Dr Sally Holloway

Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in History & History of Art

School of Education, Humanities and Languages

Sally Holloway


Dr Sally Holloway is a historian of gender, emotions, and visual and material culture in Britain and the world over the long eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After completing her AHRC-funded PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London, she worked on the Georgians season at Historic Royal Palaces, and taught at Queen Mary University of London, Oxford Brookes University, and Richmond, The American International University in London. Sally joined Oxford Brookes in 2017 as a Vice Chancellor's Research Fellow in History & History of Art.

Sally's monograph The Game of Love in Georgian England: Courtship, Emotions and Material Culture was published with the Oxford University Press series 'Emotions in History' in 2019, and released in paperback in 2022. You can read an introductory blog post about the book, and listen to an interview with BBC History Magazine's History Extra podcast.

With Dr Katie Barclay, Sally is currently co-editing A Cultural History of Love in the Age of Enlightenment (Bloomsbury, 2022), in which she has a chapter on the global visual and material culture of love. Sally is also researching the role of food in navigating intimate relationships, and working on her new book project on the history of heartbreak. The book examines the embodied experience of losing and recovering from love in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain, including disappointed love, unrequited love, and the broken heart.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught


Sally contributes to the Foundation Year in Humanities ('Being Human: Love, Sex & Death') as well as the following undergraduate modules:

  • A People's History of Britain [Year 1] - Brings to life the changing social and cultural worlds of the late seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries and how modern Britons were formed.
  • The Making of Modern Britain: Culture, Community and Family in Britain 1660-1918 [Year 2] - Explores how individuals, families and communities experienced gender, class, age and sexuality between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries.


  • Theories, Methods, and Practices in History - Introduces students to key methods and theories essential to the study of history at postgraduate level, as well as the advanced study skills needed for independent research.


Sally is second supervisor for:

  • Chris Holden, 'Loneliness in rural England in the long nineteenth-century, 1780-1914'
  • Deborah McGuire, 'Emotional Journeys: The British Quilt in Space & Time 1770-1920'


Sally's research interests include:

  • Emotions (particularly love and heartbreak)
  • Romantic relationships (courtship, matrimony, adultery)
  • The emotional meanings of material culture
  • Letters & letter-writing
  • Foods & foodways
  • Everyday life, ephemera & the ritual year
  • Visual & material culture

Research grants and awards

  • 2020 Awarded Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS)
  • 2019 Awarded Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • 2018 Awarded £310 by the Royal Historical Society to co-organise the conference 'Eighteenth Century Now: The Current State of British History' at the Institute of Historical Research with Esther Brot, Dr Joseph Cozens, and Miranda Reading
  • 2018 Awarded £600 by the AHRC Language Acts and Worldmaking project to co-organise the workshop 'Language and Emotion: From Research to Practice' with Dr Ingrid Medby
  • 2018 Awarded a Scouloudi Publication Award of £650 for The Game of Love in Georgian England (Oxford, 2019)
  • 2015-17 Awarded £1,700 by the Queen Mary Centre for Public Engagement to establish the 'Reading Emotions' community book group with Dr Jane Mackelworth (QMUL)
  • 2016 Early Career International Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions
  • 2016 Awarded £2,000 by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at the University of Adelaide for the conference 'Romantic Rituals: "Making Love" in Europe 1600-Present' co-organised with Dr Katie Barclay (Adelaide)
  • 2014 Visiting Research Fellow at Chawton House Library and the University of Southampton
  • 2013 Awarded £8,500 by the European Research Council project 'Spinning in the Era of the Spinning Wheel 1400-1800' for the conference 'Emotional Objects: Touching Emotions in Europe 1600-1900' co-organised with Dr Alice Dolan (Herts)
  • 2013-17 Associate Researcher at Historic Royal Palaces
  • 2011-12 Awarded £3,700 by the Friendly Hand Trust to visit the Lewis Walpole Library, Winterthur Museum, and Bard Graduate Centre
  • 2009-12 Full-time three-year PhD studentship from the Arts & Humanities Research Council

Research impact

Sally has been interviewed about her research in the Observer Magazine, The Sun, and the Boston Globe. She has appeared on BBC Radio London, and podcasts including The Thing About Austen (Ep. 34: "The Thing About Edward's Hair Ring") and Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness ("What Was it Like to Get Loved Up in Georgian England?").

She has extensive experience as a researcher and consultant to factual history programmes on BBC 2 and BBC Radio 4, including series presented by Professor Faramerz Dabhoiwala (The Invention of Free Speech), Professor Thomas Dixon (Five Hundred Years of Friendship), Professor Amanda Vickery (Voices from the Old Bailey; Amanda Vickery on Men; At Home with the Georgians; The Story of Women & Art) and Dr Lucy Worsley (Fit to Rule: How Royal Illness Changed History; A Very British Romance).

In 2015, Sally was the consultant on A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley (BBC Four), and was interviewed about eighteenth-century love letters.

From 2015 to 2018, Sally co-organised the Emotions Book Club with Dr Jane Mackelworth (QMUL), funded by Oxford Brookes University and the Queen Mary Centre for Public Engagement. You can read more about the group here.

Sally has also contributed to a number of events in the local community, including a "Craft Activism" day with Professor Joanne Begiato and Dr Richard Huggins at the Oxford Visual Arts Development Agency, an "Our Food: Our History" event on inherited recipes with Professor Joanne Begiato at Flo's - The Place in the Park, and a poetry slam on heartbreak at the Old Fire Station with Hammer & Tongue. In 2022 she will be speaking to the award-winning comedian Rosie Wilby about heartbreak as part of the Oxford Science + Ideas Festival.


Projects as Principal Investigator, or Lead Academic if project is led by another Institution

  • After Love: Romantic Heartbreak, Emotions and Embodiment in Britain c. 1750-1900 (01/08/2023 - 30/04/2026), funded by: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), funding amount received by Brookes: £149,563


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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

Sally is a convenor of the British History in the Long Eighteenth Century Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research in London, and with Professor Sarah Lloyd and Dr Joseph Cozens co-organises the seminar programme. She is also an Affiliated Research Scholar of the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London.


  • 2022 'The Foods of Love? Food Gifts, Courtship, and Emotions in Eighteenth-Century England', Graduate Seminar in History 1680-1850, University of Oxford
  • 2021 'Feeling Foods: Courtship, Edible Gifts, and Emotions in Eighteenth-Century England', Keynote lecture at Emotion, Embodiment and the Everyday, c. 1500-1800, University of Cambridge
  • 2021 '"Exquisitely wretched": Losing Love in Britain c. 1720-1850', Centre for the History of Emotions Summer Colloquium, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin
  • 2021 '"Believe me, there is such a thing as a broken heart!" Heartbreak, Emotions and Embodiment in Britain c. 1720-1850', Bedford Centre for the History of Women and Gender Annual Lecture, Royal Holloway University of London
  • 2019 'Dead Love: Emotions, Embodiment and the Broken Heart in England, c. 1720-1850', biennial European Association for the History of Medicine and Health (EAHMH) conference, University of Birmingham
  • 2019 'Teaching Histories of Gender and Emotions using Eighteenth-Century Material Culture', International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS) International Congress on the Enlightenment, University of Edinburgh
  • 2019 'Love in Practice: Studying the Emotional Eighteenth Century', Eighteenth Century Now: The Current State of British History, University College London
  • 2019 'The Progress of Love: Courtship, Emotions & Material Culture in Georgian England', Keynote lecture at Constructions of Love and the Emotions of Intimacy, 1750-1850, University of Warwick
  • 2018 'Love: Searching for Happiness in a "Civilised" Society', British Psychological Society 'Stories of Psychology' event on the History of Emotions, London
  • 2018 'What is love, and how do we do it?', Do We Really Know Everything About Love?, St Hilda's College, Oxford
  • 2018 'Love & Consumerism', Emotions across Disciplines Seminar Series (co-organised with Dr Alexandra Macht), Oxford Brookes University
  • 2018 'Textiles & Emotions in History', Think Human Festival: Craft Activism, OVADA, Oxford
  • 2017 'Valentine's Day & Gift Exchange in Eighteenth Century England', History of Art Research Forum, Oxford Brookes University
  • 2017 ' Sensing Love: Courtship Gifts & the Production of Emotions in Georgian England', Embodiment & Emotion Artists Residency, Central Saint Martins & THE CUBE Gallery
  • 2017 'Objects & Intimacy: Sensing Romantic Love in Georgian England', International Society for Cultural History (ISCH) Conference, Senses, Emotions & the Affective Turn: Recent Perspectives & New Challenges in Cultural History, Umeå University, Sweden
  • 2017 'The Emotional Heart', Two Hearts: Dissection and Desire, Barts Pathology Museum, London
  • 2016 'Courtship, Craft & Consumerism: Rediscovering Valentine’s Day in Eighteenth-Century England', Romantic Rituals conference, University of Adelaide
  • 2016 'The Script for Love: Romantic Lexicon in Eighteenth-Century England', Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Adelaide
  • 2016 'Shaping the Language of Romantic Love in Georgian England', Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Western Australia
  • 2016 'Love in Letters: "no Mortal ever felt so strong, so soft a Passion"', The Distinction between Passion and Emotion - In Search of Case Studies, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Western Australia
  • 2016 'Manufacturing Romance: The Economy of Courtship in Georgian England', Eighteenth-Century Research Seminar (ECRS), University of Edinburgh
  • 2015 '"My heart is in my eyes": Sensory interaction with courtship gifts in Georgian England', Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture (CSBMC), Royal Holloway
  • 2014 'Romantic Things', Things: Early Modern Material Cultures, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge
  • 2014 'An interspected letter from one of your Naughty Women: Writing the Adulterous Affair in England 1730-1830', British History in the Long Eighteenth Century Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, London
  • 2012 'Textile Transformations: Women's Creation of Courtship & Birth Tokens 1680-1850', Transforming Objects Conference, Northumbria University
  • 2012 'Courtship and Birth Tokens and the Materialization of Female Identity', Social History Society Conference
  • 2011 'Romantic Love & the Eighteenth Century Self', Cambridge Conference on Early Modern Selves, Trinity College, Cambridge
  • 2011 'Ribbons and Rings will work most strange feats: Eighteenth-Century Love Tokens & the Material Expression of Affection', Material Networks | Networked Materials Symposium, Bard Graduate Center, New York
  • 2010 '"I opened, I read, & I was delighted": The Emotional Experience of Love Letters in the Long Eighteenth Century', Women's History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research

Further details

Media & Blog posts