I joined the Shakespeare Institute in 2013, having been awarded a Birmingham Fellowship in order to conduct research for Team Shakespeare: The First Folio and the Men who Created the Shakespeare Legacy. Between 2010 and 2012 I was Renaissance Literature Course Convenor at University College London, where I had been lecturing in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature since 2007. While at UCL I was awarded a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe (Penguin 2014), which was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize for Biography, made Sunday Telegraph ‘Book of the Week’ and was listed as one of the Telegraph’s ‘Best Books of 2014’. I am the author of Shakespearean Maternities: Crises of Conception in Early Modern England and have published elsewhere on early modern rituals of mourning, burial and commemoration in Shakespeare; the connections between Renaissance political and pedagogical culture; female translators and historical writers; Renaissance portraiture; the coterie of the Earl of Essex; and indomitable Renaissance women. I have also written for the Financial Times, the Sunday Express, the Sixteenth Century Journal and Renaissance Studies journal.
I am represented by Julian Alexander at Lucas Alexander Whitley Ltd Literary Agents (London) and Inkwell Literary Agents (New York). See:
Awarded a Birmingham Fellowship at The Shakespeare Institute from 2013, for a project called Team Shakespeare: The First Folio and the Men who Created the Shakespeare Legacy
Awarded a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship between 2007-2010, for the research and writing of Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe (University College London)
PhD, ‘Shakespearean Maternities: Crises of Conception in Early Modern England’. Awarded full funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (University College London)
MA English: Renaissance to Enlightenment, graduating with year’s highest Distinction. Awarded full funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (University College London)
BA English, graduating as year’s Morley Medallist with the highest First Class Honours (University College London)
I pursued all my degrees at University College London, where I was awarded the Morley Medal in English, the Ker Memorial Prize in English, and accorded a place on the Dean’s List for Academic Achievement. In 2006 I was shortlisted for the Eric Gregory Poetry Awards, and in 2007 was awarded a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Tony Lothian Prize for Biography (sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch). This is the first full biography of Lady Elizabeth Russell, the woman who nearly destroyed Shakespeare’s career and, in the process, paved the way for the creation of the Globe Theatre. It was published by Penguin in 2014 for the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and the 400th anniversary of the Second Globe Theatre.
I am author of Shakespearean Maternities: Crises of Conception in Early Modern England; contributor to two of Ashgate Press’s Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama series of books, Performing Maternity in Early Modern England and Performing Pedagogy: Gender and Instruction in Early Modern England; and have completed a survey of activist female translators and historical writers for Palgrave Macmillan’s History of British Women’s Writing: 1500-1610, which won the 2011 Society for the Study of Early Modern Women Collaborative Project Award and was called ‘a landmark volume’. I have also produced a substantial study of the notorious Lady Penelope Rich and her brother, the Earl of Essex, for Essex: The Cultural Impact of an Elizabethan Courtier, and am in the process of writing three articles on Renaissance portraits of enigmatic women for the British Art Journal and Emblematica, an article on early modern robotics and artificial life, and a contribution to The Cambridge Companion to the First Folio, ed. Emma Smith (forthcoming in 2016).
I taught Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at University College London from 2007, serving as Renaissance Literature Course Convenor between 2010 and 2012, and acting as Shakespeare Course Convenor during autumn 2011 and autumn 2012. While at UCL I was a member of the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges Steering Committee, the UCL Board of Examiners, the UCL Board of Studies, and served as Chair of Doctoral Upgrading Panels. After completing my PhD I also lectured for a year in Shakespeare at Goldsmiths College (University of London).
I am currently working on a project called Team Shakespeare: The First Folio and the Men who Created the Shakespeare Legacy. This will be the first full group biography of the printers, editors, stationers, and patrons who got together to memorialise Shakespeare through the First Folio of 1623. These were the men who fashioned the Shakespeare legacy, and their story has much to tell us about a central aspect of English literary and cultural heritage.
As well as lecturing on the undergraduate Shakespeare course at the University of Birmingham, I have taught extensively on University College London’s MA in English: Shakespeare in History course, covering subjects as diverse as the politics of religious contention in the Henry IVplays; race and colonialism in Othello; witchcraft and superstition in Macbeth; the problem plays; using art-historical resources; and critical and theoretical approaches to Shakespeare. I was a long-standing lecturer and seminar leader on UCL’s undergraduate Shakespeare course, teaching a range of works and subjects, as well as a module of my own design called ‘Shakespeare’s Bodies on the Edge’, which looked at Shakespeare’s treatment of such themes as sexuality, cross-dressing and charivari; torture, anatomy and dissection; death and memory; and mapping the colonial body. In addition, I provided a survey of all major critical approaches to Shakespeare, including neoclassicism, character criticism, new criticism, psychoanalysis, structuralism and post-structuralism, new historicism, feminism and race studies. During my year at Goldsmith’s College (University of London) I commandeered an ambitious undergraduate Shakespeare course which covered almost the entire canon of his works.
For the undergraduate Renaissance course at University College London, some of the works I taught included revenge tragedies (Thomas Kyd and Thomas Middleton); city comedies (Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton); Elizabethan prose fiction (John Lyly and Thomas Nashe); metaphysical poetry (John Donne); Marlowe’s plays; Milton’s poetry and political writings; and a full module on Ben Jonson, covering a selection of plays, court masques, the poetry, and the Discoveries.
I have taught widely across the full spectrum of English literary history, from Chaucer to the present day, on the first-year undergraduate English course at UCL, offering classes on the ‘Intellectual and Cultural Sources’, ‘Narrative Texts’, and ‘Criticism’ modules. I also have extensive experience of one-to-one tutorial teaching, offering detailed feedback on students’ essays and dissertations at undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels.
I particularly enjoy teaching in interactive learning environments, having previously collaborated with the UCL Art Museum in a series of seminars called ‘Shakespeare in Art’, curating my own mini-exhibition of Shakespeare-inspired prints and etchings. I also converted the museum into an ‘anatomy theatre’, showcasing large dissection plates and anatomical sculptures, for a graduate session on ‘Anatomy in Shakespeare’. In addition to this, I organised a tour of the Warburg Institute’s collections for MA Shakespeare students, and taught a session on ‘Cultures of Collecting’ in the inspirational setting of the Grant Museum of Zoology, London, surrounded by natural-historical specimens and fossils.
I have been involved in the supervision of doctoral students in the following areas: ‘Infanticide in Early Modern England’; ‘Elite Female Self-Starvers in Renaissance England’; and ‘Shakespeare and Domestic Tragedy’. I would be interested in hearing from prospective doctoral students working in any areas covering my main research interests (see ‘Research’ section below).
Particular areas of interest include the history of the Blackfriars and Globe theatres; Renaissance anatomy and dissection; witchcraft, ritual and superstition in early modern England; Renaissance satiric utterance; early modern natural-historical enquiry; cultures of melancholy; the literature and material culture of wonder and curiosity; early modern figurations of monstrosity; funerary monuments and the Renaissance death-ritual; connections between Renaissance portraiture and literature; the uses of emblems in dramatic literature; the art of translation; early modern robotics and artificial life; the literary and political uses of Tacitism; the Essex circle; Puritanism; women’s history and indomitable female figures of the Renaissance.
I particularly enjoy interdisciplinary approaches to the study of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature, combining techniques used in art-historical, archaeological, biographical, and medical forms of historical enquiry. My interest in England’s heritage and my methodological approach has involved me in direct on-site research at archaeological sites, castles, stately homes, museums, churches and cathedrals, grottoes and follies, auction-houses, private collections, galleries, English cultural heritage sites and other historic buildings.
I firmly believe that sound research grounded in palaeographical experience and training in the archives is a crucial means of learning about Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The cornerstone of all my publications/projects has always been contact with original manuscript and source material, and I have extensive experience of working with state papers, letters, diaries, wills, property deeds, heraldic documents, funerary itineraries, receipt books, medical treatises, epitaphic inscriptions, anatomical fugitive sheets, legal texts, privy council acts, and trial documents.
My recent media and publicity appearances for Shakespeare and the Countess include radio interviews for BBC Radio London, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National, and Newstalk Radio, Dublin. Public events include talks for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Biographers’ Club, and the London Jewish Cultural Centre. Shakespeare and the Countess has been reviewed in the Financial Times, Sunday Express, Literary Review, The Times, the Sunday Times, New Statesman, Sunday Telegraph (as ‘Book of the Week’), Daily Telegraph (as one of the ‘Best Books of 2014’ and one of the top ten history books to ‘take away on holiday’), Herald Scotland, and Big Issue, and has been used to inform a tour guide for a Heritage Open Day at Bisham Abbey and Bisham Church in Berkshire.
I have toured parts of England and America giving papers for the Shakespeare Association of America, British Shakespeare Association, Renaissance Society of America, and Society for the Study of Early Modern Women. Most recently I have organised lecture panels on women of influence in the Renaissance (Los Angeles), female translators (UCL), and early modern costume and portraiture (San Diego); I was invited as Keynote Speaker for a conference on Renaissance representations of Childhood in Seigen, Germany; and have given lectures at Oxford University, Cambridge University, Washington College, and for the Royal Collection at an event co-organised by the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland and Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh. I am a member of the prestigious Biographers’ Club and, descending from a long line of poets, how could I avoid becoming a poet myself?! I had my own poetry column in Parikiaki newspaper for two years and am currently revising The Boiler House Gallery for publication, an unpublished poetry collection which was shortlisted for the Eric Gregory Poetry Awards in 2006.
Team Shakespeare: The First Folio and the Men who Created the Shakespeare Legacy (Birmingham Fellowship Project, currently in progress)
Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe (Penguin: Fig Tree, 2014; paperback forthcoming from Penguin in 2015; US edition
forthcoming from Pegasus Books in 2015)
Shakespearean Maternities: Crises of Conception in Early Modern England (Edinburgh University Press, 2008)
Chapters in books and journal articles
‘The Prefatory Material in Shakespeare’s First Folio(1623)’, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s First Folio(1623), ed. Emma Smith (forthcoming by Cambridge University Press, 2016)
‘The Renaissance Cyborg: Automata, Alchemy and Artificial Blood in Spenser’sFaerie Queeneand Shakespeare’s Macbeth’ (article in progress, intended for collection arising from Oxford University’s ‘Blood Conference’, 2015)
‘“Virtutis Amore”: A New Identity for Hilliard’s Lady in State’ (journal article in progress)
Co-authored with Yasmin Arshad (UCL), ‘“Still renewing wronges”?: The Persian Lady Revealed’ (forthcoming in the British Art Journal, 2015)
Co-authored with Yasmin Arshad (UCL), ‘Gheeraerts and the Essex Circle’ (forthcoming, intended for Emblematica, 2015)
‘“Toucht with Bolt of Treason”: The Earl of Essex and Lady Penelope Rich’, Essex: The Cultural Impact of an Elizabethan Courtier, eds. Annaliese Connolly and Lisa Hopkins (Manchester University Press, 2013)
‘The Radical Pedagogies of Lady Elizabeth Russell’, Performing Pedagogy: Gender and Instruction in Early Modern England, eds. Kathryn M. Moncrief and Kathryn R. McPherson (Ashgate, 2011), pp. 65-86
‘Translation/Historical Writing’, The History of British Women’s Writing: 1500-1610 (volume 2), eds. Caroline Bicks and Jennifer Summit, pp. 296-327, part of the 10-volume series The History of British Women’s Writing, general editors Cora Kaplan and Jennie Batchelor (Palgrave, Macmillan, 2010).Winner of the 2011 Society for the Study of Early Modern Women Collaborative Project Award
‘Speaking Stones: Memory and Maternity in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra’, Performing Maternity in Early Modern England, eds. Kathryn M. Moncrief and Kathryn R. McPherson (Ashgate, 2007), pp. 143-69
‘The Woman who Almost Destroyed the Bard’, Sunday Express, 24 April 2014 (special 450thShakespeare anniversary edition of the ‘review’ featuring Dr Chris Laoutaris and the actor Simon Callow)
‘Theatre of War’ (Online versions: ‘Shakespeare at War’/’The Battle to Build Shakespeare’s Globe’), The Financial Times, 18 April 2014
Suzanne Magnanini, Fairy-Tale Science: Monstrous Generation in the Tales of Straparola and Basile(Toronto and London: University of Toronto Press, 2008), Renaissance Studies(2011)
Larissa Juliet Taylor, The Virgin Warrior: The Life and Death of Joan of Arc(New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), The Sixteenth Century Journal (2010)