Professor Emma Smith

Fellow and Tutor in English

CUF Lecturer

MA DPhil Oxf

I have been a Fellow of Hertford and Lecturer in the Faculty of English since 1997. Before that I was at Somerville and All Souls, Oxford and at New Hall (now Murray Edwards), Cambridge.

Undergraduate teaching 

I teach part of the first year paper ‘Introduction to Literary Studies’, the Renaissance paper to second years, and Shakespeare. I lecture in the English Faculty on these topics – some of my lectures are available as free podcasts from iTunesU.

Postgraduate teaching 

I teach on the English Faculty MSt course 1550-1700, and supervise research students on early modern topics.


My research focuses on Shakespeare and on early modern drama. I am interested in the critical history of Shakespeare (explored in my Blackwell Guides to Criticism series, 3 vols, 2004), and in our investment in particular readings of his plays. My recent publications in the journals Shakespeare Survey, Shakespeare Studies, and Shakespeare Quarterly all investigate the roots of scholarly consensus and how the interpretation of Shakespeare does particular cultural work at different moments. Some of these themes are picked up for a more general readership in my recent book, co-authored with Laurie Maguire of Magdalen College, Oxford: Thirty Great Myths about Shakespeare (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), which asks why we like to believe, for instance, that Shakespeare hated his wife, was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, or never revised his plays.

Another aspect of my research centres on the publication of print drama and on issues relating to editing. I am currently researching early readers of Shakespeare’s plays, and have published a collection of early modern revenge tragedies. My recent article with Tamara Atkin (Queen Mary University of London) discusses one particular of early modern playtexts.  I am also interested in early modern plays in performance, and have written a stage history of Henry V, and acted as a consultant or reviewer for a number of recent productions. 

My most recent work has concerned the history of the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, the First Folio. In The Making of the First Folio (Bodleian Libraries, 2015), I discuss the practical and literary aspects of this book in its early modern context. Shakespeare's First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book (Oxford University Press, 2016) takes the story of the history of that book up to the present day. 

You can find out more about my current research on my website or on, and you can listen to my free lecture podcasts via the Oxford University store in iTunesU.


  • Shakespeare's First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book (OUP, 2016)
  • 'Thomas Middleton' in The Shakespeare Circle eds Paul Edmonton and Stanley Wells (CUP, 2016)
  • ‘‘The Canonization of Shakespeare in Print’ in Shakespeare and Textual Culture eds M.J. Kidnie and Sonia Massai (CUP, 2016)
  • Tragedy and Character’ in The Oxford Handbook to Shakespearean Tragedy eds Michael Neill and David Schalkwyk (OUP, 2016)
  • The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio (Bodleian Libraries, 2015)
  • '(with Laurie Maguire) ‘What is a source? Or, How Shakespeare Read his Marlowe’, Shakespeare Survey (2015)
  • Genres: Cinematic and Early Modern', Shakespeare Bulletin (2014)
  •  (with Tamara Atkin), ‘The Form and Function of Character Lists in Plays Printed before the Closing of the Theatres’, Review of English Studies (2014)
  • ‘Was Shylock Jewish?’, Shakespeare Quarterly (2013)
  • ed., with Andy Kesson, The Elizabethan Top Ten: Defining Print Popularity in the Early Modern Period (Ashgate, 2013)
  • ed., with Emily C. Bartels, Christopher Marlowe in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
  • Macbeth (Bloomsbury/ Arden, 2013)
  • with Laurie Maguire, Thirty Great Myths About Shakespeare (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)
  • The Cambridge Guide to Shakespeare (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
  • Five Revenge Tragedies (Penguin, 2012)
  • ‘William Shakespeare’ in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of English Renaissance Literature eds Garrett J. Sullivan, Alan Stewart and Rebecca Lemon (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)
  • ‘”To Buy or Not to Buy”: Hamlet and Consumer Culture’, Shakespeare Studies (2012)
  • ‘‘Time’s comic sparks’: the dramaturgy of A Mad World My Masters and Timon of Athens’ with Laurie E. Maguire, in The Oxford Handbook to Middleton eds Gary Taylor and Trish Henley (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Prenzie Angelo: Making meanings from Measure for Measure’, Journal of Law, Philosophy and Culture (2011)
  •  ‘Richard II’s Yorkist Editors’, Shakespeare Survey 63 (2010)
  • ‘Performing Relevance/Relevant Performances: Shakespeare, Jonson, Hitchcock’, in New Directions for Renaissance Drama and Performance Studies ed Sarah Werner (Palgrave, 2010)
  • The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance English Tragedy, coedited with Garret J. Sullivan, and chapter on ‘Shakespeare’ (Cambridge University Press, 2010)
  •  ‘Recent Studies in Tudor and Stuart Drama’, with Emily C. Bartels, Studies in English Literature 50 (2010)
  • ‘Shakespeare’s Critical Reception’, in The New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare eds Stanley Wells and Margreta de Grazia (Cambridge University Press, 2010)
  • ‘The Shakespeare Authorship Debate Revisited’, Literature Compass 5/3 (2008)
  • The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • ‘Shakespeare Serialised’, in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Popular Culture ed. Robert Shaughnessy (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • ‘Freezing the Snowman: (How) can we do performance criticism?’ in How to Do Things With Shakespeare ed. Laurie E. Maguire (Blackwell, 2007)
  • Othello: Writers and Their Works (Northcote House, 2005)
  • A Guide to Criticism: Shakespeare’s Comedies (Blackwell Publishers, 2004)
  • A Guide to Criticism: Shakespeare’s Tragedies (Blackwell Publishers, 2004)
  • A Guide to Criticism: Shakespeare’s Histories (Blackwell Publishers, 2004)
  • ‘Signes of a Stranger: The English Language and the English Nation in the Late Sixteenth Century’ in Archipelagic Identities: Literature and Identity in the Atlantic Archipelago, 1550-1800 eds Philip Schwyzer and Simon Mealor (Ashgate Press, 2004)
  • Shakespeare in Production: Henry V (Cambridge University Press, 2002)
  •  ‘So much English by the Mother’: gender, foreigners and the mother tongue in William Haughton’s Englishmen for My Money’, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England (13, 2001)
  • ‘Studying Shakespeare and his Contemporaries’, in Talking Shakespeare eds Deborah Cartmell and Michael Scott (Macmillan, 2001)
  •  ‘Ghost Writing: Hamlet and the Ur-Hamlet’ in The Renaissance Text ed. Andrew Murphy (Manchester University Press, 2000)
  • ‘“Either for tragedy, comedy”: attitudes to Hamlet in Branagh’s In the Bleak Midwinter (1995) and Hamlet (1997)’ in Shakespeare, Film, Fin de Siècle eds Mark Thornton Burnett and Ramona Wray (Macmillan, 2000)
  • ‘“Sir Johnston and Lady Forbes-Robertson left for America on Saturday”: marketing the 1913 Hamlet for stage and screen’ in Moving Performance: The British Experience of Early Cinema eds Sarah Street and Linda Fitzsimmons (Flicks Books, 2000)
  •  ‘Author v. Character in early modern dramatic authorship: the example of Thomas Kyd and The Spanish Tragedy’ in Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England (11, 1999)
  • ed. and intr. Thomas Kyd: The Spanish Tragedie (Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1998), pp.184. ISBN 0 14 043646 4
  •  ‘Henry Chettle’ and ‘George Whetstone’, New Dictionary of National Biography
  • Reviews for Shakespeare Survey, Year’s Work in English Studies, Early Modern Literary Studies, Review of English Studies, Biography, Renaissance-Reformation, Women: A Cultural Review, Comparative Drama, Shakespeare Quarterly, Times Literary Supplement  (1997- )