Professor Ros Ballaster

I have published widely on fiction, theatre, and women’s writing in the eighteenth century. My most recent book, Fictions of Presence (2020), looks at competing ways that the theatre and novel in the eighteenth century claimed to provide an audience with an experience of ‘presence’: being in real time, fully, with others. I describe the growing success in the eighteenth century of the ‘novel’, an immersive work of printed prose story with unconventional ‘new’ plots, and the challenge it posed to the theatre, previously the dominant space and place for delivering engaging stories of present persons.

I have edited works by Jane Austen, Delarivier Manley and am editing a prose fiction work for the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Aphra Behn. I am Principal Investigator on a Digital Humanities project co-funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Irish Research Council from August 2020-November 2021: the Digital Edgeworth Network explores and analyses the manuscript archive of the celebrated author Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) and the Edgeworth family at the Bodleian Libraries and the National Library of Ireland. It promotes scholarship and public interest in the lively and progressive network of contacts the Edgeworth correspondence maintained across Europe.

I have supervised 18 doctoral students to successful completion at Oxford. I am interested in supervising doctoral students working in eighteenth-century women's writing, in the fiction of fantasy in the same period (it novels, oriental fiction, fairy tales), the early novel, theatre and performance of the Georgian and Regency periods, correspondence networks.

See also my website on Georgian Theatre and the Novel.  

Literature 1500-1800; the novel; Restoration and Georgian theatre; women’s writing; theories of character and cognition in literature; feminist theory and feminist writing.

Twitter: @BallasterRos

College Website


  • Fictions of Presence.

  • ‘ “Thoroughly to unfold the labyrinths of the human mind”: Distributed Cognition and Women (Novelist)’s Representation of Theatre in Eighteenth-Century England’

  • Distributed Cognition in Enlightenment and Romantic Culture

  • Dramatic satire

  • Sensible Readers: Experiments in Feeling in Early Prose Fiction by Women

  • Secret History, Oriental Tale, and Fairy Tale

  • The Rise and Decline of the Epistolary Novel, 1770-1832

  • Bring(ing) Forth Alive the Conceptions of the Brain’: From Stage to Page in the Transmission of French Fiction to the English Restoration Novel

  • More