Rebecca Tomlin


I am interested in literature and drama that reflects on the practices of space and place in early modern London, with a particular focus on almsgiving and commerce. I am currently working with an archive of sixteenth-century petitions and a corpus of plays that feature beggars. Begging was a performative and affective act and I am interested in the way that it raises questions of veracity, trust, obligation, duty and ‘neighbourliness’ in a changing economic, social and religious culture and how these issues are staged in drama of the same period. More broadly I am exploring post new-historicist ways of using an inter-disciplinary methodology to negotiate the relationship between historical records and imaginative representation of life in the city. In a separate but aligned interest, I am also working on sixteenth and seventeenth century double-entry book-keeping manuals as pedagogical texts which attempted to present an essentially practical applied technique as an art, and how authors variously fashioned themselves as scholars, practitioners and teachers within the commercial and pedagogical communities of early modern London. I am also at the early stages of a project considering jokes about numbers in early modern drama.


Rebecca Tomlin is a Research Associate on the ERC-funded project Crossroads of Knowledge in Early Modern England: the Place of Literature co-hosted by CRASSH and the Faculty of English.

Rebecca recently completed her Ph.D. in English Literature at Birkbeck College, University of London, supervised by Dr Adam Smyth and Professor Susan Wiseman. Her AHRC-funded doctoral research took an inter-disciplinary approach to explore ways in which early modern Londoners used narratives presented on stage and in church to think about the rapidly changing nature of their city, with a particular emphasis on commerce and charity.

Her first undergraduate degree was in Economics and Politics (Manchester University). Prior to resuming her studies, Rebecca practiced as a Chartered Accountant for a number of years.

Recent Publications

  • ‘Alms Petitions and Compassion in sixteenth-century London’ for inclusion in a volume on early modern compassion ed. by Katherine Ibbett and Kristine Steenbergh (under preparation).
  • ‘Trajectories of Neighbourhood’, invited submission for special edition of Early Theatre (under review).
  • ‘Sixteenth-century humanism, printing and authorial self-fashioning: the case of James Peele’ for the Journal of the Northern Renaissance (‘JNR’) Issue 6 (2014).
  • ‘Editorial’ as Joint Guest-Editor of ‘Numbers’ edition of JNR Issue 6 (2014).  
  • ‘A New Poem by Arthur Golding?’, Notes and Queries, 2012 (3).


  • The Place of Charity in 1590s drama: Edward IV and Aldgate’, Crossroads of Knowledge Interdisciplines Workshop, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, October 2015.     
  • ‘“To there utter undoinges”: alms petitions and compassion in sixteenth century London’, Compassion in Early Modern Culture Conference, VU University, Amsterdam, September 2015.
  • “‘I trac’d him too and fro’, narratives of neighbourhood on the early modern stage”, The London Renaissance Seminar, February 2015.
  • ‘Collections and Control’, The Society for Renaissance Studies Conference, July 2014.
  • ‘Exchange and Mart: The Place of Commerce in The Fair Maid of the Exchange’, The Fair Maid of the Exchange Malone Society Symposium, Somerville College, Oxford, June 2014.
  • ‘“I trac’d him too and fro”; trajectories of neighbourhood in A Warning for Fair Women and Edward IV’, The Shakespeare Association of America Conference, 2014.
  • ‘Peele Among the Humanists’, Working it Out: A Day of Numbers in Early Modern Writing, Birkbeck College, London, 2013.
  • ‘Writing the books: how early modern records were made “right”’, Bonds, Lies, and Circumstances: Discourses of Truth-Telling in the Renaissance, St Andrews’ University, 2013

Crossroads of Knowledge, Researcher


January 2016 - Present


.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)