Laurence started university life at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, with a County Major Award to read Arabic in 1969. Following a twenty-year career in music and the theatre, he took a BA Honours in English and Philosophy at Nene-University College Northampton. This was followed by a PhD in literary history from Leicester University. He has been teaching English, Media and American Studies at Northampton since January 1999.
Research and literary interests include late-Victorian British literature, including slum fiction and naturalism, nineteenth-century French literature, and American literature from 1890-1940. He is currently working on an article on the influence of naturalism on British proletarian fiction of the 1930s, an article on Frank Norris, and an edited collection of naturalist short stories. He has given international conference papers in the USA on the works of Sherwood Anderson and Frank Norris.