School of English and Drama

Dr Richard Coulton, BA (Oxford) MA PhD (London)


Senior Lecturer in English and e-Strategy Manager



I grew up in North Wales and attended secondary school in Chester before reading English at the University of Oxford. Despite (or rather in order to rectify) my undergraduate failure to finish either Clarissa or Tristram Shandy, I came to Queen Mary in 1999 and completed an MA in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Romanticism. An AHRC-funded PhD followed (under the supervision of Markman Ellis) on horticultural networks and discourse in eighteenth-century London. Since that time I have held a one-year Fellowship in Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks (Washington, DC). I currently work as a Lecturer in English Literature, as well as job-sharing the senior administrative role of e-Strategy Manager with Matthew Mauger.

Undergraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • ESH6000: English Research Dissertation

Postgraduate Teaching

I have also taught on:

  • English Studies: Eighteenth-Century Literature and Romanticism pathway
  • ESH7047: Sociability: Literature and the City, 1660-1780


Research Interests:

  • the intellectual life and material cultures of the long eighteenth century
  • landscape, horticulture, and georgic in eighteenth century Britain
  • networks, communities, and practices of knowledge production in the eighteenth century
  • sociability and status in the eighteenth century
  • the cultural, social, and imaginative life of the metropolis, London in particular

Recent and On-Going Research:

My research focuses on the intellectual life and material cultures of eighteenth century Britain. I typically locate my attention to these broad interests by examining discourses and practices of natural knowledge, and I am especially fascinated by their production in the context of social negotiation and inevitable compromise. My doctoral dissertation investigated the status of, relationships between, and writings by professional horticulturists (above all commercial nurserymen) in eighteenth-century London. Much of this remains unpublished, but I have recently completed a journal article summarising the thesis of my PhD (forthcoming in The London Journal), and I am currently developing a proposal for a related monograph.

More recently my research has extended in complementary directions, through explorations of formal georgic, the cultural history of tea and of Anglo-Chinese transactions, and the professional sociability of the eighteenth-century book-trade. A forthcoming journal article on the politics of cider-production in England will focus on John Philips’s curious celebration of the 1707 Act of Union in his long poem Cyder (1708). In collaboration with Markman Ellis and Matthew Mauger, I wrote Empire of Tea, published by Reaktion in 2015. This builds on our work (together with Ben Dew) as editors of Tea and the Tea-Table (2010). I am now working with Charlie Jarvis at the Natural History Museum to research James Cuninghame, an East India Company surgeon and factor who was the first European to dispatch botanical and zoological specimens home from China.Stealing Books in Eighteenth-Century London (Palgrave Pivot, 2016) is another collective endeavour, this time with Chris Reid and Matthew Mauger. My contribution examines the victim-prosecutors of book-theft, and includes material on the technologies of article surveillance and networks of communication implemented by booksellers in order to counter property crime.

Alongside these thematic research interests, I am keen to examine and understand the impact of digital and electronic tools and methods upon the humanities. Stealing Books in Eighteenth-Century London explicitly exploits an online resource, Old Bailey Online, and incorporates a methodological statement that details the search, analysis, and documentation processes that underpin the project. Going forward, I plan to maintain and develop an active practice in and intellectual scrutiny of such digital research.


Stealing Books in Eighteenth-Century London (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), monograph co-authored with Matthew Mauger and Chris Reid.

Empire of Tea: The Asian Leaf that Conquered Britain (London: Reaktion, 2015), monograph co-authored with Markman Ellis and Matthew Mauger

''The Darling of the Temple-Coffee-House Club': Science, Sociability and Satire in Early Eighteenth-Century London', Journal for Eighteenth Century Studies, 35 (2012), 43-65

ed., Tea and the Tea-Table in Eighteenth-Century England, vol. 2: Tea in Natural History and Medical Writing (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2010)

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.