The Institute runs an extensive annual programme of lectures and readings on a wide range of subjects, both general and specialised, within the broad area of English studies.

Forthcoming Lectures and Readings

Liberty Lecture 2020: Elif Shafak, Sarah Churchwell, and Martha Spurrier in conversation | 25 September, 18:00-19:00 | Online

Previous Lectures

English Studies Lecture

Hilda Hulme Memorial Lecture

2019: The IES Annual Lecture in the History of the Book and Masterclass with Professor David McKitterick (3 July 2019)

2019: Dr Lyndall Gordon: 'The Brontës and Passion' (22 May 2019)

2018: Professor Dame Gillian Beer, '“Off with Her Head”: Lewis Carroll and Violence' (23 May 2018)

2014: Professor Dayton Haskin (Boston College): 'The Jesuits and English Literature - John Donne and Ignatian Spirituality' (available here as a PDF file)

2013: Professor Martin Mueller (Professor emeritus of English and Classics, Northwestern University Illinois): '"Shakespeare His Contemporaries": Exploring Early Modern Drama in a Digital Environment' (2 July 2013)

2012: Professor James Shapiro (Columbia University): 'Unravelling Shakespeare's Life' (23 April 2012)

2011: Professor Henry Woudhuysen (University College London): '"Ha-ha-ha. Hi-hi-hi. Ho-ho-ho. Ha-hi-ho": Representing sounds in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature' (2 June 2011)

2010: Michael Slater: 'Dicken's Shakespeare' (7 July 2010)

2009: Denis Donoghue: 'Eliot's Shakespeare' (29 June 2009)

2008: Professor Annabel Patterson: 'Milton and the D-Word' (9 July 2008)

2007: Claire Tomalin: 'Thomas Hardy: Poet and Novelist' (4 October 2007)

2006: Professor Jonathan Bate, FBA: 'Shakespeare: The Man from the Greenwood' (26 September 2006)

2005: Professor David Crystal: 'Johnson and the Internet' (21 April 2005)

2004: Professor Germaine Greer: 'The Shakespearean Boy' (14 January 2004)

2003: Professor Hilary Fraser (Birkbeck College, London): 'Possession and Dispossession: Owning the Story of Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill' (28 May 2003)

2002: Dr Ato Quayson (Pembroke College, University of Cambridge): 'Thunder in the Index: A Preface to a Post-Colonial Shakespeare' (17 January 2002)

2001: Professor Gillian Fellows-Jensen: 'English Place-Names and Settlement History Seen with the Wisdom of Handsight' (22 February 2001))

2000: Professor Marjorie Garber (Harvard University): 'Historical Correctness' (11 May 2000)

1998: Professor Jerome J. McGann (University of Virginia): 'Dante and Rossetti: Translation, Pastiche, Ritual, Fate' (8 December 1998)

1997: Sir Frank Kermode: 'Explorations in Shakespeare's Language' (18 December 1997)

1996: Dr Elizabeth M. Brennan (Emeritus Reader in English, University of London): 'The Dull Duty of an Editor: Working with Webster and Dickens'

1995: Barbara Everett (Somerville College, Oxford): 'Jane Austen: Hard Romance' (18 December 1995)

1992: Professor Isobel Armstrong (Birkbeck College, London): 'Charlotte Brontë's City of Glass' (2 December 1992)

1991: Professor Rosemary Ashton: 'Dickens, George Eliot and George Henry Lewes' (3 December 1991)

1990: Professor Helen Vendler: 'Ways into Shakespeare's Sonnets' (3 December 1990)

1988: Gillian Beer: 'Can the Native Return?' (8 December 1988)

1987: Professor Stanley Wells: 'Shakespeare and Revision' (3 December 1987)

1986: Professor Barbara Hardy: 'The Narrators in Macbeth' (11 December 1986)

John Coffin Memorial Lecture

2019 John Coffin Memorial Annual Irish Studies Lecture: Professor Ruth Padel: ‘This is the Vowel of Earth: on the Katabasis of Seamus Heaney’. 30 May 2019.

2019 John Coffin Memorial Annual Palaeography Lecture: Professor Susan Rankin: Writing Music on Parchment in the Early Middle Ages. 15 May 2019.

2018 John Coffin Memorial Annual Irish Studies Lecture: Professor Ian McBride: The Struggle for Ireland's Soul: Catholics under the Penal Laws. 31 May 2018.

2018 John Coffin Memorial Annual Palaeography Lecture: Professor A.S.G. (Tony) Edwards: What is palaeography for?: the role of palaeography in scholarly research from the nineteenth century onwards. 16 May 2018.

2018 John Coffin Memorial Annual History of the Book Lecture: Alan May and Martin Andrews: Commemorating 550 Years since Gutenberg's Death. 1 February 2018.

2017 John Coffin Memorial Annual Irish Studies Lecture: Eavan Boland: "Shifting Ground: Irish Poetry in a Time of Change". 28 June 2017.

2017 John Coffin Memorial Annual Palaeography Lecture: Professor Judith Olszowy-Schlanger, FBA, École Pratique des Hautes Études, "Crossing palaeographical borders: bi-alphabetical Hebrew scribes and manuscripts in Egypt, Spain and Northern France (11th to 15th centuries)". 24 May 2017.

2016 John Coffin Memorial Lecture: Iain Sinclair FRSL, '"James Joyce, Our Dad, Alas": a late modernist autobiography of Bloom fugues in simultaneous cities, London and Dublin'. 16 June 2016.

2016 John Coffin Memorial Annual Palaeography Lecture: Daniel Wakelin (Jeremy Griffiths Professor of Palaeography, University of Oxford): '"Let me slip into something less comfortable": Gothic textualis by accident and by design'. 11 May 2016.

2016 John Coffin Memorial Annual Irish Studies Lecture: Professor Clair Wills (Louis Milberg Chair of Irish Letters, Princeton University) on 'Digs and Lodging Houses: Literature, ruins and survival in post-war Britain'. 21 April 2016

2015 John Coffin Memorial Annual Palaeography Lecture: Professor Nicholas Vincent FBA: 'Who Wrote Magna Carta?'. 13 May 2015

2014 John Coffin Memorial Annual Irish Studies Lecture: Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck College): 'Desire and Dishonour: Heterosexuality in Nineteenth-Century Ireland'. 5 June 2014 

John Coffin Memorial Annual Palaeography Lecture: James Willoughby (New College, Oxford): 'The Hand of Ralph of Coggeshall. Chronicle-Making in the Reign of King John'. 7 May 2014

2010 John Coffin Memorial Lecture: Teresa Webber: 'Reading in the Refectory: monastic practice in England, c.1000-c.1300' (18 February 2010)

2005 John Coffin Memorial Lecture in the History of the Book: William St Clair: 'The Political Economy of Reading'

Katherine Mansfield Society Annual Birthday Lecture

2019Katherine Mansfield Society Annual Birthday Lecture: Professor Angela Smith (University of Stirling): '"We are all sailors, bending over a great map": Katherine Mansfield’s travellers'. 12 October 2019.

2018: Katherine Mansfield Society Annual Birthday Lecture 2018: Steven Matthews ‘Nearer than anyone else’: Katherine Mansfield, D.H. Lawrence, and the ‘modern’ short story. 13 October 2018. Listen here

2017: Katherine Mansfield Society Birthday Lecture: Professor David Trotter (Cambridge University). 14 October 2017.

2016: The Annual Katherine Mansfield Society Birthday Lecture: Professor Claire Davison: 'Katherine Mansfield's Musical World', joined by musician Joseph Spooner. 15 October 2016.

Liberty Lecture

2019: The Liberty Lecture with Kamila Shamsie. 28 February 2019.

2017: Inaugural Liberty Lecture: Ali Smith CBE FRSL. 6 November 2017.

Stevenson Memorial Lecture

2019: Bloomsbury Chapter Stevenson Lecture: Taking Mapping to the World. Laurence Worms. 30 October 2019 

2018: Bloomsbury Chapter Stevenson Lecture: The Golden Treasury, Don Paterson OBE. 22 October 2018.

2017: Iain Stevenson Memorial Inaugural Lecture: Professor Simon Eliot (IES). 23 October 2017.

Virginia Woolf Society Annual Birthday Lecture

2019: Stuart N.Clarke: 'Virginia Woolf’s Non-literary Reputation'. 26 January 2019.

2018: Stephen Barkway (Chair and founder-member of the Virginia Woolf Society): ‘Virginia Woolf: Woman of Letters’. 27 January 2018.

2017: Professor Susan Sellers (St Andrews University): 'Woolf and the Essay'. 28 January 2017.

2016: Professor Frances Spalding CBE (Newcastle): 'Virginia Woolf and Tristram Shandy'. 23 January 2016

2015: Professor Dame Hermione Lee (Wolfson College, Oxford): 'To pin down the moment with date and season'. 25 January 2014

Wordsworth Trust Annual Lecture

2019: Professor Lucy Newlyn, ‘Vital Stream’: Love and Creativity in the Wordsworth Circle, 1802. 20 November 2019 

2018:  Professor Fiona Sampson: A Daedalus for the Romantic Era? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. 22 November 2018. Listen here

2017: Professor Sir Drummond Bone (Oxford University): Byron and Wordsworth, Art and Nature. 31 October 2017.

2016: Professor Michael Rossington (Newcastle University): 'Romantic Poetry and "the Existing State of Things'". 15 November 2016

2015: Professor Simon Bainbridge (Lancaster University): A 'closing deed magnificent?' Wordsworth, War and Waterloo. 15 October 2015

2014: Professor Fiona Stafford (University of Oxford): 'Wordsworth and the Meaning of Trees'. 16 October 2014

2013: Professor Stephen Gill (Lincoln College, Oxford): '"A Sea Rolling High": Wordsworth in 1804'. 8 October 2013

Covid-19: The Institute of English Studies and the University of London are currently following the advice of Public Health England. On Friday 20 March, Senate House closed until at least the 20 April. We have taken the decision to postpone large gatherings scheduled to take place from now until the end of May in response to this evolving public health challenge. We will be issuing refunds to those who have registered. Please check individual events listed for more information. If there is any change in UK government advice we will notify all registered attendees immediately.