Dr Edward Wilson-Lee, Sidney Sussex



Biographical Information

A graduate of University College London, Columbia University, and the University of Cambridge, Edward Wilson-Lee is a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. 

Research Interests

I work on cultural and intellectual history in the early modern period, across Europe and its connections with the wider world, with a special focus on the histories of the book, of translation, and of knowledge circulation. I have recently completed a biography of the greatest bibliomaniac of the early modern period (who also happened to be the illegitimate son of Christopher Columbus), as well as a co-authored study of his library's contents, contexts, organization and legacy. I also have interests in the literary cultures of East Africa and in Shakespeare around the globe. I am now helping to edit (for Oxford University Press) one of the catalogues of his collections––the 'Libro de los Epítomes'––a repository of summaries of books from the period, which was found in 2019 after going missing for 400 years, as well as working on a new book on early modern travel and books, due out in 2022. 

Areas of Graduate Supervision

The history of the book and of printing, translation (especially from French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese), transnational literary and technological relations, Shakespeare, libraries, knowledge organization, Tudor literature, medievial-into-Renaissance topics, the literary cultures of East Africa

Selected Publications


    with José María Pérez Fernández, Hernando Colón's New World of Books: Towards a Cartography of Knowledge (Yale University Press, 2021). Buy from bookshop.org.

    The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Young Columbus and the Quest for a Universal Library (William Collins; May 2018; Scribner, March 2019. Published or forthcoming in nine translations). Order from a local bookshop on Hive.

    Shakespeare in Swahililand (William Collins--UK & Commonwealth, 2016; Farrar, Straus & Giroux--USA, 2016; Random House/btb--Germany, 2019). Order from a local bookshop at Hive.

    ed., with José María Pérez Fernández, Translation and the Book Trade in Early Modern Europe (CUP, 2014). 'Introduction' (co-written with José María Pérez Fernández), and chapter ('Glosses and Oracles: Translating the Reader in Early Modern Europe'). Buy from CUP.



    'Tables of the Mind', in Music and Instruments of the Elizabethan Age: The Eglantine Table, ed. Michael Fleming and Christopher Page (Boydell and Brewer, 2021). 

    'Killing the Messenger: Diplomatic Translators in late Elizabethan Culture', Huntington Library Quarterly 82.4 (2019), special issue on ed. Joanna Craigwood and Tracey Sowerby. Read Online.

    'Women's Weapons: Country House Diplomacy and the Countess of Pembroke's French Translations' in Rowan Tomlinson and Tania Demetriou, eds, The Culture of Translation in Early Modern England and France (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

    "Shakespeare by Numbers: Mathematical Crisis in Troilus and Cressida", Shakespeare Quarterly (Winter 2013) Read Online

    “William Birch”, “William Howell”, “Thomas Tusser”, in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of English Renaissance Literature, ed. Alan Stewart and Garrett Sullivan (2012) Read Online

    "The Bull and the Moon: Broadside Ballads and the Public Sphere at the Time of the Northern Rising (1569-70)" (Review of English Studies, 2011) Read Online

    “‘The Subtle Tree’: Idolatry and Material Memory in Surrey’s Aeneid” (Translation and Literature, July 2011) Read Online 

    “Romance and Resistance: Narratives of Chivalry in Mid-Tudor England”, Renaissance Studies 24/4 (September 2010), pp. 482-495. Read Online

    “New biographical information on the author of 'A Continuation of Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia'”, Sidney Journal 26/1 (2008), pp. 57-64

    “A Continuation of Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia” and “The knight of Curtesy and the Lady of Faguell”, introd. for EEBO Introductions, Early English Books Online