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’ 

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 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.


Books: monographs

Books: scholarly editions

Books: edited

Journal articles (peer-reviewed)

  • ‘Seven More Books from the Library of John Donne’,The Book Collector, 67.3 (Autumn 2018): 528-33.
  • ‘Milton and Nineteenth-Century Liberal Nonconformity: Joseph Chamberlain’s “Life of Milton”’, Review of English Studies (forthcoming)
  • ‘The Making of Penelope Fitzgerald’s Innocence: A Manuscript Discovery’,Times Literary Supplement (forthcoming)
  • (with Michaela Mahlberg, Paul Thompson, Lorenzo Mastropierro), ‘A Corpus Stylistics Approach to the Sermons of John Donne and his Contemporaries’, Scientific Studies of Literature (forthcoming)
  • ‘“All that follows to p.50 very indifferent”: Richard Hurd reads Milton, 1751-1800’, Milton Quarterly (forthcoming)
  • ‘Donne’s sermons in manuscript compilations: the case of the Ellesmere MS’, The Seventeenth Century (forthcoming)
  • ‘“formed on ye Gr. Language”: Benjamin Stillingfleet reads Paradise Lost, 1745-46’,Milton Quarterly, 49.4 (Dec 2015): 217-42.
  •  (with David Griffith and Tara Hamling), ‘Beyond the page: Quarles’s Emblemes, Wall Paintings, and Godly Interiors in Seventeenth-Century York’,Huntington Library Quarterly, 78.3 (Oct 2015): 521-50.
  • Close Reader: John Donne’s Horace’, Times Literary Supplement, 16 January 2015, No. 5833: 14-15.
  • (with Gillian Wright), ‘Teaching Close Reading: A VLE-based Approach’, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 12.4 (Oct 2013): 384-400.
  • ‘More Books from the Library of John Donne’, The Book Collector, 61.1 (Spring 2012): 55-64.
  • ‘“The State’s Book-man”? References to Milton in Satirical Book Catalogues of the Interregnum’,The Seventeenth Century, 27.4 (Dec 2012): 454-76.
  • ‘Preaching the Holy Ghost: John Donne’s Whitsunday Sermons’, John Donne Journal, 22 (2003): 203-28.
  • ‘The Preacher’s Plea: Juridical Influence in John Donne’s Sermons, 1619-1623’, Prose Studies, 26.3 (Dec 2003): 344-56.
  • ‘Paul Goodman: An Approach to Language’, Studies in Gestalt Psychology, Nos. 6-7 (1997/98), 31-45.

Chapters in books

  • ‘Donne and Punctuation’, in Punctuation in Modern English Literature, eds, Jeffrey Gutierrez and John Lennard, 3 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) (forthcoming)
  • ‘The Role of Preaching in Political and Cultural Change, 1500-1720’, in The International Symposium on Political and Cultural Changes in Late Medieval and Early Modern England, Wuhan University, P.R. China: Conference Proceedings, ed. Xiang Rong (forthcoming)
  • ‘John Donne’, in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Literature and Religion, eds Andrew Hiscock and Helen Wilcox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 344-59.  
  • ‘Chaplains to Embassies: Daniel Featley, Anti-Catholic Controversialist Abroad’, in Chaplains in Early Modern England: Literature, Patronage and Religion, eds Adlington, Lockwood, Wright (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 83-102.
  • ‘Restoration, Religion, and Law: Assize Sermons, 1660-1685’, in The Oxford Handbook of the Early Modern Sermon, eds Hugh Adlington, Peter McCullough, Emma Rhatigan (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 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 Sarah Knight, Elizabeth Goldring, Jayne Archer (Manchester: Manchester University Press), 51-74.
  • ‘Do Donne’s Writings Express his Desperate Ambition?’, in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne, eds Jeanne Shami, M. Thomas Hester, Dennis Flynn (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 718-31.
  • ‘Collaboration and the International Scholarly Community’, in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne, eds Jeanne Shami, M. Thomas Hester, Dennis Flynn (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 89-95.
  • ‘Literature of the Seventeenth Century’, in The English Literature Companion, ed. Julian Wolfreys (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), 86-93.
  • ‘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), 63-86.
  • ‘John Donne and Canon Law’, in The Reformation Unsettled: British Literature and the Question of Religious Identity, 1560-1660, eds Jan Frans van Dijkhuizen and Richard Todd (Turnhout: Brepols), 45-58.
  • ‘Donne and Diplomacy’, in Renaissance Tropologies: The Cultural Imagination of Early Modern England, ed. Jeanne Shami (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 2008), 187-218.
  • Divination in Thomas Browne’s Pseudodoxia Epidemica’, in “A man very well studied”: New Contexts for Thomas Browne, eds Kathryn Murphy and Richard Todd (Leiden: Brill Intersections), 87-106.
  • ‘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), 71-84. 

Exhibition catalogue

  • John Donne’s Books: Reading and Writing. An Exhibition at the Middle Temple, London, January-April 2018.

Electronic publications

  • John Donne’, in Oxford Bibliographies Online: British and Irish Literature, ed. Andrew Hadfield (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012; updated 2018)
  • ‘English and The King James Bible and Book of Common Prayer’, The English Parish Church Through the Centuries, ed. Dee Dyas (Christianity & Culture, University of York, interactive DVD, 2010).

Conference papers

Recent conference presentations include:

  • ‘Joseph Chamberlain’s “Life of Milton”’, International Milton Symposium, Strasbourg, France, 2019
  • ‘Reconstructing Writers’ Libraries’, History of Libraries Seminar, London, 2019
  • ‘Seven New Donne Books’, John Donne Society Conference, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2018
  • ‘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

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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