Miss Alison Hennegan, Trinity Hall




Biographical Information

I read English as an undergraduate at Girton College from 1967-70. The Ph.D. which I began in 1970 ('Literature and the Homosexual Cult, 1890-1930') was permanently interrupted by a move into gay politics, journalism, and broadcasting. I have been teaching Cambridge undergraduates since the late 1970s, but for many years I combined that with work in literary journalism, broadcasting, and publishing. I was Literary Editor of 'Gay News' from 1977-1983, worked for the feminist publishing house, The Women's Press, from 1984-1991, and was a regular diarist, reviewer and columnist for The New Statesman during the 1980s. Not surprisingly, so much first-hand experience of how and why words get into print (or fail to) informs my teaching and research. From 2005 to 2018 I was  the Director in Studies for Part II English at Trinity Hall and I continue to teach widely across the University.

Research Interests

Nineteenth century fiction (with a special interest in more off-the-beaten track authors, especially but not only women); Victorian and Edwardian popular culture; juvenile fiction from c. 1850-1960; the English Decadence with an especial interest in Wilde; the importance of ancient Greece and Rome for the Victorians and Edwardians; British Literature and the First World War; twentieth century fiction, with a special interest in gay male and women writers (including E.M. Forster, Wilfred Owen, Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf), and in writing responding to the Second World War. In broad terms, three main concerns underpin my work: an interest in the many ways in which literature, gender and sexuality constantly intersect; a fascination with the infinitely varied accommodations which 'presents' seek to make with their historical and cultural pasts; and an affection for the quirky and unexpected, in writers, readers, and the societies they inhabit and shape.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

I contribute to teaching for the M.St, the M.Phil, and Ph.D. work. I supervise graduate work on Oscar Wilde and the English Decdents, E.M.Forster, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Elizabeth von Arnim, the relations between literature and music ( as in Gurney, Forster and Britten),  the writing of the  Great War, and the development of gay and lesbian literature.

Selected Publications


  • “’Not a Feminist, but…’: Elizabeth von Arnim and Female Resistance’, in The Katherine Mansfield Society Yearbook ( Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming, 2019)
  • Alison Hennegan, ‘Coming Out: The emergence of Gay Literature ‘, Chapter 7 in in British Literature in Transition, 1960-1980: Flower Power (ed) Kate McLoughlin (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
  • ‘Fighting the peace: two women's accounts of the post-war years’, in The Silent Morning: Culture and Memory after the Armistice, (eds, Trudi Tate and Kate Kennedy (Manchester University Press, 2013)
  • ‘Dickens and Women Trouble’ : Milestone talk, Trinity Hall, 2012) https://alumni.trinhall.cam.ac.uk/document.doc?id=26
  • ‘A sermon, preached on Remembrance Sunday 2011  in the Chapel of Trinity Hall, Cambridge’: Theology, 2012)
  • ‘“Fit for Heroes”: Bliss, Britten and Requiems’: published in First World War Studies: Volume 2, 2011, Issue 1, Literature and Music of the First World War
  • Alison Hennegan, "Victorian Girlhood: Eroticizing the Maternal, Maternalizing the Erotic: Same-Sex Relations between Girls, c. 1880-1920", Children and Sexuality: From the Greeks to the Great War, Ed. George Rousseau, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007
  • Alison Hennegan, "Suffering into Wisdom: The Tragedy of Wilde", Tragedy in Transition, Ed. Sarah Annes Brown and Catherine Silverstone, Blackwell, 2007
  • Alison Hennegan, "Hea[r]th and Home: Wilde Domestic Space", Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 27, 2002
  • Alison Hennegan, The Lesbian Pillow Book, Fourth Estate, 2000
  • Alison Hennegan, "In a class of her Own: Elizabeth von Arnim", Women Writers of the 1930s, Ed. Maroula Joannou, Edinburgh University Press, 2000
  • Alison Hennegan, "Personalities and Principles: Aspects of Literature and Life in Fin-de-Siecle England", Fin de Siecle and Its Legacy', Ed. Mikulas Teich and Roy Porter, Cambridge University Press, 1990
  • Alison Hennegan, "Sweet Dreams: Sexuality, Gender and Popular Fiction", On Becoming a Lesbian Reader 1988, Ed. Susannah Radstone, Lawrence & Wishart