I’m a teacher, writer, and researcher living in Scotland and working at the University of Edinburgh. I grew up in London, studied in the brilliant city of Manchester, then returned to London for several PhD years spooling through microfilms in Bloomsbury. I spent three very happy years at the University of Leeds as a postdoctoral research fellow. Arriving in Edinburgh in 1997, I made myself at home – and this is where I’ve stayed. I don’t feel much like a southerner any more, though I still get mildly cheesed off when England crash out of the World Cup and I’ll never tire of the view over Greenwich from One Tree Hill.
My interest in early modern literature in Britain grew from a fascination with the cultural and political ferment of the mid-seventeenth century. Despite strong sympathies with the radical writers of the time and a critical and historical approach shaped by Christopher Hill, Margot Heinemann and Raymond Williams, I found myself working on the cavaliers – some of whom, I discovered, were much more than the bibulous melancholics and obvious losers I’d initially taken them to be. From there I branched out in my teaching and research to take in Marvell, Philips, Jonson, Shakespeare, Hobbes, Milton, and Rochester, among lots of others, and developed a sideline in twentieth century poetry. I grew interested, too, in the ordinary language philosophy of Austin and Cavell (Searle not so much), and the concept of performativity as developed by Derrida and Butler. I’ve also had a longstanding interest in digital literary mapping, particularly in the context of cultural heritage. It’s been great to be able to indulge these enthusiasms in the company of some fine colleagues and wonderful students over the years.
The range of my activities continues to develop: archives and manuscripts, editing plays, collaborative research projects, exhibitions, walking tours, public talks and professional engagement. Since 2019 I’ve been a Trustee and Director of the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust, which was the first such body in the world and is now redefining what a ‘City of Literature’ is. This site is really just my way of bringing all the online traces of the work I’ve done under one umbrella. Curators gonna curate, after all.