Valerie Rumbold

Colleges, School and Institutes


Educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and Jesus College, Cambridge, I held posts at Jesus College, Cambridge; St Hilda’s College, Oxford; the University of Wales, Bangor before coming to the University of Birmingham in 1998.

Research interests

My research originally took its rise from my enthusiasm for the poetry of Alexander Pope. Having written a PhD dissertation on attitudes to the medieval inheritance in Pope’s work, in 1989 I contributed to the growing interest in women and literature with my study Women’s Place in Pope’s World (Cambridge University Press), which was awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize by the British Academy.

My focus then turned to issues of textual editing, and in 1999 I published an edition of the climactic work of Pope’s career, the complex and challenging Dunciad in Four Books of 1743 (Longman Annotated Texts). Since then I have collaborated on the multi-volume The Poems of Alexander Pope for the Longman Annotated English Poets series, and in 2007 I published Volume 3, containing The Dunciad. A Heroic Poem (1728) and The Dunciad Variorum (1729).

In 2013 I published volume II of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift, and I am now one of the General Editors of the Edition. My volume, Parodies, Hoaxes, Mock Treatises: Polite Conversation, Directions to Servants and Other Works, also includes the Bickerstaff Papers and writings on language and manners.  I am currently writing a book about the printed texts of Swift published in Dublin and London in his lifetime. (The inaugural lecture posted below introduces some of the thinking behind the book).

I am also renewing my engagement with Pope as one of the General Editors of the Oxford Edition of the Writings of Alexander Pope, which has recently been commissioned by OUP. In this series I shall also be part of the team working on the poems that Pope published in his Works of 1717, which will include The Rape of the Lock and some of the other poems featured in Women’s Place in Pope’s World.

I have also published articles on women writers of the eighteenth century such as Judith Cowper and Mary Leapor, and on wider issues arising from Pope’s career, including the relations between literature and music and between Pope and his poetic predecessors.

Research groups

II was founding Director of the Centre for Literary Editing and the Materiality of the Text (whose current Directors are Louise Curran and Oliver Herford), and remain active both in CLEMT and in BECC.