Annual Report 2022
On Wednesday 1st March 2023, Rachael Murray, PhD Scholar in Literary Studies at the University of Glasgow received the Robertson Medal in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences for Academic Year 2022-23.
The silver medal is awarded each year to the Scholarship candidate judged to be the most outstanding for that year’ competition. The medal was introduced in 2003 to mark the contribution of the retiring Chairman of the Trust, Sir Lewis Robertson, who served the Trust for over 40 years.
About this year’s recipient
Growing up in that middle of nowhere between Glasgow and Edinburgh called South Lanarkshire, there wasn’t much else to do but read, and read she certainly did. When Rachael had finished reading everything in the house she was allowed to get her hands on, she discovered a very wonderful thing: that 19th-century books are generally out of copyright, and she could access them all for free without getting out of her little reading beanbag. The interest this encouraged for Brontës, Austens and Co. drove her to apply for an MA in Classical Studies and English at the University of St Andrews, where she studied from 2016-20, graduating with 1st class honours as the most outstanding student in the Faculty of Arts. In the final year of this degree, Rachael found and fell in love with 19th-century Gothic literature, so when she went back to St Andrews for her MLitt in Romantic/Victorian Studies from 2020-21, she made sure to find ghosts and monsters behind all the pages and between all the lines. As well as putting together a dissertation on the masculine gender identity of Charlotte Brontë across her early works, Rachael also wrote an essay centering on death and the sea which would eventually give rise to her PhD project – after deciding that she didn’t in fact agree with what she had written! Having graduated from her MLitt with distinction, she went to work at a small Scottish publishing house as Press, Editorial and Media Coordinator while she prepared her PhD research proposal and kept her academic hand in by presenting at her first ever conference on some of the poetry that will feature in her project. When Rachael can give her menagerie of Gothic monsters the slip, she is a keen photographer, particularly of plants, bugs and flowers, though as a committed insectophobe this has plenty horrors of its own.