Helen Osborne

Helen Osborne

Shakespeare Institute
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Poisonous Plays of the Jacobean Stage: The King's Men and the Rhetoric of Poison
Supervisor: Dr Erin Sullivan and Dr Martin Wiggins
PhD English
Hometown: London, UK


  • BA (Hons.) English and Related Literature (York) 
  • MA Renaissance Literature 1500-1700 (York) 


My current research grew out of an interest on cosmetic poisonings presented on the Jacobean stage, and a desire to investigate theatrical poison plots more carefully. The thesis will explore how and why the device of poisoning was used in Jacobean plays, and in particular how it reflected on the relationship between the King's Men and James I.  Censorship, puritan opposition to the theatre, the staging of the body, attitudes to cosmetic practices and the very nature of Jacobean tragedy itself will all be considered in relation to the central question of the work: what use does poison serve the playhouse?