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School of English and Drama

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


Senior Lecturer in English and e-Strategy Manager

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 7353
Room Number: ArtsOne 3.19
Office Hours: See QMPlus


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 teach on:

  • ESH284: The Digital Critic

  • ESH288: Representing London: Writing and the Eighteenth Century City

  • ESH6059 Digitizing Eighteenth-Century Literature

I have taught on:

  • ESH6000: English Research Dissertation

Postgraduate Teaching

I have also taught on:

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


Research Interests:

  • networks, communities, and practices of knowledge production in the eighteenth century
  • the intellectual and material histories of natural history, in local and global contexts
  • landscape, horticulture, and georgic in eighteenth century Britain
  • the cultural, social, and imaginative life of the global metropolis, London in particular
  • digital humanities methods and approaches

Recent and On-Going Research:

My research focuses on the life and culture of eighteenth century Britain. More particularly, my work explores discourses and practices of natural knowledge during the period, in the context of local and global currents of social negotiation, material exchange, and intellectual production.


I am currently editing a special issue of Notes and Records of the Royal Society addressing the life and legacy of the apothecary and naturalist James Petiver (1663-1718) who was an intimate acquaintance of Sir Hans Sloane. Petiver was the subject of a conference I co-ordinated at the Linnean Society in April 2018 [] to commemorate the tercentenary of his death. I am also collaborating with Charlie Jarvis [] at the Natural History Museum to research the archive of James Cuninghame, an East India Company surgeon and factor who was the first European to dispatch botanical and zoological specimens home from China. We have recently been awarded a grant by Oak Spring Garden Foundation [] to investigate a series of unique botanical watercolours that Cuninghame purchased in Amoy (Xiamen) in 1699 (a parallel grant has supported digitization of the paintings by the British Library []).


My doctoral dissertation examined the status, networks, and writings of professional horticulturists (above all commercial nurserymen) in eighteenth-century London. A journal article summarising the thesis of my PhD was published in The London Journal []. Later research (including my work on Petiver and Cuninghame) has explored complementary directions. In collaboration with Markman Ellis [] and Matthew Mauger [], I wrote Empire of Tea [] (2015), a cultural and social history of the beverage in Britain that was reviewed in the London Review of Books and Times Literary Supplement, and has been translated into Mandarin and Japanese. In June 2020 I will be co-organising a major conference titled ‘Tea: Nature, Culture, Society, 1650-1850’ at the Linnean Society. Stealing Books in Eighteenth-Century London [] (2016) was 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 cri


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. In the last couple of years I have developed undergraduate modules in digital humanities methods. The most ambitious of these, Digitizing Eighteenth-Century Literature, aims to generate with students a co-curated digital facsimile and critical edition of Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey (1768).



editor of ‘Remembering James Petiver’, special issue of Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London (forthcoming July 2020)

'Knowing and Growing Tea: China, Britain, and the Formation of a Modern Global Commodity', in Oriental Networks, ed. by Greg Clingham and Bärbel Czennia (forthcoming 2020)

‘Curiosity, Commerce, and Conversation: Nursery-Gardens and Nurserymen in Eighteenth-Century London’, The London Journal, 43 (2018), 17-35

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 The World (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 am currently supervising doctoral research on the persistence of the formal garden style in the Essex estates of eighteenth-century merchants, and second supervising a project on the conceptualisation of the public museum in seventeenth- and eighteenth century Britain.