Proofreading & Copy-Editing
I am a qualified proofreader and copy-editor who can offer graduate and postgraduate students a proofreading and editing service. I can also check that references and bibliographies are in the correct format for PhD submission or for journal publication. I do not offer ‘substantive’ editing or any form of rewriting.
The topics of the dissertations and theses I have edited have varied from a practice-based thesis on avant-garde feminist film-making to a comparative study of the Edwardian novelist E M Forster and Italian literature. I have edited several PhDs and dissertations in the disciplines of architecture and art history. These have ranged from the influence of Surrealism on Japanese photography, art and urbanism in the 21st century, the politics of architecture in Tehran, and a study of the ‘unbuildable’ and seriality in early Soviet architecture. Recently, I helped to copy-edit a magazine The Urban Pamphleteer published by the School of Architecture, UCL.
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Like many other Gothic enthusiasts, I have always had an appetite for discovering a new writer in the genre. In 2009, I noticed that an independent US publisher, Valancourt Books, was bringing back into print the novels of well-known Gothic writers, and those writers who had been overlooked or had simply disappeared. Valancourt Books are really managing to keep ‘the gothic flame’ (as Devendra Varma once described it) still burning! They have now also expanded their list to include other genres such as forgotten gay and lesbian fiction, science fiction and horror titles.
One such early Gothic writer was Francis Lathom, popular in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, and mentioned as one of the seven “horrid” novelists in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (written in 1797, published posthumously). I edited Lathom’s The Fatal Vow; or, St. Michael’s Monastery for Valancourt Books in 2011.
As Professor David Punter has argued in his introduction to Lathom’s novel, The Midnight Bell, it would be difficult to argue that Lathom is an original or even an inventive writer who breaks new boundaries in the Gothic. Many of his novels were heavily influenced by those of the most successful Gothic novelist of his time, Ann Radcliffe, a writer whom Jane Austen both valued and enjoyed. Nevertheless, Lathom is a particularly interesting case for queer scholars because he draws on the conventions of cross-dressing and mistaken identity (ultimately derived from Shakespeare’s plays). Lathom’s gender-bending characters call into question accepted patterns of masculine and feminine behaviour. The themes of secrecy, disguise and forbidden love often appear throughout his work. His biography is also suggestive. Lathom produced plays for the theatre in Norwich, and penned a string of successful comedies in the 1790s, before he moved abruptly to a remote part of rural Aberdeenshire in Scotland. Here, he lived on a farm with a man whom many suspected to be his lover, while teaching local farmers and putting on theatricals.
The Fatal Vow, which was published in 1806, is interesting on two counts. Firstly, it is an example of the revival of the ‘historical-gothic’, a sub-genre of the gothic novel that originated with Sophia Lee’s The Recess (1783-85). Lee’s novel is set during the reign of Elizabeth I and is narrated by two daughters of Mary Queen of Scots. Secondly, Lathom may possibly be one of the earliest novelists who attempts to ‘queer’ history through the novel form, taking as his subject King Richard I (Richard the Lionheart). Rumours circulated for centuries around Richard, in particular that he had had an intimate relationship with Philip IV of France while on the Third Crusade to the Middle East.
Throughout the novel, Richard I’s masculinity is portrayed as less than stable, despite conventional historical portraits of Richard as the emblem of a brave, swaggering type of masculinity (‘lion-hearted’). One way Lathom suggests Richard’s queerness is via the motif of cross-dressing. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, cross-dressing was much more closely associated with expressing same-sex desires than is perhaps the case today. At balls, masquerades and parties thrown by aristocrats, cross-dressing became a sartorial code, a way to signal desire between people of the same sex. In the working-class molly houses (gay taverns) in London, men routinely dressed up and performed as women.
In January 2013, I also edited an introduction for Valancourt Books to an edition of Lathom’s collection of three tales, The One Pound Note and Other Tales (1820), which shows Lathom’s continuing interest in the gothic genre, as well as his literary development. Here is a review from Professor Carol Margaret Davidson’s (University of Windsor, Canada):
‘Students of the Gothic and Scottish literature will be particularly intrigued by this collection of three stories that grants a fuller picture of Lathom’s literary development and the influence of Sir Walter Scott and the vogue for what became known as the ‘Scotch novel’ on his work. This collection evidences a Lathom more confident in his literary enterprise after a decade-long hiatus from writing, a Lathom whose greater abilities may actually have lain in a domain outside of Gothic fiction’