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Dr Melanie Bigold BA Hons (Manitoba), MA (Toronto), DPhil (Oxford)

Dr Melanie Bigold

BA Hons (Manitoba), MA (Toronto), DPhil (Oxford)


School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 (0)29 2087 5409
2.16, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision


Reader in English Literature with research expertise in book history and women’s literary history during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I have published articles, chapters, and books on a range of topics: from letter writing and religious controversy in the eighteenth century to New Elizabethan ballet in the twentieth. I have edited manuscripts relating to the abolition movement, the contents of an eighteenth-century servants' library, as well as marginalia evidence across Cardiff's rare books collection. My research always starts in the archive and I try to bring that exciting primary research into my teaching and seminars whenever I can.

I am currently researching and writing the first book-length work on women’s libraries and book ownership, 1660-1820. This project constitutes a major intervention in book history studies, in the history of women’s involvement with literary culture, and in approaches to the historiography of reading and collecting practices. I was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship to undertake the research, and you can find an account of the project on the Trust's website: .

I am also a section editor on the Elizabeth Montagu Correspondence Online (, and co-founded and co-convene the Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar (CRECS -

I am on research leave in Spring 2022.

Please do drop into Cardiff's Special Collections and Archives Exhibition area and have a look at the exhibition I co-curated on Literature and the Environment. It is on until April 2022 (weekdays 9-5). On view are 50 items to show how humanity has used the natural environment to work on, think with, enjoy – and abuse. Among the rare gems showcased are essays prompting colonising the environment by the Jacobean statesman Francis Bacon, holograph manuscripts on the cognitive and emotional effects of walking through the countryside by WW1 writer Edward Thomas, and contemporary fine press editions of millennial activist poetry against the eco-crisis. Two cases contrast the hellish effect – on people and on places – of nineteenth-century intensive industrialisation in the South Wales Valleys with the same period’s longing for the wilderness, in haunting illustrations of Icelandic tundra and lost glaciers by the polymath W.G. Collingwood. A final case shows how nature can bite back, showing books destroyed by living animals, such as worms and mice, and by fire, an increasing problem for libraries in hot zones of the world.


I completed my undergraduate and masters degress in Canada at the University of Manitoba and University of Toronto, respectively. I majored in English with a minor in Drama during my undergraduate degree and then went on to a masters in Drama at the University of Toronto. I was awarded a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) doctoral fellowship to complete my Dphil at the University of Oxford, where I graduated in 2007. During  2007-08, I was awarded a Postdoctoral SSHRC Fellowship based at the University of Toronto, and was also a Plumer Visiting Fellow at St. Anne's College, Oxford. I joined Cardiff University in Autumn 2008.

I have held visiting fellowships at Chawton House Library, Hampshire, the Huntington Library, California, and a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (2019-22).








  • Bigold, M. 2010. Letters and learning. In: Ballaster, R. ed. A History of British Women's Writing: 1690-1750., Vol. 4. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 173-186.



At Cardiff I teach on modules across the curriculum, including literature of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, drama, and book history.

I have previously held lecturing posts at Jesus and St. Anne's Colleges at Oxford; at the University of Toronto; and have participated in Erasmus teaching exchanges at the University of Oslo and the University of Stuttgart.

Research interests

I have a number of upcoming and/or ongoing research projects:

1. Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (2019-2022) to complete a monograph and database on Women’s Libraries and Book Ownership, 1660-1820. A short article on this project can be found on the Trust's website here:

The Early Modern Female Book Ownership blog has lots of information on single books with female provenance. I contributed a blog post here:

2. Section editor for the Elizabeth Montagu Correspondence Online (

3. Joint biography of George Ballard (an antiquarian and historian of learned women) and Elizabeth  Elstob (an early anglo-saxonist and one of the women Ballard 'rediscovered')


I welcome enquiries from potential graduates who would like to pursue research in the following areas:

  • history of the book;
  • reading and reception studies;
  • manuscript culture (including marginalia and epistolary studies);
  • women's writing and women's  literary history;
  • philosophy, religion and literature in the long eighteenth century;
  • life-writing:
  • dramatic literature, dance, and performance studies;

My primary expertise are in the period 1600-1800, but I also welcome enquiries from students with an interest in all periods of drama, dance, and historical performance studies.

Current supervision

Stephanie Clayton

Research student

Past projects

Current and previous PhD supervision includes:

  • The Emotional and Gendered Importance of Letter Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century in the Epistolary Network of the Canning Family.
  • Eighteenth-Century Patronage
  • The life and writings of Hester Thrale Piozzi
  • Remapping Milton: Place, Space and Influence, 1700-1800
  • Untimely Aesthetics: Shakespeare, Anachronism, and Prescence

Areas of expertise