Bangor academic wins Ben Jonson Award

Professor Andrew Hiscock of Bangor University is one of three international academics to receive the Ben Jonson Award this year.

Andrew, from the University’s School of English Literature, won the Ben Jonson Discovery Award for his research article “‘O, Tom Thumb! Tom Thumb! Wherefore art thou Tom Thumb?’: Early Modern Drama and the Eighteenth-century Writer – Henry Fielding and Fanny Burney”.

Originally published in the Ben Jonson Journal, Andrew’s article explores the changing perceptions of Shakespeare and his fellow dramatists nearly a century after their deaths in the journalism, drama, diaries and private correspondence of two of the eighteenth century’s leading literary figures, Henry Fielding and Fanny Burney. Fielding is perhaps most well-known now amongst readers (and audiences of television and cinema adaptations) for his celebrated novel Tom Jones, and Burney as the author of the daring novel of courtship Evelina which caused a sensation at the end of the eighteenth century and had a lasting influence upon the young Jane Austen. Indeed, Austen was so impressed that she became a subscriber to Burney’s subsequent novels.

Andrew describes how at the beginning of his research: “It soon became clear that there was a rich field of enquiry here. Given that Fielding’s life spanned the first half of the century and that Burney was two when Fielding died in 1754 and that she herself died at a ripe age in 1840, research into the lives and writings of both these celebrated figures offered a wealth of materials on theatre-going habits, the swift decline in knowledge about Elizabethan England and the creation of a national poet as the eighteenth century gradually unfolded. This research was initially presented in French at the University of Montpellier at the 2011 Annual Renaissance Studies Address sponsored by the Society for Renaissance Studies and the Université Paul Valéry and it has been a marvellous experience to bring this project to fruition and to have it recognized with this award.”

The Ben Jonson Journal is a peer-reviewed, twice-a-year review devoted to the study of Ben Jonson and the culture in which his manifold literary efforts thrived. It includes essays on poetry, theatre, criticism, religion, law, the court, the curriculum, medicine, commerce, the city, and family life. The Ben Jonson Journal makes three literary awards for best essays in each year's volume Andrew receives the prize of $500 for the “Ben Jonson Discoveries Award.” The other 2014 Award winners are Brian Vickers, ‘Ben Jonson’s Classicism Revisited’ (Beverly Rogers Literary Award) and David Loewenstein, ‘Paradise Lost and Political Image Wars’ (Ben Jonson Discoveries Award).

Publication date: 21 November 2014