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 currently co-supervise doctoral work on modernist gardening-as-historiography and on the nineteenth-century painter William Collins. I would be delighted 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.


My research reaches across eighteenth and nineteenth-century literature; it is critical, biographical, and editorial; it focuses on three main areas:


Arts of Place: Arts of Place is a cross-disciplinary research network, which I co-lead with Professor Alexandra Harris. It launched in October 2020 as a forum for new work on landscape and environment both within and beyond the University of Birmingham. It is a vibrant meeting point for graduates, academics, external specialists, and all those who care about what we make of our surroundings. We explore how the cultural histories of localities and regions are shaped by the influences of art, travel and colonialism, displacement and identity, and the cycles of nature.  


William Wordsworth and Romanticism: As a Wordsworthian, I am interested in the feelings and memories that become attached to specific environments and how they are captured and communicated through literature. I have published widely on various aspects of Wordsworth’s poetry and his significance in Romantic-period literary history. My particular contribution to Wordsworth scholarship (reflected in my first monograph, Wordsworth's Monastic Inheritance (Oxford, 2018)) has stemmed from a focus on a neglected transitional period in his life and career, between 1807 and 1827, when new relationships and altered political and social conditions helped shape his mature style.


Relationships between Verbal and Visual Arts: Another strand of my research brings together art history and literary criticism. My edition of The Collected Letters of Sir George and Lady Beaumont to the Wordsworth Family (Liverpool, 2021) is a foundation for exploring how relationships between writers, artists, and patrons helped reshape formal and generic trends in nineteenth-century poetry and landscape art. My current book project, The Sister Arts and Romantic Place-Works, explores a moment in the history of the concept of the “Sister Arts”: I am interested in why the kinship between poetry and painting came under attack in the second half of the eighteenth century and how this changed the ways in which Cowper, Crabbe, Wordsworth, Austen, and Scott experienced and presented their local environments. The monograph (due for completion in 2025) will re-conceptualize relationships between place-writing and literary form.  

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 2021, 'George Crabbe and the Place of amusement', The Review of English Studies.

Fay, J 2021, 'Shelley and Tennyson beneath D. H. Lawrence's The Rainbow', Essays in Criticism.

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 2021, 'Dorothy Wordsworth'. in Routledge Research Companion to Romantic Women Writers. Routledge.

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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