Dr Stephen Turton, Gonville and Caius




Biographical Information

I am a Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College specializing in the history of sexuality and the history of English dictionary-making from 1600 to the present. I hold a DPhil in English and an MSt in English Language from the University of Oxford and an MA in Linguistics from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. In 2016, I had a stint at OUP helping to revise the Oxford English Dictionary for its third edition. Presently, I’m working on a project with Professor Charlotte Brewer (Oxford) to digitize and edit the correspondence of Sir James A. H. Murray, the first editor-in-chief of the OED. You can read the letters we’ve published so far at www.murrayscriptorium.org.

On the English Tripos, I teach Part II, Paper 9, ‘Love, Gender, Sexuality: 1740–1824’. On the Linguistics Tripos, I teach Part I, Paper 4, ‘History and Varieties of English’.

Research Interests

  • Histories of gender and sexuality
  • Lexicography
  • 18th-century literature
  • Sociolinguistics
  • History of English
  • World Englishes
  • Print censorship

Selected Publications


  • 2024Before the Word Was Queer: Sexuality and the English Dictionary, 1600–1930. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Articles and essays

  • 2023. ‘My use of the word love’: Lister, language and the dictionary. In Caroline Gonda and Chris Roulston (Eds.), Decoding Anne Lister: From the Archive to Gentleman Jack (pp. 73–90). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2022. The lexicographical lesbian: Remaking the body in Anne Lister’s erotic glossary. Review of English Studies, 73(310), 537–551.
  • 2021 (with Charlotte Brewer). Aggravated mischief: Editing and digitizing the James A. H. Murray Papers. Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America, 42(1), 259–280.
  • 2021. Segregating sex: Heterocentric discourse about intercourse in English dictionaries. Journal of Language and Discrimination, 5(1), 48–70.
  • 2021. Deadnaming as disformative utterance: The redefinition of trans womanhood on Urban Dictionary. Gender and Language, 15(1), 42–64.
  • 2020. Redefining realness: Bringing queer performativity to the English dictionary. Journal of Language and Sexuality, 9(2), 101–126.
  • 2020. The confessional sciences: Scientific lexicography and sexology in the Oxford English Dictionary. Language & History, 63(3), 214–232.
  • 2019. Unlawful entries: Buggery, sodomy, and the construction of sexual normativity in early English dictionaries. Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America, 40(1), 81–112.
  • 2019. ‘Improper words’: Silencing same-sex desire in eighteenth-century general English dictionaries. Oxford Research in English, 8, 9–36.