Portrait of Professor Catherine Richardson

Professor Catherine Richardson

Professor of Early Modern Studies
Associate Dean, (Research and Innovation) Faculty of Humanities
Academic Director, Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries


Catherine Richardson joined the University of Kent in 2007 from the University of Birmingham, where she was lecturer in English and History and Fellow of The Shakespeare Institute. At Kent she is currently Associate Dean for Research in Humanities. She is 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. Her research focuses on the movement between living and writing, between experience and narrative.

Research interests

Early modern material culture – households, clothing, possessions and spaces.
Current project: 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, on and off-stage.
Early modern drama – domestic tragedy, Shakespeare, site-specific performances.
Current project: an edition of Arden of Faversham for Arden Early Modern Drama, for which she is working on its different performance histories, as amateur and professional theatre, as a puppet play, a ballet and an opera, from the sixteenth century to the present.
Everyday life – what people did, who they did it with, what gestures and emotions they employed, how they recorded what they found important, how status and gender shaped everyday experience and interaction.
Recent project: she has just finished a large book with Tara Hamling at Birmingham on middling domestic interiors – trying to understand the experience of living in an early modern house – from bed chambers and warming pans to apostle spoons and chamber pots: A Day at Home in Early Modern England.  

In April 2019, she began a major new AHRC project 'The Cultural Lives of the Middling Sort, writing and material culture 1560-1660'.   This major new AHRC project, running for three years from April 2019 aims to transform our sense of the way reading and writing fitted into the everyday cultural lives of a very important but under-researched group in early modern England – the middling sort – the literate urban households whose members often wrote for a living.

Online Projects

AHRC Network website: Ways of Seeing the English Domestic Interior, 1500-1700: the case of decorative textiles
EU-funded DocExplore historical documentation project: DocExplore Project 

Middling Culture:  A project to uncover the cultural lives of ordinary men and women in early modern England


Catherine welcomes graduate students in any areas of the dramatic, social and cultural history of the early modern period, and is particularly interested in supervising interdisciplinary projects. She has previously supervised students working on many aspects of Shakespeare and early modern drama studies, account books kept by women, German and Islamic domestic books, military culture, portrait miniatures, tythe dispute, scribal culture, fairy kings, the construction of urban community and ecclesiastical court depositions.


Catherine is the Orders Secretary and a Council Member of the Malone Society.



  • Hamling, T. and Richardson, C. (2017). A Day at Home in Early Modern England: Material Culture and Domestic Life, 1500-1700. [Online]. London, UK: Yale University Press. Available at: https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300195019/day-home-early-modern-england.
    This fascinating book offers the first sustained investigation of the complex relationship between the middling sort and their domestic space in the tumultuous, rapidly changing culture of early modern England. Presented in an innovative and engaging narrative form that follows the pattern of a typical day from early morning through the middle of the night, A Day at Home in Early Modern England examines the profound influence that the domestic material environment had on structuring and expressing modes of thought and behaviour of relatively ordinary people. With a multidisciplinary approach that takes both extant objects and documentary sources into consideration, Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson recreate the layered complexity of lived household experience and explore how a family’s investment in rooms, decoration, possessions, and provisions served to define not only their status, but the social, commercial, and religious concerns that characterised their daily existence.
  • Richardson, C. (2011). Shakespeare and Material Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    OXFORD SHAKESPEARE TOPICS General Editors: Peter Holland and Stanley Wells Oxford Shakespeare Topics provide students and teachers with short books on important aspects of Shakespeare criticism and scholarship. Each book is written by an authority in its field, and combines accessible style with original discussion of its subject. What is the significance of Shylock's ring in The Merchant of Venice? How does Shakespeare create Gertrude's closet in Hamlet? How and why does Ariel prepare a banquet in The Tempest? In order to answer these and other questions, Shakespeare and Material Culture explores performance from the perspective of the material conditions of staging. In a period just starting to be touched by the allure of consumer culture, in which objects were central to the way gender and social status were experienced but also the subject of a palpable moral outrage, this book argues that material culture has a particularly complex and resonant role to play in Shakespeare's employment of his audience's imagination. Chapters address how props and costumes work within the drama's dense webs of language - how objects are invested with importance and how their worth is constructed through the narratives which surround them. They analyse how Shakespeare constructs rooms on the stage from the interrelation of props, the description of interior spaces and the dynamics between characters, and investigate the different kinds of early modern practices which could be staged - how the materiality of celebration, for instance, brings into play notions of hospitality and reciprocity. Shakespeare and Material Culture ends with a discussion of the way characters create unique languages by talking about things - languages of faerie, of madness, or of comedy - bringing into play objects and spaces which cannot be staged. Exploring things both seen and unseen, this book shows how the sheer variety of material cultures which Shakespeare brings onto the stage can shed fresh light on the relationship between the dynamics of drama and its reception and comprehension.
  • Richardson, C. (2006). Domestic Life and Domestic Tragedy. [Online]. Manchester University Press. Available at: https://doi.org/ISBN 0-7190-6544-5.
    This book considers a range of printed and documentary evidence to assess the way ordinary individuals thought about their houses and households. It explores how writers of domestic tragedies engaged the attitudes towards households to shape their representations of domesticity, and discusses how the dynamics of the early modern house were represented on the stage. It is essential reading for students of early modern drama concerned with its reception and staging, and for historians wanting to know more about the central significance of the household in early modern England

Edited book

  • Richardson, C. (2016). The Routledge Handbook of Material Culture in Early Modern Europe. [Online]. Richardson, C., Hamling, T. and Gaimster, D. eds. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/9781409462699.
    The Routledge Handbook of Material Culture in Early Modern Europe marks the arrival of early modern material culture studies as a vibrant, fully-established field of multi-disciplinary research.

    The volume provides a rounded, accessible collection of work on the nature and significance of materiality in early modern Europe – a term that embraces a vast range of objects as well as addressing a wide variety of human interactions with their physical environments. This stimulating view of materiality is distinctive in asking questions about the whole material world as a context for lived experience, and the book considers material interactions at all social levels.

    There are 27 chapters by leading experts as well as 13 feature object studies to highlight specific items that have survived from this period (defined broadly as c.1500–c.1800). These contributions explore the things people acquired, owned, treasured, displayed and discarded, the spaces in which people used and thought about things, the social relationships which cluster around goods – between producers, vendors and consumers of various kinds – and the way knowledge travels around those circuits of connection. The content also engages with wider issues such as the relationship between public and private life, the changing connections between the sacred and the profane, or the effects of gender and social status upon lived experience.

    Constructed as an accessible, wide-ranging guide to research practice, the book describes and represents the methods which have been developed within various disciplines for analysing pre-modern material culture. It comprises four sections which open up the approaches of various disciplines to non-specialists: ‘Definitions, disciplines, new directions’, ‘Contexts and categories’, ‘Object studies’ and ‘Material culture in action’.

    This volume addresses the need for sustained, coherent comment on the state, breadth and potential of this lively new field, including the work of historians, art historians, museum curators, archaeologists, social scientists and literary scholars. It consolidates and communicates recent developments and considers how we might take forward a multi-disciplinary research agenda for the study of material culture in periods before the mass production of goods.
  • Richardson, C. (2012). The Household Account Book of Sir Thomas Puckering of Warwick, 1620: Living in London and the Midlands. Vol. 45. Merry, M. and Richardson, C. eds. Stratford upon Avon: Dugdale Society.
    contains with his probate inventory, 1637
  • Richardson, C. and Rackley, E. (2012). Feminist Perspectives on Tort Law. [Online]. Richardson, J. and Rackley, E. eds. Routledge. Available at: https://www.wildy.com/isbn/9780415731898/feminist-perspectives-on-tort-law-paperback-hardback-in-2012-routledge.
    Feminist Perspectives on Tort Law brings together acknowledged experts in these two areas to pursue a distinctly feminist approach to the major areas of tort law. The first half of the book addesses negligence - including an examination of feminist issues in relation to the duty of care, procreative injuries and loss, police negligence, psychiatric harm, the standard of care and product liability. The second half of the book takes up the nominate torts: the personal torts - including the recently expanding area of privacy and torts in relation to sexual wrong and rape - and land torts - including environmental issues and gender. The final chapter of the volume considers the way in which gender affects the courts’ calculation of damages to the detriment of women. International in its scope, and accessibly written, Feminist Perspectives on Tort Law will be required reading for students, scholars and practitioners.
  • Richardson, C. (2010). Everyday Objects: Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture and Its Meanings. [Online]. Richardson, C. and Hamling, T. eds. Ashgate. Available at: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754666370.
    This book is about the objects people owned and how they used them. Twenty-three specially written essays investigate the type of things that might have been considered 'everyday objects' in the medieval and early modern periods, and how they help us to understand the daily lives of those individuals for whom few other types of evidence survive - for instance people of lower status and women of all status groups.

    Everyday Objects presents new research by specialists from a range of disciplines to assess what the study of material culture can contribute to our understanding of medieval and early modern societies. Extending and developing key debates in the study of the everyday, the chapters provide analysis of such things as ceramics, illustrated manuscripts, pins, handbells, carved chimneypieces, clothing, drinking vessels, bagpipes, paintings, shoes, religious icons and the built fabric of domestic houses and guild halls. These things are examined in relation to central themes of pre-modern history; for instance gender, identity, space, morality, skill, value, ritual, use, belief, public and private behaviour, continental influence, materiality, emotion, technical innovation, status, competition and social mobility.

    This book offers both a collection of new research by a diverse range of specialists and a source book of current methodological approaches for the study of pre-modern material culture. The multi-disciplinary analysis of these 'everyday objects' by archaeologists, art historians, literary scholars, historians, conservators and museum practitioners provides a snapshot of current methodological approaches within the humanities. Although analysis of material culture has become an increasingly important aspect of the study of the past, previous research in this area has often remained confined to subject-specific boundaries. This book will therefore be an invaluable resource for researchers and students interested in learning about important new work which demonstrates the potential of material culture study to cut across traditional historiographies and disciplinary boundaries and access the lived experience of individuals in the past.
  • Richardson, C. (2009). William Dugdale, Historian, 1605-86: His Life, His Writings and His County. [Online]. Richardson, C. and Dyer, C. eds. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer. Available at: http://www.boydellandbrewer.com/store/viewItem.asp?idProduct=12878.
  • Richardson, C. ed. (2004). Clothing Culture 1350-1650. Ashgate: Ashgate Publishing Group.
    Addressing the subject of clothing in relation to such fundamental issues as national identity, social distinction, gender, the body, religion and politics, Clothing Culture, 1350-1650 provides a springboard into one of the most fascinating yet least understood aspects of social and cultural history. Nowhere in medieval and early modern European society was its hierarchical and social divisions more obviously reflected than in the sphere of clothing. Indeed, one of the few constant themes of writers, chroniclers, diarists and commentators from Chaucer to Pepys was the subject of fashion and clothes. Whether it was lauding the magnificence of court, warning against the vanity of fashion, describing the latest modes, or decrying the habit of the lower orders to ape the dress of their social superiors, people throughout history have been fascinated by the symbolism, power and messages that clothes can project. Yet despite this contemporary interest, clothing as a subject of historical enquiry has been a largely neglected field of academic study. Whilst it has been discussed in relation to various disciplines, it has not in many cases found a place as a central topic of analysis in its own right. The essays presented in this volume form part of a growing recent trend to put fashion and clothing back into the centre ground of historical research. From Russia to Rome, Ireland to France, this volume contains a wealth of examples of the numerous ways clothing was shaped by, and helped to shape, medieval and early modern European society. Furthermore, it demonstrates how the study of clothing can illuminate other facets of life and why it deserves to be treated as a central, rather than peripheral, facet of European history.

Book section

  • Richardson, C. (2019). Canterbury, 1560: Slander and social order in an early modern town. In: A Sourcebook of Early Modern European History Life, Death, and Everything in Between. Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/A-Sourcebook-of-Early-Modern-European-History-Life-Death-and-Everything/Lotz-Heumann/p/book/9780815373537.
  • Richardson, C. (2018). Entries on Stratford-upon-Avon in the time of Shakespeare, individuals and material culture. In: Parker, P. ed. The Shakespeare Encyclopedia: Life, Works, World, and Legacy. Greenwood Publishing.
  • Richardson, C. (2017). Continuity and Memory: Domestic Space, Gesture and Affection at the Sixteenth-Century Deathbed. In: Buxton, A., Hulin, L. and Anderson, J. eds. InHabit: People, Places and Possessions. Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien: Peter Lang, p. 219. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3726/b11432.
    This essay focuses on men and women’s last moments of domestic life – on contemporary discussion of the final rituals and processes they went through before they left the household for the last time at their deaths. It analyses cases brought before the church courts in the latter half of the sixteenth century to question the validity of last wills and testaments. These moments are crucially concerned with continuity – with the passing of ownership over spaces and objects from one generation to the next. The legal concerns around the making of a will relate to the testator’s sanity and freedom from undue influence, and the document’s status as the final expression of the dead person’s wishes. As areas of contention, these aspects of the deathbed scene were probed by the courts, and deponents were required to concentrate on detailed descriptions of them. The majority of depositions, therefore, relate events in the room in which the death took place, and record in great detail the speech, movement and gestures through which the dying person expressed themselves to those present.

    Rather than being dry assertions of soundness of mind, then, the depositions give detailed and vivid descriptions of events that are situated with meticulous firmness within the spaces and routines of the early modern house. They bring information about the extent to which the testator was still fulfilling their domestic roles to bear in order to answer these questions indirectly, but they also provide evidence of the relationships between those involved in the testator’s death in social, emotional and physical terms – a unique and invaluable record of non-elite responses to the domestic environment for this period.

    The overall aim of the essay is to explore the way stories told about a death depend upon the physical context of the house to generate their meaning. In this way it gets to the heart of the binaries of ease and unease, and security and anxiety, by exploring the level of comfort which the house provides, and the extent to which men and women at points of extremity are perceived by those who come to witness their wills and to tend to them in their sickness to inhabit their domestic spaces in regular or irregular ways.
  • Richardson, C. (2016). Clothing and Social Status. In: Currie, E. ed. A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion in the Renaissance. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • 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). Shakespeare’s Siblings. In: Wells, S. and Edmondson, P. eds. The Shakespeare Circle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available at: http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/literature/renaissance-and-early-modern-literature/shakespeare-circle-alternative-biography.
  • Richardson, C. (2015). Household in early modern Britain. In: Eibach, J. and Schmidt-Voges, I. eds. Das Haus in Der Geschichte Europas. De Gruyter. Available at: http://www.degruyter.com/view/product/246939.
    A comprehensive analysis of the recent historiography of the early modern English household.
  • Richardson, C. (2015). Honest Clothes in The Merry Wives of Windsor. In: Lennox, P. and Mirabella, B. eds. Shakespeare and Costume. London, UK: Bloomsbury. Available at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/shakespeare-and-costume-9781472525079/.
    What might early modern performances of The Merry Wives of Windsor have looked like, and how did the play make its meaning from the costumes its characters wore? This essay takes the play’s interest in ordinary everyday experience as a cue to read it against a rich source of evidence for the use of early modern clothing, and in doing so it seeks to reconstruct aspects of early modern performance practice which are currently lost to scholarship. It offers an analysis of valuable information from contemporary court depositions which shows the significance of the discourses and gestures associated with items of dress, and asks what happens if we translate such meaningful social practices onto the early modern stage. After analysing what is at stake in the materialisation of social distinctions through dress, the second section of the essay explores the extent to which clothing carries such distinctions in Merry Wives. From Slender’s ‘by these gloves’, through Falstaff’s ‘An old cloak makes a new jerkin’ and Quickly’s courtiers, ‘all musk; and so rustling’, to the cross-dressed fairies in the forest, it investigates the textual evidence for the significance of clothing in the play. But it then goes one step further, suggesting the ways in which we can bring the evidence of the early modern courts to bear in order to explore what we can no longer see or hear because it is not represented in the text – the range of gestures and ideas associated with dress – suggesting partial answers to how actors might have used their costumes on Shakespeare’s stage, and what information that use might have carried for the representation of gender, social status and morality.
  • 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. Available at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/writing-material-culture-history-9781472518569/.
  • Richardson, C. (2013). Household Books. In: Kesson, A. and Smith, E. eds. The Elizabethan Top Ten. Aldershot: Ashgate. Available at: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409440291%20%20%20%20.
  • 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. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-handbook-of-english-prose-1500-1640-9780199580682?cc=gb&lang=en&.
  • 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. (2011). Domestic Life. In: Kinney, A. ed. The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199566105.do.
  • 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. Available at: https://www.press.umich.edu/2056317/ornamentalism.
  • Richardson, C. (2011). Domestic Life in Jacobean London. In: Gossett, S. ed. Thomas Middleton in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available at: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/literature/renaissance-and-early-modern-literature/thomas-middleton-context.
  • Richardson, C. (2010). Social Life. In: Kinney, A. ed. Elizabethan and Jacobean England: Sources and Documents of the English Renaissance. Wiley-Blackwell. Available at: http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1405149671.html.
  • 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. Available at: http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/?k=9781137350411.
  • Perry, R. (2010). Objectification, Identity and the Late Medieval Codex. In: Hamling, T. and Richardson, C. eds. Everyday Objects: Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture and Its Meanings. UK: Ashgate, pp. 309-319. Available at: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754666370.
    The essay weighs materialist anthropological approaches in respect of late medieval books and how books may have 'objectified' aspirational identities for their patrons, owners and readers.
  • 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. Available at: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/literature/renaissance-and-early-modern-literature/cambridge-companion-english-renaissance-tragedy.
  • Richardson, C. (2010). The stage, costume and fashion. In: McNeil, P. and Riello, G. eds. The Fashion History Reader. London: Routledge, pp. 132-134. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/products/9780415493246.
  • 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. (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. Available at: http://www.boydellandbrewer.com/store/viewItem.asp?idProduct=12878.
  • Richardson, C. (2006). ‘Representations of the domestic interior in Renaissance Drama’. In: Aynsley, J. and Grant, C. eds. The Imagined Interior: Representations of the Domestic Interior Since the Renaissance. V&A Publishing.
  • Richardson, C. (2005). Introduction. In: The Merry Wives of Windsor. Penguin Books Ltd.
  • Richardson, C. (2004). ‘havying nothing upon hym saving onely his sherte’: event, narrative and material culture in early modern England. In: Richardson, C. ed. Clothing Culture 1350-1650. Ashgate, pp. 209-221.
    Addressing the subject of clothing in relation to such fundamental issues as national identity, social distinction, gender, the body, religion and politics, Clothing Culture, 1350-1650 provides a springboard into one of the most fascinating yet least understood aspects of social and cultural history. Nowhere in medieval and early modern European society was its hierarchical and social divisions more obviously reflected than in the sphere of clothing. Indeed, one of the few constant themes of writers, chroniclers, diarists and commentators from Chaucer to Pepys was the subject of fashion and clothes. Whether it was lauding the magnificence of court, warning against the vanity of fashion, describing the latest modes, or decrying the habit of the lower orders to ape the dress of their social superiors, people throughout history have been fascinated by the symbolism, power and messages that clothes can project. Yet despite this contemporary interest, clothing as a subject of historical enquiry has been a largely neglected field of academic study. Whilst it has been discussed in relation to various disciplines, it has not in many cases found a place as a central topic of analysis in its own right. The essays presented in this volume form part of a growing recent trend to put fashion and clothing back into the centre ground of historical research. From Russia to Rome, Ireland to France, this volume contains a wealth of examples of the numerous ways clothing was shaped by, and helped to shape, medieval and early modern European society. Furthermore, it demonstrates how the study of clothing can illuminate other facets of life and why it deserves to be treated as a central, rather than peripheral, facet of European history.
  • Richardson, C. (2004). Domestic objects and the construction of family identity. In: Beattie, C., Maslakovic, A. and Rees Jones, S. eds. The Medieval Household in Christian Europe, C. 850-C. 1550 Managing Power, Wealth, and the Body. Brepols Publisher, pp. 433-447.
    This volume asks whether there was a common structure, ideology, and image of the household in the medieval Christian West. In the period under examination, noble households often exercised great power in their own right, while even quite humble households were defined as agents of government in the administration of local communities. Many of the papers therefore address the public functions and perceptions of the household, and argue that the formulation of domestic (and family) values was of essential importance in the growth and development of the medieval Christian state. Contributors to this volume of collected essays write from a number of disciplinary perspectives (archaeological, art-historical, historical, and literary). They examine socially diverse households (from peasants to kings) and use case-studies from different regions across Europe in different periods from the medieval epoch from c.850 to c.1550. The volume both includes studies from archives and collections not often covered in English-language publications, and offers new approaches to more familiar material. It is divided into thematic sections exploring the role of households in the exercise of power, in controlling the body, in the distribution of wealth and within a wider economy of possessions. The majority of the papers were first given at the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds in 2001, in a strand on 'Domus and Familia' organised by the Urban Household Group of the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York.
  • Richardson, C. (2003). Properties of domestic life: the table in Heywood’s A Woman Killed With Kindness. In: Harris, J. G. and Korda, N. eds. Staged Properties in Early Modern English Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 129-152.
  • Richardson, C. and Merry, M. (2002). ‘To fasten it upon his successors, heirs and owners of that howse…so longe as the world standeth”: Family Identity and Romney Marshlands in Early Modern Kent’. In: Long, A., Clarke, H. and Hipkin, S. eds. Early Modern Kent’, Romney Marsh, Coastal and Landscape Change through the Ages, Oxford University School of Archaeology, Monograph 56. Oxford University Committee for Archaeology.


  • Richardson, C. (2019). “More things in heaven and earth”: Materiality and the Stage. Shakespeare [Online] 15:88-103. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17450918.2018.1561502.
    This article provides an outline of some key recent developments in the study of the materiality of Shakespeare’s stage, taking that term to refer to writing sensitive to theatre as performance – as a located medium, anchored in a particular place and moment in time, employing the properties of bodies, gestures, things and spaces in relation to language. Three main areas are explored: the staging of objects, research into the materiality of stage space, and the influence of ideas of embodiment on our understanding of the holistic experience of plays as events produced by those on and off the stage. In the context of these three areas, issues of skill and lived theatrical experience are addressed, and questions of evidence and disciplinary collaboration are raised. The
    essay ends with a brief discussion of the possibilities that materiality offers for intervention in the tensions between historicity and presentism in Shakespeare studies.
  • Richardson, C. (2016). ’A most curious mantle’: Shakespeare’s late materialities. Costellazioni [Online] 1. Available at: https://www.rivistacostellazioni.org/numeri-interno.
    Considerable attention has been paid to Shakespeare’s late plays since the turn of the millennium, exploring the mechanics of their most prominent features. This essay makes a case for the significance of their distinctive materiality, a consideration of which forces us to pay due attention to both text and performance, and has the potential to get to the heart of their distinctive use of genre, language and temporality. Whilst there have been many interesting local readings of the plays’ props, we lack a general understanding of the function of a more broadly-conceived materiality which aims to explore its function in the creation of their unique effects. Focusing on Cymbeline, the essay aims to make some initial suggestions about what ‘late materiality’ might encompass, by what forces it might be constrained, and what it might tell us about the effects of the plays on their audiences – to begin to think through a method by which we might assess its role in the making of these late plays.
  • Richardson, C. and Hamling, T. (2016). Ways of Seeing Early Modern Decorative Textiles. Textile History [Online] 47:4-26. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00404969.2016.1144672.
    This article reviews and analyses the activities and findings of an AHRC research network, Ways of Seeing the English Domestic Interior, 1500-1700; the case of decorative textiles (2012-13). Critically evaluating the results of four network events, the paper situates them within a broader investigation of the central role of decorative textiles in shaping the experience of domestic interiors in the past and present. In the first publication of its kind, we explore the historiography and current range of approaches to the study, interpretation, and exhibition of historic textiles and analyse the insights offered by bringing together different disciplinary and professional perspectives. We argue for the key significance of these textiles for both historical and modern perceptions of the domestic interior, and contend that it is necessary to pursue innovative, collaborative, cross-disciplinary approaches to researching them in order to understand how they functioned in the early modern period and to inform new directions for their display and presentation in the present.
  • Tatler, B., Macdonald, R., Richardson, C. and Hamling, T. (2016). Mobile eye-tracking and interactions with domestic textiles in real world environments. Textile History [Online] 47:94-118. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/ytex20/current#aHR0cDovL3d3dy50YW5kZm9ubGluZS5jb20vZG9pL3BkZi8xMC4xMDgwLzAwNDA0OTY5LjIwMTYuMTE0NDg2NUBAQDc=.
    This collaborative paper co-authored by researchers in visual perception at the University of Dundee together with the editors presents the research findings of a mobile eye-tracking experiment at Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire, which aimed to capture information about the eye-movements of individuals while viewing a furnished room in an historic property. The room that was the focus of the experiment was selected because it is decorated with large painted cloths, dating from the eighteenth century, across three walls. These linen cloths are painted with a range of pictorial motifs including landscape with flora and buildings, figure groups and animals. The experiment involved 14 participants divided into two groups (the first comprising seven individuals with prior knowledge about painted cloths and/or historic textiles, the second seven individuals who had no prior knowledge of painted cloths or historic textiles). Once equipped with mobile eye-tracking equipment, each individual was asked to view the room four times and a new piece of information was presented before each viewing. Analysis of the eye-tracking data suggests that the nature of prior knowledge and/or specific pieces of information has a significant influence on whether and how people approach and engage with historic textiles and interiors.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). Fruits of her labour. World of Interiors [Online] 2014:24-30. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    On the painted fabric wallhanging by the artist Melissa White at Bayleaf, in the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
  • Richardson, C. (2010). ‘Shakespeare and Material Culture’. Literature Compass [Online] 7:424-438. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-4113.2010.00700.x.
    This article outlines the various ways in which recent criticism has related Shakespeare’s plays to early modern material culture, and suggests directions for future scholarship in this area. It explores writing about material culture and the construction of identity, about the materiality of the production and consumption practices of which the early modern theatre was a part, and about the use of stage properties in Shakespeare’s plays. In doing so, it argues that the study of material culture has been responsible for two major changes in our received wisdom about the early modern stage – it has enabled us to challenge and problematise our notions of both the ‘all-male’ and the ‘bare’ stage, devoid of props. It suggests that greater scholarly attention to the forms of material culture – to early modern objects and the processes with which they were associated – will offer us fruitful new avenues into the way Shakespeare’s plays work upon their audiences.
  • Richardson, C., Lowe, E., Riall, N. and Riches, S. (2007). The Cotehele Cupboard:domestic objects, imagery and meaning, an interdisciplinary approach. Archaeological Journal 164.
  • Richardson, C. (2006). ‘The material culture of Stranger life’. Proceedings of the Huguenot Society XXVIII:495-508.
  • Richardson, C. (2005). Early modern plays and domestic spaces. Home Cultures 2:269-283.
    The article examines domestic interior as represented on the pre-Restoration English stage. It argues for the very specific nature of theatrical representations of the interior, and for the connection between the household on and off the stage. The article also contrasts early modern representations with medieval and post-Restoration ones.
  • Richardson, C., Murdock, G. and Merry, M. (2003). Clothing, Culture and Identity in Early Modern England: Creating a New Tool for Research. Textile History 34:229-234.


  • Hudson, Z. (2017). Locations, Networks and Cycles: Studying the Everyday Life of Richard Stonley (1520-1600).
    This project explores everyday life in the early modern period and utilises an extended case study examining the diaries of Richard Stonley, in order to develop new methodological strategies for the analysis and interpretation of archival sources. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the thesis draws on theoretical frameworks from fields including anthropology and material culture studies, and combines qualitative and quantitative modes of analysis. The conclusions of this study draw out effective methods with which to approach highly personal and idiosyncratic, or seemingly mundane archival sources. These methods enable a nuanced understanding of early modern individuals who may fall between established categories, such as 'elite' and 'middling' or 'urban' and 'rural'.

    The three surviving volumes of Richard Stonley's unpublished diary, dating from 1581 to 1597, contain large amounts of information about daily life at his homes in London and Essex, and in the Fleet prison where he resided in the final years of his life following a serious debt problem. As a Teller of the Exchequer, Richard Stonley also spent much of his time working at the Receipt at Westminster. These four locations would have been inhabited by Stonley on a regular or daily basis, and they were the sites for numerous routine activities recorded in the diary entries and in other archival sources, including inventories and accounts. Social interactions were also recorded in the diary, allowing for an analysis of his quotidian social network, alongside behaviours connected to both routine activities and special occasions.

    This thesis demonstrates that rather than viewing everyday life merely as a category of activities or objects centered around a domestic setting, this theme can be utilised as a lens through which to examine challenging or dense historical sources. This methodological approach includes exploring a wide range of archival evidence in detail, generating a deeper understanding of the working practices and daily tasks undertaken by historic individuals in the navigation of their quotidian lives and the creation of their social and cultural identities.
    The overarching topic of this dissertation is practical knowledge in early modern Europe. Practical knowledge is the know-how people have in order to make something, do something or obtain something. Textually speaking, this knowledge profiles itself as a prescription, recipe, secret, or formula. The areas of interest of practical knowledge are very wide from kitchen wisdom to medical panaceas.
    The main aim of this interdisciplinary study is to contextualize practical knowledge. By 'contextualizing' I mean studying different topics that are intrinsically intertwined with the subject. In this PhD dissertation the 1) origin or creation, 2) transmission or dissemination, and 3) use or consumption are key subjects for understanding the place of practical knowledge in early modern European society. These three topics are reflected in the six chapters. The first part, containing the first three chapters, deals with practical knowledge in general and the second part, containing the last three chapters, deals with a case study of a book called A Very Proper Treatise (1573).
    The first chapter of the first part, which is an introduction to the whole thesis, contains the historiography and theory about the subject concerning practical knowledge production and status. The second chapter studies transmission dynamics of practical knowledge, making use of the rhizome metaphor of Deleuze and Guattari and examining transmission dynamics in specialized environments, such as workshops and laboratories. In the third chapter of Part I, I develop the concept of mediators of practical knowledge, arguing that some people, either literary writers or practitioners, used the printing medium to earn in their living. As a consequence they are responsible for a major dissemination of practical knowledge.
    Part II of this PhD dissertation is conceived as a microapproach. In this part the study of the early English print A Very Proper Treatise (1573) finds its legitimate place. This Treatise about limning, or painting in books, will be examined through the same three lenses used in Part I: creation, dissemination, and consumption. In the first chapter the origin of the text of the book is examined. The following chapter examines the making or origin of the material book, where I argue that it is a printer's compilation. Finally, the consumption and consumers of the book will be studied in the third and last chapter.
  • Klein Käfer, N. (2016). Rituals, Migrations, and Texts: German Charms in a Transcontinental Perspective.
    The present work will analyse how German charms were recorded, perceived, and used in different periods of history. This analysis will be based on sources like ninth-century to late-sixteenth-century manuscripts, late-sixteenth- to seventeenth-century treatises and witch trial records, eighteenth- and nineteen-century printed books and booklets, and currently used manuscripts in a German immigrant community in Southern Brazil, as well as interviews with local healers from immigrant communities in Brazil and in Pennsylvania (USA).
    The study of these sources will be divided in four chapters. In the first chapter, the focus will be on how German charms entered manuscript culture in the ninth and tenth centuries, how they were incorporated into the body of the text in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and how they became popular in recipe collections and pharmacopoeias until the late sixteenth century.
    The second chapter will deal with the reduction of records of charms in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For that, we will look into medical and religious treatises to see how they portray the use of charms. To give more nuance to how these treatises had an impact on the transmission of charms, examples of witch trial records dealing with charm users will be presented.
    In chapter 3, the attention will shift to charms in print. In the late eighteen century, charm books started to gain popularity and entered the esoteric book market. We will look into how these texts were adapted by publishers, the strategies they used to market these books, and the impact that print had in the transmission of charms among practitioners.
    Chapter 4 focuses on charms found among German immigrants in Southern Brazil and in Pennsylvania. By combining textual and oral sources, this chapter will analyse how these charms are used in these two immigrant communities and examine the textual means in which they survive in these new contexts, to see what they reveal about practice, transmission, and textual adaptation of charms.
    The goal of these chapters is to understand charms in their textual and social environments, to see how changes in these environments affected or did not affect the way in which charms were transmitted, the opinions surrounding the use of charms, and the use of charms in daily life.
  • Hudson, Z. (2014). Food, Dining and the Everyday Life of Richard Stonley.
    This project seeks to explore everyday food and dining experiences, in order to gain a better understanding of the customs and interpersonal relationships associated with food, hospitality and status in 16th century London and England. Using two of the three surviving volumes of the diary, or account book, of Richard Stonley (held by the Folger Library), this project will analyse his purchases of food and objects associated with dining, plus a series of his food menus. In addition to the diary, an inventory of Stonley's home in Aldersgate Street has survived, providing additional evidence of the contents of Stonley's household's living environment.
    Chapter 1 positions the Stonley diaries in relation to current scholarship on everyday life and historical biography. It is followed by two case studies, illustrating how special occasions can reveal much about the role that food and dining played in Stonley's life and in his writing. Chapter 2 analyses a 12 month period in the diary, from May 1593 to May 1594, revealing strong seasonal trends and specific customs such as the gifting of food items. Chapter 3 explores three and a half months of dinner and supper menus listed by Stonley whilst in prison, illustrating the remarkably varied range of ingredients, cooking and serving methods enjoyed by Stonley. Demonstrating the inter-relationships between Stonley's food choices and eating habits, and his family, household and social relationships, this project makes use of an unpublished and largely unused manuscript.
  • De Rycker, K. (2014). Recycling Pietro Aretino: The Posthumous Reputation of Europe’s First Professional Writer.
    Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) was an Italian writer who was one of the first to make a living from the printing press. As the 'scourge of princes' he was notorious across Europe for his acerbic wit. However after his death his fame sank when his entire works were placed on the Papal Index of Prohibited Books in 1559. In the century that followed Aretino was a controversial figure, associated with pornography and atheism in the popular imagination and, like Machiavelli, became synonymous with Italian vice in the minds of foreign readers. Despite the complex history of his posthumous reputation abroad, surprisingly little research has been done on the topic. Instead we are left with a few disconnected articles which tend to focus on specific instances of Aretino's works being used as sources for later writers. This thesis therefore provides the first unified approach to examining Aretino's posthumous reputation in the early modern period. It does so by treating his afterlife not as a finished product to be referred to by later readers, but uncovers the processes by which Aretino's reputation mutated through the mediation of editors, translators, writers, readers, engravers and purveyors of erotic art.

    This thesis is divided into three main phases of Aretino's afterlife, which were previously compressed into a simple 'cause and effect' narrative of Aretino's work being censored in 1559 and his reputation immediately suffering because of it. In the first phase, Aretino's writing is still positively received by editors in England and the Low Countries attempting to restore his work back to their pre-censored state, and by English writers who see Aretino as an extemporal wit and a model for their growing professional aspirations. In the second phase, Aretino's reputation for bawdry and atheism is beginning to impact the way in which he is presented to later readers in Spain, the Low Countries, England, Germany and France, as translators and commentators begin to reframe his writing along newly enforced moral lines. In the third phase, two pornographic works with which Aretino initially had only a tangential relationship are misattributed to him and multiple images and texts from Italy, the Low Countries, England, and France are reproduced as 'Aretine' products.

    While the majority of the literary references to Aretino in this thesis are to English writers, as this overview makes clear this is not a traditional bilateral comparative study of cultural exchange between Italy and England. Instead it places the English reception of Aretino within an European context, with the Low Countries proving to be unexpectedly prominent in the circulation of his work, even though up till now this connection has never been studied by critics outside of the Netherlands.
  • Hails, C. (2014). Social Circulation and Historical Culture: A Shakespeare Myth in Sevenoaks.
    This thesis explores a provincial myth in the context of local historical culture and with reference to what Daniel Woolf has called ‘the social circulation of the past’. The myth identifies Sevenoaks School as a ‘grammar school’ cited by Jack Cade in Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part 2.
    The thesis examines the processes by which the myth developed, focussing on elements of the myth and on several central texts: Lambarde’s A Perambulation of Kent; Henry VI Part 2; a handwritten local history; and Jack Cade in Victorian adventure fiction for boys. In discussing the interaction of print and oral culture, the thesis argues for a revised understanding of Lambarde’s work on Sevenoaks and illustrates how some elements of this local historical culture remained unrecorded, outside formal history writing, until the nineteenth century. It also proposes a new understanding of the school’s wider reputation in the early modern period, with reference to previously unexamined evidence of boarding scholars.
    The thesis concludes that the myth evolved from the early modern social circulation of the past in print and oral culture, custom, memory and landscape, and that it flourished in the early twentieth century in a historical culture infused with the ‘cult’ of Shakespeare and the rural, romantic nostalgia of ‘Englishness’ expressed in the arts and literature of the time.


  • Richardson, C. (2001). Chaucer: A Beginner’s Guide.

Edited journal

  • Richardson, C. and Hamling, T. eds. (2016). Ways of Seeing Early Modern Decorative Textiles for Textile History. Textile History [Online] 47:1-118. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/ytex20/current.
    Decorative textiles were the most ubiquitous form of domestic furnishing in early modern England. From wallcoverings and curtains, bedhangings, tablecloths and carpets, cushions and upholstery, to intricately embroidered smaller items such as boxes and pictures, textiles covered almost every surface of the early modern interior. William Harrison, in his famous Description of England of 1577, states their importance for the development of that interior: not only were the houses of gentlemen and merchants filled with “great provision of tapestry, Turkey work [and] fine linen” but even the houses of artificers and farmers were adorned with “tapestry and silk hangings, and their tables with carpets and fine napery”. The range of textile items that could be seen in houses and their various material qualities were described in great detail in contemporary documents, particularly in account books and probate materials, which show their economic significance and indicate their visual impact. And yet our experience of historic interiors today does not, and perhaps cannot, do justice to this striking feature of the early modern household. Very few textile items from the period have survived in anything like their original or complete condition and the fragile extant objects present significant challenges for interpretation, conservation, display and presentation (e.g. condition, vulnerability to damage and surface deterioration caused by light and touch). While important work has been done to establish the heritage context within which decisions about display are linked to concepts of ‘authenticity’, significant questions remain about the relationship between pre-modern ways of viewing and modern experiences. This special issue and the work of the network which it presents is based on the premise that we cannot fully understand the function of early modern houses unless we understand the complex visual impact of their textiles, and that to do so we need to examine how they may have worked as part of a system of objects functioning in particular domestic spaces.

    Whilst the cloths from which these textile objects were made have long been recognised for their key role in connecting local, national and international markets, more recent work has stressed the social role of their finished forms. Recent large-scale quantitative analysis of English probate documents has demonstrated the economic significance of fabric items as one of the key categories of goods that were bought in increasing numbers over the course of the sixteenth century, and the enduring appeal of textile goods, including the development of new types, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But as Harrison’s comment above suggests, they were not only abundant but also socially significant. They were key to the definition of the emerging ‘middling sorts’, who invested a good deal of their wealth in textile goods that advertised the sophistication and comfort of their domestic provision, and continued to be meaningful as a fundamental part of traditional modes of exhibiting elite status. Conversely, such goods were also made within the home by growing numbers of leisured women, making them key to the construction of gendered identity in the period. Because early modern people experienced these various forms of textile as part of a wider visual culture, it is argued here that finding ways to bring these objects together and re-contextualise them – in terms of positioning within historic spaces and by understanding modes of perception – will permit us to consider in detail the intersecting impact of their economic, social and cultural significance. It will also allow us to answer key historical questions about gender and social status by attending to the material qualities of these objects, which we contend have been neglected in comparison to a long scholarship focusing on technical and aesthetic qualities.

    This special issue reflects the work of an AHRC-funded network of researchers in the Humanities and Sciences, conservators, museum curators and heritage professionals, which aimed to highlight and address methodological and museological issues surrounding the study and presentation of decorative textiles from the early modern period in England. The contributions represent a range of perspectives on the central research question: how did individuals experience and engage with the visual and material properties of the domestic interior in early modern England, and how might we analyse and represent those experiences in the present? In focusing on decorative textiles with figurative imagery we examine the dynamics of perception between the narrative (reading), visual (form, colour) and material (texture) qualities of historic domestic interiors.

Internet publication

  • Richardson, C. (2013). ‘City Comedy and Material life’: Things in The Dutch Courtesan [web page]. Available at: http://www.dutchcourtesan.co.uk/city-comedy-material-life-the-dutch-courtesan/.
    A research essay for The Dutch Courtesan Project, University of York.


  • Richardson, C. (2017). Review of Shepard Alexandra . Accounting for Oneself. Worth, Status, and the Social Order in Early Modern England. Oxford University Press, London 2015. xv, 357 pp. £65.00. International Review of Social History [Online] 62:159-161. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020859017000098.
  • Richardson, C. (2007). Review of Elizabeth Salter, Cultural Creativity in the English Renaissance. H-Net Reviews [Online]:0-0. Available at: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=57501201044064.
  • Richardson, C. (2007). The Biography of the Object in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy. History [Online] 92:569-570. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-229X.2007.410_38.x.
  • Richardson, C. (2007). Women and Material Culture, 1660-1830 Batchelor, J. E. and Kaplan, C. eds. Reviews in History [Online]. Available at: http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/paper/richardson2.html.
  • Richardson, C. (2007). Worlds Seldom Spent in Vain: A Review of Presentist Shakespeare. Times Higher Education [Online]:1. Available at: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=21&storycode=209052&featurecode=120.
  • Richardson, C. (2007). Shakespeare The Basics. Times Literary Supplement.
  • Richardson, C. (2007). Words Seldom Spent in Vain: A review of How to read a Shakespeare play. Times Higher Education [Online]:1. Available at: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=21&storycode=209052&featurecode=120.
  • Richardson, C. (2007). Words Seldom Spent in Vain: A Review of Studying Shakespeare on Film. Times Higher Education [Online]:1. Available at: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=21&storycode=209052&featurecode=120.
  • Richardson, C. (2006). Elodie Lecuppre-Desjardin and Anne-Laure Van Bruaene (eds.), Emotions in the Heart of the City (14th – 16th Century). Urban History 33:0-0.
  • Richardson, C. (2004). Theatres and Encyclopedias in Early Modern Europe. New Theatre Quarterly 20:399-399.
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