Hello! I’m Dr Sophie Duncan, a theatre historian and literary critic based at Magdalen College, in the University of Oxford.
My next book, Searching for Juliet, examines the lives, deaths, and afterlives of Shakespeare’s first tragic heroine – the bravest, most fascinating teenager ever created for the English stage. You can pre-order it now, in both the UK edition and US edition!
My previous books include Shakespeare’s Props: Memory and Cognition, the first full-length study of props in Shakespeare’s plays to explore them through Renaissance and twenty-first-century understandings of the brain. It’s a book about memory, grief, pies that go splat and glass that breaks – with all the usual skulls, handkerchiefs, and letters along the way. It is possibly the only book on Shakespeare to also discuss Call The Midwife, Derren Brown, and Daniel Radcliffe. Blog readers can get 20% off from Routledge with the code HUM19.
My first book, Shakespeare’s Women and the Fin de Siècle, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016, and illuminates how late nineteenth-century actresses’ iconoclastic performances of Shakespeare’s heroines shifted British culture.
If you’d like to hear me talking about my research, why not listen to my episode of BBC Radio 3’s The Essay, on ‘Shakespeare and the suffragettes’? Or you can find me on Radio 4, talking about Pygmalion and gender equality with playwright Laura Wade. On an entirely different note, you can also hear me talking about why tragedy is good for you (spoiler: endorphins) on the BBC World Service.
With Jay Gilbert, I founded and co-edit The Banshee, the leading journal for women who scream. Issue 2, HAUNTING, is available now.
I very much enjoy giving talks to schools and other organisations – find out more about how I could work with your organisation here.
I was also the academic lead on the National Trust’s 2018 National Public Programme, Women and Power.
Beyond Shakespeare, my research specialisms include the performance of race, gender, and sexuality on the British stage; women and theatre; Early Modern theatrical memory, cognitive approaches to theatre, ageing in theatre, Oscar Wilde, women’s performance, and the life of Ira Aldridge, the first African American actor to succeed in Europe. I have a longstanding relationship with Lolita Chakrabarti’s award-winning play Red Velvet, acting as historical advisor for both the original Tricycle run and its West End transfer. I continue to work regularly as an historical advisor and dramaturg for radio, theatre, and television.