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School of English and Drama

Dr Will Bowers, BA (UCL), MSt (Oxford), PhD (UCL), MA (Oxford)


Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Thought

Room Number: ArtsOne 3.03
Twitter: @LimeTreeBowers


I was born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, which I left to read for a BA in English at UCL in 2006. I then had a year in Oxford for a masters, before I returned to UCL in 2010 to write a doctoral thesis on Anglo-Italian Romantic poetry with John Mullan. Before submitting my thesis, I spent a miserable but productive six months as a Yale/UCL visiting scholar at Yale University.  I worked at Newcastle University after my doctorate, and then moved to Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, and as a lecturer at New College and Oriel. I joined Queen Mary in 2019.


I teach on a variety of modules including:

  • ESH 124 ‘Poetry’
  • ESH 223 ‘Satire, Scandal, and Society’       
  • ESH 249 ‘Art Histories’
  • ESH 286 ‘Romantics and Revolutionaries’
  • ESH 7066 ‘International Romanticism’

I was taught by generalists to be a generalist, and believe in teaching a diverse range of forms, texts, and contexts, across periods. I’m wary of claims of expertise in the classroom and keep Byron’s line on ‘the drilled dull lesson, forced down word by word’ at the front of my mind. I heed Byron’s warning by reading and teaching new primary texts every year.


Research Interests:

  • Eighteenth-century and Romantic Poetry.
  • Comparative literary study of English, Italian, and Ancient Greek poetry.
  • Coteries, salons, and sociability in the long-eighteenth century.
  • Scholarly editions and their digital future.
  • The blank verse tradition (Milton, Thomson, Akenside, Cowper, Wordsworth, Barrett Browning).

Recent and On-Going Research

I am interested in literature from the Early Modern to the early Victorian period (the very long eighteenth century)I co-edited Re-evaluating the Literary Coterie, 1550–1830 (2016) to examine how central sociability is to literary production, and part of my current research continues this focus by looking at a specific community—the Holland House circle—alongside a wider consideration of the importance of dining to eighteenth-century literature. I have recently published an article on Charles James Fox, the intellectual lodestar of this circle, and launched a digital resource entitled ‘Dined’, which uses records from Holland House to chronicle eighteenth-century dining culture.

I’ve published widely on Romantic and Eighteenth-century literature (especially Byron, Percy Bysshe and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and William Wordsworth). My first monograph, The Italian Idea, was published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press. It won the European Society for the Study of English Prize for a first book in 2022. In a 2022 article on the monastery at Vallombrosa, I attempted to distil about ten years of thinking on how writers approach places they’ve previously encountered on the page, and in a recent article entitled ‘Things on the Move’ I consider the importance of the material culture of travel to European Romanticism.

I have forthcoming essays on Byron’s cosmopolitanism, ‘Table talk’, the editorial history of Goldsmith’s poetry, and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s letters. I am also near the completion of a monograph on Shelley and Greece, co-authored with Tom Phillips (University of Manchester). My next project is a book of essays about the literature that invented modern ideas of travel.

My other major research interest is in scholarly editing and I am involved in three active projects:

  1. As an editor on the fifth and sixth volumes of the Longman Annotated Poems of Shelley, on which I am responsible for 'The Triumph of Life' and a number of lyrics. These volumes are in the hands of the publisher, and are due for publication in June 2024.
  2. As the editor of William Cowper’s Selected Poems, Hymns and Letters under contract with Oxford World’s Classics. This 800-page edition will be the first comprehensive annotated selection of Cowper’s work for more than fifty years, and will include an introductory essay establishing Cowper as an author who speaks to contemporary concerns over the environment, race, and mental health. The volume is due for submission in 2025.
  3. As one of three editors on a new edition of Shelley’s letters, under contract with Oxford University Press. The edition offers a completely new text of Shelley’s letters based on an innovative methodology and a complete examination of extant manuscripts. We expect to publish the edition in three volumes in 2026, 2030, and 2036.



The Italian Idea: Anglo-Italian Radical Literary Culture, 1815–1823 (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Winner: European Society for the Study of English First Book Prize (2022).

Edited Books and Journals

Ed. (with Mathelinda Nabugodi), ‘Shelley’s Poetry: Ten Readings for the Bicentenary’, European Romantic Review 33:5 (2022).

Ed. (with Hannah Leah Crummé), Re-evaluating the Literary Coterie, 1550–1830 (London: Palgrave, 2016)

Digital Resource

Dined: A Database of the Holland House Dinner Book 1799–1806 (2023). You can also read a blog to launch the resource on the British Library website

Essays, Articles, and Chapters

‘Things on the Move’, Romanticism on the Net 80–81 (2023), 25pp. 

‘More of Talk: “Julian and Maddalo”’, European Romantic Review 33:5 (2022), 653–665.

(with Mathelinda Nabugodi), 'Reading Shelley on the Bicentenary of his Death’, European Romantic Review 33:5 (2022), 609–614.

‘Wordsworth, Fox, and a Poet’s Public Spirit’, Review of English Studies 72 (2021) 732–755.

'Vallombrosa Visited, 1638–1851’, Modern Philology 118 (2021), 364–389.

'Beppo e la reinvenzione della satira’, Byron in Italia (Bologna: Minerva, 2020), 77–97.

‘An Opening in a Holland House Dinner Book’, RÊVE: Romantic Europe the Virtual Exhibition. Online at (2020). For a specially commissioned soundscape inspired by this exhibit, see

‘William Cowper’s Pocket Watch’, RÊVE: Romantic Europe the Virtual Exhibition. Online at (2020). For a specially commissioned soundscape inspired by this exhibit, see

'Shelley reads Schlegel,' L’Analisi Linguistica e Letteraria 27 (2019), 35–44.

'Byron’s Rhyming Clime,' Essays in Criticism 69, (2019), 157–177.

‘Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’, Oxford Bibliographies in British and Irish Literature, ed. Andrew Hadfield (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).

'On first looking into Mary Shelley’s Homer,' Review of English Studies 69 (2018), 510–531.

'Percy Bysshe Shelley’s "I visit thee but thou art sadly changed",' Notes and Queries, 64 (2017), 569–572.

‘The Many Rooms of Holland House’, Re-evaluating the Literary Coterie, 1550–1830 (London: Palgrave, 2016), 159–180.

'Italian Travel, English Tourism, and Byron’s Poetry of Exile,' Litteraria Pragensia 23:46 (2013), 86–102.

'Hunt, Byron, and The Story of Rimini – "A Literary Challenge to the Public Mind,"' Romanticism on the Net 59 (2011).

'The Dilemma of a "Romantic" Anthology: Periodization and The Oxford Book of Regency Verse,' Publishing History 67, (2011), 65–89. 


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

Public Engagement

I am an occasional reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement and have appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Open Book’ to discuss how we can use digital techniques to read serialised and diarised literature. 

My recent public engagement includes the conception and delivery of a series of workshops supported by the Queen Mary Impact Fund in August 2023, which developed a methodology for using manuscripts letters within a museum’s public engagement offering. This project was a collaboration with the Wordsworth Trust and comprised of two workshops, one with a group from a gambling addiction charity and another from a long term carers group. I hope to develop this work with other museums and community groups over the next few years. 

I am passionate about taking my work on Percy and Mary Shelley to wider audiences. Since 2016 I have given short lectures to GCSE English students on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and in 2020 this became a digital lecture to help students unable to access classrooms due to COVID-19. In July 2022 I was a script consultant and expert speaker on Percy Shelley, Reformer and Radical, a two-part documentary on BBC Radio 4 presented by Benjamin Zephaniah. , I, along with Andrew Hodgson (University of Birmingham), gave a sold out public talk in Horsham, Sussex, on Shelley’s correspondence with the radical school teacher Elizabeth Hitchener (covered in the press here). I have also appeared on a 2024 French-language documentary for ARTE TV’s discussing Samuel Richardson’s Pamela.

I am happy to be contacted with invitations to speak at public-facing and educational events, particularly if these are events aimed at access and widening participation.

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