Helen Angear



College: College of Humanities

I am a PhD candidate within the College of Humanities. My research is focused on the writer Thomas Hardy and his correspondents, with particular emphasis on the role of letter-writing within the context of friendships with other historically significant individuals. The correspondence reveals Hardy’s involvement in a global network, engaged in a range of debates including on art, education, female emancipation, war and animal welfare.

The collection of over 5,000 letters forms part of Dorset County Museum's Thomas Hardy Memorial Collection, the largest Hardy collection in the world, recently selected for the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Programme register. While the letters from Hardy are in print (and have been available online since 2012), this collection is unpublished.

Working with Exeter’s digital humanities team, this project involves digitization of the correspondence to create a remotely accessible online database of a selection of the letters.
Supported by a collaborative doctoral award from REACT and Dorset County Museum, the work will provide new contexts for reading Hardy and educational initiatives will focus on encouraging students to engage with cultural heritage, using archives, and a selection of transcribed letters to enhance learning in schools and colleges. This is in conjunction with the learning group of the Thomas Hardy Steering Group (partners include Dorset County Museum, Exeter, The National Trust, Bath Spa University, Dorset County Council, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Thomas Hardy Society).

Before commencing my PhD, I taught A level English at Exeter College. I completed my teacher training in a secondary school and sixth form in the West Midlands in 2008 and I have worked in a variety of educational contexts. I have also completed postgraduate studies in speech and language therapy.