Somerville tutorial fellow in English literature Fiona Stafford has been elected to the Fellowship of the British Academy, the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences, in recognition of her outstanding research.

Professor Stafford’s research interests range from James McPherson to Seamus Heaney, and include Robert Burns, Wordsworth and Coleridge, Jane Austen, John Keats, the Shelley circle and John Clare. She also has special interests in place and nature writing, environmental humanities, Scottish and Irish literature, and literature and the visual arts.

Her book on writers and places, Local Attachments, won the British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize in 2011; her more recent book, The Long, Long, Life of Trees, which draws on literature, cultural history, natural science, and first-hand encounters with trees, has been widely acclaimed.

Professor Stafford joins Somerville fellow Aditi Lahiri, Professor of Linguistics, and Somerville emeritus fellow Barbara Harvey in the fellowship of the British Academy. Current fellows of the British Academy include some of Britain’s most distinguished thinkers and academics, such as the classicist Mary Beard, the historian Simon Schama and the literary critic Christopher Ricks.

Professor Stafford said: “I am absolutely delighted. It is an enormous honour and completely unexpected.”

Baroness Jan Royall of Blaisdon, Principal of Somerville, said: “This recognition of Professor Stafford by the British Academy underlines the strength of Somerville’s scholarly tradition.

“We are proud of her achievement, and of the vibrant intellectual atmosphere she has helped to foster at Somerville.

“Professor Stafford is an outstanding thinker and teacher who has fired the imagination of many undergraduates with her passion for poetry and nature.”

Professor Stafford’s achievements were also recognised with the award of an honorary degree from the University of Leicester this month.

Professor Fiona Stafford receiving an honorary degree from the University of Leicester

She began her higher education at Leicester, where she received a first class honours degree in English Language and Literature. She then went on to Oxford where she completed an M.Phil in English Romantic studies and a D.Phil focusing on James McPherson and the Poems of Ossian. She held a British Academy Post-doctoral Fellowship and Junior Research Fellowship at Lincoln College, and a lectureship at St Anne’s before being elected to a Fellowship at Somerville. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The Long, Long Life of Trees by Fiona Stafford

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