London and Paris in the nineteenth century and the history and architecture of Brighton.
Peter Blake completed his BA at Sussex University in 2004 where he wrote dissertations on ‘Exile in the Plays of Shakespeare’ and ‘The Influence of the Oxford Movement in C19th Culture’. While researching the latter at the Brighton History Centre he developed a strong interest in local history and first encountered the writing of the journalist George Augustus Sala and his connections with Brighton. He went on to work as a History Officer there and helped write and research the exhibition ‘Brighton Boozers’ in 2005-06.
In 2006 he completed his MA in Victorian Literature at Royal Holloway University and Sussex University and also took courses in contemporary literature. Studying literature at Sussex engendered an interdisciplinary approach towards literary study and an appreciation of a wide diversity of texts and contexts. Dr Peter Blake ‘s interests both in research and teaching reflect this approach and encompass the disciplines of history, media, print culture and literary theory.
After writing an MA dissertation on the editorship of the nineteenth-century London magazine, Temple Bar, Dr. Blake realised the potential for further research on George Augustus Sala. He completed his AHRC funded DPhil thesis, 'George Augustus Sala: The Personal Style of a Public Writer', at Sussex University in 2010, the study for whcih included four weeks working in the Sala Archives at Yale University’s Beinecke Library.
Dr Blake’s doctoral thesis examined Sala’s immersion in the visual field as an engraver and illustrator, using this as as a starting point for analysing the development of Sala’s unique personal style of writing, a style that would become highly influential on the New Journalism at the end of the century. Peter Blake has analysed Sala’s pronouncements on race, imperialism and travel with reference to C19th culture, the influence of Dickens on Sala’s style and Sala’s involvement in the sensation novel of the 1850s and 60s and the culture of Bohemianism.
As visual culture moved from sensation to didacticism, Sala moved towards journalism. When Sala’s own attempts at novel writing failed, he became one of the most distinguished of the Special Correspondents – journalists who were sent to the far-flung reaches of the globe in order to provide their English readership with information on their imperial acquisitions.
Blake, Peter (2012) George Augustus Sala: A Visual Apprenticeship Victorian Literature and Culture, 40 (2). pp. 577-597. ISSN 1060-1503
Blake, Peter (2010) The paradox of a periodical: Temple Bar under the editorship of George Augustus Sala (1860-1863) The London Journal, 35 (2). pp. 185-209. ISSN 0305-8034
Blake, Peter (2009) Charles Dickens, George Augustus Sala and Household Words Dickens Quarterly, 26 (1). pp. 24-41. ISSN 0742-5473
Blake, Peter (2009) George Augustus Sala and the English middle-class view of America 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 9. ISSN 1755-1560
George Augustus Sala and the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press: The Personal Style of a Public Writer (forthcoming with Ashgate May 2015)
Victorian Literature and Culture No. 40. April 2012 (Cambridge University Press) 'George Augustus Sala: A Visual Apprenticeship'
The London Journal: A Review of Metropolitan Society Past and Present Vol. 35 No. 2 July 2010 (Maney Publishing).
‘The Paradox of a Periodical: Temple Bar under the Editorship of George Augustus Sala (1860-63)’
19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century 8 (Autumn, 2009) Special Issue: Transatlanticism, Identities and Exchange. www.19.bbk.ac.uk.
‘George Augustus Sala and the English Middle-Class View of America’
Dickens Quarterly, University of Massachusetts, Tiger Press March 2009. ‘Charles Dickens, George Augustus Sala and Household Words’
Book ContributionsLaurel Brake and Marysa Demoor (eds) Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism, Academia Press/British Library (print) and Proquest (digital) October 2008. Entries on, ‘Temple Bar’, ‘Illustrated Times’, ‘Train’, John Maxwell, R.S. Surtees, G.A. Sala and Robert Barnabas Brough
Journal of Victorian Culture 18:4 December 2013 (Routledge) Review essay of Barbara Black, a Room of His Own: A Literary-Cultural Study of Victorian Clubland (Ohio, Ohio University Press, 2012) 558-561
Textual Practice 24:3 May 2010 (Routledge). Review of Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare for the People: Working-Class Readers, 1800- 1900 (Cambridge: CUP, 2008) and Mike Sanders, The Poetry of Chartism (Cambridge: CUP, 2009)
Textual Practice 25:4 July 2011 (Routledge). Review of Matthew Rubery, The Novelty of Newspapers: Victorian Fiction After the Invention of the News (Oxford: OUP, 2009)
ResearchResearch assistant with Professor Juliet John on the ‘Dickens’ entry for the Oxford Bibliographies Online project – Oxford University Press Jan. 2011
University of Newcastle - Taking Liberties: Sex, Pleasure, Coercion (1748-1928) 15-16 June 2012 'Off the Beaten Track: Birching and Flagellation in the Work of George Augustus Sala'
Delta Chelsea Hotel, Toronto - American Association of Australasian Literature (AAALS) 16-17 Feb 2012 'Trans-Hemespheric Connections'
University of London, Institute of English Studies – Victorian Popular Novelists 1860-1900 10-12 September 2009. ‘The Age of Gas’ George Augustus Sala, Marcus Clarke and Colonial Bohemia
Providence College, Providence Rhode Island USA – 14th Annual Dickens Society Symposium 6-9 August 2009. ‘I think Americans have had enough of British Correspondents’. George Augustus Sala and Charles Dickens in America
University of Nottingham – New Perspectives on the American Nineteenth Century 17 October 2008. Innocent Abroad? George Augustus Sala in America
University of Roehampton – Characters of the Press 40th Annual Research Society for Victorian Periodicals Conference 4 - 5 July 2008. The Paradox of a Periodical: Temple Bar under the editorship of George Augustus Sala
University of London, Institute of English Studies – The Idea of America in Nineteenth Century British Culture 1776-1914 27-28 June 2008. ‘The lingering presence of barbarism in the land and the inherent childishness of the people’ George Augustus Sala and the English Middle-Class View of America
University of Chester – Victorian Literature: The Canon and Beyond 2 June 2007. 'Re-writing the Canon’: George Augustus Sala and Victorian Journalism
Public Lectures'George Augustus Sala and Brighton' - The Keep, Brighton April 23 2015
March 28 2012 William IV Room, Royal Pavilion, Brighton - 'The Royal Pavilion, Brighton and Charles Dickens'
InterviewsInterviewed about Dickens and Brighton for VivaBrighton! magazine Jul/Aug. 2013