Dr Kate Kennedy

Kate Kennedy is a broadcaster and writer, who specialises in combining biography, words and music. She is a regular presenter and contributor for Radio 3, and her documentaries have been selected for Pick of the Week by the BBC, and Pick of the Year 2018. Her Sunday Features tell the stories of musicians and writers from 1600s to the present.  She is a regular contributor to Record Review, Building a Library, the Proms Plus series, Composer of the Week, The Essay and Music Matters, and has featured as the guest on Essential Classics. 

She writes dramatized recitals that combine song, orchestral performance, theatre, dance and opera, commissioned by institutions including the BBC, the Royal Opera House, Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre. These include A Music of One’s Own (based on Virginia Woolf’s relationship to music), The Fateful Voyage (Rupert Brooke and composers William Denis Browne and FS Kelly), To His Love (Ivor Gurney) and Literary Britten (Benjamin Britten and WH Auden). She works with actors Fiona Shaw, Alex Jennings, Simon Russell Beale, Sam West, and singers Sarah Connolly, Roderick Williams and Mark Padmore. Her performances tour the UK, Canada, New Zealand, America, Czech Republic, Italy and Greece, and have been broadcast on Radio 3. 

She speaks and performs regularly at literary and music festivals, and in 2018 devised a series for the Aldeburgh Festival on words and music.  

She has published widely on music and literature of the early twentieth century. Her biography of war poet Ivor Gurney, Dweller in Shadows: Ivor Gurney – poet, composer, asylum patient is forthcoming with Princeton University Press. It has been the subject of dramatization at the Barbican Centre and at Cheltenham Festival, and has been featured on Composer of the Week on Radio 3. She edited Literary Britten in 2018 (a compendium of work on Benjamin Britten’s relationship to text) and is co-editor of Lives of Houses with Dame Hermione Lee, a book investigating a biographer’s relationship to the houses of celebrated writers and artists. Contributors include Simon Armitage, Julian Barnes and Jenny Uglow (publication March 2020). She is currently working on a biography of the Cello, drawing on her own experiences as a professional cellist, and discovering the instrument through the stories it can tell and the lives associated with it. 

She has held Fellowships at Cambridge University, and is a Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, and Associate Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-writing. She was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence in Public Engagement with Research  in 2017. 


  First world war literature, gender and war literature, life-writing, twentieth century music and literature.