Brigid Lowe’s Home Page

my beach

I’m a research fellow at Trinity College Cambridge – my research so far has been mainly about Victorian Fiction and what makes it so great. My first book has just been published.

I’m married to Sean Crawford – he does philosophy. We have a daughter named Ide – she toddles. My dad, Fergus Lowe, is a professor of psychology, as is my father-in-law, Charles Crawford. My sister, Catrin Lowe, is currently assistant director of Fin Kennedy’s How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found at Sheffield Theatres. My mother, Pat Sheehy, is the most erudite woman in the country.


I’m particularly interested in these lovely topics:
Theory of fiction, the Victorians (particularly G. Eliot, G.H. Lewes and Dickens), description and detail in imaginative writing, artistic representations of motherhood and the family, the depiction of work in fiction, the depiction of nature in fiction, human nature, David Hume, sympathy and empathy, cognitive approaches to literature, Marx, rennaisance painting, sculpture and architecture, political theory and practice (especially individualism and feminism)



  1. Shirley Loew said,

    Hello Brigid,

    I am an MA student of comparative literature.
    I plan to write my thesis on sympathy towards anti-heroes in the novels of Elsa Morante (Italian writer of the twentieth century).
    I’ve just started reading your book, hoping it will be relevant to my research.

    I’m confused from the distinction between sympathy and empathy as stated in page 9.

    “…’empathy’ comprehending feeling with another person from their point of view, the feeling of their feelings, and ‘sympathy’ indicating a feeling for them from a distinct, outside, or at least still separate, perspective.”

    Could it be that the terms ‘sympathy’ and ‘empathy’ were exchanged in this sentence?

    Thank you

  2. Brigid Lowe said,

    HI Shirley

    The sentence you quote expresses not my working definition of sympathy, but a distinction that has been common in 20 and 21st century discussions of sympathy/empathy. As I say in the book, this kind of distinction is anachronistic when read into literature of the past, as the word ’empathy’ has only quite recently become current, taking over part of what ‘sympathy’ used to mean. In my book, I use sympathy to mean ‘feeling with’, and so do the Victorian writers I talk about.

  3. David Paroissien said,

    Dear Brigid,

    I tried yesterday (14 July 2010) to send a copy of the collective message below to you at both your Cambridge & Sheffield address. But without success. I want to let you know, obviously, about the paperback edition and the chance to correct any mistakes or typos you or others may have spotted. I hope all is well with you. Do let me hear from you as soon as you can. All best wishes, David.

    Dear Contributors,

    I have just heard that the Editorial Board has approved plans to publish the volume in paper, tentatively scheduled for February 2011.

    This means we have the opportunity to correct any errors or typos you have spotted. It’s not possible to update entries or to add new material, and any changes that are made must not affect pagination. However, if you find something you would like to correct, please let me know as soon as possible. The submission date for changes in 6 August.

    I have seen reviews in The Dickensian, Dickens Quarterly, Notes and Queries, Choice, Language and Literature and English Literature in Transition. They are uniformly complimentary save for an occasional cavil–why no essay on serialization, for example. In view of the crowded market, which includes a host of ‘companionable’ volumes, the recognition we have earned speaks well for the entire collective effort and to an enterprise that proved both enjoyable and rewarding, thanks to the cooperation, hard work and excellent material everyone submitted. So from me, many, many thanks indeed and congratulations to all of you.

    I look forward to hearing from you. With every best wish,


  4. Cathy Dreyer said,

    Hi Brigid, just reading and enjoying James Wood’s How Fiction Works as part of a Creative Writing course. I’m sure you’re aware that he quotes your argument about the question of fiction’s referentiality being the wrong question. Illuminating and exciting. Congrats. Cathy x

  5. Bryn Butler said,

    Hi Brigid, congratulations on your first publication Congrats Bryn & Brenda xx

  6. Mike Bagshaw said,

    I was shocked to hear of your father’s death. I think I was his first research student along with Pete Spencer in the mid 70s. If there is to be a memorial service/event we would like to attend if possible. Otherwise we’d just like you to know that he was one of the few people who changed the trajectory of our lives for the better.
    Best wishes
    Mike Bagshaw

  7. Paul Lakeland said,

    Dear Brigid:
    I am reading your book on sympathy with great interest, having come across a reference to it in James Wood’s HIW FICTION WORKS. Did nothing come of plans for a paperback edition?

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