Dr Leigh Summers is an historian and author whose interests include 19th and 20th century fashion, the body and sexuality. She is currently Director of Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery and Museum. Leigh has over a decade of experience in the cultural sector in management, curatorial and education roles. She is also an independent museum and gallery consultant. This work involves sharing her knowledge with regional museum and gallery staff wishing to professionalise their collections, exhibitions and public programs. She also presents theoretical and practical Disaster Preparedness Workshops for the sector.

Leigh undertook her PhD at the University of Melbourne. Her Post Graduate Diploma in Museum Curatorship, Honours and undergraduate degrees  were undertaken at James Cook University in Townsville. Her PhD Bound to Please: A History of the Victorian Corset was published in 2001 by Berg Press, London, as part of Berg’s prestigious Dress, Body Culture Series.

Her Honours thesis examined the influence of 19th century sexologists on early to mid 20th century sex advice literature.

While continuing to publish nationally and internationally for both an academic as well as general readership Leigh has worked extensively with material culture, particularly mid-late 19th century Dress. She has curated numerous exhibitions drawn from major private and public collections. Her research and publication history reflects an enduring fascination with fashion, the body and the construction of sexuality and femininity. Her latest research involves the crinoline in Australia.

Unlock the Past Cruises – 1st


  • Bridal history, ritual and fashion
  • Corsetry and its use in constructing 19th century feminity
  • Fashion history: British and Australian
  • History of sexuality
  • Mourning history, ritual and fashion
  • The crinoline