Dr Anna Beer
Dean of Degrees, Fellow, Visiting Fellow
Faculty of English
MA (Oxon), MA, PhD (Reading)
Anna Beer is a cross-disciplinary author and researcher, working primarily in the fields of literature, cultural history, and gender studies.
Between 2003 and 2010, she was University Lecturer in Literature at the Department for Continuing Education. Involved in many aspects of adult learning, she was one of the Directors of the Foundation Certificate in English Language and Literature (a part-time course equivalent to the first year of Oxford’s undergraduate English degree). Between 2013 and 2020, Anna was part of the teaching team for the MSt in Creative Writing, working at various times as Director, Senior Course Tutor and Narrative Non-Fiction tutor.
Alongside her teaching for Continuing Education, Anna was closely engaged with the MSt in Women’s Studies, as graduate supervisor and tutor, and as Chair (2007-09). She was appointed a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar (2009-2010) taking up a fellowship at the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in January 2010.
Anna, currently a Visiting Fellow, was elected to the Governing Body of Kellogg College in 2003 and has held the posts of Chamberlain 2005-09; Joint Dean of Degrees 2005-07; Joint Secretary to Governing Body 2006-08. She is currently contributing to college life as Chamberlain and Dean of Degrees. She is on the Advisory Board of the Kellogg College Centre for Creative Writing and is closely involved with the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College for whom she is organising an event (Writing Women) in Hilary 2023.
Anna Beer is committed to public scholarship. She is the author of five biographies, written for non-specialists, but drawing on the latest research in the field. Bess: The Life of Lady Ralegh, Wife to Sir Walter, the first biography of this important early-modern figure, was published early in 2004 by Constable. In 2008 John Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer and Patriot (Bloomsbury) appeared, followed by Sounds and Sweet Airs: the Forgotten Women of Classical Music (Oneworld Publications) in 2016, runner-up for the Royal Philharmonic Society Creative Communications award in 2017. The book has attracted extensive media coverage on television and radio with Anna appearing in a BBC Four documentary (June 2018), writing two radio series for Classic FM, and currently contributing to another forthcoming TV documentary. Anna continues to work with musicians to ensure that this neglected musical tradition is heard.
For the anniversary of his death, in October 2018, Anna returned to her academic roots, publishing Patriot or Traitor: the Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh (Oneworld Publications). She is currently in discussion with a TV production company about a dramatization of this book, and its earlier companion, Bess. William Shakespeare: The Life of the Author appeared in 2020, one of the launch volumes for a new series of literary biographies from Wiley Blackwell.
October 2022 (November in the USA) sees the publication of Anna Beer’s latest book. Eve Bites Back: An Alternative History of English Literature offers a different take on traditional literary history, exploring the life and work of eight major authors – all women – from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century. Written for the non-specialist, the book has been described, by novelist A. L. Kennedy, as a ‘smart, funny and highly readable journey through the lives of women writers and the challenges they and their works face. It’s an informative, enthusiastic and rightly enraging tour de force.’
Academic and educational publications include a re-assessment of Sir Walter Ralegh’s poetry (Literary Ralegh, Manchester University Press, 2013); an article about the gendering of commercial biography (in Lifewriting, 2012), republished in the Blackwell Companion to Literary Biography (2018) and study guides on Andrew Marvell’s poetry, Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II, Wycherley’s The Country Wife and Shakespeare’s Hamlet (all for Oxford University Press).