Ellis, Markman

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Ellis, Markman


Education: University of Auckland, M.A.; University of Cambridge, Ph.D.


Office—School of English and Drama, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Rd., London E1 4NS, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, London, England, professor of eighteenth-century studies.


The Politics of Sentimentalism: Controversy and Polemic in the Sentimental Novel, 1758-1771, University of Cambridge Press (Cambridge, England), 1992, published as The Politics of Sensibility: Race, Gender, and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1996.

The History of Gothic Fiction, Edinburgh University Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2000.

The Coffee House: A Cultural History, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2004.

(Editor, with Brycchan Carey and Sara Salih) Discourses of Slavery and Abolition: Britain and Its Colonies, 1760-1838, Palgrave/Macmillan (New York, NY), 2004.

(Editor) Eighteenth Century Coffee-House Culture, Pickering & Chatto (London, England), 2006.


Markman Ellis was educated at the University of Auckland and the University of Cambridge prior to taking a position at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, in the school of English and drama. Ellis's area of research specialty is eighteenth-century studies, particularly as it pertains to English literature and culture. He has written several books, each taking on a separate issue in English politics, social structure, or culture. In The Politics of Sensibility: Race, Gender, and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel, Ellis addresses the eighteenth-century concept of sentiment, which, unlike the modern meaning, included an overabundance and exposure of strong feelings or emotions that were thought to be overly revealing and inappropriate for public behavior in many instances. He discusses the overall political atmosphere of the time, as well, and just how debates over sentiment could alter the political arena, particularly in relation to hot topics of the time, such as slavery or prostitution. Ellis uses books of the day as examples of what readers were exposed to, and talks about the supposed effects of that exposure as well. Robert Markley, in a review for Studies in English Literature, remarked of Ellis: ‘His study engages intelligently with and extends a critical tradition that reads sentimentality and sensibility within the context of eighteenth-century debates about philanthropy, virtue, and elusive ideals of equality."

In The History of Gothic Fiction, Ellis analyzes the development of the genre from the late eighteenth century when it first manifested itself, up through the twentieth century, covering monsters, vampires, and zombies, among other stereotypical creatures. The Coffee House: A Cultural History is a different type of history, tracking the evolution of the coffee house from a political meeting spot with barely palatable roasts to a modern day hangout where the coffee brewed brings customers back day in, day out. Coffee houses first came to London in the 1650s, and Ellis looks at those early roots, discussing their early role as a place where news could be exchanged and people could gossip. They gained a reputation for political discussion, primarily of a democratic nature, and as a place where individuals from varying social classes could feel on more even footing. Coffee itself became linked to rebels and sedition, a reputation that clung through the decades. Charles II signed a proclamation designed to end the political talk by closing down the coffee houses, but the merchants who ran the coffee houses protested and eventually were allowed to remain open provided they made an effort to stop the political talk and the spread of discontent. Bee Wilson, reviewing for the New Statesman, called Ellis's effort a ‘fascinating and readable history of the coffee house,’ and stressed the surprises garnered by reading the book, commenting: ‘It is easy to imagine that, because the first coffee houses were such exciting places, the drink itself must have been delicious. However, Ellis, in one of the book's best passages, plausibly argues that this was not so.’ A contributor for the Contemporary Review remarked that ‘Ellis has used a wide range of sources and has handled them with care to produce a lively account of a vital aspect of our history."

Once again offering a change of pace, Ellis served as coeditor for Discourses of Slavery and Abolition: Britain and Its Colonies, 1760-1838, gathering together varying opinions on the relationship between slavery and culture in the eighteenth century. The contributors to the book vary from accepted experts to those new to the field of research, and essays are offered by not just the editors, but by the likes of Frances Botkin, Dierdre Coleman, Leo Costello, Peter Kitson, Diana Paton, Johanna M. Smith, Mark Stein, Bob Tennant, Candace Ward, and Sue Wiseman.



Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January, 1997, review of The Politics of Sensibility: Race, Gender, and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel, p. 793.

Contemporary Review, March, 2005, review of The Coffee House: A Cultural History, p. 186.

Eighteenth-Century Fiction, January, 2003, James Carson, review of The History of Gothic Fiction, p. 307.

Eighteenth-Century Studies, spring, 1999, ‘Ruled Passions: Re-reading the Culture of Sensibility."

Journal of Historical Geography, July, 2005, David Lambert, review of Discourses of Slavery and Abolition: Britain and Its Colonies, 1760-1838, p. 605.

London Review of Books, April 20, 2006, ‘At the Amsterdam: The Social Life of Coffee; the Emergence of the British Coffeehouse,’ p. 12.

Modern Philology, February, 2000, David Kaufmann, review of The Politics of Sensibility, p. 471.

New Statesman, November 8, 2004, ‘Trouble Brewing,’ p. 51.

Nineteenth-Century Contexts, March, 2004, Robert Mighall, review of The History of Gothic Fiction, p. 87.

Novel, fall, 1997, Jack Lynch, review of The Politics of Sensibility.

Spectator, November 13, 2004, ‘When Beans Don't Mean Heinz,’ p. 65.

Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, summer, 1997, Robert Markley, review of The Politics of Sensibility.

Times Literary Supplement, November 26, 2004, ‘Before Latte,’ p. 11.


Brycchan Carey Home Page,http://www.brycchancarey.com/ (November 7, 2007), review of Discourses of Slavery and Abolition.

Columbia University Press Web site,http://www.columbia.edu/ (November 7, 2007), author profile.

Queen Mary, University of London Web site,http://www.english.qmul.ac.uk/ (November 7, 2007), faculty profile.

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