Greg Walker (FRHS; FEA; FSA; MAE, FRSE)

Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature


Greg Walker is Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature, having previously been the Masson Professor of English at Edinburgh. Before that he was Professor of Early-Modern Literature and Culture and Director of the Medieval Research Centre at the University of Leicester. He gained a BA in English and History and a PhD in early-Tudor literature and history from the University of Southampton, was a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Southampton and has also taught at the Universities of Queensland and Buckingham. He was the Head of Edinburgh's School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures between 2008 and 2011.

Professor Walker is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the English Association, the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Agder Academy of Arts and Sciences (Norway), and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and an elected member of Academia Europaea.

He was a member of the AHRC Council and chaired its Advisory Board for ten years from 2010 to 2020.

He is a former Chair of the Council for College and University English (what is now University English) and a member of the RAE subpanel for 2008 and the ‘Impact’ pilot panel in 2010, and was Deputy Chair of the English Language and Literature sub-panel for REF 2014. He chaired the English Language and Literature sub-panel for REF 2021.

He is co-editor, with Elaine Treharne, of the Oxford Textual Perspectives monograph series (Oxford University Press), and he co-edited, with Martin Stannard, the series, Studies in European Cultural Transition (Ashgate).

Among his other roles are:

  • Chair of the Judges for the James Tait Black Drama Prize
  • Dean of the Scottish Universities International Summer School
  • Member of the English Association Higher Education Committee and Fellowship Committee, and a Trustee of the English Association
  • Member of the Research England Advisory Group for the School of Advanced Studies, London, 2023-
  • Member of the Education Committee of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2021-24
  • Member of the judging panel, The RHS Sir John Neale Essay Prize, 2015-2021

He is a member of the Editorial Board of the journals English; Literature and History, Medieval English Theatre, Research in Medieval and Renaissance Drama, Anglica, and Reformation.

In his spare time he is a passionate advocate of two suddenly slightly fashionable causes, Nottingham Forest Football Club and progressive rock music.


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BA; PhD (Soton)

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Member, Society of Antiquaries of London Research Committee, 2022-25
  • Member, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Education Committee, 2022-
  • External Member: Senior Appointments Committee, Trinity College Dublin, 2019-21
  • International member, Stanford Humanities Centre Fellowship Committee, 2019-21

Undergraduate teaching

  • The Canterbury Tales
  • Shakespeare: Modes and Genres
  • Writing and Tyranny in the Age of Henry VIII
  • Reviewing Early Drama
  • English Literature 2a

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Greg is happy to supervise postgraduate work in any or all of the following areas:

  • Medieval and Tudor Drama: Textual and Performance History
  • The Literature of the early Sixteenth Century: Skelton, Wyatt, Heywood, Bale, etc.
  • The Henrician Reformation: Political and Literary Culture in the Reign of Henry VIII
  • The Printed Book in the reign of Henry VIII
  • Chaucer and the Literature of the late Fourteenth Century
  • Comedy: Medieval to Modern
  • The Films of Alexander Korda
  • Popular Music of the 1970s

Current PhD students supervised

Topics currently worked on by PhD students include, literature and politics at the court of Mary Tudor, a cultural history of the life of Anne Boleyn, and the role of the Vice in early drama.

Past PhD students supervised

Greg has supervised students working on topics ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to twenteith century detective fiction.

Research summary

Professor Walker is a specialist in the literary culture of the reign of Henry VIII. He has also written widely on late-medieval drama and poetry, Renaissance literature, the history of the stage in the period before the building of the professional playhouses, and the cultural consequences of the Henrician Reformation. He has also published on the early films of Alexander Korda and popular music in the 1970s. Among his recent books are, Writing Under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation (OUP, 2005); Reading Literature Historically: Drama and Poetry from Chaucer to The Reformation (Edinburgh UP, 2013); Imagining Spectatorship from the Mysteries to the Shakespearean Stage (OUP, 2016),  co-written with John J. McGavin, and John Heywood: Comedy and Survival in Tudor England (OUP, 2020). He has also co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English (OUP, 2010) with Elaine Treharne, The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama (OUP, 2015) with Thomas Betteridge; edited The Oxford Anthology of Tudor Drama (OUP, 2014), and  co-edited a collection of essays on Textual Distortion (D.S. Brewer, 2017) with Elaine Treharne.  He is currently co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Scottish Theatre, with Randall Stephenson  and is writing a re-evaluation of the early English Morality drama of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

He is also interested in practice-based drama projects. He was Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded 'Staging and Representing the Scottish Renaissance Court' project, with Professor Thomas Betteridge (Brunel University) Dr Eleanor Rycroft (Bristol University) and colleagues in Edinburgh, Southampton and Glasgow Universities, which, in collaboration with Historic Scotland and theatre professionals, staged productions of Sir David Lyndsay's Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis in Linlithgow Palace and Stirling Castle in June 2013.

He recently completed a biography of the Tudor playwright John Heywood, supported by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship, and is working on an edition of the poetry of Wyatt and Surrey for OUP. He has held visiting research fellowships at Stanford University's Center for Space and Text Technologies (2016), at the Huntington Library, San Marino, California (2017), and was the Bliss Canochan International Visitor at the Stanford Humanities Center (2019). 

Professor Walker has supervised students on a range of topics at MA, MSc and PhD level, ranging from the dream-visions and romances of the Fourteenth Century to the drama of the late Sixteenth Century, and covering topics as diverse as the Shakespearean films of Sir Laurence Olivier, golden age detective fiction, and the representation of animals in late fourteenth century literature.

Current research interests


Project activity

Pre-Theatrical Drama in England and Scotland (ongoing project)

The Oxford Handbook of Scottish Theatre (with Prof. Randall Stevenson)

Current project grants

European Popular Literature (UNA Europa funded project with colleagues in Berlin, Leuven, Leiden, Helsinki (PI Prof Rita Schlusemann, Frei University, Berlin), 2021-22

Judgement in Medieval and Early-Modern Literature (Swiss Research Foundation project, PI Prof Kevin Curran, Uni Lausanne)

Past project grants

Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship: John Heywood: Creativity, Identity, and Survival in Tudor England (2017-2019)
AHRC Research Grant (Staging and Representing the Scottish Renaissance Court - with Prof Thomas Betteridge (Brunel University) 2011-2013)
AHRC Research Grant (Staging the Henrician Court - With Prof Thomas Betteridge, 2008-2010)
Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2000-2003)

View all 44 publications on Research Explorer

Invited speaker

  • Keynote, Swiss Association of Medieval and Early Modern English Studies, 7th Biennial Conference, Neuchâtel, June 2022
  • Cultures of Accountability Workshop, University of Leiden, June 2022
  • Una Europa Workshop, Frei University Berlin, May 2022
  • International Festival of Music and Dance of Granada, July 2021
  • Renaissance Literature Conference, Nanjing University, China, July 2021
  • Annual ‘Medieval Matters’ public lecture, Stanford University, January 2020
  • Plenary ‘Summation’, ‘Henry VIII on Tour: Tudor Palace and Royal Progresses’, Workshop I, Hampton Court Palace, 2019, Workshop II, 2020, Workshop III, 2021
  • Annual University of Southampton Timothy Reuter Lecture in Medieval Studies, May 2019
  • Keynote, ‘Cultural Reformations’ conference, Norwegian Institute, Rome, April 2018
  • Annual University of Kent Renaissance Studies Lecture, February 2018
  • Annual Norman Blake Lecture, University of Sheffield, May 2017
  • Huntington Library Annual Crotty Public Lecture, Pasadena, California, February 2017
  • Swiss CUSO graduate workshop, University of Geneva, 2008, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Plenary, ‘Modes of Spectatorship’ Conference, University of Southampton, 2016
  • Plenary, Parkes Centre 50th Anniversary Conference, Southampton, 2015
  • ‘Distortion Collegium’, Stanford University, California, May 2015
  • Plenary, International Conference, Medieval & Renaissance Scottish Literature, Bochum, 2014
  • Plenary, Society for Renaissance Studies 6th Biennial Conference, Southampton, 2014