Thesis: Early Modern Catholic Identity and Culture in the Circle of Sir Thomas Tresham, 1580-1611
Supervisors: Susan Brigden and Alexandra Gajda
My doctoral research centres around Sir Thomas Tresham (1543-1605) and his circle between 1580-1611. My work examines his world through personal relationships, reading, book-collecting, and patronage alongside the more traditional subjects of resistance and loyalism. Through recourse to extensive family correspondence, access to his library and use of hitherto understudied manuscript sources intimately connected to Tresham and his circle, my thesis will provide a significant contribution to our understanding of gentry Catholic culture and identity in this period, as well as illuminating these immensely rich sources in their own right. It draws on scholarship by historians of the book and historians of libraries to enrich traditional historiographical methods. I have worked extensively on Tresham's personal library and a large donation of books to St. John's College, Oxford, and have also undertaken an in-depth study of Bodleian MSS Eng. Th. b. 1-2, a two folio-volume manuscript work by the layman Thomas Jollet, which has resulted in new arguments about its authorship, compilation, content, and broader significance. Through an original synthesis of these strands of Tresham's world, my thesis offers a reappraisal of this important figure and in particular his role as a leader of the loyalist cause.
More broadly, I am interested in the religious and cultural history of early modern England, and in incorporating musicology, literary criticism, biography and the history of the book into traditional historical research.