Dr Sheldon Brammall

Dr Sheldon Brammall

Department of English Literature
Lecturer in Early Modern Literature

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My research interests are in Renaissance English and comparative literature, with focuses on classical reception, translation, epic, and the history of classical scholarship.


  • PhD. (Trinity College, Cambridge)
  • MSt (Magdalen College, Oxford)
  • BA Hons (University of British Columbia)


Before coming to Birmingham in 2017, I was a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the University of Oxford (2014-17). From 2013 to 2014 I was a Research Fellow at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies in Innsbruck, Austria.

I completed my studies at the University of British Columbia (BA, 2004-7), Magdalen College, Oxford (MSt, 2007-8), and Trinity College, Cambridge (PhD, 2008-12).


I teach early modern English (1500-1750) and the classical tradition. I have also taught comparative papers on poetry and drama, ranging from classical antiquity to the present. This year I am teaching on the undergraduate modules ‘Plays and Performance’, ‘Songs and Sonnets’, and ‘Writing the Restoration’. I am also teaching on the MA Module ‘Writing Revolutions (1)’.

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to hear from students interested in working on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature, especially with any projects relating to translation, poetry, comparative literature, or the classical tradition. 

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


My research focuses on early modern poetry, and particularly its relationship to classical and European contexts. So far, I have undertaken two major lines of research, both centred upon the early modern reception of Virgil.

The first resulted in my monograph, The English Aeneid: Translations of Virgil, 1555-1646 (EUP), as well as an on-going series of articles. In this line of research, I have concentrated on a run of thirteen translations of at least a full book of the Aeneid that appeared from the accession of Elizabeth until the Civil Wars. This remarkable series of translations constituted a sustained dialogue about the poem that extends across the entire century. Since the monograph appeared in 2015, I have continued to research early modern translation, recently working on translation theory, an edition of an unprinted manuscript translation from the Civil Wars, as well as chapters on Gavin Douglas and John Dryden.

The second line of research has been the basis of my Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship over the past three years, ‘The Appendix Vergiliana and the Renaissance Art of Discernment’. In this project, I am looking at poems that were attributed to Virgil during the Renaissance, but which we today no longer consider authentic. Early modern canons of classical authors sometimes differ remarkably from our contemporary ones, and Virgil is a case in point. The Appendix Vergiliana is a large collection of poems that were attributed to Virgil from antiquity through the early modern period. The collection includes an epyllion about a gnat’s journey to the underworld, a metamorphosis narrative about the Megarian princess Scylla, and a collection of shorter pieces (epigrams, curses, autobiographical poems, erotic verse). Modern studies of Virgil tend to ignore these works because we no longer consider them authentic, but to a Renaissance reader they represented a significant portion of Virgil’s early output. My project is to write this other Virgil back into our understanding of Renaissance poetry, and to explore the steps by which the modern Virgilian canon was formed. The poets and scholars I am studying range from Angelo Poliziano and Pietro Bembo to Edmund Spenser and John Milton. I am especially concerned with how the Appendix can reshape our understanding of literary careers and personal literary styles in the early modern period. The research will produce a second monograph in the upcoming years. 

Other activities

In June 2017, together with Dr Fabian Zogg of the University of Zurich, I organized a conference, ‘The Appendix Vergiliana and its Reception’, which was held at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

I have spoken on aspects of my research around the world, including giving papers and lectures in the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.



The English ‘Aeneid’: Translations of Virgil, 1555-1646 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), pp. xii + 212.

This was the inaugural book of a new series for EUP, ‘Edinburgh Critical Studies in English Translation’. To date it has been favourably reviewed in Review of English Studies 67, Translation and Literature 25, International Journal of the Classical Tradition 23, Vergilius 62, and Classical Review 67.


‘Laurence Humphrey, Gabriel Harvey, and the Problem of Personality in Renaissance Translation Theory’, Review of English Studies 68 (2017), 1-20; 

‘“Sound this Angrie Message in Thine Eares”: Sympathy and the Translations of the Aeneid in Marlowe’s Dido Queene of Carthage’, Review of English Studies 65 (2014), 383-402; Winner of the RES Essay Prize;

Aeneid 4 in BL Add. MS 60283: A New Assessment and Text’, Translation and Literature 23 (2014), 68-109;

‘Deattribution of Three Works Attributed to John Vicars’, Notes & Queries 60 (2013), 526-9;

‘The Politics of the Partial Translations of the Aeneid by Dudley Digges and Marie de Gournay’, Translation and Literature 22 (2013), 182-94.


Review of Protean Virgil: Material Form and the Reception of the Classics, by Craig Kallendorf, in Journal of Roman Studies (forthcoming, 2017);

Review of Gavin Douglas: The ‘Aeneid’ (1513), ed. by Gordon Kendal, in Translation and Literature 21 (2012), 235-42;

‘Exhaustive Variety’, a Review of David Scott Wilson-Okamura, Virgil in the Renaissance, in The Cambridge Quarterly 40 (2011), 266-70;

Review of Early Augustan Virgil: Translations by Denham, Godolphin, and Waller, ed. by Robin Edward Sowerby, in Translation and Literature 20 (2011), 248-53.

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