Photo of Margaret Healy

Margaret Healy
Emeritus Professor (English)
T: +44 (0)1273 678992


My primary area of research is early modern texts and culture and I am particularly interested in the intertexture of literary, medical and scientific, political and religious writings in this period and the way that metaphors of the body mediate debates which intersect these categories. My research thus engages with cultural theory of the body as expounded by anthropology, sociology, literary theory, history and cognitive philosophy. I have worked extensively on representations of the body with particular emphasis on the writings of Shakespeare, Montaigne, Milton, Dekker, Spenser and Defoe. In 2008 I was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship to research and write a monograph on Shakespeare's Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint, alchemy and the creative imagination. I continue to write essays on the  interfaces among literature, medicine and science and on disease and illness narratives from all periods. I was Associate Editor of the British Medical Journal, Medical Humanities, from 2007 to 2015 and am currently a member of the interdisciplinary Future Healths initiative at the University of Sussex.


I have supervised Sussex PhDs on Margaret Cavendish, alchemy and identity; anti-papistry on the early modern stage; Shakespeare, embodiment and performance; literature and law; literature and healing music; the female body and the rhetoric of religious dispute; the impact of the reformation on apprehensions of the supernatural, especially witchcraft; male prostitution; infanticide; the culture of blood and the early modern stage; and on female metaphysical poets.


Selected Publications:

The Intellectual Culture of the English Country House, 1500-1700, eds, Dimmock, Hadfield and Healy (Manchester: MUP, 2015) 

'Popular medicine' in Popular Culture in Early Modern England, eds, Hadfield, Dimmock and Shinn (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014) 

Shakespeare, Alchemy and the Creative Imagination: the Sonnets and 'A Lover's Complaint' (Cambridge: CUP, 2011)

Fictions of Disease in Early Modern England: Bodies, Plagues and Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001). 

Renaissance Transformations: the Making of English Writing 1500-1650, eds., Margaret Healy and Thomas Healy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009).

'Poetic Making and Moving the Soul' in Shakespearean Sensations: Experiencing Literature in Early Modern England, eds., Katharine A. Craik and Tanya Pollard (Cambridge: CUP, 2013)

'Paracelsian Medicine and Female Creativity: Aemilia Lanyer's Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum', Renaissance and Reformation, 36:2 2013.

'Women and Medicine' in A Cultural History of Women in the Renaissance (London: Bloomsbury, 2013).

'Protean Bodies: Literature, Alchemy, Science and English Revolutions' in Renaissance Transformations: the Making of English Writing 1500-1650.

'Why Me? Why Now? How? The Body in Health and Disease' and 'Fashioning Civil Bodies and Others' in A Cultural History of the Human Body in the Renaissance, eds, Linda Kalof and William Bynum (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2010)
'Making the Quadrangle Round: Alchemy's Protean Forms in Shakespeare's Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint' in The Blackwell Companion to Shakespeare's Sonnets, ed. Michael Schoenfeldt (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007);

'Journeying with the "Stone": Montaigne's Healing Travel Journal', in Literature and Medicine 24, no.2 (Fall 2005), 231-249;

'Curing the 'frenzy': humanism, medical idiom and 'crises' of counsel in sixteenth-century England', Textual Practice, 18, no.3 (Autumn 2004), pp.333-50;

'Dangerous blood: menstruation, medicine and myth in early modern England', National Healths: Gender, Sexuality and Health in a Cross-Cultural Context, eds, Michael Worton and Nana Wilson-Tagoe (Cavendish, 2004), pp. 83-95;

'Defoe's "Journal" and the English Plague Writing Tradition' Literature and Medicine 22, no. 1 (Spring 2003), pp.25-44;

'Anxious and Fatal Contacts: Taming the Contagious Touch' in Sensible Flesh: On Touch in Early Modern Culture, ed. Elizabeth Harvey (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002);

Shakespeare's ' Richard II' in the series, Writers and their Work, gen. eds. Isobel Armstrong, Brian Loughrey (Plymouth: Northcote House, 1998).