School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Professor Jennifer Richards

Joseph Cowen Professor of English Literature


About me

I came to Newcastle via South Wales, London, Poland (Silesia), and Edinburgh.

Roles and Responsibilities

Director of Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute (NUHRI)


BA English Literature Hons (Queen Mary College, University of London); PhD (Edinburgh University) 



My expertise includes the history of reading and the history of the book, but I approach both through a research interest in the physical voice. Books are not only objects to be held in the hand, nor are they intended only to be read silently. Indeed, they are alive with the voices of potential readers. This is especially true of books in the sixteenth-century - my period of specialism.

Thinking in this way has helped me to approach women writers in new ways in a period when collaboration was widely practised. I am interested in understanding writings that have been attributed to women of the Reformation, like Anne Askew or Lady Jane Grey, as scripts with powerful female parts for future readers, men and women, girls and boys.

My work on reading and voice is informed by my study of 'schoolroom' rhetoric as a performance practice, and by my collaborations with performers and digital humanists who are helping me to recover the idea of the print 'audiobook'. It is also shaping my next project on sound and the environment with digital humanists, musicians, musicologists and bio-environmental scientists: a study of Charles Butler, the creator of vocal books in print on rhetoric, music and bees.


My most recent book, Voices and Books in the English Renaissance: A New History of Reading, Oxford University Press, 2019, won the 2020 European Society for the Study of English (ESSE) biennial award for Literatures in the English Language. It was also highly commended by the DeLong Book History Prize 2020: 'After Richards book historians can no longer neglect the persistent presence of the voice within the culture of print'.

Read Irina Dumitrescu's review of Voices and Books, 'How to Read Aloud', in the London Review of Books.

I am the co-lead, with James Cummings, Michael Rossington, Tiago Sousa Garcia, Paul Watson, and Magnus Williamson of Animating Text Newcastle University (ATNU), a collaboration between Humanities and Data Science funded by Newcastle University, exploring the question: what is a text in the digital age?

I am a general editor of the Critical Edition of the Works of Thomas Nashe, alongside Joseph Black, Andrew Hadfield and Cathy Shrank. I am the PI of the AHRC-funded Thomas Nashe Project. With Kate De Rycker and Andrew Hadfield, I am co-editing The Oxford Handbook to Thomas Nashe (Oxford University Press: in preparation).

With Virginia Cox (NYU), I am co-editing Rhetoric in the Renaissance 1380-1640, Volume III in The Cambridge History of Rhetoric, General Editors: Rita Copeland and Peter Mack (Cambridge University Press, in preparation)



Appointed to the UK Research and Innovations Future Leaders Fellowships (UKRI FLF) programmes Peer Review College, 2018-


Appointed to the AHRC Advisory Board, 2017-2020, renewed until 2023

Appointed to the AHRC Advisory Board, 2012-2015

Chair of the AHRC Advisory Group for the strategic theme: Care for the Future, 2013-2016

Chair of AHRC Research Careers and Training Advisory Group, 2014-2016

Member of the steering committee for the BA/AHRC Review of Support for Arts and Humanities Researchers Post-PhD, 2014:

English Association

Chair of the English Association Higher Education Committee, 2015-2020

Member of the Board of Trustees, English Association 2015-

Member of the review group for the QAA Subject benchmark statement for English, February 2015

Society for Renaissance Studies

Editor of Renaissance Studies, 2012-2020

Associate Editor of Renaissance Studies, 2007-2012

Member of the Council of the Society of Renaissance Studies, 2007-2012; 2012-2020


2019 (for 2021-2022) Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship for Prof. Bruce Smith, USC, Los Angeles

2016-2021 University Research Innovation Funding for Animating Texts Newcastle University (ATNU)

2015-2020 PI for AHRC Research Grant: ‘The Thomas Nashe Project’, with Professor Andrew Hadfield, Professor Joseph Black, Professor Cathy Shrank Co-Is (see

2014-2015 PI for AHRC Network Grant: ‘Voices and Books 1500-1800’, with Professor Richard Wistreich, RNCM as the Co-I (see

2013-2015 Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship: ‘Useful Books: Talking and Reading in Renaissance England’

2012 British Academy Small Research Grant: Thomas Nashe: 21st Century Author

2012 Wellcome Trust Research Expenses: Reading, dialogue, and generation in early modern Britain

2009 Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship: Diet and Dialogue in Early Modern England