Tom Cook

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Shakespeare Institute
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Shakespeare’s Broken Forms
SupervisorDr Erin Sullivan and Dr Robert Stagg
PhD Shakespeare Studies


  • BA
  • MSt


I am a poet and literary critic working mainly on Shakespeare and early modern poetry, though I have strong secondary interests in Old and Middle English verse and in British, Irish and American poetry of the 20th century. As an undergraduate I read English & Creative Writing at the University of Hull, where I was awarded the Philip Larkin Prize and spent a semester at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. From there I went on to a Creative Writing MSt at the University of Oxford, where I edited the poetry journal Ash, co-edited the Oxford–Cambridge magazine The Mays, convened the English Faculty’s Poetry Reading Group and worked as an academic librarian. Before joining the Shakespeare Institute, I also worked with the poet laureate, Simon Armitage, during his tenure as Oxford Professor of Poetry and later as textual editor of his ensuing book of lectures, A Vertical Art (Faber & Faber, 2021). I am currently editing a Selected Poems of William Wordsworth (Sandspout, 2022). My own writing has appeared in Ambit, the New Statesman, PN Review, the Spectator, the Times Literary Supplement and elsewhere.


  • I convened the Oxford English Faculty’s weekly Poetry Reading Group seminar (2015–17), during which time I also lead a number of creative writing workshops.


My doctoral thesis is a study of Shakespeare’s poetic development, tracing his imaginative and formal growth from the early plays and narrative poems to the later tragedies and romances. It asks what kind of poet Shakespeare was in his own time, both on the printed page and for the stage, and explores the tension between early modern literary traditions and Shakespeare’s increasingly complex poetic style. In doing so, it also considers how later poets have read and laid claim to Shakespeare, and what it means for a popular dramatist to be ‘the greatest poet in English’.

Other activities

  • ‘‘The Sorrowful Girls’: Stevie Smith & Philip Larkin’ (paper, Stevie Smith Conference; Oxford, 2016)
  • Literary Treasures of Lady Margaret Hall (rare books exhibition, Lady Margaret Hall; Oxford, 2017)
  • ‘The Idea of Laureateship’ (keynote address, John Betjeman and the Victorians Conference; London, 2018)

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