Dr Anna Beer

Anna Beer is the author of five biographies, written for non-specialists, but drawing on the latest research in the field. Bess: The Life of Lady Ralegh, Wife to Sir Walter, the first life of this important early-modern figure, was published early in 2004 by Constable. In 2008 John Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer and Patriot (Bloomsbury) appeared, followed by Sounds and Sweet Airs: the Forgotten Women of Classical Music (Oneworld Publications) in 2016, runner-up for the Royal Philharmonic Society Creative Communications award in 2017. The book has attracted extensive media coverage on television and radio with Anna appearing in a BBC Four documentary (June 2018), writing two radio series for Classic FM, and currently contributing to another forthcoming TV documentary. Anna continues with these creative collaborations to help this under-represented music be heard.

For the anniversary of his death, in October 2018, Anna returned to her academic roots, publishing Patriot or Traitor: the Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh (Oneworld Publications). She is currently in discussion with a TV production company about a dramatization of this book, and its earlier companion, Bess. In 2021, she published William Shakespeare: The Life of the Author, one of the launch volumes for the Wiley Blackwell series, The Life of the Author.

October 2022 (November in the USA) sees the publication of Anna’s latest book. Eve Bites Back: An Alternative History of English Literature offers a different take on traditional literary history, exploring the life and work of eight major authors – all women – from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century. Written for the non-specialist, the book has been described, by novelist A. L. Kennedy, as a ‘smart, funny and highly readable journey through the lives of women writers and the challenges they and their works face. It’s an informative, enthusiastic and rightly enraging tour de force.’

Academic and educational publications include a re-assessment of Sir Walter Ralegh’s poetry in relation to Edmund Spenser (Literary Ralegh, Manchester University Press, 2013); an article about the gendering of commercial biography (in Lifewriting, 2012), republished in the Blackwell Companion to Literary Biography (2018) and study guides on Andrew Marvell’s poetry, Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II, Wycherley’s The Country Wife and Shakespeare’s Hamlet (all for Oxford University Press).

Anna is on the Advisory Board of the Kellogg College Centre for Creative Writing and is closely involved with the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College for whom she is organising an event (Writing Women) in Hilary 2023.


  • Literature 1550 – 1700 (including Women’s Studies)
  • Creative Writing (narrative non-fiction)