Dr Carly Watson

Profile details


Dr Carly Watson is a Departmental Lecturer. With Dr Leah Clark, she directs the MSt in Literature and Arts (MLA). She is also the director of the DPhil in Literature and Arts (DLA).

Carly is a literary scholar and book historian. She has worked at the Faculty of English as Departmental Lecturer in Bibliography and Textual Criticism since 2017. Prior to this, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher on a Leverhulme-funded project based in the Faculty of English and led by Professor Abigail Williams. She oversaw the completion of the Digital Miscellanies Index, an online database recording the contents of over 1,750 verse collections published between 1557 and 1800. Carly received her PhD from the University of Birmingham in 2014 for a study of an important and under-researched collection of books donated to Winchester College in the eighteenth century.


Carly has taught eighteenth-century literature and supervised dissertations on eighteenth-century topics for the MLA. At the Faculty of English, she teaches graduate courses on bibliography, book history, and scholarly editing. She has also given undergraduate lectures on Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, and the material forms of literature in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Research Interests

Carly’s research interests encompass late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century poetry and print culture, the history of books and manuscripts, and digital humanities. She is particularly interested in the place of poetry in the literary marketplace of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She is also interested in what books and manuscripts can tell us not just about the history of literature but also about the development of society, culture, technology, and trade.

Carly is completing a monograph, Miscellanies, Poetry, and Authorship, 1680-1800, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan. This is an investigation of the miscellany form and its impact on the writing, publishing, and reading of poetry in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The book harnesses data from the Digital Miscellanies Index to uncover hitherto unrecognised trends in the publication of poetry in miscellanies. As well as being informed by the latest digital scholarship, the book promotes a new understanding of the miscellany form itself that challenges modern author-centric definitions. It argues that by reinstating the more expansive definition of the form current in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries we can better understand the importance of the miscellany as a platform for poets and poetry in the period.

Carly is interested in finding new ways of bringing eighteenth-century culture to life for modern audiences. She is working with Cherryburn, the birthplace of the pioneering engraver and naturalist Thomas Bewick (1753–1828), now looked after by the National Trust, to design and run printing workshops for members of the public interested in learning more about Bewick's art and the history of printing. The workshops will run in the spring of 2020. They are generously funded and supported by the Novel Impressions network, led by Dr Helen Williams (Northumbria University).


Miscellanies, Poetry, and Authorship, 1680–1800 (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming)

‘From Restorer to Editor: The Evolution of Lewis Theobald’s Textual Critical Practice’, The Library: The Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, 20.2 (2019), 147–71

Verse Miscellanies in the Eighteenth Century’, in Oxford Handbooks Online (2016)

‘Private Theatricals in the Harcourt Family Papers’, Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, 38.2 (2011), 14-25

‘The Harcourt Papers: Collecting Manuscript Poetry in the Eighteenth Century’, Bodleian Library Record, 23.2 (2010), 214-29