Jessica Fay

Jessica Fay

Department of English Literature
Teaching Fellow in Eighteenth-Century and Early Nineteenth-Century English Literature

The primary focus of my research is Romantic poetry and poetics. I have broader interests in eighteenth-century aesthetics, landscape poetry, and narrative form. Currently, I am working on an inter-disciplinary project concerning the mutual creative exchange between William Wordsworth and the artist and co-founder of the National Gallery, Sir George Beaumont.


  • 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 in 2014, I took up a lectureship at Somerville College Oxford before moving to the Department of English at the University of Bristol. At Bristol, I held a Teaching Fellowship followed by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellowship. I joined the University of Birmingham in 2018.  


I teach on the undergraduate modules Romantics and Romanticisms, Poetry, Stories of the Novel, Gothic, and Decadence and the Fin de Siècle; I am a convenor of Shakespeare’s Sisters.

I became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2018.

Postgraduate supervision

I would be delighted to discuss potential research projects in any area of Romanticism, especially those focusing on William Wordsworth or the relationship between painting and poetry.

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


My first book, Wordsworth’s Monastic Inheritance (Oxford English Monographs, OUP, 2018), is the first comprehensive study of Wordsworth’s engagement with the material and cultural legacies of medieval monasticism. Whilst offering insights into his poetic treatment of local attachment, national identity, and the historical resonances of landscape, the book provides a new interpretation of stylistic developments in Wordsworth’s writing between 1807 and 1822.

My second book, 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, LUP, 2021) is an editorial, critical, and biographical study of a friendship Wordsworth described as one of the blessings of his life. In addition to documenting unique perspectives on social, political, and cultural events of the early nineteenth century (providing new contexts for reading Wordsworth’s mature poetry), these collected letters chart the progress of an increasingly intimate inter-familial relationship. The picture that emerges is of a coterie that – in influence, creativity, and affection – rivals Wordsworth’s more famous exchange with Coleridge at Nether Stowey in the 1790s. The edition includes an extended study of how Wordsworth and Beaumont helped shape one another’s work, tracing processes of mutual artistic development that involved not only a meeting of aristocratic refinement and rural simplicity, of a socialite and a lover of retirement, of a painter and a poet, but also an aesthetic rapprochement between neoclassical and romantic values, between the impulse to idealize and the desire to particularize.

My current book project explores changing perspectives on the relative value of generality and particularity in both the visual and verbal arts from 1766 to 1815. It investigates how the desire for mimetic accuracy (in poetry, painting, and in the emerging form of the novel) destabilized hierarchies of genre and the centuries’ old kinship of the Sister Arts.

With Professor Alexandra Harris, I lead the Arts of Place research network and edit the Place Notes newsletter.

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 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 2014, 'Presbyterianism and Tractarianism: William Wordsworth and the Nonconformist Meeting House at Hawkshead', Notes and Queries, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 44-47.

Fay, J 2013, 'Prospects of Contemplation: Wordsworth’s Winter Garden at Coleorton, 1806-1811’', European Romantic Review, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 307-315.

Fay, J 2013, 'William Wordsworth’s Visit to James Raine and Finchale Priory, July 1838', Notes and Queries, vol. 60, no. 2, pp. 248-251.

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. <>

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