Shakespeare’s Elizabeth


I am rapidly approaching completion of a PhD at University College London which examines the intellectual and literary life of Elizabeth I, focusing on her decision in 1593 to translate from Latin, during her leisure hours, Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. As this page’s title suggests, my work is also about how Elizabethan poets and playwrights imagined Elizabeth – and how Elizabeth’s learning allowed her to influence that representation. As a feminist scholar, I’m interested in the trope of the ‘learned lady’, as it emerged out of Erasmian humanism – and whether Elizabeth sought to distance herself from the feminine limitations of the model. My next project will be a literary biography of Elizabeth, making extensive use of her private poems.

I originally studied classics at Oxford, before continuing my studies at Yale in comparative literature and eventually working on Shakespeare at UCL, and I have always been interested in the broad sweep of European intellectual history. This space on my website is mainly for me to post updates on the more academic side of my life, including responses to scholarly discussions online, but I’m also cross-posting any of my more general writing that seems particularly relevant.



Power slips from Gloriana’s jewelled fingers

Posted on May 21, 2016 | 0 comments

Written for The Spectator, 21st May 2016 If you’ve been watching Game of Thrones recently, you’ll have seen an old folkloric fantasy in which a bewitching young prophetess, a charismatic war leader, slips alone into her private chambers and removes an enchanted necklace. Beneath it, she’s just one...

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Book Review – 1606: William Shakespeare and The Year of Lear

Posted on Sep 19, 2015 | 0 comments

an edited version of this review was published in The Times, 19 September 2015 1606: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND THE YEAR OF LEAR 448pp. Faber, £20; 978-0060088743 by James Shapiro James Shapiro bestrides the Shakespearean world like a colossus, in the happier sense of the phrase. As the 400th anniversary...

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Book Review – The Gap of Time

Posted on Sep 19, 2015 | 0 comments

an edited version of this review was published in The Times, 19 September 2015 THE GAP OF TIME: THE WINTER’S TALE RETOLD 320pp. Hogarth £16.99; 9781781090299 by Jeannette Winterson Time, in The Winter’s Tale, tries all. Leontes, King of Sicilia, convinces himself his wife’s unborn child is...

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Trigger Warnings have no place in education

Posted on May 26, 2015 | 0 comments

written for The Spectator, 26 May 2015 I get defensive when feminists are accused of being prudes. There’s nothing prudish in critiquing a monotonously promiscuous culture; in despairing of unrealistic body standards, or believing, as I’ve argued before, that porn is healthy, even necessary, when it’s...

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Why is Elizabeth I, the most powerful woman in our history, always depicted as a grotesque?

Posted on May 25, 2015 | 0 comments

written for The Guardian, 25 May 2015 Zounds! The BBC’s new docu-drama series, Armada, opened last night with visual reenactments of all the hoary tropes of Elizabethan storytelling: a beleaguered isle, led by a vacillating queen; plucky English sailors knocking together a flotilla from the few planks of...

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Love’s Sacrifice, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Posted on Apr 22, 2015 | 0 comments

reviewed for The Times, 22 April 2015   As a Renaissance scholar, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for John Ford. Ford, who flourished at the early court of Charles I, is now enjoying something of a revival. His blood-soaked The Broken Heart recently finished a run at the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker...

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