Professor David Francis Taylor

I specialize in British literature and culture from the mid 17th to the mid 19th century, with particular interests in theatre and in the relation between words and images. In addition to these areas, I’ve published work on satire and parody, oratory, and the cultural history of Shakespeare. I’m also an experienced dramaturg.

I’m a founding member of the R/18 Collective, a group of scholars that works with theatre makers to revive forgotten plays of the Restoration and 18th century. As part of this project, and thanks to funding from the AHRC and TORCH, I’ve collaborated extensively with Creation Theatre; to date, we have staged rehearsed readings of five plays by women and also mounted a digital production of Aphra Behn’s farce The Emperor of the Moon.

Thanks to TORCH, I’ve also recently collaborated with Arcade Ltd to create a new smartphone app, A Stage in Time. This used augmented reality to transport users to the stage of Covent Garden Theatre in 1785, where they can experience the spectacular sets of a pantomime at immersively and at full scale.

I’ve published two books, Theatres of Opposition: Empire, Revolution, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan (2012) and The Politics of Parody: A Literary History of Caricature, 1760–1830 (2018). I’ve also co-edited The Oxford Handbook of the Georgian Theatre, 1737-1832 (2014; pbk. 2018) and published articles and essays that consider writers spanning the long eighteenth century – from Rochester to Wordsworth and from Johnson to Edgeworth and Byron – through the many lenses of performance.


Current Projects

  • A critical edition of Joseph Addison’s dramatic works for Oxford University Press, which will include the first critical edition of Cato.
  • A book about the history of spectacle from Shakespeare to the invention of the panorama in the 19th century. My contention is that the theatre – as a visual art, a site of spectatorship, and an idea or metaphor – was for centuries the primary means through which our culture negotiated the always-vexed relationship between words and images. 

At. St. Hugh’s, I teach British literature from 1660-1830 and also the Shakespeare paper. For the Faculty, I lecture on material from the late seventeenth century to the nineteenth century and also teach on the MSt in English 1700-1830.

I supervise graduate students at both MSt and DPhil level, and would be pleased to hear from potential students who’d like to undertake research in any of my areas of interest.

Current doctoral students




Journal Articles

  • "Picturing Ekphrasis: Image and Text in Shakespeare Painting." European Romantic Review 33.4 (2022): 461-78.
  • "What Cato Did: Suicide, Sentimentalism, and the Drama of Emulation." Eighteenth-Century Life 46.1 (2022): 56-78.
  • "Addison's Theater of the Aesthetic." ELH 88.4 (2021): 907-35.
  • "Johnson's Textual Landscape." The Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation 59.1 (2018): 65-84
  • "Graphic Satire and the Enlightenment Eye." Critical Quarterly 59.4 (2017): 34-53.
  • "The Practice of Caricature in Eighteenth-Century Britain." Literature Compass 14.5 (2017).
  • “Byron, Sheridan, and the Afterlife of Eloquence.” Review of English Studies 65 (2014): 474-94.
  • “Edgeworth’s Belinda and the Gendering of Caricature.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 26.4 (2014): 593-624.
  • “The Disenchanted Island: A Political History of The Tempest, 1760-1830.” Shakespeare Quarterly 63.4 (Winter 2012): 487-517.
  • “Discoveries and Recoveries in the Laboratory of Georgian Theatre.” New Theatre Quarterly 27.3 (2011): 229-243.
  • “Godwin, Sheridan, and the Theatre of Politics.” Bodleian Library Record 24.1 (2011): 80-87.
  • “Coalition Dances: Georgian Caricature’s Choreographies of Power.” Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography 36 (2011): 117-130.
  • “‘The Fate of Empires’: The American War, Political Parody, and Sheridan’s Comedies.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 42.2 (2009): 379-95.
  • “Wordsworth at the Theater: Illegitimate Spectacle in Book 7 of The Prelude.” European Romantic Review 20.1 (2009): 77-93.


Book chapters

  • “Censoring the Unseen: Revolution and the Aesthetics of Theatrical Space,” in The Censorship of Eighteenth-Century Theatre: Playhouses and Prohibition, 1737-1843, ed. David O’Shaughnessy (Cambridge University Press, 2023). Forthcoming.
  • "Macklin's Look," in Charles Macklin and the Practice of Enlightenment, ed. Ian Newman and David O'Shaughnessy (Liverpool University Press). Forthcoming.
  • "Cato and the Crisis of Rhetoric," in Joseph Addison: Tercentenary Essays, ed. Paul Davis (Oxford University Press, 2021), 212-31.
  • "Staging the War at Sea: Re-enactment, Repetition, and Race," in The Cultural History of the Sea: The Long Eighteenth Century, ed. Jonathan Lamb (Bloomsbury, 2021), 87-111.
  • "The Practice of Parody," in The Oxford Handbook of Eighteenth-Century Satire, ed. Paddy Bullard (Oxford University Press, 2019), 353-68.
  • “Gillray's Gulliver and the 1803 Invasion Scare,” in The Afterlives of Eighteenth-Century Fiction, ed. Daniel Cook and Nicholas Seager (Cambridge University Press, 2015), 212-32.
  • “Rochester, the Playhouse, and Restoration Theatricality,” in Lord Rochester in the Restoration World, ed. Matthew C. Augustine and Steven N. Zwicker (Cambridge University Press, 2015), 121-40.
  • “Theatre Managers and the Managing of Theatre History,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Georgian Theatre, 1737-1832, ed. Julia Swindells and David Francis Taylor (Oxford University Press, 2014), 70-88.
  • “Caricaturing Sheridan,” in Richard Brinsley Sheridan: The Impresario in Political and Cultural Context, ed. Jack DeRochi and Daniel Ennis (Bucknell University Press, 2012), 259-83.
  • “Shakespeare and Drama,” in Shakespeare in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Gail Marshall (Cambridge University Press, 2012), 129-47.


Encyclopedia Entries

  • Entries for Emily; or, The History of a Natural Daughter (1756)Herbert Lawrence's The Life and Adventures of Common Sense (1769), and Edward Henry Iliff's Angelo, A Novel (1796), in The Cambridge Guide to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, 1660-1820, ed. April London (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press).
  • “Sheridan, Richard Brinsley,” in The Encyclopedia of British Literature 1660-1789, ed. Jack Lynch and Gary Day (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015), 1143-9.





  • Review of Fredrick Burwick, British Drama of the Industrial Revolution, in Romanticism 23.2 (2017), 192-5.
  • Review of Lisa A. Freeman, Antitheatricality and the Body Public, in Review of English Studies (2017).
  • Review of Helen Edmundson's Queen Anne, dir. Natalie Abrahami, Royal Shakespeare Company (Criticks, 15 Dec. 2015).
  • Review of William Congreve's Love for Love, dir. Selina Cadell, Royal Shakespeare Company (Criticks, 5 Dec. 2015).
  • Review of Nikki Hessell, Literary Authors, Parliamentary Reporters: Johnson, Coleridge, Hazlitt, Dickens, in Romanticism, 21.1 (2015), 101-3.
  • Review of Handel, Hercules, dir. Peter Sellars, Canadian Opera Company (Criticks, 30 Apr. 2014).
  • Review of Christopher Reid, Imprison’d Wranglers: The Rhetorical Culture of the House of Commons, 1760-1800, in BARS Bulletin and Review, 43 (2014).
  • Review of Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, ed. David Womersley, in Notes and Queries, 60.4 (2013), 611-612.
  • Review of Carl Maria von Weber, Der Freischütz, dir. Marshall Pynkoski, Opera Atelier (Criticks, 31 Oct. 2012).
  • “Performative Subjects.” Huntington Library Quarterly 75.1 (2012): 113-121. Review essay.
  • Review of Frederick Burwick, Romantic Drama: Acting and Reacting and Alexander Dick and Angela Esterhammer, eds., Spheres of Action: Speech and Performance in Romantic Culture, in European Romantic Review, 23.1 (Jan. 2012), 101-107.
  • Review of Daniel O’Quinn, Staging Governance: Theatrical Imperialism in London, 1770–1800, in Romanticism, 14.2 (2008), 203-5.
  • Review of John Barrell, The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s, in Romanticism, 13.2 (2007), 189-191.

A Stage in Time app (2022)

I have collaborated with Arcade Ltd to create a smarphone app that transports users to the spectacular world of 18th-century theatre at the touch of a button. A Stage in Time uses augmented reality technology to allow users to step on to the stage of Covent Garden Theatre in 1785 and to experience the spectacular sets of smash-hit pantomime Omai, or A Trip Around the World. The app has been funded by a TORCH Knowledge Exchange Innovation Grant.

You can download the free app by searching "stage in time" on the App Store or Google Play. You can also watch a video the digital reconstruction here:

More information about the project is available in this blog post:


Reviving 18th-century plays with Creation Theatre (2022 to present)

In 2022 - thanks to funding from the AHRC and then TORCH - I began a collaboration with the wonderful Creation Theatre. This project seeks to workshop and revive forgotten plays of the Restoration and 18th century, especially plays by women. To date, we have mounted five rehearsed readings of plays: Hannah Cowley's Who's the Dupe?, Susanna Centlivre's A Bold Stroke for a Wife, Joanna Baillie's De Monfort, and Elizabeth Inchbald's Animal Magnetism and The Massacre. We have also created an experimental digital adaptation of Aphra Behn's 1687 farce, The Emperor of the Moon. Most of the performances have been recorded for archival purposes, so do get in touch if you'd like to view them for teaching or research purposes.

This is work is part of the larger project of the R/18 Collective, of which I'm a founding member. We're an international group international scholars committed to dramaturgical knowledge in the service of theatre makers and other researchers. We believe the theatrical repertoire from the 1660s to the 1830s provides insights into the deep histories of race, gender, sexuality, ability, nation, and capital that continue to shape anglophone culture and the world.


"Draw New Mischief" exhibition at the RSC (2017-18)

In 2017, I curated an exhibition with the Royal Shakespeare Company entitled "Draw New Mischief: 250 years of Shakespeare and Political cartoons". The exhibition ran from February to October 2017 at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, with a version of it then transferring to the Barbican, London, until January 2018. It featured cartoons inspired by Shakespeare's plays from the eighteenth century to the present day. In conjunction with the RSC's season of Shakespeare's Roman plays, we also commissioned five cartoonists to respond to current affairs using Titus AndronicusJulius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus

Media coverage of the exhibition:

  • I discussed the exhibition of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking (21/2/17) with cartoonists Lorna Miller and Kevin "KAL" Kallaugher and MP Jess Phillips. You can listen to this episode here.
  • A gallery of cartoons featured in the exhibition, with my curatorial comments, was published on the Guardian's website.


"Restoring the Repertoire" at the Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds (2010)

In 2010 I worked with the Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds as part of their "Restoring the Repertoire" project. The Theatre Royal, designed by William Wilkins (architect of the National Gallery), is the only working Regency playhouse in the country and was restored to its Georgian glory with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Reopening in 2007, the Theatre and its artistic director Colin Blumenau were committed to reviving the forgotten plays of the Georgian period through an exciting programme of rehearsed readings and full-scale productions.

During my time working with the Theatre Royal as a research consultant, I advised the company on its staging -- in rehearsed reading and full production -- of various eighteenth-century plays. I share the insights I acquired over the course of this collaboration in my article "Discoveries and Recoveries in the Laboratory of Georgian Theatre", New Theatre Quarterly 27.3 (2011): 229-243. 

As an undergraduate I studied at the University of St. Andrews, before taking my MPhil and PhD at Cambridge. Before coming to Oxford in 2018, I taught at the Universities of Toronto and Warwick. I've held visiting fellowships at the Huntington Library, the Houghton Library at Harvard, and Cambridge University’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities. I'm the recipient of the Keats-Shelley Prize (2005) and Ontario's John C. Polanyi Prize in Literature (2013).