School of English and Drama

English menu

Professor Claire Preston, BA (Illinois), BA/MA (Oxford), MPhil (Yale), DPhil (Oxford)

Professor of Renaissance Literature



Claire Preston

I have held posts at Oxford, Cambridge, and most recently, the University of Birmingham where I was Professor of Early-Modern Literature. I joined Queen Mary in September 2013 as Reader in Renaissance Studies. I have recently held research awards from the British Academy and the Guggenheim Foundation, and I currently hold a major AHRC grant supporting the OUP’s Complete Works of Sir Thomas Browne (forthcoming 2015-2019), of which I am the general editor. I was awarded the British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize in 2005. I am completing a book on the poetics of early-modern scientific investigation (OUP 2015), and articles on soils, earths, and the geological writing of the seventeenth century, and on the poetics of early-modern orchards and apples. I have written and appeared widely on the subject of the cultural history of bees. My recent television and radio work includes The Century that Wrote Itself (with Adam Nicolson); For the Love of Honey (with Martha Kearney); and radio interviews on BBC Radio 3, National Public Radio (USA) and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.


Undergraduate teaching:

In the 2015-16 academic year, I am teaching on:


Research interests:

  • The literary writing of science 1580-1730
  • Sir Thomas Browne
  • Word and image relations 1500-1700
  • American literature (especially 19th and early-20th century writing; Edith Wharton; money-novels)
  • Philip Sidney and the Sidney circle
  • Early-modern epistolarity



The Poetics of Scientific Investigation in Seventeenth-Century England (OUP 2015)

Sir Thomas Browne: The World Proposed (edited with Reid Barbour) (OUP 2008)

Bee (Reaktion Books, 2006)

Thomas Browne and the Writing of Early-Modern Science (CUP 2005)

Edith Wharton’s Social Register (Macmillan/St Martin’s, 2000)

Essays, articles and chapters:

‘The Renaissance Underground’ in The Palgrave Handbook of Early Modern Literature, Science, and Culture, eds Howard Marchitello and Evelyn Tribble (forthcoming, Palgrave/Macmillan, 2016)

‘Word and Image in Sixteenth-Century England’, in Oxford Research Reviews, ed James Simpson (OUP online, 2015) (8000 words)

‘The Philosophy of Bees’ in Winged: New Writing on Bees, eds Melissa Reeser and Jill McKenna (Portland OR: Poulin Press, 2014), 112-118

”Meer nomenclature” and the description of order in The Garden of Cyrus’, Renaissance Studies 28:2 (2014), 1-19

‘Discursive and Philosophical Prose and Poetry’ (with Reid Barbour), in The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature II, eds Patrick Cheney and Philip Hardie (OUP 2015)

‘The Dregs of England: The Pedant as Propagandist in Dugdale’s History of Embanking and Drayning’, in Encyclopaedism from Antiquity to Renaissance, eds Jason König and Greg Woolf (CUP, 2013)

‘English Scientific Prose: Bacon, Browne, Boyle’, in The Oxford Handbook to Early-Modern Prose, 1500-1640, ed Andrew Hadfield (OUP 2013)

'Utopian Intelligences: Scientific Correspondence and Christian Virtuosos', in Debating the Faith: Religion and Letter-Writing, 1500-1800, ed. by A. Dunan-Page and C. Prunier (Springer, 2013)

‘Spenser and the Visual Arts’, in The Spenser Handbook, ed Richard McCabe (OUP, 2010)

‘An Encomium of Consumptions: Letter to a Friend as medical narrative’, in Sir Thomas Browne: The World Proposed, eds Reid Barbour and Claire Preston (OUP, 2008)

‘Of Cyder and Sallets: The Garden of Cyrus and the Hortulan Saints’, in Literature/Compass (May 2006); revised in A Man Very Well Studyed: Contexts for Sir Thomas Browne, eds Kathryn Murphy and Richard Todd (Brill, 2008)

‘The Jocund Cabinet: Curiosity, Collecting, and Comedy in Seventeenth-Century English Literature’, in Curiosity and Wonder in the Renaissance, eds RJW Evans and Alexander Marr (Ashgate, 2006)

‘Ekphrasis: Painting in Words’, in Renaissance Figures of Speech, eds Sylvia Adamson, Gavin Alexander, and Katrin Ettenhuber (CUP, 2006)

‘In the Wilderness of Forms: Ideas and Things in Thomas Browne’s Cabinets of Curiosity’, in The Renaissance Computer, eds Neil Rhodes and Jonathan Sawday (Routledge, 2000)

‘Creative Finance: Making Money and Making Fiction in the Custom of the Country’, Q/W/E/R/T/Y (October 2000)

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile.


PhD Supervision

I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.

Public engagement

Bookmark and Share
Return to top