Accessibility statement

William H. Sherman



Bill Sherman is Head of Research at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of York.  He was Director of the Centre for Renaissance & Early Modern Studies (CREMS) from its creation in 2005 to 2011, and Associate Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly from 2001 to 2012.  He has held visiting positions at Caltech, Queen Mary (University of London) and Keio University (Tokyo), and fellowships at the Folger, Huntington, New York Public Library, National Maritime Museum and Bard Graduate Center.  He has received grants from the NEH, AHRC, Mellon Foundation and Bibliographical Society and has served on a range of boards, trusts and councils on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sherman's research is driven by a love of archives and other collections, and an interest in how objects from the past (textual and otherwise) come down to us, what they pick up along the way and how they speak across periods. He has published widely on the history of books and readers, the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, the interface between word and image and the relationship between knowledge and power.

Recent publications include Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England and a special issue of The Huntington Library Quarterly on Prison Writings in Early Modern England (winner of the inaugural Voyager Award of the MLA's Council of Editors of Learned Journals). His current projects include a study of visual marginalia called The Reader's Eye, a collection of essays on Renaissance Collage (edited with Juliet Fleming and Adam Smyth), a reconstruction of the art- and book-collections of Walter and Louise Arensberg (with Mark Nelson) and an edition of Marlowe's The Jew of Malta (edited with Chloe Preedy) for Arden Early Modern Drama. His exhibition on Decoding the Renaissance opens at the Folger Shakespeare Library in November 2014.



Professor Sherman's research and teaching interests include:

  • Renaissance literature and culture
    • the intersections between literature, learning and politics
    • exploration and travel writing
    • science and magic
    • sleep in literature, music and art
    • adaptations of Shakespeare
  • Textual studies
    • the relationship between speech, manuscript, print and screen
    • the theory and practice of editing
    • the history of libraries and archives
    • marginalia and reading practices
  • Contemporary art
    • artists' books
    • sound-art
  • The literature of espionage and terrorism

He would welcome applications from students wishing to work on these topics.



  • An edition of Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta for the Arden Early Modern Drama series.
  • Renaissance Collage, edited with Juliet Fleming and Adam Smyth as a special issue of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
  • Decoding the Renaissance: Ciphers and Secrets in the Age of Shakespeare, an exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library (Fall 2014).
  • Hollywood Arensberg, a collaborative project with Mark Nelson reconstructing the art- and book-collections of Walter and Louise Arensberg.
  • The Reader's Eye, a study of visual marginalia in Renaissance books.
  • How To Make Anything Signify Anything, a book about the modern legacies of early modern ciphers.

William Sherman

Contact details

Professor William Sherman
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
Y010 5DD