Cosmopolitan Collection and Regional Resource: The Social Life of Tatton Park Library

AHRC-funded PhD Studentship at Keele University in collaboration with Tatton Park, Knutsford, and the National Trust

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD in English Literature, supervised collaboratively by Keele University and the National Trust: ‘Cosmopolitan Collection and Regional Resource: The Social Life of Tatton Park Library’. This is offered under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award programme. The student will be supervised by Dr Jonathon Shears and Dr Rachel Adcock (Keele), and Mr Tim Pye (National Curator, NT Libraries). This full-time studentship, which is funded for three years at standard AHRC rates, will begin on 1 September 2023. It is especially suitable for students with a background in eighteenth- or nineteenth-century studies and book history, whether or not they have worked directly on the topic of the project.

The Project

The project makes a timely contribution to research on collecting, material culture and the circulation of ideas by exploring the way regional elites understood themselves and their impact on local, national, and international stages. It focuses on the library at Tatton Park, Cheshire as a site where issues of race, class and gender intersect. This project will extend understanding of the generations of the Egerton family who owned Tatton, their acquisitions, tastes, and the role of the library as a resource for the family and the wider community. It will provide the student with privileged access to the unique collection at Tatton which holds over 8,000 rare books, rigorous training in archival research, and co-produced public engagement opportunities through Tatton Park. The study of the social life of libraries and reading contexts is fast developing but Tatton is one of the least documented major libraries owned by the Trust meaning there are significant opportunities for the student to open up hidden stories that will have a lasting impact on the way country house libraries are understood.

The student will:

  • produce a PhD thesis based on one or more of three research strands under the headings: Domestic and Regional Circulation; Cosmopolitanism, Travel and the Book Trade; Masculinity and Femininity
    • design a co-produced programme of public engagement activities including a public exhibition with the Tatton Collections Managers designed to diversify audiences for the NT
    • review and augment an existing online catalogue with staff at Tatton, NT support networks, and regional archives

During the project, the student will develop a range of transferable skills – in public engagement, database management, and curation – equipping them for a career in academia, the museum/heritage sector, or a related profession.

The Studentship

The studentship is awarded subject to AHRC eligibility criteria and covers tuition fees for all three years and a grant (stipend) towards living expenses. The national minimum doctoral stipend for 2022/23 has been set by Research Councils UK as £17,668 per annum for Collaborative Doctoral Students. For more information visit:

Students are also eligible to draw additional funding to support the cost of training, research trips, conferences, and other development opportunities that will benefit the student’s doctoral research and future career development.

How to Apply

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in English or a relevant discipline, such as History, and will need to satisfy AHRC eligibility requirements including Masters-level advanced research training or equivalent.

In general, full studentships are available to students who are settled in the UK and have been ordinarily resident for a period of at least three years before the start of postgraduate studies. International applicants are eligible to apply for this studentship and Keele University will consider covering the cost of additional international fees.

The NWCDTP and Keele University particularly welcomes applications from students from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in Higher Education. In support of these commitments the University welcomes applications from Global Majority, Disabled and Socioeconomically Unequal communities.

Keele University is committed to the principles of the Athena SWAN charter, and values equality and diversity across our workforce and study body. We strive to ensure that our workforce and study body is representative of broader society, and therefore, we would actively welcome applications from women for this role.

The University is committed to operating flexible working practices wherever possible.

For information or informal enquiries about the studentship, please contact Dr Jonathon Shears ( Enquiries about the application process should be directed to (

Applicants should apply via the Keele University online application system (select ‘Apply for a PhD’ in the upper right hand corner of the page), and include the following:

  • a curriculum vitae (no more than 2 pages);
  • a sample of writing (3-5,000 words);
  • a letter (one page) outlining their interest in and qualification for the studentship;
  • transcripts of undergraduate and Masters qualifications;
  • two academic references, which the candidate should request the referee to send.

Applications must be received no later than 5pm on Tuesday 31st January 2023

Please note it is the responsibility of applicants to request references from their referees and ensure that they have been received by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences by this deadline. All documents should be submitted in either a MS Word or PDF format.

Interview date: Tuesday 14th February 2023