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Esmé Louise James

PhD Candidate | Content Creator


Based in:

Melbourne, Australia

Favourite Authors:

Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf

About Esmé

Esme Louise James is a writer and researcher based in Melbourne, Australia. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne in the School of Culture and Communication. Her thesis traces an aesthetic of the Erotic which she identifies as specific to pornographic works from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Her work traces the social and ethical implications of the transforming relationship between erotism and aestheticism.

Esmé’s first novel, Honeyflower and Pansy, was published in 2014 by CleanReads. In 2017, her second novel, The Awakening, was released by the same publishing house. Esmé has published a variety of works in magazines such as Hardie Grant Press, Hecate, and ArcherHer work has most recently been featured in the short-story anthology Roots: Home is Who We Are published by Hardie Grant Press in 2021.

In 2019, Esmé was awarded the Fay Marles scholarship by the University of Melbourne to support the completion of her PhD for 3.5 years. In 2018, she was jointly awarded the annual Shakespeare Scholarship from the same institution.


In 2020, Esmé was listed in the Top 30 Emerging Writers by SBS Australia. Esmé’s creative works have twice been nominated for a Fitzpatrick Award and she was a finalist for the Melbourne Arts Student’s Society’s ‘Creative Writing’ award for four consecutive years. The Awakening was shortlisted for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel of the Year in 2013. 

Esmé is best known for her irreverent lecture series on TikTok, Kinky History, which explores the evolution of human sexual history -- "the history they didn't teach you in high school." It currently stands at a following of over 2,200,000 people. In 2021, she was the recipient of Screen Australia's Every Voice initiative (in partnership with TikTok Australia and the Australian Government) to fund the creation of a new series on her channel. Created alongside her mother, SexTistics will teach how statistics can be used to create a snapshot - past and present - of gender, identity, and sexuality within Australia. 


February 2020 - Present

March - October 2018 

February 2015 - October 2017 

PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne

English and Theatre Studies, School of Culture and Communication

Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at the University of Melbourne

English and Theatre Studies, School of Culture and Communication

Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne

English and Theatre Studies & Creative Writing, School of Culture and Communication

Recent Academic Conferences

2021 / July 20-23

2021 / July 15-16th

Text and their Limits; Triennial Literary Studies Convention

Hosted by Victoria University  
"Gender and Literature" panellist 
Paper: "Defining Women’s Tradition and their Collective Talent in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own."

"RESILIENCE. RENEWAL. RECOVERY; Eighteenth-Century Studies Postgraduate Conference 

Hosted by The University of York’s Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the University of Melbourne's Enlightenment, Romanticism and Contemporary Culture Research Unit.
"Rakes and Rehabilitation: Re-examining Sexuality" panellist
Paper: "Ambiguity, Androgyny, and Aesthetics: Homoerotic Excess in John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure."

Let's Get


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