Margaret Harris held positions in the Department of English, University of Sydney, including the Challis Chair of English Literature, from 1969 to 2007. Since 2007, she has been Director of Research Development, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, at the University of Sydney.
Her major research projects have in common intensive investigation of the manuscripts of creative writers. Her research in Victorian fiction has established new interpretations of the careers of two major authors, George Eliot and George Meredith, based on original analysis of their unpublished writings such as notebooks and diaries, and knowledgeable and imaginative commentary on their novels. These contributions to the field were put into circulation initially in scholarly editions of previously unpublished writings, as well as of editions of each writer’s novels. Both The Journals of George Eliot (1998, with Judith Johnston) and The Notebooks of George Meredith (1983, with Gillian Beer) expand the published corpus of the work of the author, and provide insight into the creation and production of the work.
Professor Harris has published also on Australian authors, notably Christina Stead, in articles and a major collection of letters, Dearest Munx: The Letters of Christina Stead and William J. Blake (2005). She is currently engaged in an ARC-funded project on Patrick White in collaboration with Elizabeth Webby, which includes an edition of his working notebooks and publication of an unfinished novel, The Hanging Garden, in 2012, the centenary of White’s birth.