Rachael Murray


Research title: The Sea as the ‘Beyond’ in Romantic and Victorian Literature

Research Summary

The speaker of Charlotte Smith’s ‘Elegy’ hails “Despair, and Death, and Desolation” – it is the sea that answers the call. My project will examine how Romantic/Victorian Gothic women authors utilised oceanic images and littoral settings to explore the concept of death in an age where the undersea was as inscrutable as the afterlife. Tracing this nautical strand back into the pre-Gothic “Graveyard School” of morbid poetry, I will argue that the sea is part of the Gothic mode from its very beginnings, creating a ripple effect of shared and inherited language across generations of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts.

Current research interests include:

  • Gothic literature
  • 18th & 19th century women's writing
  • Blue Humanities
  • EcoGothic
  • Folklore


Murray, Rachael Eleanor, ‘“A bird, or boat, or any thing”: Weedy Entanglement and Oceanic Freedom in Eliza Cook’s Anthropomorphous World’, Litteraria Pragensia 66 (2023), pp. 19–40


‘Keeping your ghosts (and coasts) to yourself: telling tales of littoral spectres in Bannerman and Corelli’, Scottish Shores Seminar, Edinburgh Napier University, May 2023. (Invited)

'"The unusual accident of falling upwards": The Not-so-hidden Depths of Sea Creatures in Victorian Periodicals", Aquatic Surfaces and Depths Conference, Haunted Shores Research Network, 3-8 April 2023.

‘“On ocean and earth I'm a goodly thing”: The Ambiguous Lives of Eliza Cook’s Poeticising Plants’, En-tangled Approaches to Seaweed Conference, Haunted Shores Research Network, 20 May 2022.