Nicki Humble

Research activity per year

Personal profile


I studied at Wadham College, Oxford University for both my BA and my D.Phil. I came to Roehampton as a visiting lecturer in 1990, and returned full time in 1992. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1995 and Professor in 2008. I have also taught at Oxford University, Exeter University and Michigan State University.

I specialise in the literature and cultural history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My particular interests include middlebrow fiction; the literature, culture and history of food; historiography; women's writing; and children's literature.

My undergraduate course on The Literature of Food was the first such in the country.

My book Culinary Pleasures (Faber) won Best Food Book of the Year 2006, awarded by the British Guild of Food Writers. It also won a 'Special Award by the Jury' ('to underline its importance for the cook book world') in the Gourmand World Cook Book Awards, awarded in Kuala Lumpur in May 2006. It was shortlisted for the Andre Simon Memorial Fund Award 2006, and for the History Today History Book of the Year 2006.

Media experience and public appearances:
I have appeared a number of times on Radio 4's Food Programme, Women's Hour and Open Book, and have been interviewed on many local radio stations. I have been involved as adviser and contributor on a number of television series, including Nigel Slater's The Icing on the Cake (2014, BBC4), The Great British Bake-Off (2010 and 2013, BBC2), The Essence of England (2005 Anglia TV) and The Trouble with Love (2002 BBC2), and appeared live on Good Food Live on the UK TV Food network.

I welcome approaches from broadcasters on any of my areas of expertise.

I have reviewed and written articles for many newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian, the Times Higher Educational Supplement, the Times Literary Supplement and Waitrose Food Illustrated.

I have given public talks about aspects of my writing and research at Ealing, Chipping Norton, as part of the 'Writers at Roehampton' series, and at the Oxford and Beverley Literary Festivals.


BA in English Language and Literature: First Class (University of Oxford, 1986)
D.Phil: title 'Robert Browning and History' (University of Oxford, 1991)

Research projects

I am currently completing a major study of the literature of food from 1830 to the present, which will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in early 2019.  The 150,000-word monograph considers food literature in its broadest form, looking at food in fiction, poetry, journalism, memoir, political tracts and cook books.  Topics covered include food and gender, modernist food, food disgust, food and fear, hunger, servants, the dinner, food and children's literature, and the form of the recipe. 

My next project will focus on the literature and culture of domestic craft from 1880 to the present. 


PhD students:
I have supervised to completion PhDs on the following topics: twentieth-century biography; suburban narratives in twentieth-century English and American fiction; the works of Frances Hodgson Burnett; teenage fiction from 18th century to present; the figure of the wall in the twentieth-century avant garde; masculine middlebrow reading from Kipling to WWII; lesbian YA fiction; and Woman's Weekly magazine 1918-1958.  I have also supervised projects on fan fiction; Elizabeth Gaskell and stitching; and A. S. Byatt.

I welcome approaches from potential research students in any area of nineteenth and twentieth century literature, particularly those interested in working in the following areas:

  • Food literature, culture and history
  • The middlebrow literature and culture of the twentieth century
  • Craft culture
  • Historical literature, theory and historiography
  • The culture and history of reading
  • Gender studies including masculinity
  • Children's and YA literature
  • Internet fan fiction and fan cultures

I have examined PhDs on topics such as middlebrow fiction and culture, crime fiction, feminist fiction and food writing at universities including Hong Kong, Oxford, Exeter, Newcastle, Sussex, Leicester, Strathclyde, Leeds and Buckingham.

Teaching Expertise:
Victorian Literature, Twentieth-Century Literature, Women's Writing, The Literature of Food, Literature and History, Crime Fiction, Dystopian Literature, Children's Literature, London in Literature.