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Open Days 2017: Book Now

Professor Bill Gray

Professor Bill Gray, Professor of Literary History and Hermeneutics

Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth: Tales of Pullman, Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald and Hoffmann (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

“This timely study traces the connection between some outstanding literary fantasies written over the last two hundred years and their roots in the Romantic Movement. In doing so it also explores fascinating links with traditional Christian teaching stretching as far back as Augustinian Platonism. Erudite and approachable, it throws new light in particular on the works of C.S.Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkien and Philip Pulllman.”
Nicholas Tucker, formerly Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Community Studies, University of Sussex

“In this fascinating study, William Gray mines the relationship between German Romanticism and British fantasy literature from the eighteenth century to the present. In exploring the rich Romantic vein running throughout the tales of major writers from Novalis and E.T.A Hoffmann to Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling, Gray exposes important continuities and discontinuities in a long tradition intent on grappling with the complex relation between fantasy and reality. Carefully researched and lucidly written, Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth is a valuable addition to scholarship on fantasy, fairy tales, and the long reach of Romanticism.”

Donald Haase, Professor of German, Wayne State University, USA; editor of Marvels and Tales: Journal of Fairy Tale Studies and The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales

“William Gray’s scholarly study examines the often neglected relationships between German Romanticism and contemporary fantasy by tracing the development from Novalis, E.T.A Hoffmann, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien to the contemporary work of Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling. This is a valuable addition to literary studies and the study of children’s literature, demonstrating the wider contribution of fantasy writers to philosophical and literary debates.”

Jean Webb, Professor of International Children’s Literature and Director of the International Centre for Research in Children’s Literature, Literacy and Creativity, University of Worcester.


Death and Fantasy: Essays on George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Philip Pullman and R.L. Stevenson (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008)

“Death and Fantasy is a concise and welcome gathering of work by William Gray on notable authors of fantasy: Philip Pullman, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, and Robert Louis Stevenson. In nine astute and insightful chapters the volume analyses texts ranging from Macdonald’s Phantastes to Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and from Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Examining the ways in which death is both dealt with and used in these fantasies, Gray reveals fascinating interconnections between their authors.”

Dr Adrienne Gavin, Reader in English Literature, Canterbury Christ Church University

“This book makes a scholarly and very readable contribution to matters of current critical debate in the area of children’s fantasy. It displays how much children’s literature criticism has to gain from scholars who bring to it a background of knowledge of other disciplines. Supported throughout by useful  lose reading, Gray’s arguments are well maintained and display knowledge of a very wide range of psychoanalytic, philosophical and theological sources, all brought to bear in a relevant and convincing manner. Perhaps the most interesting sections are those where Gray displays the affinities between George MacDonald and Philip Pullman. The suggestion that Pullman’s creative achievement depends on a misreading of C.S.Lewis, just as Lewis’s did on a misreading of MacDonald, is a particularly fertile area for further critical investigation. The book has much to offer to scholars and students alike.”

Dr Pat Pinsent, Senior Research Fellow, National Centre for Children’s Literature, Roehampton University


Robert Louis Stevenson: A Literary Life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)

“A new book... mapping the bohemian life of Robert Louis Stevenson looks at the cocaine-fuelled convalescence that produced Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and a whole lot more besides.”
Phil Hewitt, Chichester Observer

“Gray’s close reading is meticulous and intelligent so there’s a sense that we’re engaging with the real texture of Stevenson’s life and work.”

The Scotsman

“With admirable economy, Gray delineates Stevenson’s engagements with different literary cultures and traditions - he is especially good on the fertilizing effects of French literature on Stevenson’s imagination - and then lays out the varied fruits of those engagements: essays, poems, letters, ravelogues, plays, and prose fiction.”

Stephen Arata, Victorian Studies 48 (Spring 2006)


Persona and Paradox: Issues of identity for C.S Lewis, his friends and associates (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012)


Fantasy, Art and Life (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011)