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Members, associates and research students


Prof Jean Webb is Professor of International Children’s Literature and IFRCL’s Director. Her research interests include international perspectives on children’s literature and English children’s literature from the 19th century through to the work of contemporary authors. 

Dr Stephen Bigger is archivist of the Malcolm Saville Society and a collector of children's books, especially books written between 1930 and 1960 and those that address war and children’s experiences of war.

David Broster is Head of Division for Drama, Performance and Film and is currently researching the ideologies and aesthetics of live performance and their impacts on children and young people and their development.

Piet Grobler is an award winning illustrator who teaches Illustration and Graphic Design. His research interests include editorial illustration, picture book illustration (particularly postmodernist picture books), and post-colonial commentary in picture book illustration and graphic design.

Dr Mikel J Koven is a Senior Lecturer and Course Leader of Film Studies. His main research area is the study of folk-narrative and popular cinema. He is currently editing a book on global mythologies and world cinemas. A member of the Committee of the Folk-Lore Society, he is currently editor of the journal Contemporary Legend, and is president-elect of the International Society of Contemporary Legend Research (ISCLR).

Dr Barbara Mitra is Senior Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies. Her research interests include popular culture, new media and language, photos and advertisements.   

Research Students

Nurul Fatehah binti Aziz: 'Heroes in Epic Proportions': dynamics of survival in Terry Pratchett's corpus of fiction for children

Branwen Bingle
: Who Do You Think You Are? A study of the way that primary teachers are represented in children’s fiction, and the possible link with professional identity and role conceptions for the beginning ITE student   

Fawzia Gilani-Williams
: Muslim Children, Fiction and Character Education: children’s Islamic literature in Britain, USA and Canada since 1990

Laura Jones: Journalism, Fiction and History in the Work of GA Henty (1832-1902)

Jane Kubiesa: Representations of the Abhuman in Multi-volume Vampire Fiction, 2000-2010

Rosemarie Miller: Vulnerability and Resilience in the Novels of Sonya Hartnett


Kevin Crossley-Holland
Kevin Crossley-Holland is an historian, Medieval scholar and award winning author of historical fiction for children. Kevin has written an award winning. The first of his Arthurian trilogy, The Seeing Stone, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award, the Smarties Prize Bronze Medal, and the Tir na n-Og Award. It has won worldwide critical acclaim and has been translated into twenty-five languages. His latest series is set in the Viking period of Britain. He has translated Beowulf from the Anglo-Saxon, and his retellings of traditional tales include The Penguin Book of Norse Myths and British Folk Tales. Kevin is President of the School Library Association. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Anglia Ruskin University and is an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Julia Eccleshare
Julia Eccleshare is a highly respected critic, writer, broadcaster and editor has been The Guardian Children’s Book Editor and the Children's Books Correspondent for the Publisher's Weekly, New York, since 1999. She is a judge of the Branford Boase first novel prize and was a judge for the Whitbread Children's Book prize in 2001. Julia won the Eleanor Farjeon Award in 2000 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to children's books. In addition to numerous anthologies, her own books include, Treasure Islands: The Woman's Hour Guide to Children's Reading (BBC Books, 1987), A Guide to the Harry Potter Novels (Continuum, 2002), Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter: Portraits of Children's Writers (National Portrait Gallery, 2002) and, with Nicholas Tucker,The Rough Guide to Teenage Books, (Rough Guides, October, 2003).

Prof Judith Elkin
Judith Elkin was Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Worcester from 2003-2009. Judith is reputed as a powerful force and a visionary in the world of children’s libraries and librarianship: she was Head of Library Services to Children and Young People at Birmingham Public Libraries during a period when Birmingham was a world leader in children’s library development.

Prof Peter Hunt
Peter Hunt was the first specialist in children’s literature to be so appointed in a British university. He is an acknowledged expert internationally. His numerous publications include scholarly editions of Treasure Island and The Wind in the Willows in the Oxford World Classics series, Children’s Literature: An Anthology, 1801–1903 (2000) and An Introduction to Children’s Literature (1994). Peter’s works of fiction include A Step off the Path (1985), Backtrack (1986) and Fay Cow and the Missing Milk (1989). He has lectured throughout the world and has held various Visiting Professorships since his retirement from the University of Cardiff.

Dr Rachel Johnson
Rachel Johnson contributes to the work of IFRCL as an Associate Researcher. Her research is predominantly in the field of nineteenth century children’s literature with specialisms in George MacDonald and G.A. Henty. Her focus recently, though, has been on pre-1950 boys’ adventure stories. Her work has been published in journals, conference proceedings and edited books. Rachel retired from being University of Worcester Research Librarian in December 2012, a post which included responsibility for research student support.

Dr Alysa Levene
Alysa Levene is Reader in History at Oxford Brookes University. Her research focuses on experiences of daily life within the context of childhood and the family; her particular research specialism is in the health and welfare of poor families in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England. Her wider interests include the history of illegitimacy, apprenticeship, hospitals, and poverty more generally. She is currently working with Prof Jean Webb on research into children's health and children's literature from 1830 to the present. Her publications include The Childhood of the Poor: welfare in eighteenth-century London (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), Childcare, Health and Mortality at the London Foundling Hospital, 1741-1800: left to the mercy of the world (Manchester University Press, 2007), A. Levene, T. Nutt, and S. Williams (eds), Illegitimacy in Britain, 1700-1920 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), A. Levene (general editor), Narratives of the Poor in Eighteenth Century Britain, (Pickering and Chatto, April 2006) and editor, Volume 3, Institutional Responses: the London Foundling Hospital.

Michael Morpurgo
Michael Morpugo O.B.E. is an award winning author of over one hundred and fifty works of fiction for children, five of which have been made into films and two which have been adapted for television. His works for children include A Medal For Leroy (2012) War Horse (1982) Private Peaceful (2003) and The Butterfly Lion (1996). He has received honorary degrees from a number of universities including the University of Worcester, Sheffield Hallam and Exeter. Michael was the UK Children’s Laureate from 2003 to 2005. In 1976 he and his wife, Clare, started the charity Farms For City Children which aims to relieve the poverty of experience of young children from inner city and urban areas by providing them with a week in which they work actively and purposefully on farms in the heart of the countryside.

Prof Maria Nikolajeva
Maria Nikolajeva is Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education and an Honorary Professor at the University of Worcester. She has also been a guest professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, Åbo Akademi University, Finland, and San Diego State University, USA. Maria is an internationally respected critic and theorist in the field of children’s literature and has published widely, with a number of her books being regarded as seminal texts. She has lectured extensively on the five continents. In 2005 she received the International Brothers Grimm Award for a lifetime achievement in children's literature research. Her numerous publications include Power, voice and subjectivity in literature for young readers (2010), The aesthetic approaches to children's literature (2005) and From Mythic to Linear. time in children's literature (2005).

Prof Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen is an award winning poet, author and media presenter and was the UK Children’s Laureate from 2007 to 2009. Amongst the many honours and awards bestowed upon him he holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Worcester, Exeter, The Open University and the University of East London. Literary awards include the US Junior Library Guild Selection, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres awarded by the French Government, the English Association ‘Exceptional’ Award for Sad Book, the Japanese Picture Book Award and the Eleanor Farjeon Award for distinguished services to children's literature. In addition to his considerable publishing output Michael is very involved with working directly with children in school. His collections of poetry for children include: Mind Your Own Business, The Hypnotiser and Don't Put Mustard In The Custard. Michael’s University of North London doctorate on theories of authorship was supervised by Prof Jean Webb.

Dame Jacqueline Wilson
Jacqueline Wilson is an award winning writer for children and was the UK Children’s Laureate, 2005-7. She has sold over ten million books, which have been translated into over thirty languages, and at one point in the year 2000, six of her books were listed among the top ten bestselling children's paperbacks. Her work deals with difficult issues which are faced by children. Her books include The Story of Tracy Beaker (1991) and its sequel, The Dare Game (2000), which tells the story of a child who lives in residential and foster care, and The Bed and Breakfast Star (1994) about a family living in bed-and-breakfast accommodation. Her latest series features the character of Hetty Feather. Set in the nineteenth century Hetty is brought up in the Foundling Hospital in London. Her books have been adapted for television, radio and the stage. Jacqueline is a great supporter of, and advocate for, encouraging children to read and to sustain their interests in reading. She was a very popular speaker at Beeline: The University of Worcester Storytelling Festival for Children in October 2012.