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Ezra Horbury



Born in Sheffield, Ezra Horbury gained their Ph.D at the University of Cambridge (Darwin), having completed a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing and M.A. in English Literature at the University of Warwick. Their Ph.D thesis focused on prodigality and the parable of the prodigal son in early modern literature and was adapted into a book, Prodigality in Early Modern Drama (Boydell and Brewer). After teaching at Cambridge for a year, they went on to complete a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at University College London, funded by the British Academy. At UCL they lectured, led seminars, and tutored across the subjects of early modern literature, queer history, and transgender literature. They also completed a research project on ‘Biblical Paratexts in Early Modern England’, which they are currently adapting into a book. They joined York as a Lecturer in Renaissance Literature in 2022 where they are also the First Year Coordinator and Convenor of Key Concepts and Renaissance Poetry. They are an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.



Ezra’s research pursues perceptions of gendered embodiment, the impact of the vernacular Bible, and the intersectionality of marginalized bodies in early modern literature. They have written most extensively on Shakespeare, Middleton, and Jonson, but have also published on Spenser, Donne, Randolph, Beaumont, and Fletcher.

Ezra’s monograph, Prodigality in Early Modern Drama (Boydell and Brewer: 2019), presents the first study of early modern ‘prodigality’: excessive spending. Prodigality is a crucial and highly gendered concept for defining the financial dimension of masculinity, sexuality, and morality at the emergence of proto-capitalism, commonly depicted through the parable of the prodigal son. This book presents the first reading of prodigality and transforms our knowledge of the Lukan parable in early modern literature.

 They are currently finishing their second monograph, which tracks the impact of biblical paratexts on early modern English writing. It asks how authority is constructed through paratexts and the dynamics of marginalisation enforced through the use of marginal spaces. It also addresses the mutuality of early modern bibles, even across denominational divides, and argues for understanding early modern bibles as a network of evolving texts rather than discrete, competing editions. 

Their current and future research focuses on gendered embodiment, examining transgender approaches to early modern literature, the gendering of ageing, and the intersectionality of phobia and prejudice (e.g. fatphobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism). They are particularly interested in theological and supernatural representations of gendered embodiment in sermons, exegeses, and fantastical literature.

Ezra has published widely in journals across theology, early modernity, and gender studies, with work appearing in Shakespeare Quarterly, Harvard Theological Review, and Transgender Studies Quarterly



Ezra is the First Year Coordinator and convenor for Key Concepts (2022-23). They also teach on Approaches to Literature II: Other Worlds and convene Renaissance Poetry. 

They are interested in supervising M.A. dissertations on early modern gender and sexuality (particularly queer approaches), early modern Christianity, and transgender themes in any time period.

Contact details

Dr Ezra Horbury
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
North Yorkshire
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 323337