Speakers List

This page is updated regularly and lists the speakers who have given talks to the society over the years for your reference. Please note that their professional posts may have changed since they spoke to us.

2020 Season (* talks cancelled in compliance with the Coronavirus restrictions)

Dr Frances Wilson, a critic, journalist and non-fiction author who is known for her psychologically rich and imaginative approach to her subjects.  'Burning Man:  Tales of D H Lawrence'.

Professor Charlie Louth, Fellow of The Queen's College and Professor of German in the University of Oxford.  'The Contradictions of Thomas Mann'*

Dr Sophie Duncan, Fellow in English at Christ Church in the University of Oxford.  'Shakespeare's Actresses on the Victorian Stage'*

Amanda Craig, a State of the Nation novelist.  'The State of the Nation' Novel'*

Professor Patrick Hayes, Associate Professor in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St John's College. 'Philip Roth in Retrospect'*

Dr Kieron Wynn, published Poet and recently (2018-19) Artist in Residence at Lady Margaret Hall in the University of Oxford.  'T S Eliot: The Waste Land and the Way Out'*

Dame Hermione Lee, Emeritus Professor of Literature at the University of Oxford, Goldsmiths' Professor of Literature at the University of Oxford (1998-2008) and President of Wolfson College, Oxford (2008-2017). Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature.  'Edith Wharton: A Great House Full of Rooms'* 

2019 Season

Professor Claire Harman, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 2006, Professor of Creative Writing at Durham University, and the Royal Literary Fund Fellow of St Hugh's College, Oxford. 'Charlotte Bronte'.

Professor Zachary Leader, One of America's foremost literary biographers. 'Saul Bellow'.

Professor Michael Parker, teaches at the Oxford Department for Continuing Education and is a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University. 'William Trevor'.

Dr Lyndall Gordon, a fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, and of the Royal Society of Literature. 'Olive Schreiner'.

Michael Billington, an author and doyen of British theatre criticism since he started reviewing for The Guardian newspaper in 1972.

Peter Kemp, a renowned theatre critic, formerly of The Independent before moving to The Sunday Times and broadcasts as a critic.

Dr Keith Hopper, teaches at the Oxford University's Department for Continuing Education: 'James Joyce'.

Dr Freya Johnston, a fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. 'Baron von Munchausen'.

Professor Abigail Williams, a Fellow of St Peter's College, Oxford and one of the General Editors of 'The Complete Works of Jonathan Swift'.

Professor David Dwan, a Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford: 'George Orwell'.

2018 Season

Professor Sandie Byrne, Director of English Studies at Oxford University Department of Continuing Education 'Saki'.

Professor Roy Foster, Emeritus Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford and Fellow of HertforCollege 'Seamus Heaney'.

Professor Nora Crook,  professor emerita of Ruskin Anglia University, is a world-leading expert on the Shelley circle whose researches have led to the discovery of significant Shelley papers.

Professor Fiona Stafford, professor of English in the University  of Oxford and a Fellow of Somerville College.

Dr Daniel Tyler, tutor and Fellow at Trinity Hall at the University of Cambridge.  'Dickens stories: the Uncommercial Traveller'.

Peter Kemp is the former chief fiction editor at The Sunday Times, and continues to write, lecture, and broadcast as a critic: "A history of detective fiction'.

Dr Tessa Roynon is a Teaching and Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute in the University of Oxford: 'Marilynne Robinson'.

Dr David Grylls is a Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford, and the author of books on Dickens and George Gissing.  'Flaubert'.

Dr Mark Bostridge: 'Vera Brittain'.

2017 Season

Frances Wilson, the prize-winning biographer: 'Thomas de Quincy'.

Peter Kemp is the former chief fiction editor at The Sunday Times, and continues to write, lecture, and broadcast as a critic: 'Ghost Stories'.

Dr Sally Bayley is a Teaching and Research Fellow of the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford University, and a lecturer in English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.   ‘The Private Life of the Diary: from Pepys to tweets'.

Michele Mendelssohn is an Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford and Deputy Director of the Rothermere American Institute. ‘The Making of Oscar Wilde’.

Professor Emma Smith is a Fellow of Hertford College, University of Oxford. Her most recent publication is Shakespeare’s First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book (OUP 2016) ‘From Groundlings to Grandees: how Theatre went Up-market’.

Michael Harrison has produced children’s fiction, poetry, and anthologies for OUP. ‘Oxford Detectives’.

Dr Alexandra Harris teaches English literature at the University of Liverpool. Previous books include 'Romantic Moderns' , 'Virginia Woolf ' and ‘Weatherland'.  

Dr Rosamund Bartlett is a Fellow of the European Humanities Research Institute at Oxford University, the author of Wagner in Russia, and of acclaimed biographies of Tolstoy and Chekhov. Her many translations from the Russian include Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (Oxford World Classics 2014).   ‘Russian Literature and the 1917 Revolution’.

Dr David Grylls is a Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford, and the author of books on Dickens and George Gissing.  ‘Thomas Hardy, the Novelist'.

2016 Season

Professor John Mullan, Professor of English at UCL, writer, journalist and past Chair of the Man Booker Prize  'What happens in Jane Austen?'.

Dr Stuart Lee, member of Merton College and Tolkien specialist 'The world of Tolkien'.

Dr Clemence Schulze, historian at Durham University, Chair of Barbara Pym Society 'Green leaves and Golden Pavements: the novels of Barbara Pym'.

Dr Marion Turner, Associate Professor and Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. Biographer of Chaucer.

Dr Sandie Byrne, Director of English Studies at Oxford University Department of Continuing Education  'Ian McEwan'.

Adrian Barlow, awarded palmes academiques, Chair of the English Association, former Director of Public Programme at Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education : 'Anthony Trollope'.

Professor Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Professor of English at Oxford University, Fellow of Magdalen College and Fellow of Royal Society of Literature.  'Aspects of Alice'.

2015 Season

Peter Kemp, former Fiction Editor and now Chief Fiction Reviewer for The Sunday Times. 'The Ghosts' High Noon: Victorian Ghost Tales'.

Professor Maureen Freely, Warwick University. 'Orhan Pamuk and his contemporaries'.

Nigel Bryant, author and translator 'The medieval French Romance'.

Dr Carl Schmidt, Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford 'Henry James'.

Professor Jeremy Treglown, Senior Research Fellow of London University's School of Advanced Studies.

Paula Byrne, biographer 'Evelyn Waugh'.

Amanda Craig, novelist, broadcaster and literary critic 'Love, money, marriage'.

2014 Season

Dr Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, Lecturer on modern drama in Faculty of English, Oxford,and is a Fellow of St Catherine's, Oxford. Author of 'Science on Stage: from Dr Faustus to Copenhagen'. 'Science on Stage'.

Dr Stuart Lee, member of Faculty of English, Oxford and Director of First World War Digital Archive. 'Poetry and Myth: the First World War poets'.

Dr Priscilla Martin, Teaches English and Classics at Oxford. 'Unquiet Slumbers: Jane Eyre and Rebecca'. 

Dr Sandie Byrne, lecturer in English at Oxford, Fellow of Kelllog College. 'Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin'.

Dr Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies, Fellow of Hertford College. 'Shakespeare as collaborator'.

Dr Alice Wood, lecturer in English, University of Portsmouth. 'Womens' Magazines 1910-1940: Modernity and Modernism'.

Francesca Brill, award winning screen writer and novelist. 'Screen writing: an art or a craft?'

Professor Heather O'Donoghue, Professor of Old Norse, Fellow of Linacre College, University of Oxford,. 'Queens of Crime'.

2013 Season

Amanda Craig, author. 'The Golden Ages of Children's Fiction'.

Dr Dinah Roe, Senior Lecturer in 19th century English Literature, Oxford Brookes University. 'The Pre-Raphaelites in Oxford'.

Dr Emma Smith, Hertford College, University of Oxford. 'The Revenge of Prince Hamlet'.

Peter Kemp, Chief Fiction Reviewer for The Sunday Times.  ' Life with Deadlines'.

Dr Abigail Williams,  Tutor in English, St Peter's College, Oxford. 'Bringing Books Home - a history of reading as domestic entertainment'.

Barry Forshaw, editor of Crime Time. 'The Scandinavian Crime Wave'.

Francesca Brill, author. 'The Harbour'.

Dr Karen Hewitt, author. Tutor in Oxford University Department for continuing Education. 'The strangeness of Beryl Bainbridge'.

2012 Season

Professor Helen Hackett, Professor of English at UCL 'Shakespeare and Elizabeth: the meeting of two myths'.

Alexandra Harris, writer, lecturer at Liverpool University 'Romantic Moderns'.

Dr David Grylls, Director of the Literature Programme at Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

Dr Paul Nash, author, specialist in historic printing techniques and presses at the Bodleian Library.   'Resurrecting Sherlock Holmes'. 

Dr Peter McDonald, tutor in Poetry in the English Language, Christ Church College, University of Oxford. 'The Poetry of W.B.Yeats'.

Joanna Kavenna, author, writer in residence St Peter's College, University of Oxford. 

Dr Heather O'Donoghue, Professor of Old Norse, Fellow of Linacre College, University of Oxford. 'Queens of Crime'.

Dr James Hawes, actor, author, archaeologist, academic. 'Excavating Franz Kafka'.

Professor Harriet Devine, theatre historian. 'Writing for the Royal Court'.

Dr Sally Bayley, Fellow of the Rothermere American Institute, & Professor Suzie Hanna, Professor of Animation at Norwich University of the Arts.  'The Girl who would be God: Sylvia Plath's Art of the Visual'.

2011 Season

Peter Kemp, Chief Fiction Reviewer for The Sunday Times.  ' Life with Deadlines'.

Professor Karen O'Brien, Professor of English at Warwick University.  ' Hospitality in the home in the novels of Jane Austen'.

Helen Stanton, academic theologian and writer in residence at Stratford upon Avon for 2011-2012. 'Dischevelled Virtue: the good, the bad and the chaotic in the novels of Iris Murdoch'.

Dr David Grylls, Director of the Literature Programme at Kellogg College, University of Oxford  'The Victorian Novel: Soap Opera and Serial Killlers'.

Sally Vickers, author, Jungian analyst & lecturer in English. 'An Evening with Sally Vickers'.

Tim Pears, Oxford author. 'Landed' and other novels.

Frances Wilson, author.  'Conrad and the Titanic'.

Dr Rosamund Bartlett, author. 'Tolstoy: a Russian Life'.

Dr Keith Hopper, author & lecturer in literature and film studies in University of Oxford,  Department of Continuing Education. 'Flann O'Brien in the 21st Century'.

2010 Season

Dr Rosamund Bartlett, author. 'Happy Birthday Anton Pavlovich!'

Dr Harry Sidebottom, author and expert on Ancient Rome.

Dr Clare Connors, Queen's College, University of Oxford. 'Dreaming Spires: Literary Oxford'.

Alison Weir, author. 'Princes, Paramours and Prisoners: Woodstock Palace from fair Rosamund to Elizabeth I'.

Nicholas McInnery, author and script writer. 'TV Drama: the writer's challenge'.

Dr Tessa Roynon, St Peter's College, University of Oxford: 'Toni Morrison and Philip Roth'.

Dr Heather O'Donoghue, Professor of Old Norse, Fellow of Linacre College, University of Oxford. 'Contemporary Crime Fiction: New Twists on Time-honoured traditions'.

Claire Letemendia, author. 'The Best of Men'.

Glena Chadwick, artist & writer. 'William Morris and Kelmscott: images and words'.

Dr Tom Buchanan, Kellogg College, University of Oxford. 'George Orwell: the road to 1984'.