Jessica Fay

Jessica Fay

Department of English Literature
Assistant Professor in English Literature (Enterprise, Engagement, and Impact)

I study eighteenth and nineteenth-century literature (chiefly the work of William and Dorothy Wordsworth). I am interested in patterns of formal and generic innovation, and in exploring how memory, imagination, and art shape the identities of places and people


  • DPhil, University of Oxford
  • MA and BA, University of Liverpool


After taking an MA at the University of Liverpool, I was fortunate to win a Lamb and Flag Doctoral Scholarship at St John’s College, Oxford. On completing my doctorate, I moved to the Department of English at the University of Bristol where I held a Teaching Fellowship followed by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellowship. I joined the University of Birmingham in 2018.  


I have taught a wide range of literature from the medieval period to the present, with particular interests in poetry and works of the long nineteenth century. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Postgraduate supervision

I have supervised postgraduate research on Dorothy Wordsworth's correspondence, Percy Shelley's legacies, Romantic responses to Bruges, and the nineteenth-century painter William Collins. I would be happy to discuss potential research projects in any area of Romanticism (especially those focusing on William and Dorothy Wordsworth), place-writing, or the relationship between poetry and painting.

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


I am a Romanticist with a focus on William Wordsworth and Dorothy Wordsworth. I am interested in connections between religion and literature, in landscape and visual culture, and in the significance of patterns of observance and observation (silence and the activity of looking) in Romantic writing.

My first monograph, Wordsworth’s Monastic Inheritance (OUP, 2018), investigates the poet’s engagement with the material and cultural legacies of medieval monasticism. My second book, The Collected Letters of Sir George and Lady Beaumont to the Wordsworth Family (LUP, 2021), explores the poet’s creative exchange with the artist, patron, and co-founder of the National Gallery, Sir George Beaumont. 

I am currently working on the first standalone edition of The Poetry of Dorothy Wordsworth (CUP, 2026) and editing the first essay collection dedicated to her life, work, and reception, Dorothy Wordsworth in Context (CUP, 2027). 

I am also co-editing The Oxford Handbook of William Cowper (OUP, 2028), which will reassert his importance as a poet who bridges the divide between eighteenth-century and Romantic literature.  

At the University of Birmingham, with Professor Alexandra Harris, I lead the Arts of Place research network.  

Other activities

I am a contributor to the National Trust’s Trusted Source project. See ‘What is the Picturesque?’ (The National Trust: Trusted Source, 2016).

In 2016, I was a Visiting Fellow at Chawton House Library where I explored the collection of eighteenth-century women’s writing, tracing connections between abolitionist literature, consumerism, and female education.

I hold an Honorary Research Associateship at the University of Bristol.


Recent publications


Fay, J 2021, The Collected Letters of Sir George and Lady Beaumont to the Wordsworth Family, 1803-1829: With a Study of the Creative Exchange between Wordsworth and Beaumont. Romantic Reconfigurations: Studies in Literature and Culture 1780-1850, Liverpool University Press. <>

Fay, J 2018, Wordsworth's Monastic Inheritance: Poetry, Place, and the Sense of Community. Oxford English Monographs, SIPRI/Oxford University Press.


Fay, J 2022, 'George Crabbe and the place of amusement', The Review of English Studies, vol. 73, no. 311, pp. 746-761.

Fay, J 2022, 'Shelley and Tennyson under The Rainbow', Essays in Criticism, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 208-229.

Fay, J 2020, 'Wordsworth's Excursion and the Rainbow of Rubens', Charles Lamb Bulletin, vol. 171, no. Summer 2020, pp. 53-74.

Fay, J 2018, 'Rhythm and Repetition at Dove Cottage', Philological Quarterly, vol. 97, no. 1, pp. 73-95. <>

Fay, J 2018, 'Sketching and the Acquisition of Taste', The Review of English Studies, vol. 69, no. 291, pp. 706-724.

Fay, J 2017, 'Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Sir George Beaumont', The Coleridge Bulletin, vol. 49. <>

Fay, J 2016, 'A Question of Loyalty: Wordsworth and the Beaumonts, Catholic Emancipation and Ecclesiastical Sketches', Romanticism, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 1-14.

Fay, J 2016, 'Wordsworth's Northumbria: Bede, Cuthbert, and Northern Medievalism', Modern Language Review, vol. 111, no. 4, pp. 917-935.


Fay, J 2022, Dorothy Wordsworth (1771-1855). in AR Hawkins, C Blackwell & L Bonds (eds), The Routledge Companion to Romantic Women Writers. Routledge, pp. 535-545.

Book/Film/Article review

Fay, J 2019, 'Review of Sarah Zimmerman, The Romantic Literary Lecture in Britain', Modern Language Review.

Fay, J 2018, 'Review of Colin Jager, Unquiet Things: Secularism in the Romantic Age', Studies in Romanticism, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 339-342.

Fay, J 2015, 'Richard Gravil and Daniel Robinson (eds). The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth. Pp. xxv + 868 (Oxford Handbooks of Literature). Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2015. Cloth, £110.', The Review of English Studies, vol. 65, no. 277, pp. 996-999.

Other contribution

Fay, J 2017, What is the Picturesque?. The National Trust. <>

View all publications in research portal