Professor Fiona Stafford

Doctor of Letters, Tuesday 17 July at 3pm


Professor Fiona Stafford began her higher education at the University of Leicester, receiving a Bachelor of Arts first class honours degree in English Language and Literature. Her love of English studies led her to Oxford University where she completed a Master of Philosophy degree in English Romantic Studies and later a Doctor of Philosophy degree focusing on James Macpherson and The Poems of Ossian. Stafford briefly left Oxford University to teach for a year at Nene College before returning. She has been there ever since and both her children attended the Nursery at Somerville College, where she is a Tutorial Fellow.

Stafford’s research interests include Ossian, Austen, Burns, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, the Shelleys, Byron, Heaney, Carson, literature of the Romantic period, the literature of place, nature writing (old and new), Scottish poetry after 1700, dialogues between English, Irish and Scottish literature, literature and the visual arts, and contemporary poetry.

Her most recent book, the acclaimed The Long, Long Life of Trees (2016), is a tribute to the diversity of trees in 17 chapters – each of which is dedicated to a common British tree – drawing on material from fields including folklore, natural science, literature, cultural history, European art, ancient mythology and modern medicine to illuminate each tree’s central place in western civilisation.

Stafford has considerable experience of working with media and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio. She has presented series for BBC Radio 3 on the symbolism, importance and meaning of trees and flowers. She has also contributed to the literary magazine, Archipelago.

Stafford is well-loved by her students. She was nominated by students for an Oxford University Students’ Union outstanding teaching award for outstanding pastoral support (2016) and outstanding tutor (2017).

Press comment

“It is a great honour to be receiving an Honorary Degree from my first university. My English degree at Leicester was a wonderful educational experience and has formed the basis for everything I have done since. I was so fortunate to be taught by some of the country's leading scholars and poets and to have the opportunity to discover so many new activities. I loved being a student in the vibrant multicultural city of Leicester and made great friends during the three years of my degree.”

Video of Professor Fiona Stafford's oration and response

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