Dr Kate Rumbold MA, MA, DPhil

Photograph of Dr Kate Rumbold

Department of English Literature
Honorary Associate Professor

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I’m an Honorary Associate Professor in English Literature. My research explores the ways in which Shakespeare is quoted and valued in literature and culture, from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century. Writers and artists of all kinds have quoted Shakespeare since his own lifetime. My research has shown how the very act of quotation conferred status and authority on Shakespeare, and helped to cement his reputation for extraordinary insight into human nature.

I have subsequently explored how we can harness the emotional authority invested in Shakespeare quotations to engage adult English learners today. I now work freelance to design and deliver literature workshops, training and mentoring for adult literacy learners and tutors in partnership with Birmingham Adult Education ServiceTheatre(ish) and the National Literacy Trust.


  • BA (Oxon)
  • MA (Oxon)
  • MA (London)
  • DPhil (Oxon)
  • PGCert in Academic Practice
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Level 2 and Level 3 Counselling Skills
  • Institute of Leadership and Management Level 5 Coaching and Mentoring


I joined the English Department as a Lecturer in 2010, after completing a four-year AHRC research fellowship at the Shakespeare Institute. Before coming to Birmingham I studied at Trinity College, University of Oxford, and at University College London.

In 2018 I initiated and led a partnership between the National Literacy Trust and the University of Birmingham – the first higher education institution to partner with the charity. The NLT takes a place-based approach to supporting and promoting areas of particular ‘literacy need’ in this country. Together, we established a literacy ‘hub’ in Birmingham, which launched in 2019 and has continued to support children, teenagers and adults across the city ever since (now led at UoB by Dr Emily Wingfield). 

In 2022 I left the University to take up a freelance role in adult literacy education. I now regularly deliver workshops, courses and coaching and mentoring for Birmingham Adult Education Service and other community groups in the West Midlands and Warwickshire, in collaboration with Antonia Parker Smith and Marcus Paragpuri, who together form Theatre(ish), and the National Literacy Trust


I studied English Literature at the University of Oxford (BA English Language and Literature) and University College London (MA in English: Renaissance to Enlightenment).  These wide-ranging undergraduate and postgraduate literature courses sparked my interest in the ways Shakespeare’s words have been used and reshaped by subsequent writers, especially in the eighteenth century.  I completed a doctorate at Oxford on Shakespeare and the eighteenth-century novel, supervised by Prof. Abigail Williams.

I extended my study of Shakespeare’s reception to the present day when, as a Research Fellow at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, I coordinated the AHRC-funded project ‘Interrogating Cultural Value in the Twenty-First Century: The Case of Shakespeare’ (2006-10).  Led by Kate McLuskie, and with major contributions from PhD students Emily Linnemann and Sarah Olive, the project examined Shakespeare’s perceived value in education, publicly-funded theatre and new media, engaging with policymakers and practitioners through consultation with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Arts Council England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

This collaborative project — which showed how the value of ‘Shakespeare’ is continually recreated by individuals and institutions — informed my ongoing individual research. In my monograph, Shakespeare and the Eighteenth-Century Novel: Cultures of Quotation from Samuel Richardson to Jane Austen (Cambridge University Press, 2016), I showed that novelists who quoted Shakespeare were not only borrowing authority from the playwright, at a time when the genre of prose fiction was gaining respectability. By having their characters invoke Shakespeare’s words, and praise his insight into human nature, the novelists were also conferring that newfound authority and respectability on Shakespeare too. It was a process of mutual promotion that helped establish the reputation of both Shakespeare and the novel.

Beyond the novel, the first dedicated books of quotations from Shakespeare also appeared in the eighteenth century. A fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library and visiting scholarship to Columbia University (both 2011), as well as ongoing research at the Library of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Collection, enabled me to trace the extent to which the values ascribed to Shakespeare in formal education in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were informed by these selective and much-reprinted texts. I was able to work with other scholars to explore the role of quotation in a much wider range of genres and media, thanks to my co-editor Julie Maxwell and the international team of contributors to Shakespeare and Quotation (Cambridge University Press, 2019). 

Alongside my work on quotation, I have pursued my long-term interest in the role of literature in adult literacy education. As a graduate student, I also worked as a policy analyst with the National Literacy Trust’s research team, writing about the benefits of reading for pleasure. While a research fellow and lecturer, I also volunteered in an English skills class at my local adult education college.  It was in those classes that I first considered the potential benefits for learners of engaging with more imaginative literature alongside the practical texts that were the main focus of the course.

In 2013-14 I was Principal Investigator on the interdisciplinary AHRC-funded project ‘The Uses of Poetry: Measuring the Value of Engaging with Poetry in Lifelong Learning and Development’ (part of the AHRC’s wider Cultural Value Project).  The project brought together a wide-ranging interdisciplinary team of researchers to investigate and articulate the benefits of engaging with poetry at all stages of life.  My co-investigators were Prof. Patricia Riddell (Psychology, Reading) and Prof. Viv Ellis (Education, Brunel), and the project research fellow was Dr Karen Simecek (Philosophy, now Warwick).  Karen and I co-edited the resulting special issue of Changing English, and co-wrote an article about how engaging emotionally with texts in the classroom can deepen students’ understanding of poetry and strengthen their analytical skills.

In 2017, I piloted an outreach workshop that brought together my interests in quotation, literacy and lifelong learning. Inspired by the vast collection of anthologies in the Shakespeare Collection at the Library of Birmingham, my workshop invited adult English skills learners from Birmingham Adult Education Service to respond on a personal level to quotations from Shakespeare’s plays. The memories and stories that flowed from quotes on ‘love’, ‘grief’ and ‘courage’ were rich, varied and moving. The learners drew freely on their own life experiences to test the meaning and value of Shakespeare’s words and phrases. By promoting emotional engagement with imaginative texts, the workshop fostered feelings of confidence and motivation that were transferable to all parts of the learners’ studies.The success of this pilot and subsequent workshops led me in 2018 to initiate and lead a new partnership between the National Literacy Trust and the University of Birmingham. Shakespeare workshops were, and continue to be, a core programme for the National Literacy Trust in Birmingham. ‘Shakespeare and Me’ is now a module built into the Birmingham Adult Education Service English skills curriculum, and is credited with <boosting attainment, confidence and motivation among whole cohorts of adult learners>. My research now examines the benefits of using literary texts to engage learners’ emotions in the adult education classroom.

Other activities

I am a qualified coach and a member of the University of Birmingham’s Coaching Academy

I was the UoB project lead for Birmingham Stories (now National Literacy Trust Birmingham), and co-chaired the Strategic Steering Group (2018-2022)

Previous roles: 

  • Impact Lead for the School of EDACS (2017-2018)
  • Head of Postgraduate Studies (Research) for the School of EDACS (2015-16) 
  • Admissions Tutor for English (2012-14)
  • Chair, Birmingham Eighteenth-Century Centre (2012-14)
  • Committee member, British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • Associated member of the Shakespeare Institute


Recent publications


Rumbold, K & Maxwell, J (eds) 2018, Shakespeare and Quotation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Rumbold, K 2016, Shakespeare and the Eighteenth-Century Novel: cultures of quotation from Samuel Richardson to Jane Austen. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316450949

McLuskie, K & Rumbold, K 2014, Cultural value in twenty-first-century England: The case of Shakespeare. Manchester University Press, Manchester.


Rumbold, K & Simecek, K 2016, 'Affective and Cognitive Responses to Poetry in the University Classroom', Changing English, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 335-350. https://doi.org/10.1080/1358684X.2016.1230468

Rumbold, K 2016, 'Shakespeare's poems in pieces: Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece un-anthologised', Shakespeare Survey, vol. 69.

Rumbold, K 2011, 'Brand Shakespeare?', Shakespeare Survey, vol. 64, pp. 25-37. <http://www.cambridge.org/gb/knowledge/isbn/item6456735/?site_locale=en_GB>

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Rumbold, K 2013, "No words!": Love's Labour's Lost in British Sign Language. in S Bennett & C Carson (eds), Shakespeare beyond English: a global experiment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 227-236. <https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/1DF73A7881403B275A4ADFC82E0FA252/9781139629119c30_p227-236_CBO.pdf/no_words.pdf>


Rumbold, K 2016, Quoting and Misquoting Shakespeare. in BR Smith (ed.), The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare: Cambridge Shakespeare Encyclopedia volume 2: The World's Shakespeare, 1660–Present . vol. 2, Cambridge University Press, pp. 1290-1297. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316137062.172

Rumbold, K 2016, Shakespeare Anthologies. in BR Smith (ed.), Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 1688-1694. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316137062.233

Rumbold, K 2013, "Shakespeare: Staging the World" at the British Museum. in A Year of Shakespeare: Re-living the World Shakespeare Festival. The Arden Shakespeare, London, pp. 255. <http://yearofshakespeare.com/>

Rumbold, K 2013, 'Much Ado About Nothing'. in P Edmondson, P Prescott & E Sullivan (eds), A Year of Shakespeare: Re-living the World Shakespeare Festival. The Arden Shakespeare, London, pp. 149. <http://yearofshakespeare.com/>

Rumbold, K 2013, Shakespeare's "Propriety" and the Mid-Eighteenth-Century Novel: Sarah Fielding's The History of the Countess of Dellwyn. in S Regan (ed.), Reading 1759: Literary Culture in Mid-Eighteenth-Century Britain and France., Ch 10, Transits: Literature, Thought & Culture, 1650-1850), Bucknell University Press, Lewisburg, pp. 187-205.

Rumbold, K 2012, Shakespeare and the Stratford Jubilee. in F Ritchie & P Sabor (eds), Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 254.

Book/Film/Article review

Rumbold, K 2011, 'Review of Shakespeare's King Lear (directed by David Farr for the Royal Shakespeare Company) at the Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 18 February-26 August 2010', Shakespeare, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 217. https://doi.org/10.1080/17450918.2011.573091


Rumbold, K & Simecek, K 2016, 'The Uses of Poetry', Changing English, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 309-313. https://doi.org/10.1080/1358684X.2016.1230300

View all publications in research portal