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

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer

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, and textual editing. 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.


I teach chiefly early modern literature (1500-1800) on undergraduate courses, including Literary Aesthetics, before 1800, Songs and Sonnets: English Poetry from Chaucer to Donne, Epic Ambitions, Shakespeare, Paradise Lost: Text and Context, and John Donne and the Metaphysical Poets. I also teach on the seventeenth-century MA module Writing Revolutions (1), which forms part of the MA English Literature.

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

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’  

Find out more - our PhD English Literature  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


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 (including the history of reading, book collecting, and textual transmission); and textual editing. Selected works and works-in-progress that incorporate a number of these interests include: a monograph, John Donne's Books: Reading, Writing, and the Uses of Knowledge; 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. I am the co-founder and organiser (with Dr Mary Morrissey) of the Sermons Studies Research Network (with over one hundred scholars as members). Since the inaugural colloquium in November 2007, on the topic of 'Uses of Secular Language in Early Modern Preaching', the network has held two further one-day conferences at the Universities of Birmingham and Reading, on the subjects of 'Regional and Parochial Preaching', and 'King David'.

Other activities

Book reviewing and reading for academic journals, presses, and funding bodies.

  • Expert Reviewer, EU Commission (Horizon 2020)
  • AHRC Peer Review College Member
  • Editorial Board Member, Education in Practice: University of Birmingham Learning and Teaching Journal
  • External Examiner, Keele University
  • Board Member, Oxford Handbooks Online Editorial Advisory Board
  • Head of Education, School of English, Drama, American & Canadian Studies (2011-14)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • College of Arts and Law Representative, University Board of Studies, CLAD
  • Academic Consultant, ‘Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 1500-1900’ 
  • Board Member (representative for CAL), University of Birmingham iVLE Project


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.


Selected publications

  • John Donne's Books: Reading, Writing and the Uses of Knowledge (Oxford: Oxford University Press) (forthcoming)
  • ed., Sermons Preached at the Jacobean Courts, 1619-1625, Vol. 2 of The Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne, 16 vols, gen. ed., Peter McCullough (Oxford: Oxford University Press) (forthcoming)
  • 'John Donne', in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Literature and Religion, eds Andrew Hiscock and Helen Wilcox (Oxford: Oxford University Press) (forthcoming)
  • Penelope Fitzgerald, Writers and their Works (Tavistock: Northcote House/British Council) (forthcoming)
  • ‘Benjamin Stillingfleet’s Greek Milton’, Milton Quarterly (forthcoming)
  • '"All that follows to p.50 very indifferent": Richard Hurd reads Milton, 1751-1800', Milton Quarterly (forthcoming)
  • (with David Griffith and Tara Hamling), 'Beyond the page: Quarles's Emblemes, Wall Paintings, and Godly Interiors in Seventeenth-Century York', Huntington Library Quarterly (forthcoming)
  • ‘Donne’s sermons in manuscript compilations: the case of the Ellesmere MS’, The Seventeenth Century (forthcoming)
  • ‘Close Reader: John Donne’s Horace’, Times Literary Supplement, 16 January 2015, No. 5833: 14-15  
  • Chaplains in Early Modern England: Literature, Patronage and Religion, eds Hugh Adlington, Tom Lockwood, Gillian Wright (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 256 pp.
  • 'Chaplains to Embassies: Daniel Featley, Anti-Catholic Controversialist Abroad', in Chaplains in Early Modern England: Literature, Patronage and Religion, eds Hugh Adlington, Tom Lockwood, Gillian Wright (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), pp. 83-102
  • (with Gillian Wright),'Teaching Close Reading: A VLE-based Approach', Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 12.4 (Oct 2013), 384-400
  • '"The States's Book-man"? References to Milton in Satirical Book Catalogues of the Interregnum', The Seventeenth Century, 27.4 (Dec 2012), 454-76
  • 'More Books from the Library of John Donne’, The Book Collector, 60.1 (Spring 2012), 55-64
  • ‘John Donne’, in Oxford Bibliographies Online: British and Irish Literature, ed. Andrew Hadfield (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • The Oxford Handbook of the Early Modern Sermon, eds Peter McCullough, Hugh Adlington, Emma Rhatigan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 624 pp.
  • 'Restoration, Religion, and Law: Assize Sermons, 1660-1685', in The Oxford Handbook of the Early Modern Sermon, eds Peter McCullough, Hugh Adlington, Emma Rhatigan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 423-41
  • ‘Gospel, law, and ars prædicandi at the Inns of Court’, in The Intellectual and Cultural World of the Early Modern Inns of Court, eds Jayne Archer, Elizabeth Goldring, Sarah Knight (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 51-74
  • ‘Do Donne’s Writings Express his Desperate Ambition?’, in The Oxford Handbook of Donne Studies, eds J. Shami, D. Flynn, M. T. Hester, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 718-31
  • 'Collaboration and the International Scholarly Community’, in The Oxford Handbook of Donne Studies, eds J. Shami, D. Flynn, M. T. Hester (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 89-95
  • ‘Literature of the Seventeenth Century’, in The English Literature Companion, ed. Julian Wolfreys (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 150-55
  • ‘English and The King James Bible and Book of Common Prayer’, The Story of the Church in England, ed. Dee Dyas (Christianity and Culture, University of York, 2010) (interactive DVD)
  • ‘Case Studies in Reading I: Key Primary Literary Texts’, in The Renaissance Literature Handbook, eds Susan Bruce and Rebecca Steinberger; series eds Steven Barfield and Philip Tew (London: Continuum, 2009), 63-86
  • ‘Divination in Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica ', in 'A Man Very Well Studyed': Contexts for Thomas Browne, eds Kathryn Murphy and Richard Todd (Leiden : Brill Intersections, 2008), 87-106
  • ‘John Donne and Canon Law', in The Reformation Unsettled: British Literature and the Question of Religious Identity, 1560-1660, ed. J. F. van Dijkhuizen (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008)
  • ‘Donne and Diplomacy’, in Renaissance Tropologies: The Cultural Imagination of Early Modern England, ed. Jeanne Shami (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 2008), 187-218
  • ‘John Donne, Confessional Identity, and the Civitas Dei in Early Seventeenth-Century Europe', in Mighty Europe 1400-1700: Writing an Early Modern Continent, Cultural Identity Studies, 3, ed. Andrew Hiscock ( Bern : Peter Lang, 2007), 71-84
  • ‘The Preacher's Plea: Juridical Influence in John Donne's Sermons, 1619-1623', Prose Studies, 26.3 (Dec 2003), 344–56
  • ‘Preaching the Holy Ghost: John Donne's Whitsunday Sermons', John Donne Journal, 22 (2003), 203-28

Conference papers

Recent conference presentations include:

  • ‘Donne’s Latin Books’, Society for Neo-Latin Studies annual lecture, London, November 2015
  • ‘Editing Milton in the 18th century: Benjamin Stillingfleet’, International Milton Symposium, Exeter, July 2015
  • ‘Donne and Religion Revisited’, University of Leicester, Early Modern Seminar, 2014
  • ‘Donne and Horace’, Resurrecting the Book conference, Birmingham, 2014
  • 'Donne's Heidelberg Sermon', Place and Preaching, St Paul's Cathedral, September 2013
  • 'Donne's Library', Writers and their Libraries, Institute of Engilsh Studies, March 2013
  • 'Eighteenth-century Editions of Milton in the Making', British Milton Seminar, March 2013
  • ‘Richard Hurd reads Milton, 1751-1800’, International Milton Symposium, Tokyo, Japan, August 2012
  • ‘Donne and History’, Oxford University Literature & History Seminar, May 2012
  • ‘The Literary and Linguistic Legacy of the King James Bible’, public lecture, Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham, November 2011
  • 'Francis Quarles’s Emblemes and the AV’, The AV Quatercentenary, York, July 2011
  • ‘“avoiding all miscitings”? Donne’s Habits of Quotation’, Editing Donne, Lincoln College, Oxford, March 2011
  • ‘Donne and History’, University of Reading, Early Modern Seminar, March 2011
  • ‘John Donne’s Books: Reading, Writing, and the Uses of Knowledge’, University of Sussex, Centre for Early Modern Studies, October 2010
  • ‘“Received with reverence”: Manuscript Circulation of Donne’s Sermons (the case of the Ellesmere MS)’, Sermons and Manuscript Culture, Lincoln College, Oxford, June 2010
  • ‘On Donne’s Library’, Thomas Browne Seminar, University of York, March 2010
  • ‘Fellow textual travellers: Donne’s Sermons and Manuscript Miscelleneity’, John Donne Society Conference, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, February 2010
  • ‘Milton and Satirical Book Catalogues of the Interregnum’, British Milton Seminar, Birmingham, October 2009
  • ‘The Role of Preaching in Political and Cultural Change, 1500-1720’, The International Symposium on Political and Cultural Changes in Late Medieval and Early Modern England, Wuhan University, P.R. China, September 2009
  • ‘“This standing wooden cabinet”: John Donne’s Library’, Early Modern Literature and History Seminar, Keele University, November 2008
  • ‘“The Character of Holland”: Manuscript Circulation of Anti-Dutch Writing in England, 1620-1650’, Diplomats, Agents, Adventurers and Spies, 1500-1700, University of Kent, September 2008
  • ‘From the Pulpit to the Page: Editing Early Modern Sermons’, Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, March 2008
  • ‘“Laborious trifles”?: Imaginary Books in Eighteenth-Century 'Europe'', Leisure and the Making of Knowledge in Eighteenth-Century Europe, University of Hamburg, Germany, October 2007
  • ‘“Our Reason is our Law”: Ratio Legis and Mythopoesis in Paradise Lost'', ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt': Conversations in Literature, Law and Philosophy from the Reformation to the Present Day, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, September 2007
  • ‘The Use (and Abuse) of Evidence in English Assize Sermons, 1571-1642: Religion, Law, and Literature', Preaching and Politics in Early Modern Britain conference, CRASSH & Pembroke College, Cambridge, November 2006
  • ‘Gospel, Law, and Ars Prædicandi at the Inns of Court, c. 1600 - c. 1630', The Intellectual and Cultural World of the Early Modern Inns of Court conference, Courtauld Institute, September 2006
  • ‘John Donne's Books in the Middle Temple Library: A New Approach', Conference of the Spanish and Portuguese Society for English Renaissance Studies (SEDERI), University of Extremadura, Cáceres, Spain, April 2006
  • ‘Sir Thomas Browne and Divination', Conference of Four Centuries of Sir Thomas Browne 1605-2005, University of Leiden, Netherlands, October 2005
  • Nota Bene: Books from Donne's Library at the Middle Temple', Conference of the John Donne Society, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, February 2005


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