I research and teach seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature, with special interests in reading habits, politics, and information exchange. I am an expert on Samuel Pepys, the Restoration diarist and collector. Pepys's records are a fascinating and complex source on his society, including on the lives of people and groups whose experiences often went unrecorded.
I was the Principal Investigator for project called 'Reimagining the Restoration', which was funded by the AHRC in the academic year 2022-23, with activities still ongoing. The project explores the impact of Pepys's diary since it was first published in the nineteenth century, tracing the ways it has been used in historical novels, in drama, and in teaching history.
My research is in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature and history, with particular interests in reading habits, political writing, and sociability.
Much of my work centres on Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), who is most famous for the diary he kept during the 1660s. My monograph, Samuel Pepys and his Books (OUP, 2015), examined reading practices, collecting, and the exchange of information in the later seventeenth century. I have also edited a new selection of Samuel Pepys’s Diary for Everyman, based on the text of the diary edited by Robert Latham and William Matthews. This is the first annotated selection of the diary and the first edition of any kind to translate Pepys's polyglot (a.k.a. the rude bits).
I am the lead investigator on the 'Reimagining the Restoration' project, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council from February 2022 to August 2023. This project explores the origins of Pepys's diary and tracks the different ways that the diary has been used to engage people with literature and history for two centuries -- and how it might be used in future. I am writing a book based on my research. I also ran online creative writing workshops about historical fiction for the project.
A major part of the Reimagining the Restoration activities has been work with the Museum of London, producing new teaching resources on seventeenth-century London and on Deaf history, and running workshops with schools. It's also involved doing some research for the Museum's new Great Fire gallery opening in 2026, tracing households involved in the fire. You can find out more about the project here: pepyshistory.le.ac.uk
I have long-standing interests in researching misinformation and satire. My first book was Reading Fictions 1660-1740: Deception in English Literary and Political Culture (2008). This explored the strategies used (and games played) by early modern readers in responding to fictitious narratives, including novels by Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, and Samuel Richardson. More recently, I have published on related topics, such as Defoe's works, criminal biographies, and eighteenth-century satire.
My work on Restoration diaries has led to some unusual places, including articles on the early history of chocolate in England.
Samuel Pepys and his Books: Reading Newsgathering and Sociability 1660-1703 (Oxford University Press, 2015)
Reading Fictions 1660-1740: Deception in English Literary and Political Culture (Ashgate, 2008)
The Diary of Samuel Pepys (Everyman 2018), a selection from the complete Latham and Matthews edition of the diary with new annotations.
Selected journal articles and book chapters
'Women and the History of Samuel Pepys's Diary', The Historical Journal, 2022. Available on open access here.
'Chocolate in Seventeenth-Century England and Spain: An Edited Transcript of the Earl of Sandwich's Journal', Food & History, 20:1 (2022), 95-128. Abstract here.
'Epigram and Spontaneous Wit', in The Oxford Handbook of Eighteenth-Century Satire, ed. by Paddy Bullard (OUP 2019) pp. 492-508. Abstract here.
'Samuel Pepys's First Portrait Painter: Daniel Savile and Portraiture for the Middling Sort in Restoration London', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 31 (2018 [March 2019]), 269-79. Abstract here.
'Pepys in Print 1660-1703' in Oxford Handbooks Online (Oxford University Press), 6 March 2015, updated August 2018 www.oxfordhandbooks.com DOI:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935338.013.18. Full text available here.
'The Introduction of Chocolate into England: Retailers Researchers and Consumers 1640-1730', Journal of Social History, 47 (2013), 27-46. Abstract here.
'"A Life of Continu'd Variety": Crime Readers and the Structure of Moll Flanders', Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 26 (2013), 1-32. Abstract here.
I welcome enquiries about research into seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century literature especially in the following areas: the history of reading and collecting; diaries; Restoration writers; the early novel; historical novels; literary networks; and news.
I teach on undergraduate and postgraduate modules, including
at undergraduate level: Historical Fiction; Eighteenth-Century Literature from Restoration to Revolution; English and Education; Renaissance Literature from Utopia to Paradise Lost
at postgraduate level: Research Methods and Writing Skills; Authorship and Authority; Editing and Textual Cultures; Abolition and Adventure: Narratives of the Atlantic World.
I'm on research leave until January 2024.
Press and media
I'm happy to be contacted with press queries about Samuel Pepys, Restoration London, Restoration literature, or the early history of chocolate in England.
I frequently talk and write for the general public about the Restoration or Pepys (or, indeed, about chocolate). Examples include pieces for BBC History Magazine, The Chalke Valley History Festival, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Nightlife programme.
Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries