Jessica Fay

Jessica Fay

Colleges, School and Institutes

External positions

, University of Bristol

1 Sep 201831 Aug 2021

Research interests

My first book, Wordsworth’s Monastic Inheritance (Oxford English Monographs, OUP, 2018), is the first comprehensive study of Wordsworth’s engagement with the material and cultural legacies of medieval monasticism. Whilst offering insights into his poetic treatment of local attachment, national identity, and the historical resonances of landscape, the book provides a new interpretation of stylistic developments in Wordsworth’s writing between 1807 and 1822.

My second book, The Collected Letters of Sir George and Lady Beaumont to the Wordsworth Family, 1803-1829; With a Study of the Creative Exchange between Wordsworth and Beaumont (Romantic Reconfigurations, LUP, 2021) is an editorial, critical, and biographical study of a friendship Wordsworth described as one of the blessings of his life. In addition to documenting unique perspectives on social, political, and cultural events of the early nineteenth century (providing new contexts for reading Wordsworth’s mature poetry), these collected letters chart the progress of an increasingly intimate inter-familial relationship. The picture that emerges is of a coterie that – in influence, creativity, and affection – rivals Wordsworth’s more famous exchange with Coleridge at Nether Stowey in the 1790s. The edition includes an extended study of how Wordsworth and Beaumont helped shape one another’s work, tracing processes of mutual artistic development that involved not only a meeting of aristocratic refinement and rural simplicity, of a socialite and a lover of retirement, of a painter and a poet, but also an aesthetic rapprochement between neoclassical and romantic values, between the impulse to idealize and the desire to particularize.

My current book project explores changing perspectives on the relative value of generality and particularity in both the visual and verbal arts from 1766 to 1815. It investigates how the desire for mimetic accuracy (in poetry, painting, and in the emerging form of the novel) destabilized hierarchies of genre and the centuries’ old kinship of the Sister Arts.

With Professor Alexandra Harris, I lead the Arts of Place research network and edit the Place Notes newsletter.


After taking an MA at the University of Liverpool, I was fortunate to win a Lamb and Flag Doctoral Scholarship at St John’s College, Oxford. On completing my doctorate in 2014, I took up a lectureship at Somerville College Oxford before moving to the Department of English at the University of Bristol. At Bristol, I held a Teaching Fellowship followed by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellowship. I joined the University of Birmingham in 2018.  

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

I would be delighted to discuss potential research projects in any area of Romanticism, especially those focusing on William Wordsworth or the relationship between painting and poetry.