UCL English


Professor Helen Hackett



Email: h.hackett@ucl.ac.uk
External phone: 020 7679 3127
Internal phone: 33127
Office: Foster Court 205


Photograph of Helen Hackett

Education and Experience 

Helen Hackett was educated at Manchester High School for Girls and the University of Oxford (Lady Margaret Hall). She was a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford, and has been at UCL since 1990.

Research Interests

Helen has broad interests in Renaissance literature, especially 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 Renaissance prose fiction, especially Lady Mary Wroth’s Urania; and on the manuscript poems and letters of the Aston-Thimelby circle, a seventeenth-century Catholic literary network in which women were active.

Helen’s Short History of English Renaissance Drama was published in 2013. Her latest book is The Elizabethan Mind: Searching for the Self in an Age of Uncertainty, published by Yale University Press; full details here. Research for the book was supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship 

Leverhulme Trust Logo

To hear Helen discussing the prose fiction of Shakespeare's time on the podcast That Shakespeare Life, please go to: https://www.cassidycash.com/romance-writing-for-the-16th-century-ep305/

An interview with Helen about her book The Elizabethan Mind is available from the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast of the Folger Shakespeare Library. You can access it here (Episode 193): https://www.folger.edu/shakespeare-unlimited. It's also available from Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and other platforms.

To hear Helen discussing Romeo and Juliet on In Our Time, please go to: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0014gml

To hear Helen discussing A Midsummer Night's Dream on In Our Time, please go to: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00046rp

Book cover for The Elizabethan Mind

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Shakespeare and Elizabeth book cover
Women and Romance Fiction cover

A Short History of English Renaissance Drama
Midsummer Night's Dream Writers and Their Work cover
Virgin Mother Maiden Queen cover


The Elizabethan Mind: Searching for the Self in an Age of Uncertainty (Yale University Press, 2022) 

(As editor:) Early Modern Exchanges: Dialogues Between Nations and Cultures, 1550-1750 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015)

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)


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


Book chapters (since 2010)

‘“All their minds transfigured so together”: the imagination at the Elizabethan playhouse.’ In Simon Smith and Emma Whipday (eds), Playing and Playgoing in Early Modern England: Actor, Audience and Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022. pp. 242-61.

‘Anne Boleyn’s legacy to Elizabeth I: neoclassicism and the iconography of Protestant queenship.’ In Anna Riehl Bertolet (ed.), Queens Matter in Early Modern Studies: A Festschrift for Carole Levin. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. pp. 157-80.

‘Afterword: writing coteries, reading coteries.’ In William Bowers and Hannah Crummé (eds), Re-evaluating the Literary Coterie, 1580-1830: From Sidney to Blackwood’s. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. pp. 201-18.

‘Introduction.’ In Helen Hackett (ed.), Early Modern Exchanges: Dialogues Between Nations and Cultures, 1550-1750. Farnham: Ashgate, 2015. pp. 1-24.

‘Lady Mary Sidney Wroth, The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania.’ In Margaret P. Hannay, Michael G. Brennan and Mary Ellen Lamb (eds), The Ashgate Research Companion to the Sidneys (1500-1700): Vol. 2: Literature. Farnham: Ashgate, 2015. pp. 127-49.

‘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), Manuscript Miscellanies in Early Modern England. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014. pp. 91-112.

‘Sisterhood and female friendship in Constance Aston Fowler’s verse miscellany.’ In Susan Wiseman (ed.), Early Modern Women and the Poem. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013. pp. 131-46.

‘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. 123-38.

Journal articles (since 2010)

‘“He is a better scholar than I thought he was”: debating the achievements of the Elizabethan grammar schools.’ Early Modern Voices, ed. Dermot Cavanagh and Robert Maslen, special issue, Journal of the Northern Renaissance 9 (Autumn 2017). http://www.northernrenaissance.org/he-is-a-better-scholar-than-i-thought-he-was-debating-the-achievements-of-the-elizabethan-grammar-schools/ . 8500 words.

With Yasmin Arshad and Emma Whipday. ‘Daniel’s Cleopatra and Lady Anne Clifford: from a Jacobean portrait to modern performance.’ In Elizabeth Schafer (ed.), Attending to Early Modern Women as Theatre MakersEarly Theatre 18.2 (2015): 167-86.

‘A new image of Elizabeth I: the Three Goddesses theme in art and literature.’ Huntington Library Quarterly 77.3 (2014): 225-56.

‘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):1094-124.

‘“As the diall hand tells ore”: the case for Dekker, not Shakespeare, as author.’ Review of English Studies 63/258 (2012): 34-57.

‘Suffering saints or ladies errant? Women who travel for love in Renaissance romance.’ In Nandini Das (ed.), Travel and Prose Fiction in Early Modern EnglandYearbook of English Studies 41.1 (2011): 126-40.