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Dr Daniel Starza Smith

Smith_DanielLecturer in Early Modern English Literature (1500-1700)

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 1776

Address Department of English
King's College London
VB7.15, Virginia Woolf Building 
22 Kingsway
London WC2B 6LE

Twitter @letterlocking


After several years working as a travel journalist for Time Out, I realised that my true calling lay in the manuscripts room of the British Library, where I became obsessed first with an anonymous Stuart play fragment, then the sprawling, messy Conway Papers archive, which contained poetry by John Donne. My interest in Donne’s manuscripts continues: most recently I have published on a text of his Catalogus librorum discovered at Westminster Abbey in 2016.

Before coming to King’s I taught at the University of Reading and UCL, before taking up a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Lincoln College, Oxford, focusing on Donne’s women patrons. I have worked on the landmark Donne Variorum (, am a member of the ‘Signed, Sealed, & Undelivered’ project (, and, with Jana Dambrogio of MIT Libraries, am developing ‘letterlocking’, the study of epistolary security before the invention of the envelope ( 
Research interests and PhD supervision
  • John Donne’s life and works, particularly his patrons and friends, and the circulation of his writing in manuscript,
  • The literary and material features of early modern letters
  • The history of manuscripts, printed books, libraries, and archives in early modern England and Europe
  • Women’s writing and patronage activities
  • Editorial theory and practice
Selected publications
  • John Donne and the Conway Papers: Patronage and Manuscript Circulation in the Early Seventeenth Century (OUP, 2014) – winner of the University English Book Prize 2016
  • Manuscript Miscellanies in Early Modern England, co-edited with Joshua Eckhardt for Material Readings in Early Modern Culture (Ashgate, 2014)
  • ‘Unvolving the Mysteries of The Melbourne Manuscript’, Huntington Library Quarterly (2016/17)
  • ‘A Reader’s Guide to the Material Features of Early Modern Letters’, Letters of Bess of Hardwick, (Glasgow University, 2013–)
  • ‘Rediscovering John Donne's Catalogus Librorum Satyricus', Review of English Studies, n.s. (2018), pp. 1-33, with Matthew Payne and Melanie Marshall,
I contribute to the teaching of early modern literature across all undergraduate years, as well as on Master’s courses, where I also teach graduate research methods. 
Expertise and public engagement
With Jana Dambrogio, I have led more than a dozen letterlocking workshops in archives and libraries, reaching conservation staff, scholars, and the general public; I have also consulted for The National Archives. My reviews of academic books and theatre performances have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Review of English Studies, John Donne Journal, Library and Information History, English Studies, and Shakespeare









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