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Dr Edmund King

Edmund King photo

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the English Department as a Research Associate in February 2010 and was appointed Lecturer in August 2018. Originally from New Zealand, I hold MA and PhD degrees in English from the University of Auckland. Before moving to the UK, I worked for three years in digitization (TEI encoding) at the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre at Victoria University of Wellington.

Research interests

My current research areas are the history of books and reading during the First World War and the history of bibliotherapy (again in a First World War context). This involves analysing evidence of reading preserved in a wide range of material: wartime letters, diaries, press articles, and official papers as well as later printed memoirs. What role did the circulation of books and letters play in the experience of war? Did mass mobilization change reading practices? What new opportunities did it provide for the circulation of texts and ideologies across national boundaries?
In 2015, I co-edited (with Shafquat Towheed) the essay collection Reading and the First World War: Readers, Texts, Archives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). I am currently working on a study of the reading and writing cultures of First World War British prisoners of war and, with Monika Smialkowska, co-editing a volume of essays for Palgrave entitled Memorialising Shakespeare: Commemoration and Collective Identity, 1916-2016.
Outside of First World War Studies, I maintain an active research programme in Shakespeare studies, the histories of reading, editing, and authorship (particularly in the eighteenth century), and the digital humanities. I am Co-Director of HOBAR, the History of Books and Reading research collaboration (formerly the Book History Research Group) and I play an active part in organising HOBAR's annual schedule of conferences and seminar series. I am also responsible for maintaining the Reading Experience Database.
I retain a broad interest in New Zealand literature, particularly the role of print and print circulation in the formation of identities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Recent Publications
  • (With Maya Parmar and Shafquat Towheed), "Reusing Historical Questionnaire Data and Using Newly Commissioned Oral History Interviews as Evidence in the History of Reading," Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies, 16:1 (2019), 530-53. 
  • "Discovering Shakespeare's Personal Style: Editing and Connoisseurship in the Eighteenth Century," in Canonising Shakespeare: Stationers and the Book Trade, 1640-1740, ed. by Emma Depledge and Peter Kirwan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 130-42.
  • "Editors," in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's First Folio, ed. by Emma Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 121-36.
  • "Radicalism in the Margins: The Politics of Reading Wilfrid Scawen Blunt in 1920," Journal of British Studies, 55:3 (2016), 501-18.
  • (Co-edited with Shafquat Towheed), Reading and the First World War: Readers, Texts, Archives (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).
  • (With Shafquat Towheed and Francesca Benatti), "Readers and Reading in the First World War," Yearbook of English Studies, 45 (2015), 239-61.
  • “‘A Priceless Book to Have out Here’: Soldiers Reading Shakespeare in the First World War,” Shakespeare, 10:3 (2014), 230-44.
  • “E. W. Hornung’s Unpublished ‘Diary’, the YMCA, and the Reading Soldier in the First World War,” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, 57:3 (2014), 361-87.
A full list of my publications can be found via Open Research Online.


Teaching interests

I currently teach on the following modules:

  • A233: Telling Stories: The Novel and Beyond. Author of chapters on Edmund Blunden's Undertones of War and Shakespeare's Tempest. Module team member in production, 2017–19. Deputy Chair in presentation, 2019–.
  • A230: Reading and Studying Literature. Module Chair in presentation, 2019–.
  • A893: MA in English Literature (remake). Module team member in production, 2019–.

I have previously taught on: 

  • A334: English Literature from Shakespeare to Austen, for which I wrote the course book chapters on The Spanish Tragedy and Julius Caesar. Module team member in production/presentation, 2012–19. Deputy Chair, 2018–19.
  • AA306: Shakespeare: Text and Performance. Module team member in presentation, 2011–15.

I have co-supervised two PhD students to completion at The Open University. I am currently co-supervising three PhD student theses: on African postcolonial literature; on aerial combat fiction of the First World War; and on late nineteenth-century British scientific romance. I have acted as internal examiner for five Open University PhD theses in addition to conducting probation vivas and mock vivas. 

I welcome inquiries from prospective PhD students in the fields of book history, the history of reading, Shakespeare studies, and First World War literature. 

Impact and engagement

In 2016, I was an academic consultant (with Prof. David Johnson) on the Living Shakespeare project (British Council/BBC World Service).

I have also worked as an academic consultant for The Open University on two TV programmes:

  • The BBC/RSC/Illuminations/Open University coproduced film of Julius Caesar (BBC4, 2012) 
  • The Sky Arts series My Shakespeare (the second series of Shakespeare Uncovered), a coproduction between The Open University, Blakeway Productions, and Sky Arts (Sky Arts, 2014). This series aired under the title Shakespeare Uncovered: Series 2 in the US on PBS in 2015.

I am an editorial board member of Shakespeare (journal of the British Shakespeare Association) and an Advisory Group member for the AHRC-funded project, Memories of Fiction (University of Roehampton).

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Book History and Bibliography Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts


Externally funded projects

Reading Communities: Connecting the Past and Present
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01 Dec 201530 Nov 2016AHRC Arts & Humanities Research Council

‘Reading Communities: Connecting the Past and Present’ addresses the AHRC 10th-Anniversary Follow-On Scheme Highlight Notice, which invites proposals that will ‘enhance engagement with, and impact from, research funded by the AHRC during the first two years after its establishment in 2005’. This project is intended as a follow on from the ‘Reading Experience Database 1800–1945’ (2006–2009), which was funded by a £292,108 Resource Enhancement grant awarded by the AHRC in 2006. This one-year project builds on the success of the Reading Experience Database (RED) to create a series of city-focused reading outreach events. These will include lectures, oral history interviews and community workshops focused on crowdsourcing from participants' diaries or other documents. Activities will take place in Belfast, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham and London.