Professor Helen Hackett

External phone: 020 7679 3127
Internal phone: 33127
Office: Foster Court 205


Education and Experience 

Helen Hackett was educated at Manchester High School for Girls and the University of Oxford. She has been at UCL since 1990.

Research Interests

Helen has broad interests in Renaissance literature, including particular engagement with female writers and representations of women. She has written extensively on images of Elizabeth I and on Shakespeare (especially A Midsummer Night's Dream). She has also published on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century prose fiction, especially the Urania of Lady Mary Wroth. An interest in post-Reformation Catholic writing has produced a series of essays on the manuscript poems and letters of the Aston-Thimelby circle, a seventeenth-century literary network. 

Helen was a founder of the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges and continues to participate in its activities. Recent events include a Jacobean-style production of Samuel Daniel's Tragedie of Cleopatra.

On 26th April 2013 Helen gave a talk at Keble College Oxford. A podcast is available: 'Sisterhood and female friendship in a seventeenth-century miscellany: Constance Aston Fowler's manuscript anthology'

To hear Helen discussing The Tempest with Jonathan Miller, David Troughton and others, go to Night Waves, BBC Radio 3, 3rd May 2012.

On 26th April 2012 Helen gave The Essay on BBC Radio 3, on 'Shakespeare and Love'.

For Helen's selection of five books on Elizabeth I, see Five Books: Helen Hackett on Elizabeth I.

On 15th Oct 2009 Helen spoke on In Our Time on BBC Radio 4 on 'The Death of Elizabeth I'


A Short History of English Renaissance Drama (London: I. B. Tauris, 2012)

Shakespeare and Elizabeth: The Meeting of Two Myths (Princeton University Press, 2009)

Women and Romance Fiction in the English Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Writers and Their Work: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (British Council/Northcote House, 1997)

Virgin Mother, Maiden Queen: Elizabeth I and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1995)

HH short hist Shakespeare and Elizabeth book cover   Women and Romance Fiction cover Midsummer Night's Dream Writers and Their Work cover Virgin Mother Maiden Queen cover


Introduction to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ed. Stanley Wells (New Penguin Shakespeare, 2005)

Midsummer Night's Dream Penguin cover      

Articles and Chapters in Books

'Sisterhood and female friendship in Constance Aston Fowler’s verse miscellany,’ in Susan J. Wiseman (ed.), Women and the Poem in the Seventeenth Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, forthcoming)

‘Unlocking the mysteries of Constance Aston Fowler’s verse miscellany (Huntington Library MS HM 904): the Hand B scribe identified’, in Joshua Eckhardt and Daniel Starza Smith (eds), Miscellanies in Early Modern England (Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming)

'The Aston-Thimelby circle at home and abroad: localism, national identity, and internationalism in the English Catholic community', in David Coleman (ed.), Region, Religion and English Renaissance Literature (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), pp. 123-38

'Women and Catholic Manuscript Networks in Seventeenth-Century England: New Research on Constance Aston Fowler’s Miscellany of Sacred and Secular Verse', Renaissance Quarterly 65.4 (2012), pp. 1094-1124

‘"As the Diall Hand Tells Ore": The Case for Dekker, not Shakespeare, as Author',Review of English Studies 63.258 (2012), pp. 34-57

‘Suffering saints or ladies errant? Women who travel for love in Renaissance prose fiction’, Yearbook of English Studies 41.1 (Jan 2011), pp. 126-140

'Shakespeare and Elizabeth I: Icons and Their Afterlives', Literature Compass 6.6 (Nov 2009), pp. 1188-97

‘Dream-visions of Elizabeth I’, in Reading the Early Modern Dream: The Terrors of the Night, ed. K. Hodgkin, M. O’Callaghan, and S. Wiseman (Routledge, 2008), pp. 45-65

‘The rhetoric of (in)fertility: shifting reponses to Elizabeth I’s childlessness’, in Rhetoric, Women and Politics in Early Modern England, ed. J. Richards and A. Thorne (Routledge, 2007), pp. 149-171

‘The art of blasphemy? Interfusions of the erotic and the sacred in the poetry of Donne, Barnes, and Constable’, Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 28.3 (2004), pp. 27-54

A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, in A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works: Volume III: The Comedies, ed. R. Dutton and J.E. Howard (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), pp. 338-357

‘Historiographical review: dreams or designs, cults or constructions? The study of images of monarchs', The Historical Journal 44.3 (2001), pp. 811-823

‘Shakespeare’s theatre’, in Shakespeare: Texts and Contexts, ed. Kiernan Ryan (Basingstoke: Macmillan / Open University, 2000), pp. 31-48

‘Gracious be the issue’: maternity and narrative in Shakespeare’s late plays’, in Shakespeare’s Late Plays: New Readings, ed. Jennifer Richards and James Knowles (Edinburgh University Press, 1999), pp. 25-39

‘‘A book, and solitariness’: melancholia, gender and literary subjectivity in Mary Wroth’s Urania’, in Renaissance Configurations: Voices/Bodies/Spaces 1580-1690, ed. Gordon McMullan (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998), pp. 64-88

‘The torture of Limena: sex and violence in Lady Mary Wroth’s Urania’, in Voicing Women: Gender/Sexuality/Writing 1500-1700, ed. K. Chedgzoy, M. Hansen, and S. Trill (Edinburgh University Press, 1996), pp. 93-110

‘Courtly writing by women’, in Women and Literature in Britain 1500-1700, ed. H. Wilcox (Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 169-189

‘Rediscovering shock: Elizabeth I and the cult of the Virgin Mary’, Critical Quarterly 35.3 (1993), pp. 30-42

‘“Yet tell me some such fiction”: Lady Mary Wroth’s Urania and the “femininity” of romance’, in Women, Texts and Histories 1575-1760, ed. Diane Purkiss and Clare Brant (Routledge, 1992)


Reviews (since 2000)

'Ruins of time', review of Andrew Hadfield, Edmund Spenser: A Life, Times Literary Supplement (3 Sept 2012), pp. 3-4

'Begotten by despair', review of Nigel Smith, Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon, Times Literary Supplement (14 Jan 2011), p. 11

'Burned estates', review of Margaret P. Hannay, Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth, Times Literary Supplement (1 Oct 2010), p. 24

'Best known for his guzzleosity', review of James Shapiro, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, London Review of Books 32.5 (11 March 2010), pp. 21-2

Player, Playwright and Preacher’s Kid: The Story of Nathan Field, 1587-1620, by Antonia Southern, The Brown Book (2010), pp. 93-4

Goddesses and Queens: The Iconography of Elizabeth I, ed. Anneliese Connolly and Lisa Hopkins, English Historical Review 125.514 (2010), pp. 700-01

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, dir. Sir Peter Hall, Rose Theatre, Kingston, Shakespeare 6.2 (2010), pp. 256-8

Elizabeth I, Translations, ed. Janel Mueller and Joshua Scodel, Journal of the Northern Renaissance 2009

'Chaste Mary, Chased Mary', review of Gary Waller, The Virgin Mary in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Literature and Popular Culture, Times Literary Supplement (8 Jul 2011), p.12

Manuscript Verse Collectors and the Politics of Anti-Courtly Love Poetry by Joshua Eckhardt, Times Literary Supplement (2009), p. 4

Writing After Sidney: The Literary Response to Sir Philip Sidney 1586-1640, by Gavin Alexander, Times Literary Supplement (23 March 2007), p. 26

Bess of Hardwick by Mary S. Lovell, Times Literary Supplement (27 Jan 2006), p. 30

Incest and Agency in Elizabeth’s England by Maureen Quilligan, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 31.4 (2006), pp. 1148-51

Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare, by Clare Asquith, The Pastoral Review (2006), 84-85

Privacy, Domesticity, and Women in Early Modern England, ed. Corinne S. Abate, Women’s Writing 12.3 (2005), pp. 311-336

‘Forever Anne’, review of The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives and Anne Boleyn by Joanna Denny, Times Literary Supplement (12 Nov 2004), p. 12

Prose Fiction and Early Modern Sexualities in England 1570-1640, ed.Constance C. Relihan and Goran V. Stanivukovic, Times Literary Supplement 5281 (18 June 2004), p. 36

'Not mad, or bad', review article on books about Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, Times Literary Supplement (21 May 2004), pp. 4-6

Menacing Virgins: Virginity in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Kathleen Coyne Kelly and Marina Leslie, Yearbook of English Studies 32 (2002), pp. 266-7.

English Manuscript Studies 1100-1700 vol.9: Writings by Early Modern Women, ed. Peter Beal and Margaret J.M. Ezell, Times Literary Supplement (9 Feb 2001), p. 32

‘So dear a loss’, review of Shakespeare and Domestic Loss by Heather Dubrow, Times Literary Supplement (25 Aug 2000), p. 26