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

Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature


Greg 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 (Australia) and Buckingham. He was the Head of Edinburgh's School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures between 2008 and 2011.

He 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 between 2010 and 2021 and, in punishment for crimes too awful to mention, was asked to chair 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. He was Deputy Chair of the English Language and Literature sub-panel for REF 2014, and 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 for many years 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 Trustee of the English Association
  • Member of the Research England Advisory Group for the School of Advanced Studies, London, 2023-
  • Member of the Education and Research Committees of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2021-24

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.


BA; PhD (Soton)

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Member, Society of Antiquaries of London Research Committee, 2022-25
  • Member, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Education and Research Committees, 2022-25, 2024-27
  • International Member of the Portuguese FCT national Research review, 2024-25
  • External Member: Senior Appointments Committee, Trinity College Dublin, 2019-21
  • International member, Stanford Humanities Centre Fellowship Committee, 2019-21
  • Judge: RHS Sir John Neale History Essay Prize, 2017-21

Undergraduate teaching

  • The Canterbury Tales
  • Shakespeare's Comedies
  • 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 collaborating with Drs Eleanor Rycroft and Clare Wright on a book called, Predramatic Theatre.

Greg 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 a brillisant cast of Scottish theatre professionals, directed by Gregory Thompson, 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. 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 at the University of Malta, and was the Bliss Canochan International Visitor at the Stanford Humanities Center (2019)

Greg 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, late Shakespeare, the work of Nicolaus Mameranus, golden age detective fiction, and the representation of animals in late fourteenth century literature.

Current research interests


Project activity

Pre-modern Moral Drama (book project)

'Pre-Theatrical Drama in England and Scotland' (ongoing project with Drs Eleanor Rycroft (Bristol) and Claire Wright (Kent)))

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

Current project grants

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

Past 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
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: Writing and Tyranny (2000-2003)

Invited speaker

  • Shakespeare 500th Lecture, Victoria Arts Festival and Department of English, University of Malta, 2023
  • First Annual Charles V Lecture, Department of Spanish, University of Malta, 2023
  • 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

The Oxford Handbook of Scottish Theatre (OUP, 2024), co-edited with Randall Stevenson

John Heywood: Comedy and Survival in Tudor England (OUP, 2020), 477pp

Early Performance: Courts and Audiences: The Essays of Sarah Carpenter, co-edited with John J. McGavin (Variorum Collected Series, Taylor and Francis, 2020)

Imagining Spectatorship from the Mysteries to the Shakespearean Stage, co-written with John J. McGavin (OUP, 2016), 208pp.

Edited, The Oxford Anthology of Tudor Drama (OUP, 2014, paperback, 2016), 724pp.

Reading Literature Historically: Drama and Poetry from Chaucer to the Reformation (Edinburgh UP, 2013), 206 pp.

The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama (OUP, 2012), co-edited with Thomas Betteridge, (shortlisted for the Society for Theatre Research Book Prize, 2013, pbk, 2016), 688 pp.

The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English, co-edited with E.M. Treharne, (OUP, 2010, pbk 2017), 774 pp.

Writing Under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation (OUP, 2005, paperback and on-line editions, 2007), xii + 556pp

Alexander Korda, The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) (I.B. Tauris, British Film Series, 2003), x + 114pp

Edited, Medieval Drama: An Anthology (Blackwell, 2000), pp. xvii + 630pp

The Politics of Performance in Early Renaissance Drama (Cambridge UP, 1998, pbk, 2006), xi + 241pp.

Edited, John Skelton (Everyman Poetry Library, 1997), x + 117 pp.

Persuasive Fictions: Faction, Faith, and Political Culture in the Reign of Henry VIII (Scolar Press, 1996), xv + 203 pp.

Plays of Persuasion: Drama and Politics at the Court of Henry VIII (CUP, 1991, pbk, 2009), xii + 244 pp.

John Skelton and the Politics of the 1520s (CUP, 1988, pbk, 2002), xv + 228 pp.