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Staff Profile

Dr Edmund Richardson

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Contact Dr Edmund Richardson (email at

I’m interested in how people relate to the past - and the fragility and wonder of those relationships.

My research is on cultural history and the afterlives of the ancient world: from medieval tales of Alexander the Great (where he visits the land of giant spiders and courts the Queen of the Amazons), to Greek drama on the Broadway stage. I'm fascinated by characters on the edges of many histories: the prophet who couldn’t get the end of the world right. The headmaster who bludgeoned his wife to death, then sat wearily back down to his Latin. The con-artist turned famous archaeologist.

I've been named one of the AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinkers for 2016 - one of ten academics across the Arts and Humanities selected to work with the BBC to develop programs based on their research.

I'm currently Director of the Durham Centre for Classical Reception, which aims to promote the interdisciplinary study of the afterlives of ancient Greece and Rome.

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, interested in topics related to Classical Reception. I'm currently working with Seren Nolan, one of the Durham Leverhulme Doctoral Scholars, as her primary PhD supervisor for a project on the image of the Roman matrona in the long eighteenth century.

Before joining the Department as a Lecturer in 2013, I was Hannah Seeger Davis Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Princeton, in the Program in Hellenic Studies (2009-10), Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Durham (2010-12) and Lecturer at the University of Leeds (2012-13). I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge (2008).

Cambridge University Press have recently published my first book, Classical Victorians: Scholars, Scoundrels & Generals in Pursuit of Antiquity, as the inaugural title in their new Classics After Antiquity series. Victorian Britain set out to make the ancient world its own - and this is the story of how it failed. It is the story of the embittered classical prodigy who turned to gin and opium, the general who longed to be an Homeric hero - and the virtuoso forger who tricked the greatest scholars of the age. Classical Victorians was longlisted for the Criticos Prize in 2013 - reviews include Common Knowledge, Notes & QueriesJournal of Hellenic Studies and Journal of Roman Studies.

My current research project, Alexandrias, tracks the search for Alexander the Great and the cities he founded, from Egypt to Afghanistan. The ways in which these Alexandrias were sought and recovered, it will argue, challenge current perspectives on the development of historiography and archaeology, and Alexander’s influence on later cultures. Alexandrias argues that error and misdirection – sometimes parasitical on equally false and elusive ancient material – can be engines of knowledge. It explores how the relationships between later cultures and the ancient world have been shaped by the awareness of loss; by the presence of what cannot be recalled. It asks whether history’s goal should truly be to remember everything – or should it sometimes let itself (in the manner of John Donne) be ‘re-begot / Of absence, darkness, death; things which are not’?

For more information, please see my website -

Research Interests

  • Classical Reception Studies
  • Alexander the Great
  • Historiography
  • Tragedy and Performance


Authored book

  • Richardson, E. (2013). Classical Victorians: Scholars, Scoundrels and Generals in Pursuit of Antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter in book

  • Richardson, E. (2017). Classics and the Victorians. In Oxford Bibliographies. Classics. Clayman, Dee L. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Richardson, E. (2016). Ghostwritten Classics. In Deep Classics: Rethinking Classical Reception. Butler, S. Bloomsbury. 221-238.
  • Richardson, E. (2016). The Emperor’s Caesar: Napoleon III, Karl Marx and the History of Julius Caesar. In Graeco-Roman Antiquity and the Idea of Nationalism in the 19th Century. Fögen, Thorsten & Warren, Richard Berlin: De Gruyter. 113-130.
  • Richardson, E. (2015). Political Writing and Class. In The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, Volume 4: 1780-1880. Vance, N. & Wallace, J. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 103-129.
  • Richardson, E. (2015). The Harmless Impudence of a Revolutionary: Radical Classics in 1850s London. In Greek and Roman Classics in the British Struggle for Social Reform. Stead, H. & Hall, E. London: Bloomsbury. 79-98.
  • Richardson, Edmund (2013). Of Doubtful Antiquity. In From Plunder to Preservation: Britain and the Heritage of Empire, c.1800-1940. Swenson, A. & Mandler, P. Oxford University Press.
  • Richardson, E. (2007). Jude the Obscure: Oxford's Classical Outcasts. In Oxford Classics. Stray, C. Duckworth.

Edited book

  • Richardson, E. (Accepted). Classics in Extremis: The Edges of Classical Reception. Bloomsbury.

Journal Article

  • Richardson, E. (2013). Mr Masson and the lost cities: a Victorian journey to the edges of remembrance. Classical Receptions Journal 5(1): 84-105.
  • Richardson, E. (2013). Review of G.S. Aldrete, A. Aldrete, The Long Shadow of Antiquity. What Have the Greeks and Romans Done for Us? (London and New York: Continuum, 2012). The Classical Review 63(02): 615.
  • Richardson, E. (2012). Nothing’s Lost Forever. Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics 20(2): 19-48.
  • Richardson, E. (2010). Review of J. M. Gutierrez Arranz, The Cycle of Troy in Geoffrey Chaucer: Tradition and "Moralitee" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009). Bryn Mawr Classical Review (2010.05.29).
  • Richardson, E. (2010). Review of W. Cook & J. Tatum, African American writers and classical tradition (Chicago, 2010). Bryn Mawr Classical Review (2010.08.63).
  • Richardson, E. (2005). Re-living the apocalypse: Robinson Jeffers' Medea. International Journal of the Classical Tradition 11(3): 369-382.
  • Richardson, E. (2003). A Conjugal Lesson: Robert Brough’s Medea and the discourses of mid-Victorian Britain. Ramus 32(1): 57-83.