Professor Hugh Adlington BA (MA) (Oxford), MA, PhD (London), FHEA

Professor Hugh Adlington

Department of English Literature
Professor of English Literature

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My research interests are primarily in the area of early modern literature (1500-1800), particularly religious poetry and prose, the works of John Donne, John Milton and Thomas Browne, the history of the book, textual editing, applications of computational linguistics to literary criticism, and genetic criticism. Selected works-in-progress include a monograph on John Donne's library and reading, and a scholarly edition of John Donne's sermons. I enjoy teaching widely across our English Literature programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.


  • BA (MA) (Oxford)
  • MA, PhD (London)
  • PGCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
  • FHEA 


Before coming to Birmingham in 2007, I taught at King's College London and at the University of Keele. I also held a visiting fellowship at the University of Cambridge in 2006. While at Birmingham I have held senior administrative positions in the School of English, Drama and American and Canadian Studies, as Head of Education (2011-14) and Head of Research (2016-18).


I teach chiefly early modern literature (1500-1800) on undergraduate courses, including Poetry, Songs and Sonnets: English Poetry from Wyatt to Donne, Epic Ambitions, Shakespeare, Paradise Lost: Text and Context, and John Donne and the Metaphysical Poets. I also teach on early modern literature MA modules, which form part of the MA English Literature and Culture.

Postgraduate supervision

I am interested in supervising MA, MRes and PhD candidates in the following areas and will be pleased to respond to enquiries:

John Donne and his contemporaries
Seventeenth-century religious poetry and prose
John Milton and his contemporaries
Early modern print and manuscript culture
Applications of computational linguistics to early modern literature

Research projects currently or recently supervised or co-supervised include:

PhD, ‘Soteriology in the Writing of Edmund Spenser’
PhD, ‘Prose Style in Quaker Writings, 1645-70: A Corpus Linguistics Approach’
PhD, ‘Transforming Paradise Lost: Translation and Reception of John Milton's Writing in the Arab-Muslim World’
PhD, ‘Representations of Persia and Persians on the English Stage, 1580-1660’
PhD, ‘The Early Modern English Literary Canon’
PhD, ‘Joyce and Milton: A Reception Study’
PhD, ‘Conceptualising Paradise: Seventeenth Century Ecology and the Adaptation of Genre in the Works of John Milton’
PhD, ‘The Textual Self: Authorship and Agency in John Donne’s Commemorative Writing’
PhD, ‘Donne and Music’
PhD, ‘Architects of Fortune: Autobiographical Writing and the Royal Society, 16601706’
PhD, ‘‘Visual Elements of English Printed Sermons, c. 1540–1660: Reading, Religious Politics and Iconography’
PhD, ‘Religious Lyrics and Aristotelian Thought: George Herbert and Thomas Traherne’
PhD, ‘Milton and the Modern Muslimah: Paradise Lost and British-Asian Muslim Women’
‘The Influence of Cupio Dissolvi on Shakespeare and the Work of his Contemporaries’


My research interests are primarily in the area of early modern English literature (1500-1800), particularly religious poetry and prose; the works of John Donne and John Milton; textual editing; and the history of the book (including the history of reading, book collecting, and textual transmission). I am also interested in applications of computational linguistics to literary criticism (especially of early modern English prose), and in genetic criticism (tracing the stages of composition). Selected works and works-in-progress that incorporate a number of these interests include: two monographs, John Donne's Books: Reading, Writing, and the Uses of Knowledge (forthcoming) and Penelope Fitzgerald (2018); co-editorship of The Oxford Handbook of the Early Modern Sermon (Oxford, 2011); and volume editor (Vol. 2) of The Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne.

Research groups

Since 2008 I have been co-convenor, first with Professor Tom Corns and latterly with Professor Sarah Knight, of the British Milton Seminar, held twice yearly in Birmingham. I am also a member of the Standing Committee of the International Milton Symposium. Between 2007 and 2012, I was the co-founder and organiser (with Dr Mary Morrissey) of the Sermons Studies Network (with over 150 scholars as members). The network held its inaugural colloquium in November 2007 on the topic of 'Uses of Secular Language in Early Modern Preaching', and two further one-day conferences at the Universities of Birmingham and Reading, on the subjects of 'Regional and Parochial Preaching' (2009), and 'King David' (2010).


Other activities

Editorial boards

  • Oxford Handbooks Online (2012- ) 
  • Education in Practice: UoB Learning & Teaching Journal (2014-2016)

Advisory boards 

  • Manuscript Pamphleteering in Early Stuart England (AHRC Standard Grant Project, UoB and University of Bristol, 2017-) 
  • Cadbury Research Library Rare Book Collection Audit (2011- )

Reviewer (grants) 

  • AHRC Strategic College Reviewer (2017-20) 
  • AHRC Peer Review College Member (2014- )
  • Expert Reviewer, EU Commission (Horizon 2020) (2014- )
  • SSHRC (Canada)

Reviewer (publishers)

  • Oxford University Press 
  • Manchester University Press
  • Continuum
  • Edinburgh University Press

Reviewer (journals) 

  • Review of English Studies (RES)
  • Literature Compass
  • Modern Philology
  • Modern Language Review
  • Law and Humanities
  • Yearbook of the Spanish and Portuguese Society for English Renaissance Studies (SEDERI)

Learned societies

  • Executive Committee Member, John Donne Society (2012-15)   
  • Standing Committee Member, International Milton Symposium (2011- )  
  • Co-convenor, British Milton Seminar (2008- )


  • Christian-Muslim Relations: Bibliographical History 1500-1900 (2013-14)

University of Birmingham (administrative posts held)

  • Head of Research, EDACS (2016-18)
  • Head of Education, EDACS (2011-14)
  • School Executive Committee, EDACS (2011-18, excepting 2015-16)
  • University Research Progress & Awards Sub Panel (2016-present) 
  • University Board of Studies, CLAD (2013-14)
  • University iVLE Project Board (2013-14)  
  • University Board of Studies, PG Cert in Learning & Teaching (2010-11)
  • CAL Research Committee (2016-18)
  • CAL Grant Funding Peer Review Group (2018-present)
  • CAL Education Committee (2011-14)
  • CAL Student Misconduct Committee (2012-14)
  • The Other Place (TOP) Research Group, EDACS (2016-18)
  • Promotions Committee, EDACS (2016-18)
  • Study Leave Committee, EDACS (2016-18)
  • Programme & Module Coordinator, EDACS (2011)
  • PGTA Coordinator, EDACS (2009-10)
  • Welfare Tutor, Department of English (2009)
  • Postgraduate Director, Department of English (2009)


In June 2014, with Tom Lockwood, I organised ‘Cultural Production in the Early Modern Household’, held at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

In June 2010, with Tom Lockwood and Gillian Wright, I organised ‘The Cultural Agency of the Chaplain in Early Modern Britain’, held at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon.  Papers presented at this one-day symposium formed part of an edited collection: Hugh Adlington, Tom Lockwood and Gillian Wright, eds, Chaplains in Early Modern England: Literature, Patronage and Religion (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013).

I also co-organised ‘Preaching and Politics in Early Modern Britain', held at Cambridge University, in 2006. The event attracted a range of scholars from the UK, Spain, the US and Canada as keynote speakers and as participants.


Recent publications


Adlington, H 2018, Penelope Fitzgerald. Writers and their Work, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool.

Adlington, H, Lockwood, T & Wright, G (eds) 2013, Chaplains in Early Modern England: Literature, Patronage and Religion. Manchester University Press.


Fitzgerald, P & Adlington, H 2019, '‘“Some people never expect to be expected”: Penelope Fitzgerald’', London Review of Books, vol. 41, no. 24, pp. 25-26. <>

Adlington, H 2018, 'Seven more books from the library of John Donne', The Book Collector, vol. 67, no. 3, pp. 528-533. <>

Adlington, H 2016, ''Formed on ye Gr. Language': Benjamin Stillingfleet reads Paradise Lost, 1745-46', Milton Quarterly, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 217-242.

Adlington, H, Griffith, D & Hamling, T 2015, 'Beyond the page: Quarles's Emblemes, Wall Paintings, and Godly Interiors in Seventeenth-Century York', Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 78, no. 3, pp. 521-551. <>

Adlington, H 2015, 'Close Reader: John Donne’s Horace', Times Literary Supplement, no. 5833, pp. 14-15. <>

Adlington, H & Wright, G 2013, 'Teaching Close Reading: A VLE-based Approach', Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 384-400.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Adlington, H 2020, The Role of Preaching in Political and Cultural Change, 1500-1720. in Political and Cultural Changes in Late Medieval and Early Modern England. Wuhan University Press, Wuhan, China, pp. 249-294, International Symposium on Political and Cultural Changes in Late Medieval and Early Modern England, China, 8/09/09.


Adlington, H 2017, John Donne. in A Hiscock & H Wilcox (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Literature and Religion. Oxford Handbooks, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 344-359.

Adlington, H 2013, Chaplains to Embassies: Daniel Featley, Anti-Catholic Controversialist Abroad. in H Adlington, T Lockwood & G Wright (eds), Chaplains in Early Modern England: Literature, Patronage and Religion. Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp. 83-102.

Book/Film/Article review

Adlington, H 2015, 'Review of Daniel Derrin, Rhetoric and the Familiar in Francis Bacon and John Donne (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013)', English Studies, vol. 96, no. 8, pp. 971-2.

Adlington, H 2014, 'D. Coast, News and rumour in Jacobean England: information, court politics and diplomacy, 1618 –25, Manchester and New York, Manchester University Press, 2014, pp. x + 237, ISBN 9780719089480, £70', Archives, vol. 40, no. 128-9, pp. 89-90.

Adlington, H 2013, 'Review of John Drury, Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert (London: Allen Lane, 2013)', The Times Higher Education Supplement, no. 2,116, pp. 42-43.

Adlington, H 2013, 'Review of Joseph Crawford, Raising Milton’s Ghost: John Milton and the Sublime of Terror in the Early Romantic Period (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2012)', Milton Quarterly, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 39-43.

View all publications in research portal


Seventeenth-century English Literature, especially poetry and prose (e.g. John Donne, George Herbert, John Milton); literature and religion of the period, especially sermons; book history of the period; King James Bible 1611; book history; textual editing; Penelope Fitzgerald.