School of English

Dr Catherine Richardson

Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies - Reader in Renaissance Studies

01227 82(4656)


Office: W3.N6 (Rutherford)

I joined the University of Kent in 2007 from the University of Birmingham where I was lecturer in English and History and Fellow of The Shakespeare Institute. I’m interested in the relationship between texts and the material circumstances of their production and consumption – for instance the way individuals described objects as they wrote them into probate inventories, or how theatre audiences ‘saw’ spaces in relation to the dialogue of a play, the physical nature of the theatre and their own memories and imaginations. My research, then, focuses on the movement between living and writing, between experience and narrative.

A good deal of my work is on the material culture of early modern England. I am working on a long-term project on the clothing of those below the level of the elite in early modern England, focusing on the function of dress in an urban context. This offers an opportunity to examine the relationship between prescriptive discourses about clothing – sumptuary legislation, moral literature etc, and the evidence of social practice available from testamentary and judicial documents. In common with the majority of my work, this project is based on extensive examination of local archival materials, and an attempt to relate these to national discourses and the material remains of the period.

In the shorter term, I’m working on a series of projects about domestic life, all of which are about trying to understand the experience of living in a house for the middling sort. I run an AHRC research network on Ways of Seeing the English Domestic Interior, 1500-1700: the case of decorative textiles with Tara Hamling at Birmingham, which investigates peoples’ experience of household life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and considers how we might use this information to enhance our experience of visiting historic properties in the twenty-first century. The network uses the latest developments in computer science and cognitive science in order to understand how the domestic interior was experienced in early modern England, and it brings together researchers in the humanities and sciences, conservators, museums curators and heritage professionals, including individuals from English Heritage, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Historic Royal Palaces and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. In order to make the task more manageable, we focus on a specific case study – ‘how did early modern men and women respond to decorative textiles in their houses?’ Find out more about the network here. Tara and I are also writing a book on middling domestic interiors – how people experienced their living spaces and furnishings – from bed chambers and warming pans to apostle spoons and chamber pots, titled A Day at Home in Early Modern England. There’s more information about this and other projects on the Material Histories blog.

I am also currently involved in the DocExplore Project which investigates the computer-based access and analysis of historical manuscripts. The project involves the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies and the School of Engineering and Digital Arts at Kent, and the University of Rouen [need links], in association with the Biblioteques [can't get the accent!] de Rouen and Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library. Building on my research into the material and haptic qualities of texts as objects, my contribution has explored ways of simulating the physical experience of handling a manuscript, and the end result allows public institutions to create ‘a new digital archive that enables readers to interact with the materials without damaging centuries-old books’ (The Guardian). Users can also access translations and transcriptions, sound and video resources, and historical notes. The system has been on display at the Salon du Livre Ancien, Abbatial St. Ouen in Rouen, and Canterbury Cathedral. In 2013 I ran a postgraduate research event on the system, within the Going Digital strand of AHRC-funded training in the CHASE consortium (more details on the blog).


Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Richardson, C. and Hamling, T. (2015). A Day at Home in Early Modern England: The Materiality of Domestic Life, 1500-1700. Yale University Press.
Richardson, C. (2011). Shakespeare and Material Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Edited book
Richardson, C., Hamling, T. and Gaimster, D. eds. (2015). Ashgate Research Companion to Material Culture in Early Modern Europe. Ashgate.
Merry, M. and Richardson, C. eds. (2012). The Household Account Book of Sir Thomas Puckering of Warwick, 1620: Living in London and the Midlands. Stratford upon Avon: Dugdale Society.
Richardson, C. and Hamling, T. eds. (2010). Everyday Objects: medieval and early modern material culture and its meanings. [Online]. Ashgate.
Richardson, C. and Dyer, C. eds. (2009). William Dugdale, Historian, 1605-86: His Life, His Writings and His County. [Online]. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer.
Book section
Richardson, C. (2016). Shakespearean Comedy and Domestic Encounters. in: Hirschfield, H. ed. The Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Comedy. Oxford University Press.
Richardson, C. (2016). Furniture and Furnishings. in: Flather, A. ed. A Cultural History of the Home: The Age of Empire. Berg.
Richardson, C. (2015). Clothing and Social Status. in: Currie, E. ed. A Cultural History of Fashion in the Renaissance. Berg.
Richardson, C. (2015). Household in early modern Britain. in: Eibach, J. and Schmidt-Voges, I. eds. Das Haus in der Geschichte Europas. De Gruyter.
Richardson, C. (2015). Shakespeare’s Siblings. in: Wells, S. and Edmondson, P. eds. The Shakespeare Circle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Richardson, C. (2015). Honest Clothes in The Merry Wives of Windsor. in: Mirabella, B. and Lennox, P. eds. Shakespeare and Costume. London: Bloomsbury.
Richardson, C. (2015). Deathbeds and Willmaking. in: Buxton, A. ed. InHabiting space: archaeologists artefacts and architecture. Peter Lang.
Richardson, C. (2014). Written texts and the performance of materiality. in: Riello, G. and Gerritsen, A. eds. Writing Material Culture History. London: Bloomsbury.
Richardson, C. (2013). ‘Make you a cloak of it and weare it for my sake’: material culture and commemoration in early modern English towns. in: Penman, M. ed. Monuments and Monumentality Across Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Lincolnshire: Shaun Tyas.
Richardson, C. (2013). Household Books. in: Kesson, A. and Smith, E. eds. The Elizabethan Top Ten. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Richardson, C. (2013). Domestic Manuals and the Power of Prose. in: Hadfield, A. ed. The Oxford Handbook to Prose 1500 - 1640. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Richardson, C. (2011). Domestic Life. in: Kinney, A. ed. The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Richardson, C. (2011). 'As my whole trust is in him’: Jewellery and the Quality of Early Modern Relationships. in: Mirabella, B. ed. Ornamentalism: The Art of Renaissance Accessories. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, pp. 182-201.
Richardson, C. (2011). Domestic Life in Jacobean London. in: Gossett, S. ed. Thomas Middleton in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Richardson, C. (2010). Tragedy, Family and Household. in: Sullivan, G. and Smith, E. eds. Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 17-29.
Richardson, C. (2010). Social Life. in: Kinney, A. ed. Elizabethan and Jacobean England: Sources and Documents of the English Renaissance. Wiley-Blackwell.
Richardson, C. (2010). Household Writing. in: Summit, J. and Bicks, C. eds. Palgrave History of Women’s Writing 1500 - 1610. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 89-107.
Richardson, C. (2010). Disciplinary Perspectives on the History of Early Modern Fashion. in: Riello, G., Muzzarelli, G. and Tosi Brandi, E. eds. Moda: storia e storie. Milan: Bruno Mondadori.
Richardson, C. (2010). The stage, costume and fashion. in: McNeil, P. and Riello, G. eds. The Fashion History Reader. London: Routledge, pp. 132-134.
Richardson, C. (2009). Material Culture in Early Modern Warwick. in: Richardson, C. and Dyer, C. eds. William Dugdale, Historian, 1605-1686: His Life, his Writings and His County. Boydell and Brewer, pp. 209-231.
Tatler, B. et al. (2016). Mobile eye-tracking and interactions with domestic textiles in real world environments. Textile History 47.
Richardson, C. and Hamling, T. (2016). Ways of Seeing Early Modern Decorative Textiles: an introduction. Textile History 47.
Richardson, C. (2010). ‘Shakespeare and Material Culture’. Literature Compass [Online] 7:424-438.
Internet publication
Richardson, C. (2013). ‘City comedy and material life’: Things in The Dutch Courtesan [web page].
Showing 30 of 53 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]

Research supervision

I welcome graduate students in any areas of the dramatic, social and cultural history of the period, and am particularly interested in supervising interdisciplinary projects. I have previously supervised students working on various aspects of Shakespeare studies, early modern account books kept by women, military culture, the construction of community and ecclesiastical court depositions.

Professional activities

I am the Orders Secretary and a Council Member of the Malone Society.


School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 823054

Last Updated: 12/02/2016