School of English and Drama

Professor David Colclough, MA (Cambridge) DPhil (Oxford)


Professor of Renaissance Studies



I took my undergraduate degree at King’s College, Cambridge, and my D.Phil. at Wadham College, Oxford.  My doctoral research, supervised by John Carey and David Norbrook, was on textual citation in early modern prose, and fostered long-standing interests in Francis Bacon and John Donne.  After a year spent teaching at the universities of Fribourg and Neuchâtel in Switzerland, I returned to Cambridge to take up a Junior Research Fellowship, again at King’s.  There I began work on my first book, Freedom of Speech in Early Stuart England (Cambridge University Press, 2005).  I have taught in the English Department at Queen Mary since 1998.


Research Interests:

  • Early modern literary history
  • Early modern political thought
  • John Donne
  • Religious writing, especially the early modern sermon
  • Rhetoric
  • Francis Bacon
  • Early modern manuscript culture and textual editing

Recent and On-Going Research:

My research focuses on early modern literature and thought. I am especially interested in the connections between literary, political, and religious writing, and in the material forms of their dissemination, in manuscript and in print. My first monograph, Freedom of Speech in Early Stuart England (Cambridge University Press, 2005), studied debates over freedom of expression in rhetorical handbooks, parliamentary debates, religious polemic, and manuscript miscellanies. I have a strong interest in textual editing, and have edited Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis for the Oxford Francis Bacon (to be published with Sylva Sylvarum as volume 14 of that edition). Most recently, I have published on a long-standing subject of my research, John Donne, in a series of articles and in my edition of Donne’s Sermons at the Court of Charles I. This is volume 3 of the Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne, of which I am also Deputy General Editor. With Sean Keilen and Raphael Lyne I am a General Editor of the monograph series Studies in Renaissance Literature (Boydell and Brewer), and I am a member of the editorial advisory board of the Oxford Francis Bacon. My current research develops my work on seventeenth-century religion to examine the concept of charity as a theological virtue and polemical term in poetry and prose; I am also preparing a further volume of the Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne.


  • Books
  • Books
  • Books

Selected Publications:

(editor) The Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne, volume III: Sermons Preached at the Court of Charles I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

‘Rhetoric’, in The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture: Volume One: Cheap Print in Britain and Ireland to 1660 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 240-49

‘Thomas Adams and John Donne Revisited’, Notes & Queries, 59, 1 (2012), 96-100

‘Silent Witness: The Politics of Allusion in John Donne's Sermon on Isaiah 32: 8’, Review of English Studies, 63 (2011) doi:10.1093/res/hgr098

‘Upstairs, Downstairs: Doctrine and Decorum in Two Sermons by John Donne’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 73 (2010), 163-191 doi:10.1525/hlq.2010.73.2.163

‘“The Materialls for the Building”: Reuniting Francis Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum and New Atlantis’, Intellectual History Review, 20 (2010), 181-200 doi:10.1080/17496971003783757

‘Talking to the Animals: Persuasion, Counsel and their Discontents in Julius Caesar’, in Shakespeare and Early Modern Political Thought, ed. D. Armitage, C. Condren, and A. Fitzmaurice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Freedom of Speech in Early Stuart England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)

John Donne's Professional Lives (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2003)

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile


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

I have recently supervised the following successful PhD projects:

  • Rosanna Cox, 'John Milton and Reading Like a Man' (2006)
  • Maria Reardon, 'The Manuscript Miscellany in Early Stuart England: A Study of British Library, Manuscript Additional 22601 and Related Texts' (2007)
  • Steven Cowser, 'The Politics of Sacred History in ‘Eikonklastes’, ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Paradise Regain'd’' (2012)