Professor Jane Dawson (BA PhD Dip Ed FRHS FSA (Scot) FRSE)

Professor Emerita of Reformation History

  • School of Divinity

Contact details



c/o School of Divinity, Mound Place

Post code


  • Now I am retired the best method to contact me is via email.


I am an early modern historian who is primarily interested in the four countries within the British Isles, Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales, and in the Reformation throughout Europe. In retirement I am concentrating upon Scottish history.




Research summary

My own research interests are varied. For a number of years I worked in the 'new British history', specialising in Scottish topics, and then returned to the Reformation in Scotland and throughout the British Isles and Europe. I am particularly interested in the creation of religious culture and in communication via images, song, material culture and the written and printed word.

Work on Scotland and the Highlands resulted in two editions of manuscript letters Clan Campbell Letters, 1559-1583; Breadalbane Letters 1548-83 and a monograph on the head of the Campbells, the fifth earl of Argyll Politics of Religion in the age of Mary, Queen of Scots. A general history of Scotland during the long sixteenth century, Scotland Re-formed, 1488-1587 was published as Volume 6 of the New Edinburgh History of Scotland.

My biography of John Knox has recently been published.

A range of Scottish research sources have already been placed online as has newly-discovered material relating to the Marian exile (1553-9). I hope to develop an umbrella website on sources for Scottish ecclesiastical history.

More information about research projects by Prof Dawson are available on her Edinburgh Research Explorer profile.


Current research interests

My major biography of John Knox for Yale University Press was published in 2015 and a series of related studies on Knox have followed. I am now researching Annas Keith, Countess of Moray and Argyll [d.1588] and am working on another project relating to the English-speaking exile congregation in Geneva, 1555-9.

Project activity

I was Principal Investigator for the AHRC-funded Wode Psalter Project (2009-11) that brought together a team from the University Library, Music and Divinity in Edinburgh with the British Library, Trinity College, Dublin and Georgetown University, Washington DC, and a network of scholars throughout the world.

The project mounted a major exhibition in Edinburgh 'Singing the Reformation' (Aug-Oct 2011) and travelling exhibitions to Dundee and Belfast. It  gave a series of concerts and a new CD The Wode Collection has been produced. An Iphone App is freely available as is the exhibition's booklet.

I was Co-Investigator for the Sing the Renaissance and Reformation (2012-13), a follow-on project involving the Wode Partbooks. This has provided modern performing editions of the Wode material for choirs in a free downloadable format.

Details of both projects and their products can be found on the Wode Psalter website.

A related project Singing the Reformation 2016 investigated the experience of singing and worship in Scotland c1600.