Professor Richard Gray FBA

American Literature

Elected 1993

Richard Gray has been Professor and Distinguished Visiting Professor at several universities in the UK and USA, including Essex, Georgia and South Carolina. A former editor of the Journal of American Studies, he has published more than 20 books and over 50 articles on American literature. His books include The Literature of Memory: Modern Writers of the American South, Writing the South: Ideas of an American Region (winner of the C. Hugh Holman Award), The Life of William Faulkner: A Critical Biography, Southern Aberrations: Writers of the American South and the Problems of Regionalism, A History of American Literature (first and second editions), A Web of Words: The Great Dialogue of Southern Literature, and After the Fall: American Literature Since 9/11. He has received many awards for his work and co-organised conferences that include an international colloquium on the American South, held in Vienna and funded by the Austrian and British Academies (the proceedings were published as Transatlantic Exchanges: The American South in Europe-Europe in the American South). He is a regular speaker at international conferences, a reviewer for various newspapers and journals and a regular broadcaster for the BBC. His most recent book is A History of American Poetry. In 2016 he was awarded a Leverhulme Emeritus Research Professorship. He is currently completing a project titled Speaking the Unspeakable: American Writers and the Writing of Trauma.

Current post

Emeritus Professor, Department of Literature, University of Essex

Past appointments

University of Essex Emeritus Professor, Department of Literature

2015 -

University of Essex Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, Professor in Literature

1969 -

Top picks

Writing the South: Ideas of an American Region


Concentrating on moments of crisis in Southern history, as well as on major literary figures, Richard Gray shows how generations of Southerners have been engaged in ‘writing the South,’ reinventing their place as they describe it.

A History of American Literature


Covering the history of American literature from pre-Columbian times to the present, Richard Gray pays close attention to the full range of fiction, drama and non-fiction that has been incorporated into the mainstream literary canon.

After the Fall: American Literature Since 9/11


This book offers a detailed and intentionally provocative account of the impact of 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’ on American culture and literature. Richard Gray reveals the widespread belief among novelists, dramatists and poets – as well as the American public at large – that in the post-9/11 world they are all somehow living ‘after the fall’.

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