Matthew Blaiden

Matthew Blaiden


Born and raised in South London, I gained a First Class Honours B.A. in English Language & Literature from King's College London, and then went to Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge, to take an M.Phil. in Medieval & Renaissance Literature. Before coming to Leeds, I spent two years working as an organist, singer, and choral director in London and Surrey whilst pursuing my research independently; I continue to be active as a musician across the UK alongside my academic work.

Research interests

My research interests lie primarily in the literature and culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially the drama of Shakespeare and those writing before, alongside, and after him, as well as masques and other Tudor and Stuart courtly entertainments.

My doctoral research is concerned with two intertwined theatrical cultures that were in flux in the mid-to-late Elizabethan period: the changing and varied forms of drama and other entertainments that made up courtly revels, and the drama of the developing commercial and professional stages. Taking in plays by such writers as George Peele, John Lyly, John Marston, and Ben Jonson, alongside Shakespeare, my research draws especially on theatre and print history as well as literary and dramaturgical analysis to show that certain plays that are often claimed to belong or owe more to either the courtly or commercial spheres often circulated between, shaped, and were shaped by a combination of both, inhabiting and representing a site at which the cultures of court and commerce intersected and interacted. I explore the ways in which this dual identity is manifested and negotiated in the plays and/or their printed texts. My doctoral research is fully funded by a University Research Scholarship and is supervised by Martin Butler.

I am also interested in the culture of the early modern Inns of Court, especially their regular revels; the history of the book; textual studies and editing; theatre history; literature and music; and in the role practice can play in and as research.

Related activities

Conferences, seminars, and other talks

I have had accepted and given a number of conference papers, including in February 2017 an invited paper as part of a special panel funded by the Society for Renaissance Studies at a conference on Embodiment and New Materialism in Premodern Literature and Culture, 1350-1700 at Lancaster University. I have also given papers at research seminars, most recently in February 2019 at the Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies at the University of Sheffield.

In the academic year 2017-18, I co-convened the Postgraduate Research Seminar in the School of English at Leeds with Victoria Clarke.

In July 2018, I co-organised with José A. Pérez Díez a one-day conference on John Marston's Antonio's Revenge, hosted jointly by The Playhouse Lab, The Malone Society, and the Oxford Marston project. The event featured a staged reading of the play by regular members of The Playhouse Lab in the morning followed by panels of papers and discussion in the afternoon, and was generously funded by The Malone Society and the AHRC-funded Oxford Marston project.

In March 2019, I will assist in running the Oxford Marston project's major conference on The Marston Effect: John Marston and Early Modern Culture held at Lincoln College, Oxford.

In May 2019, José A. Pérez Díez and I will run a Playhouse Lab-style keynote session at the Shakespeare & Co. conference at the University of York, putting on a staged reading of Thomas Middleton's A Yorkshire Tragedy.

Performance and Practice

With José A. Pérez Díez, I co-convene The Playhouse Lab, a play-reading initiative based in the School of English at Leeds that regularly puts on unrehearsed, improvised, script-in-hand performances of early modern plays featuring a mixture of students, staff, and friends from Leeds and beyond reading the parts. As well as featuring plays of general interest, the programme supports both research and teaching in the School of English: sessions have road-tested the texts of a number of editions being prepared by staff, and each term's schedule regularly includes plays being taught on the undergraduate syllabus. In July 2018, The Playhouse Lab hosted a one-day event featuring a staged reading and conference on John Marston's Antonio's Revenge, organised jointly with The Playhouse Lab, The Malone Society, and the Oxford Marston project. In May 2019, The Playhouse Lab will go on tour to run a keynote session at the Shakespeare & Co. conference at the University of York, putting on a staged reading of Thomas Middleton's A Yorkshire Tragedy.

In the summer of 2016, I was a research assistant for a rare production of Ben Jonson's Masque of Queens directed by Emma Whipday. I sat in on and assisted rehearsals in London and Oxford, and conducted a session with the cast on Stuart court masques in general and the political and cultural issues more specific to Queens. The performance took place on 11th August 2016 in New College Chapel, Oxford, and can be watched on YouTube here.


  • B.A. (Hons.) in English Language & Literature (King's College London)
  • M.Phil. in Medieval & Renaissance Literature (Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge)