Bill Sherman



Professor Bill Sherman holds a BA from Columbia University and MPhil and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge. He was founding director of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the University of York from 2005 to 2011, and comes to the Warburg from the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he has served as director of the Collections division and head of the project creating a V&A Research Institute (VARI), leading the Museum’s programmes with partners in both the universities and the creative industries.

Professor Sherman’s research has been driven by a love of archives and other collections, and by an interest in how objects from the past come down to us and speak across time and space. He has published widely on the history of books and readers and on the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Best known for his books on marginalia (including John Dee and Used Books), much of his current work explores the interface between word and image, the relationship between knowledge and power and the surprising connections between the modern and the early modern. He was associate editor of Shakespeare Quarterly for more than a decade and sits on a number of editorial and advisory boards as well as a range of trusts and councils on both sides of the Atlantic.



Books, Anthologies and Special Issues

Renaissance Collage: A New History of Reading, edited with Juliet Fleming and Adam Smyth as issue 45:3 of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Fall 2015)

Shakespearean Configurations, edited with Jean-Christophe Mayer, Stuart Sillars and Margaret Vasileiou as special issue 21 of Early Modern Literary Studies (2013)

Prison Writings in Early Modern England, edited with William J. Sheils as issue 72:2 of the Huntington Library Quarterly (June, 2009) [Winner of the inaugural Voyager Award from the MLA's Council of Editors of Learned Journals for the year’s best journal on an early modern topic.]

Used Books: Marking Readers in the English Renaissance (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008)

The Complete Shakespeare, edited as issue 58:3 of Shakespeare Quarterly (Fall 2007)

On Shakespeare, co-edited with Peter Holland as issue 10:3 of Performance Research (September 2005)

On Editing, co-edited with Claire MacDonald as issue 7:1 of Performance Research (March 2002)

The Tempest and its Travels, edited with Peter Hulme (London: Reaktion Books, and Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000)

John Dee: The Politics of Reading and Writing in the English Renaissance (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995)

Textual Editions

Textual editor of The Tempest for The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd Edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2015)

Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist (with Peter Holland), in The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (with Peter Hulme), a Norton Critical Edition (New York: Norton, 2004; 2nd ed. in press)

‘Renaissance Commonplace Books from the British Library’: a collection of microfilm facsimiles, 12 reels (Marlborough: Adam Matthew Publications, 2002)

‘Renaissance Commonplace Books from the Huntington Library’: a collection of microfilm facsimiles, 4 reels (Marlborough: Adam Matthew Publications, 1995)

Chapters in Books

‘The Read, the Unread, and the Unreadable,’ in Donatien Grau (ed.), Codex Seraphinianus (Paris: Galerie Azzedine Alaïa, 2017)

'A New World of Books: Hernando Colón and the Biblioteca Colombina,’ in Ann Blair and Anja Goeing (eds.), For the Sake of Learning: Essays in Honor of Anthony Grafton, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2016)

‘The History of Cryptography,’ in Ray Clemens (ed.), The Voynich Manuscript (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016)

‘Early Modern Punctuation and Modern Editions: Shakespeare’s Serial Colon,’ in Zachary Lesser, Heidi Brayman Hackel and Jesse Lander (eds.), The Book in History, The Book as History (New Haven: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 2016)

‘Magnitude Imaginaire [Imaginary Magnitude],’ in Donatien Grau (ed.), Jean Nouvel/Claude Parent: Musées à Venir (Paris: Galerie Azzedine Alaïa, 2016)

‘“Nota Bembe”: How Bembo the Elder Read his Pliny the Younger,’ in Guido Beltramini, Howard Burns and Davide Gasparotto (eds.), Pietro Bembo e le Arti (Venezia: Marsilio Editore, 2013)

‘The Social Life of Books,’ in Joad Raymond (ed.), The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture, Vol. I: Beginnings to 1660 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)

‘The Beginning of “The End”: Terminal Paratext and the Birth of Print Culture,’ in Helen Smith and Louise Wilson (eds.), Renaissance Paratexts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

‘Shakespearean Somniloquy: Sleep and Transformation in The Tempest,’ in Margaret and Thomas Healy (eds.), Renaissance Transformations: The Making of English Writing, 1500-1650 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009)

‘Digging the Dust: Renaissance Archivology,’ in Leonard Barkan, Bradin Cormack, and Sean Keilen (eds.), Forms of Renaissance Thought: New Essays on Literature and Culture (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

‘On the Threshold: Architecture, Paratext, and Early Print Culture,’ in Sabrina A. Baron, Eric Lindquist, and Eleanor Shevlin (eds.), Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies and the Legacy of Eisenstein (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007), 67-81

‘John Dee's Columbian Encounter,’ in Stephen Clucas (ed.), John Dee: Interdisciplinary Studies in English Renaissance Thought (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2006), 131-40

‘The Marginal History of the Manicule,’ in Robin Myers, Michael Harris, and Giles Mandelbrote (eds.), Owners, Annotators and the Signs of Reading (London and New Castle, Delaware: The British Library and Oak Knoll Press, 2005), 19-48

‘Stirrings and Searchings (1500-1720),’ in Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 17-36

‘Travel and Trade,’ in Arthur Kinney (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Renaissance Drama (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002; rev. ed. 2017), 109-20

‘What Did Renaissance Readers Write in Their Books?’, in Jennifer Andersen and Elizabeth Sauer (eds.), Books and Readers in Early Modern England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 119-37

‘“Rather soiled by use”: Renaissance Readers and Modern Collectors,’ in Sabrina Baron (ed.), The Reader Revealed (Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 2001), 84-91

‘“The Book thus put in every vulgar hand”: Marking Readers in Early English Printed Bibles,’ in Paul Saenger and Kimberly Molanari (eds.), The Bible as Book: The First Printed Editions (London: The British Library, 1999), 125-33

‘John Dee’s Role in Martin Frobisher’s Northwest Enterprise,’ in Thomas H. B. Symons (ed.), Meta Incognita: Martin Frobisher’s Arctic Expeditions, 1576-1578, 2 vols. (Hull: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1999), 1:283-98

'Anatomizing the Commonwealth: Language, Politics, and the Elizabethan Social Order,’ in Elizabeth Fowler and Roland Greene (eds.), The Project of Prose in Early Modern Europe and the New World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 104-21

‘The Place of Reading in the English Renaissance: John Dee Revisited,’ in James Raven, Naomi Tadmor, and Helen Small (eds.), The Practice and Representation of Reading in England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 62-76

With Lisa Jardine, ‘Pragmatic readers: knowledge transactions and scholarly services in late Elizabethan England,’ in Anthony Fletcher and Peter Roberts (eds.), Religion, culture and society in early modern Britain: essays in honour of Patrick Collinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 102-24

Journal Articles

‘In the Margins of Josephus: Two Ways of Reading,’ with Anthony Grafton, in Joanna Weinberg and Martin Goodman (eds.), The Early Modern Reception of Josephus, a special issue of the International Journal of the Classical Traditions (2017)

‘The Department of Hybrid Books: Thomas Milles Between Manuscript and Print,’ with Heather Wolfe, in Juliet Fleming, William Sherman and Adam Smyth (eds.), Renaissance Collage, a special issue of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 45:3 (Fall 2015), 457-86

‘Punctuation as Configuration; or, How Many Sentences Are There in Sonnet 1?’, in Jean-Christophe Mayer, William Sherman, Stuart Sillars and Margaret Vasileiou (eds.), Shakespearean Configurations, special issue 21 of Early Modern Literary Studies (2013)

‘Walter Conrad Arensberg's Anagrammania,’ Cabinet 45 (Spring 2012), 71-73

‘How To Make Anything Signify Anything,’ Cabinet 40 (January 2011), 32-38 [Spanish version published in Revista de Occidente (July 2012)]

‘Of Anagrammatology,’ English Language Notes 47:2 (Fall/Winter 2009), 139-48

‘Patents and Prisons: Simon Sturtevant and the Death of the Renaissance Inventor,’ in William Sherman and William Sheils (eds.), Prison Writings in Early Modern England, a special issue of the Huntington Library Quarterly 72:2 (June 2009), 239-56

‘Bringing the World to England: The Politics of Translation in the Age of Hakluyt,’ Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 14 (2004), 199-207

‘Distant Relations: Letters from America, 1492-1677,’ in Cultural Studies in the History of Letter-Writing, a special issue of the Huntington Library Quarterly 66:3-4 (Winter 2003), 225-45

‘“Rather soiled by use”: Attitudes Towards Readers' Marks,’ The Book Collector 52:4  (Winter 2003), 471-90

'Une bibliothèque de tous les savoirs,’ Les Cahiers de Science & Vie 61 (February 2001), 90-95

‘Used Books,’ in a forum on Material Culture (ed. Peter Stallybrass), Shakespeare Studies 29 (2000), 145-48

‘Putting the British Seas on the Map: John Dee's Imperial Cartography, Cartographica 35 (1998), 1-10

‘Thomas Dekker's Old Fortunatus and England's Golden Age,’ Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England 6 (1993), 85-102

‘John Dee's Brytannicae Reipublicae Synopsis: A Reader's Guide to the Elizabethan Commonwealth,’ Journal of Medieval & Renaissance Studies 20 (1990), 293-315 [reprinted in J. E. Person, Jr. and J. P. Draper (eds.), Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800 (Detroit: Gale Research, 1992)]