Prof Clair Wills, Murray Edwards



Biographical Information

I arrived in Cambridge in 2018 to take up the post of King Edward VII Professor of English Literature, having previously taught  at Princeton in the United States, Queen Mary University of London, and the University of Essex.  I did my graduate work in the late 1980s in Oxford, on contemporary Northern Irish poetry, especially the poetry of Paul Muldoon and Medbh McGuckian.  Since then I've maintained a strong interest in Irish literature and history, including research on Irish feminism and women's writing, the history of Ireland during the Second World War, and post-war Irish emigration to England.  Recent work has looked at the cultural history of post-war immigration to Britain, and of psychiatric hospitals and carceral institutions in Britain and Ireland. 

I'm a Fellow of the British Academy and Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy.  I write regularly for the London Review of Books and New York Review of Books.

Research Interests

Irish literature and history; twentieth and twenty-first century poetry, fiction and memoir; gender and sexuality; migration; embodiment.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

I welcome applications in the area of twentieth century and contemporary British and Irish literature and cultural history.

Selected Publications

  • Improprieties: politics and sexuality in Northern Irish Poetry. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993. ISBN 978-0198112686.
  • Reading Paul Muldoon. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe. 1998. ISBN 978-1852243470.
  • That Neutral Island: A cultural history of Ireland during the Second World War. London: Faber. 2007. ISBN 978-0571221059.
  • Dublin 1916: the siege of the GPO. London: Profile Books. 2009. ISBN 978-1846680533.
  • The Best Are Leaving: emigration and post-war Irish culture. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 2015. ISBN 978-1107048409.
  • Lovers and Strangers: an immigrant history of post-war Britain. London: Allen Lane. 2017. ISBN 978-1846147166.