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Emma Smith (scholar)

Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Hertford College. She has published and lectured widely on William Shakespeare and on other early modern dramatists, and worked with numerous theatre companies. Her lectures are available as podcasts Not Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean Popular Theatre[1] and Approaching Shakespeare.[2]

Life and career

Smith was educated at Abbey Grange school in Leeds and did her undergraduate degree at Somerville College, Oxford, from 1988 to 1991. She was a Prize Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.[3] As part of her work on Shakespeare's First Folio, Smith worked with conservators, digital specialists and crowd-sourced funding on a Bodleian Library project to digitise a copy of the book.[4] In 2016, she authenticated a new copy of the First Folio found at Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute.[5]

With Laurie Maguire of Oxford University she published a new argument in 2012 that Shakespeare's play All's Well that Ends Well was a collaboration with Thomas Middleton. The New Oxford Shakespeare edition of 2016, edited by Bourus et al., was the first printed edition of the play to accept this joint attribution.[6] Another article with Laurie Maguire won the 2014 Hoffman Prize.[7] She was a script advisor to Josie Rourke's 2018 film Mary Queen of Scots. She edits the Cambridge University Press journal Shakespeare Survey.

Smith published This Is Shakespeare in 2019. The book was published as a guide to Shakespeare's plays. It extends from her lectures for Oxford undergraduates, which were also used as the basis for her Approaching Shakespeare podcast, where she discusses 20 of Shakespeare's plays in chronological order. She says she wanted the book "to give a sense of Shakespeare's range across his career" but also "to keep the individual chapters self-contained, so that you could read one before going to the theatre."[8]

She was shortlisted for the 2023 Wolfson History Prize for Portable Magic.[9]


Selected publications

  • Portable Magic: A History of Books and their Readers (Penguin, 2022) ISBN 9780241427262 [10]
  • This Is Shakespeare (Pelican, 2019)[11]
  • Shakespeare’s First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book, (Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • The Making of Shakespeare's First Folio, (Bodleian Publishing, 2015)
  • Women on the Early Modern Stage: A Woman Killed with Kindness, The Tamer Tamed, The Duchess of Malfi, The Witch of Edmonton (2014)[12]
  • The Elizabethan Top Ten: Defining Print Popularity in Early Modern England. Eds. Andy Kesson and Emma Smith (Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2013) ISBN 9781472405876[13]
  • Five Revenge Tragedies: The Spanish Tragedy, Hamlet, Antonio's Revenge, The Tragedy of Hoffman, The Revenger's Tragedy (Penguin UK, 2012) [14]
  • The Cambridge Shakespeare Guide (Cambridge University Press, 2012)[15]
  • The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare (Cambridge University Press, 2007) ISBN 9781139462396[16]
  • Shakespeare's Comedies: a Guide to Criticism (Blackwell Guides to Criticism, 2003)[17]
  • Shakespeare's Histories: a Guide to Criticism (Blackwell Guides to Criticism, 2003)[18]
  • Shakespeare's Tragedies: a Guide to Criticism (Blackwell Guides to Criticism, 2003)[19]
  • Shakespeare in Production: Henry V (2000)
  • Thomas Kyd: The Spanish Tragedie (ed. 1998)


  1. ^ [1] Not Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean Popular Theatre podcasts
  2. ^ [2] Approaching Shakespeare podcasts
  3. ^ Who's Who 2020.
  4. ^ [3] Digital facsimile of the Bodleian First Folio
  5. ^ Coughlan, Sean (7 April 2016). "Shakespeare Folio 'astonishing' find". BBC News. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  6. ^ Pollack-Pelzner, Daniel (19 February 2017). "The Radical Argument of the New Oxford Shakespeare". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  7. ^ "Hoffman Prize Winners". The Marlowe Society. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  8. ^ "No Such Thing as a Stupid Question: On Emma Smith's "This is Shakespeare"". Cleveland Review of Books. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  9. ^ "Kochanski wins £50k Wolfson History Prize". Books+Publishing. 14 November 2023. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  10. ^ Smith, Emma. Portable Magic.
  11. ^ Alex Preston (6 May 2019). "This Is Shakespeare by Emma Smith review – the Bard without the baggage". The Observer. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  12. ^ Smith, Emma. Women on the Early Modern Stage: A Woman Killed with Kindness, The Tamer Tamed, The Duchess of Malfi, The Witch of Edmonton. Methuen Drama (2014) ISBN 9781408182338
  13. ^ Sauer, Elizabeth (July 2014). "Andy Kesson and Emma Smith, eds. The Elizabethan Top Ten: Defining Print Popularity in Early Modern England. Material Readings in Early Modern Culture series". Journal of British Studies. 53 (3): 769–771. doi:10.1017/jbr.2014.58. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  14. ^ Smith, Emma (2012). Five revenge tragedies. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780141192277.
  15. ^ Smith, Emma (2012). The Cambridge Shakespeare guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521195232.
  16. ^ James Hirsh (July 2008). "Review". Journal of British Studies. 37 (3): 661–663. JSTOR 25482840.
  17. ^ Smith, Emma (2007). Shakespeare's Comedies : a Guide to Criticism. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470776919.
  18. ^ Smith, Emma (2008). Shakespeare's Tragedies : a Guide to Criticism. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN 9780470776896.
  19. ^ Smith, Emma (2007). Shakespeare's Histories : a Guide to Criticism. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470776889.

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Emma Smith (scholar)
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