Montage of Early Modern Women Writers

In Nature, women have as clear an understanding as men.” —  Margaret Cavendish (1623 - 1673)

At a Glance

  • Live online course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Tuesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 10 weeks: October to December
  • Tutors: Various
  • Fees from £115 to £210
  • Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
Booking link

One of the most remarkable features of the late-Renaissance and Restoration period is the number of women writers who emerge in Britain and continental Europe, and who produce some of the most original and revolutionary literature ever seen.

This includes the English playwright, poet, translator and fiction writer Aphra Behn, who was also employed on espionage missions to the low countries who is celebrated as the first English women to earn her living by her writing.

Then there is  Margaret Cavendish, an extraordinary writer who wrote poetry and plays, but also works on philosophy and science, and what some people regard as the first ever work of science fiction.

And, of course, there is Lady Mary Wroth, a poet regarded so highly by the writer Ben Jonson he claimed reading her works not only made him a better writer but a better lover!

We cannot promise such benefits, but we do offer you an opportunity to discover the works of these and other extraordinary women writers from late-Renaissance into the Restoration periods who not only have fascinating life stories to tell from a time when the roles women could fulfil in society were often severely curtailed, but also produced some of the most interesting and enjoyable writings of the age.

We will also look at how and where women wrote and how they published and distributed their work to a public that was sometimes appreciative and sometimes less so.

No previous knowledge of history or literature is necesssary to join this online course.

Online Access to Course

This is a taught live online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time on a specific day of the week. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course Delivery'.

Attendance certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

Provisional Programme

  1. Tuesday 12 October 2021: Prof. James Fitzmaurice: Virginia Woolf, Charles Lamb, and Others as Readers of Margaret Cavendish
  2. Tuesday 19 October 2021: Prof. James Fitzmaurice: Novels and Film about Margaret Cavendish
  3. Tuesday 26 October 2021: Kyler Dill: Commonwealths and Cavendish: The New Flexibility of Ambition in the Early Modern Period
  4. Tuesday 2 November 2021: Early Modern Women Letter Writers: Politics and Power
  5. Tuesday 9 November 2021: Early Modern Women Letter Writers: Style and Material Form
  6. Tuesday 16 November: Prof. Naomi Miller on her new novel Imperfect Alchemist (2020)
  7. Tuesday 23 November 2021: Dr Bronwen Price: Katherine Philps and Anna Trapnel
  8. Tuesday 30 November 2021: Dr Bronwen Price - Margaret Cavendish and Mary Chudleigh
  9. Tuesday 7 December, 2021: Dr Mark Empey - French female authors in late seventeenth-century England
  10. Tuesday 14 December 2021: Dr Mark Empey - English women writers and female book ownership in the seventeenth century

This programme may be subject to modification.

Additional Reading

To be confirmed

Your Tutors

Kyler Dill

Photograph of Kyler DillKyler is a PhD student at the University of Iowa studying early modern poetry and prose. Currently, he is researching the ways in which "ambition" took on a complicated and problematic nature with the beginnings of capitalism specifically in the writings of Edmund Spenser, John Milton, and Margaret Cavendish. Oddly enough, this was spurred on by a newfound interest he has in chess as a hobby! 

Dr Mark Empey

Photograph of Mark EmpeyMark is a cultural historian with a particular interest in book history and scholarly networks. He completed his PhD at University College Dublin in 2009, which examined politics and religion in early Stuart Britain and Ireland through the lens of Sir Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford. In 2010 he was an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at University College Dublin where he worked on the project ‘Protestants, Print and Gaelic Culture, 1567-1722’. He recently edited Early Stuart Irish Warrants, 1623-1639: The Falkland and Wentworth Administrations (Irish Manuscripts Commission, 2015) and he is co-editor of a forthcoming book on the historiography of the Church of Ireland (Four Courts Press, 2017). He is currently completing a monograph on Sir James Ware.

 Professor James Fitzmaurice

Photograph of Jim FitzmauriceJim is iemeritus professor of English at Northern Arizona University and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield. He has written scholarly articles as well as a screenplay about Margaret Cavendish. The screenplay, "A Vampire's Kiss in the Plague of 1666", was filmed by The First Flight Theatre Company on Zoom in New Jersey in January of 2021.

Professor Naomi Miller

Photograph of Naomi MillerNaomi Miller teaches in the department of English as well as the Study of Women & Gender. Her teaching interests include Shakespeare, early modern women authors, lyric poetry of all periods and children’s literature. Her novel, Imperfect Alchemist, was published by Allison & Busby, in 2020.


Dr Helen Newsome

Photograph of Helen NewsomeHelen is a postdoctoral researcher in Forensic Linguistics at Aston University. Her project investigates linguistic performances of power and persuasion in online criminal interactions. From 2019-2020, she was a postdoctoral research fellow for the Society for Renaissance Studies. During this fellowship, she worked on an edition of the holograph correspondence of Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots (1489-1541) (under contract with Camden Fifth Series, CUP). She completed my PhD at the University of Sheffield in 2019.

Dr Bronwen Price

Photograph of Bronwen PriceBronwen was Principal Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Portsmouth 2002-2020. Her main area of research is in seventeenth-century literature, especially early modern women's writing.

Course Delivery: Live Online Taught Courses

All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.

All times stated are British Standard Time.

To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.


This course will use Zoom as its online delivery method. Zoom is very easy to use and you do not need to set up a Zoom account to use it. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a web address (or URL) that will allow you to access the course. This is called the Course Link. All you need do is click on the Course Link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class.

Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.

We have also produced a Handy Guide to Zoom [pdf] which gives you basic information on how to use it.

Talks and any participants' questions will be recorded. If you do not want your image or sound to be recorded please ensure the camera and microphone on the device you are using to access the course is switched off.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 20  10  £210    (Early Bird Rate: £190*)
£125    (Early Bird Rate: £115*) £165    (Early Bird Rate: £150*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors)
  • Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
  • Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should contact before completing the online enrolment form

Associate Rate

  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Friends and Patrons of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Members of the Kennel Club
  • Members of the London Zoological Society
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • National Health Service (NHS) employees
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Teachers and other staff of UK schools
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read the Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 20  10 11 Oct - 13 Dec 2021 (10 weeks)  n/a n/a n/a
This is a one-term course

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 2nd August 2021

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
  • The following email notifications are sent:
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about this course please contact the Manager for Adult Education, Dr Michael Paraskos at