Q&A with Carolyn Steedman

Posted by Rebecca Mortimer - Wednesday, 21 Mar 2018


What book in this field has inspired you the most?

I’ve created a field! But to be serious, it was reading Auden’s Homage to Clio, thirty years ago, that inspired my book. I’ve been waiting to write it for a long time.

Did your research take you to any unexpected places?

None that I could afford to go to! Auden archives are scattered across the US. Spending time in Solihull Record Office, pursuing Auden’s childhood, was a bit of a surprise.

What did you enjoy the most about writing your book?

That I was finally, after all these years, doing it.

What did you find hardest about writing your book?

Getting the voice right. This was the first book I’ve ever published not under the shadow of REF (and all the things it’s been called, since 1986). That was liberating, but I had to think hard about NOT writing for the Research Excellence Framework.

Is this your first published book, or have you had others published?

This is my twelfth book (or thirteenth, if you count one edited collection).

How did you feel when you saw your first published book?

It was 1981 (or maybe 1982; a long time ago). I thought: I want to go on doing this (writing), forever.

Why did you choose to publish with MUP?

Because MUP made such a beautiful job of Dust (2002).

Did you approach writing this book differently to any of your previous work?

Yes. As I’ve explained. It’s more like Dust and Landscape for a Good Woman than anything else I’ve done. I always felt I was on a frontier in writing it, and that was exhilarating. I wanted to write it well. I wanted to make it matter to readers. (All that was true of my other books, but this was different because historians`aren’t really allowed to write about poetry’.) I was very aware of my potential readers.

Have you had time to think about your next research project yet? What are you working on now?

I’ve already got an almost full draft of History and the Law: A Love Story. Which I could tell you all about, if you’re interested.




Poetry for Historians publishes in April and is available to pre-order now.

Read a sample chapter, here.




Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout