Professor Gordon Campbell

Gordon CampbellMA, DPhil, DLitt, Dr hc, FBA, FSA, FLS, FRHistS, FRGS, FRAS

Fellow in Renaissance Studies and University Public Orator

Contact Details::

Research Interests

I am a Renaissance and seventeenth-century specialist with a particular interest in John Milton. Broader interests in cultural history on which I publish include art, architecture, Biblical studies, classical antiquity, garden history, legal history, historical theology and the Islamic world. I have long had an interest in reference materials, and in the last decade have written an 800,000-word encyclopaedia, edited three multi-volume encyclopaedias, contributed to various electronic resources (including 1000+ entries in Grove Art Online), and participated in the construction of Oxford Scholarly Editions Online.

I have recently published a book on hermits and hermitages in Georgian gardens, entitled The Hermit in the Garden: from Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome. I am now working on a short monograph entitled Garden History for OUP's VSI series and an edited Oxford Illustrated History of the Renaissance . When these projects are completed, I intend to turn to three other projects that are in various stages of preparation: a VSI on Contemporary Islam, a dictionary of English legal history and a book on the Norse in America.

Fellowships, memberships, honours

  • Member, Selden Society (for English legal history)
  • sometime Member, Royal African Society
  • Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Bucharest, 1999
  • Honored Scholar of the Milton Society of America, 2005
  • Arts in Academics Award, University of Waterloo, 2010
  • Longman--History Today Trustees Award (for lifetime contribution to History), 2012

Lectures and academic visits

I have lectured, examined or reviewed provision at most pre-1992 British universities, and in scores of countries abroad. Named lectures include

  • the Bentall Lectures in Christian Theology at University of Calgary
  • the Botanic Garden Lecture, University of Leicester (scheduled for 14 May 2015)
  • the Distinguished Lecture on the History of Text Technologies at Florida State University
  • the Dr Williams's Library Annual Lecture
  • the James Spalding Memorial Lecture at University of Iowa
  • the Leo Miller Memorial Lecture at University of Colorado
  • the Maren-Sofie Røstvig Lectures at University of Oslo
  • a Passmore Edwards Lecture at University of Oxford
  • the Sir Henry Stephenson Lecture at Sheffield
  • the Sir Philip Sidney Lecture at Shrewsbury
  • the Sir Syed Memorial Lecture at Aligarh Muslim University
  • the Society of Friends of Milton's Cottage Annual Lecture, Mercers' Hall, London

The Bible

2011 was the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible.  Since then I have given some 70 talks on the KJV in Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Ireland, Israel, Romania, Switzerland, the United States and the Vatican. Venues have included cathedrals (Bristol, Ely, Exeter, Leicester, Lichfield, Norwich, Sheffield and Winchester), churches (Anglican/ Episcopal, Methodist, Roman Catholic, United Reform), clubs (including the Athenaeum in London and the Harvard Club in New York), exhibitions (including Atlanta, Charlotte NC, Colorado Springs, Edinburgh, Jerusalem, Oklahoma City, and Springfield MO), libraries (including the Philadelphia Free Library), the Inns of Court (Gray's Inn), learned societies (including the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow), literary festivals (Althorp, Belfast, Bloxham) and universities. I published a monograph on the history of the King James Bible and an edition of the 1611 text; the British government bought 21,144 copies of my edition of the Bible, and presented a copy to every primary and secondary school in England. I also contributed to BBC radio and television programmes on the KJV.  My microsite gives details of these activities:

I spend a significant portion of my time working for the Museum of the Bible, which will open in Washington DC on 17 November 2017. My principal responsibility concerns the section of the Museum devoted to Biblical archaeology and the history of the Bible, but I am also happily involved in many other aspects of the planning process. This agreeable task takes me to the United States regularly.

In America I also serve as Senior Bible Consultant and Scholar for the Great Bible Race, a King James Bible video game with more than 17,000 questions.

I also have an interest in the history of liturgy, and served on the Liturgical Group that drafted the three services for the reburial of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015. At the re-interment service I gave the eulogy for King Richard, I also worked as historical and liturgical consultant for DSP, the company that made the broadcasts for Channel 4.

International Interests

I have taught in Denmark (Århus University) and Canada (University of British Columbia), visited South Africa as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Science Development (Pretoria), examined in India (Aligarh and Calcutta), Luxembourg, Finland (Tampere) and Pakistan (Sindh), and lectured on academic and professional subjects all over the world; such professional travel has taken me to some 70 countries, and I have travelled with scholarly intent in many others, on all seven continents. The British Council has sponsored visits to conferences in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Spain and to institutions of higher education in Saudi Arabia and Libya, and I have travelled to Iran as a guest of the Iranian Ministry of Science and Technology.

My work overseas has made me familiar with international issues in higher education, and has brought me into close contact with the British Council, some 100 of whose offices and resource centres I have visited. I have initiated and/or negotiated split-degree programmes in Hong Kong and Malaysia, a post-graduate Law programme in Cyprus, a World Bank biotechnology project in Indonesia, a teacher-training programme in Brunei, a staff-development programme in eastern Turkey, an FCO shared scholarship scheme in India, a Soros shared scholarship scheme in Hungary and a women's PhD programme in Saudi Arabia. In South Africa I have offered advice on the redressing of historic imbalances through selective funding; in Beirut, where I was the first British academic visitor in fifteen years, I contributed my mite to the process of reconstruction; in the West Bank, throughout the years when schools and universities were closed during the first intifada, I gave assistance to Palestinians in need of higher education. My work in Eastern and Central Europe has included academic and professional lectures, a book scheme in which I sent 6000 new books to 15 libraries in six countries, mediation between universities and organisations such as the British Council, the Soros Foundation, Tempus and the World Bank, and assistance with recognition of professional qualifications (especially Engineering) by EU organisations. I also had special responsibility for Eastern and Central Europe within ESSE, of which I was one of eight founder members.

I have long had a particular interest in the Islamic world, to which I have made well over a hundred visits in the course of the last 30 years. I was the founding chair of the British Universities Iraq Consortium (BUIC), in which capacity I visited Baghdad (where I met the prime minister) and chaired meetings at ministerial level. I was also the founding chair of a consortium of British universities (now known as the UK Saudi Interest Group) active in Saudi Arabia, and in this capacity travelled to Riyadh for the Two Kingdoms Dialogue (led on the UK side by the Foreign Secretary), where I chaired the education negotiations with the Saudi Minister of Higher Education.  Pro bono work for HMG has mostly been for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but has also included the Department for International Development, the Department for Education and the (former) Department of Trade and Industry.  I have also worked as a consultant for the British government, for which I drafted a cross-governmental strategy for the support of education in the Islamic world. I have given scores of radio interviews on news items relating to the Middle East.

Postgraduate Supervision

I have supervised research students on topics ranging from Richard Hooker and Milton and Boiardo to Scandinavian drama, modern travel writing and the modern Islamic world; I have also supervised dissertations that consist of editions (Joseph Mede, Clement Paman, Moses Wall).

Selected recent Interviews (since 2011)

  • Interview with Jon Snow on 'Richard III: the reburial' (Channel 4) 26 March 2015
  • Interview on Richard III with Stephen Nolan on Radio 5 Live (22 March 2015)
  • Interview on the Wicked Bible (1631) with Mark Forrest on 39 BBC local radio stations in England and the Channel Islands (14 January 2015)
  • Interview on ornamental hermits with Eric Robson for Radio 4's 'Gardeners' Question Time' (28 December 2014, minutes 27-33)
  • Interview on Museum of the Bible with Ricky Ross on BBC Scotland (2 November 2014)
  • Interview on Museum of the Bible with Graham Wright on BBC Radio Leicester (2 November 2014)
  • Interview on Museum of the Bible with William Crawley for Radio 4's 'Sunday' (26 October 2014)
  • Interview on Museum of the Bible with Victoria Gibbens on United Christian Broadcasting (21 October 2014)
  • Interview with Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester for news item on Museum of the Bible (17 October 2014)
  • Interview with Michelle Boorstein for feature on the Museum of the Bible in the Washington Post (September 2014)
  • Interview with Dave Smith in Exeter Cathedral, filmed for Museum of the Bible, Washington DC (2 September 2014)
  • Interview with Mark Byrnes (on hermits) for The Atlantic's City Lab (July 2014)
  • Interview with Carmen Devito and Alice Marcus Krieg on 'We dig Plants: Episode 128' on Heritage Radio Network (3 February 2014)
  • Interview with Andy Wright for Modern Farmer (February 2014)
  • Interview with Eve Kahn for antiques column in New York Times (31 May 2013)
  • Interview with Alice Gregory for feature on garden hermits in Boston Globe (published 19 May 2013)
  • Biographical interview 'As a Matter of Fact: Gordon Campbell in Conversation with Joseph Shub', The European Legacy 17 (2012), pp. 213-232
  • 'Interview with Prof. Gordon Campbell', Glad Times 9 no. 4, December 2012  (GLA University, Mathura, India), pp. 14-21
  • 30-minute interview with Mary Hynes for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's 'Tapestry' Programme (28 September 2011)
  • Interview by Tom Ashbrook for 'On Point', a National Public Radio programme (June 2011)
  • Interviews with Adam Nicolson for BBC2 and BBC4 programme on King James Bible (June 2011)
  • Interview by Barbara Bradley Hagerty for a National Public Radio programme on the King James Bible broadcast across America on 18 April 2011.
  • 30-minute interview with ‘the Book Show’, hosted by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, broadcast in February 2011 on more than 100 stations in the region.
  • Interviews with James Naughtie for three-part series on the King James Bible, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2011
  • 23 interviews at 10-minute intervals broadcast to BBC local radio stations (Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Coventry and Warwickshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Guernsey, Humberside, Jersey, Kent, Leeds, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottingham, Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Shropshire, Solent, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Tees, Three Counties Radio, York and North Yorkshire).on Bible translators associated with each local region. On the same day I also did related pieces for BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Leicester (9 January 2011)
  • Interview on King James Bible Special for World Service, broadcast 1 January 2011
  • Interviews with John Florance for three-part series on BBC radio Leicester (January 2011)

Recent (since 2013) and Forthcoming Publications

(author) The Hermit in the Garden: from Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome (Oxford University Press, 2013), xviii + 255 pp, plus 8-page colour insert; paperback published 2014

(author), 'The Language of the King James Bible', in La Bible de 1611 - The King James Version: Sources, Écritures & Influences XVIe-XVIIIe siècles / Sources, Writings & Influences 16th-18th centuries, édité par Matthieu Arnold et Christophe Tournu (Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg, 2013), pp. 107-16

(author), 'The King James Bible and its impact on English culture, 17th to 19th centuries', in Études Newmaniennes (2013), pp. 15-35 [in English with French summary]

'The Inheritance of Sir Syed: a view from the West', Aligarh Muslim University Gazette 50 No. 2 (February 2013), pp. 11-17

(author), 'The King James Bible in the Modern World' in Библия короля Иакова, 1611-  2011: Культурное и языковое наследие / The King James Bible, 1611 – 2011: Legacy in Language and Culture, ed. Ye. B.  Yakovenko (Moscow, 2013), pp. 244-249 [adapted from the final chapter of Bible: The Story of the King James Version]

(author), 'The King James Version', in The Book of Books: Biblical Canon, Dissemination and its People, ed Jerry Pattengale, Lawrence Schiffman and Filip Vukosavović (Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, 2013), pp. 114-117.

(co-general editor with Thomas Corns), Vernacular Regicide and Republican Writings, ed N.H. Keeble, contributing editors Nicholas McDowell and N.H. Keeble, volume 6 of The Complete Works of John Milton (Oxford University Press, 2013), xx + 811 pp.

1227 entries in Grove Art Online (OUP, 2008-2014)

(author), 'Le jardin contemplatif', in Jardins 5 (2014), 37-44

(author), 'Listening and Reading', in The King James Bible, Across Centuries, Across Borders, ed. Angelica Duran (Duquesne University Press, 2014), pp. 19-36

(author) 'The King James Bible: Language and Literature'. in Transactions of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society 107 (2013), 8-10

(author), From Ritualist to Radical: the theology of Milton (Dr Williams's Library, London, 2015) [annual lecture]

Current and Recent Activities


  • Public Orator (2004-2017)


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