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.
Between 2014 and 2020, I wrote a biography of the 18th-century Irish actress Peg Woffington. I’ve presented papers on her at Bath Spa University, the National University of Ireland, Galway, and St Hugh’s College, Oxford. I’ve also given talks to The Johnson Society (Lichfield) and at Bromley House Library.
I’ve published occasional pieces on Peg Woffington for academic audiences, such as “Visual Art as Celebrity Memoir: The Paradox of Peg Woffington’s Sick-bed Portrait” which appeared in the journal Life Writing.
In 2020, an essay I wrote about Peg’s travesty performances won the Society for Theatre Research’s New Scholar’s Prize, and in 2022, my book proposal was shortlisted for The Tony Lothian Prize (awarded by The Biographers’ Club for the best uncommissioned proposal by a first-time biographer).
In my spare time, I’m a Trustee of The Johnson Society (Lichfield) and sit on the editorial board of its annual journal. I’m also an active member of the Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 and The Biographers’ Club, as well as being an Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
You can read a list of my publications below.
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.
“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
I chose to spend my birthday this year visiting an architectural masterpiece by Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor. One of the Baroque qualities of Blenheim Palace…
On Friday we saw Macbeth at the RSC (the Wils Wilson production with a completely Scottish cast). I liked some things about it and disliked others: it was a mixed bag, but an enjoyable evening overall.
I was lucky enough to visit the Rosalba Carriera: Perfection in Pastel exhibition at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden last month. It was a truly stunning show…
What a joy to re-read this masterpiece. It’s more tightly plotted than many of Shakespeare’s other plays, and there’s so much fantastic imagery to enjoy…
I’ve got plans to re-read King Lear this year, and – as a kind of run-up – I decided to read Timon of Athens, whose parallels with Lear have been noted by many.
If there’s one idea, for me, that’s central to As You Like It, it’s freedom. I think of this play – written around 1600 – as Shakespeare’s most verdant…
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