Fiona Stafford FBA, FRSE

Fellow & Tutor in English Literature; Professor of English Language and Literature

In Somerville, I teach and oversee students at all levels, from Freshers encountering Victorian Literature for the first time to Finalists working on their dissertations or revising for their exams.

Having worked with students from Admissions interview to graduation, I am always pleased to hear of their progress post-Somerville, too.

In the English Faculty, I usually give lectures on Romantic Literature.  I frequently give public lectures to general audiences on aspects of English and Scottish Literature, as well as on the cultural importance of Trees and Flowers.  I supervise MSt courses and dissertations on Romantic Literature, Place and Nature Writing.  Doctoral students, whom I’ve supervised, have worked on topics ranging from Wordsworth, Coleridge, Cowper, Keats, Clare, Byron, Austen, Hogg and the Shelleys to Romantic Theatre, Travel Writing, Romantic Children’s Literature, Eighteenth-century novels, Irish and Scottish Poetry.  As chair of the Environmental Humanities Network at TORCH, I am part of a team promoting work from different disciplines in Place, Nature, and the Environment.  We work closely with the Oxford/National Trust partnership and the Heritage network at TORCH and, in 2019, organised a workshop on ‘Post-Conflict Landscape’.  With Professor Seamus Perry, I also convene the long-running Romantic Research Seminar, which meets regularly throughout term to welcome speakers from other institutions as well as discussing papers from established and early career scholars in Oxford.

I regularly participate in Radio programmes, including Radio 4’s Natural Histories and In Our Time, and have written and delivered or contributed to several series for Radio 3’s ‘The Essay’, including ‘The Meaning of Trees’, ‘The Meaning of Flowers’, ‘The Meaning of Beaches’, ‘Robinson Crusoe’, ‘Forests’.  In 2018, I delivered a walk-and-talk documentary, ‘Keats Goes North’, following in the footsteps of John Keats.  As a member of the Atlantic Archipelago Research Consortium (AARC), which is committed to exploring the local distinctiveness and rich cultural heritage of the coastal regions of Britain and Ireland, I have contributed to events, conferences and collections, including the Unencompassing the Archipelago Conference at Somerville in 2015.  I enjoy working with artists and art historians and have contributed to Calum Colvin’s art books, Jacobites by Name and The Magic Box and Tate Britain’s ‘In Focus’ project on William Dyce’s painting, Pegwell Bay.  I have longstanding research interests in Ossian, Austen, Burns, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Clare, Keats, the Shelleys, Byron, Cowper, Heaney, Carson, literature of the Romantic period, place and nature writing (old and new), Scottish poetry (post 1700), dialogues between English, Irish and Scottish literature, literature and the visual arts, contemporary poetry.  As well as academic writing, I write on place and nature for wider audiences and in 2019 my play, The Dimlight Hours was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

I am currently writing volume V of The Oxford History of English Literature: The Romantic Period, 1785-1830 and a book on Place, and editing, with Nicholas Allen, an anthology of the literary magazine, Archipelago.



The Brief Life of Flowers (London: John Murray, 2018)

Jane Austen: A Brief Life (London and New Haven: Yale UP, 2017)

The Long, Long Life of Trees (London and New Haven: Yale UP, 2016) (Sunday Times Nature Book of the Year, 2016)

Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads, ed. F. Stafford (Oxford, 2013)

Burns and Other Poets, ed. D. Sergeant and F. Stafford (Edinburgh: EUP, 2012)

Reading Romantic Poetry (Oxford: Wiley/Blackwell, 2012)

Local Attachments: The Province of Poetry (Oxford: OUP, 2010) (Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, 2011)

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, ed. Fiona Stafford (Oxford: OUP, 2004)

Jane Austen, Emma, ed. Fiona Stafford (Penguin, 2003)

Starting Lines in Scottish, English, and Irish Poetry: From Burns to Heaney (Oxford: OUP, 2000)

The Last of the Race: The Growth of a Myth from Milton to Darwin (Oxford: OUP, 1994)

The Sublime Savage: James Macpherson and The Poems of Ossian (EUP, 1988)


Coleridge’s Only Tree: Picturing the Birch
June 2020
Journal article
The Coleridge Bulletin

The Cockle Strand
June 2019
Journal article
Archipelago 12

Home Front
November 2018
Dead Ground: 2018-1918

Keats, Shoots and Leaves
September 2018
Keats’s Places

Where Next?