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Dr Richard O'Brien


Department: Humanities

After an undergraduate degree in English and French, I was a member of the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham)'s first MA cohort in Shakespeare and Creativity. My PhD, which included elements of original creative practice, looked at the impact of Shakespeare on the development of verse drama in English. Since then I've taught in both early modern literature and creative writing departments. I'm a specialist in formal poetry (though this isn't all I write or read!), with interests in influence and adaptation, and I teach on Creative Writing courses at all levels of the UG and PG curriculum.

Richard O'Brien

Over the last ten years I’ve published poems on a range of subjects, from romance to domestic space to internet shock images to weird experiments with dolphins. My pamphlets have come out, or are forthcoming, with The Emma Press, Valley Press, and Broken Sleep Books, and I’m working towards a full collection. In 2017, I was one of six winners of the Society of Authors’ Eric Gregory Awards for a collection of poems by an author under thirty. I'm currently working on a novel set in Nantes, France - a coming-of-age story with elements of urban fantasy - and a memoir about my relationship with my favourite band. I also write for children, for theatre (including musical theatre - I participate as a lyricist in the Book, Music and Lyrics development scheme) and as an academic critic, focused on Shakespeare and early modern literature, and their reception by contemporary creators and audiences. Publications in this field include an article on fictional representations of Ben Jonson, a book chapter on 20th century adaptations of Volpone - including two musicals - and a book chapter on the unpleasant character of Shakespeare in Upstart Crow and Something Rotten. My practice-led PhD research was on Shakespeare and the development of verse drama. 

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • A Bloody Mess, O'Brien, R. 1 Dec 2014
  • Dragons of the Prime: Poems About Dinosaurs, O'Brien, R. 2019
  • The Bard-baiting Model in Upstart Crow and Something Rotten, O'Brien, R. 1 Apr 2020, Shakespeare and his Biographical Afterlives, New York, Berghahn Books
  • "I Know My Clay": Some Musical Afterlives of Hamlet's Gravedigger, O'Brien, R. 15 Feb 2021, In: Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation
  • Adapting Jonson: Three Twentieth-Century Volpones, O'Brien, R. Dec 2020, Ben Jonson and Posterity , New York, Cambridge University Press
  • Community and Conflict: A Practitioner’s Perspective on Verse Drama, O'Brien, R. 12 Dec 2018, In: Connotations
  • ‘We are folk / Who understand unhampered language best’: Peter Oswald, T. S. Eliot, and the Possibilities of (Contemporary) Poetic Drama at Shakespeare’s Globe, O'Brien, R. 7 Sep 2020, In: Coup de Théâtre
  • “Every Man According to the Squip”: Magic, Metatheatre and Mind Control from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Be More Chill, O'Brien, R. 1 Mar 2020, Critical Insights , Amenia, Grey House/Salem Press
  • Married at First Sight: A TV Literature Experiment, O'Brien, R., Nicholls, J. 4 Dec 2021, Television Series as Literature, Singapore, Palgrave Macmillan
  • The Emmores: Love poems, O'Brien, R., Wright, E. 28 Jan 2014

English Literature PhD December 06 2017

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