Registration open!

Conference registration is now open. Please visit for full details.

A draft schedule can be consulted here:


Speaker update

We’re thrilled to announce the following speakers confirmed for the Lady Bedford conference taking place 11–12 August at Lincoln College. For scholars of this important patron it’s truly a dream line-up. More announcements to come soon.

Ms Angela Benza (Geneva) – Portraits as performances
Dr Jakub Boguszak (Oxford) – Representations of real women in Jonson’s plays
Professor Cedric Brown (Reading) – Lady Bedford and instrumental friendship
Dr Alison Bumke (Cambridge) – Lady Bedford and the body
Dr Katherine Butler (Oxford) – Women’s patronage of music
Dr Sophie Butler (Oxford) – Lady Bedford, Florio, and women’s patronage of essays
Professor Julie Crawford (Columbia) – Lady Bedford and Lucan’s Pharsalia
Professor Karen Hearn (UCL) – Artistic representations of Lady Bedford
Mr Kader Hegedüs (Lausanne) – Twickenham Garden as literal and poetic space
Dr Sally Jeffery – Lady Bedford and gardens
Rev. Dr Erica Longfellow (New College) – Lady Bedford and religious patronage
Dr Erin McCarthy (Galway) – Women’s poetry and manuscript culture
Professor Margaret Maurer (Colgate) – Lady Bedford and Donne’s Letters
Professor Michelle O’Callaghan (Reading) – Lady Bedford as poet
Dr Marion O’Connor (Kent) – Lady Bedford and marriage negotiations
Dr Michael Pearce (National Museums of Scotland) – Scottish echoes
Professor John Pitcher (Oxford) – Daniel’s italianate visions
Professor Barbara Ravelhofer (Durham) – Stuart masque culture
Dr Chris Stamatakis (UCL) – Daniel’s poems to Lady Bedford
Professor Jane Stevenson (Aberdeen) – Early modern women’s patronage and class
Dr Sebastiaan Verweij (Bristol) – New Russell family documents at Woburn Abbey
Professor Marion Wynne-Davies (Surrey) – Lady Bedford and Wroth

Conference announcement!

“Life of the Muses’ day, their morning star!”

The Cultural Influence of Lucy Harington Russell, Countess of Bedford

11–12 August 2016, Lincoln College, Oxford

Paper proposals are invited for a conference dedicated to the cultural influence of Lucy Harington Russell (1580–1627), Countess of Bedford. Lady Bedford was the pre-eminent woman patron of early seventeenth-century England, and a key figure behind the artistic achievements of such luminaries as John Donne, John Dowland, Ben Jonson, Michael Drayton, Samuel Daniel, and Aemilia Lanyer. She commissioned John Florio to make the first English translation of Montaigne’s Essais, and herself wrote poetry praised by Donne. Grand full-length portraits and exquisite miniatures testify to her patronage of artists including Isaac Oliver, and she worked with architects and landscape designers to produce pioneering estate designs. She participated in the most sumptuous court masques of the Jacobean era, managed her husband’s estates, intervened in politically sensitive marriages, and served as Queen Anna’s most trusted confidant. In an age when women’s voices were suppressed in politics and culture Lady Bedford exerted considerable influence in both arenas. Yet she is almost always discussed in relation to the men whom she enabled and inspired. This conference seeks to place her at the centre of critical enquiry, asking questions about power, politics, patronage, culture, literature, performance, art, architecture, religion, and the body.


Professor Linda Levy Peck (George Washington University)

Professor Merry Wiesner-Hanks (University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee)

Confirmed speakers include

Julie Crawford (Columbia); Ariel Franklin-Hudson (Columbia); Karen Hearn (UCL); Erica Longfellow (New College, Oxford); Margaret Maurer (Colgate); Michelle O’Callaghan (Reading); Marion O’Connor (Kent); Barbara Ravelhofer (Durham); Chris Stamatakis (UCL); Jane Stevenson (Aberdeen); Sebastiaan Verweij (Bristol).

The conference organisers are Dr Daniel Starza Smith (Lincoln College, Oxford) and Dr Nadine Akkerman (Leiden/Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study). Please send expressions of interest to by Wednesday, 9 March. Graduate bursaries are available, thanks to generous support from the Society for Renaissance Studies, the Royal Historical Society, the Michael Zilkha Fund at Lincoln College, and the Royal Musical Association. Please indicate in your email if you would like to be considered for one of these. A discount on registration fees will also be available to RMA members.

Further details and announcements to be posted soon.