Dr Annette Rubery

I write books about 18th-century figures, mainly in the worlds of theatre, music and literature.

About me

In 1999, I graduated from the University of Warwick with a PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies. For a decade I worked as a writer and editor on a daily national newspaper (Metro), and then in a variety of communications roles for UK universities.

In 2012, I published Lichfield Then & Now with The History Press, a book comprising historic photographs paired with contemporary colour versions of the same views.

I’ve recently completed The Female Rake: a biography of the 18th-century cross-dressing actress Peg Woffington. I’ve presented talks about her to academics (at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and St Hugh’s College, Oxford) and to general audiences, including one at the beautiful Bromley House Library in Nottingham.

I’m a Trustee of The Johnson Society (Lichfield) as well being a member of various history societies. In 2021, I was proud to be elected to the Royal Historical Society as an Associate Fellow.

My work has been recognised in several competitions. An essay I wrote about Peg’s travesty performances won the Society for Theatre Research’s New Scholar’s Prize in 2020, and The Female Rake was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize (now the Elizabeth Buccleuch Prize) in 2022.

When I’m not writing, I’m either obsessing over my Léa Stein jewellery collection or at the theatre with my husband, who is chief opera critic of The Spectator.

You can read a list of my publications below.

Annette sitting at a table, smiling, with a cup of coffee and a notebook open in front of her.
Annette sitting at a table, smiling, with a cup of coffee and a notebook open in front of her.

Brooches and a bracelet from my Léa Stein collection.


B.A. Combined Honours in Fine Art and English Literature, University of Chester, 1994

M.A. The Word and the Visual Imagination, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 1995

Ph.D. English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick, 1999


Lichfield Then & Now (Stroud: The History Press, 2012). 45 carefully chosen photographs from archives, postcards and private collections with 45 contemporary colour versions of the same views, providing a fascinating visual chronicle of the city’s progress. Visit my books page >>


“Another Lichfield Actor: William Milward”, The Johnson Society Transactions (2022), 56-60.

Sleeve note on Henry Carey for John Frederick Lampe’s The Dragon of Wantley, conducted by John Andrews (Resonus, released July 4th 2022).

“‘Thus Let Me Wipe Dishonour from my Name’: Peg Woffington as Lothario in The Fair Penitent”, Theatre Notebook, 75 (2021), 76-93. Winner of the The Society for Theatre Research’s New Scholars’ Prize 2020. Download PDF >>

“Visual Art as Celebrity Memoir: The Paradox of Peg Woffington’s Sick-bed Portrait,” Life Writing, 16 (2019), 213-230. Also published in book form in Life Writing and Celebrity: Exploring Intersections, ed. Sandra Mayer and Julia Novak (Routledge, 2020). Access here >>

“‘Lovely Peggy’: David Garrick’s Unsuitable Mistress,” The Johnson Society Transactions (2018), 39-51. Delivered as a lecture to the Society to mark the tercentenary of David Garrick’s birth.


“La Serenissima: Drawing in 18th-century Venice”, BSECS Criticks, 20 Dec 2023. Read it here >>

Dinner with Joseph Johnson: Books and Friendship in a Revolutionary Age by Daisy Hay”, The Johnson Society Transactions (2023), 79-81.

“Cooper, Susan Margaret. Review of Actresses of the Restoration Period: Mrs Elizabeth Barry and Mrs Anne Bracegirdle”, Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837, 26 Apr 2023. Read it here >>

The Poet and The Publisher by Pat Rogers, and Alexander Pope in the Making by Joseph Hone”, The Johnson Society Transactions (2022), 89-92.

David Garrick and the Mediation of Celebrity by Leslie Ritchie”, The Johnson Society Transactions (2021), 83-85. Read it here >>


The Lichfield Rambler

More Operatic Foundations

More Operatic Foundations

I wrote the other day about the curious stones in the front garden of a law office in Bedford Row and how I think they once formed the foundation of John Vanbrugh’s Italian opera house.

Kenneth Branagh’s King Lear

Kenneth Branagh’s King Lear

I was excited to finally see Kenneth Branagh in King Lear at Wyndham’s Theatre last night, having booked months ago. I last saw him live in a Shakespeare play (Hamlet) in 1992…

The Hercules Pillars

The Hercules Pillars

Last night we went to see Handel’s Jephtha at Covent Garden. On the way, we stopped for a drink at the Hercules Pillars.

Happy Folio Day

Happy Folio Day

Today marks the culmination of the 400th birthday celebrations of the First Folio: one of the most influential books ever to have been published.

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