Translation, travel and treason: William Barker in Early Modern Italy

WEDNESDAY 9 JANUARY, 18.00–19.30 

Jane Grogan (UCD)

This paper introduces a long-forgotten Tudor figure, William Barker, and argues for his significance to our understanding of post-Reformation English Renaissance culture. Sometime Cambridge scholar, traveller to Italy, and accomplished translator from ancient Greek, Barker became a key figure in the ill-fated Ridolfi plot (which sought to put Mary Queen of Scots on Elizabeth’s English throne). But quite apart from the interest of his own story, his life and works cast light on unnoticed intellectual networks operating in Renaissance England, and point to the need to rethink our understanding of its social and political world, as well as its literary history.


Jane Grogan is an Associate Professor in the School of English, Drama, Film and Creative Writing, University College Dublin, Ireland. She is the author of two monographs, one on the Tudor poet Edmund Spenser (Exemplary Spenser (2009)), and a second on early modern English interest in Persia (The Persian Empire in English Renaissance Writing, 1549-1622 (2014)). She has also edited two collections of essays, including a forthcoming volume on early modern European interest in the ancient near east, and has published essays on subjects including epic values, Shakespeare’s classical sources, and the modern Irish reception of Spenser in Irish literary history. Past President of the International Spenser Society, she co-edits The Spenser Review, and is the Irish Representative to Council of the Society for Renaissance Studies.