Creative Arts


Dr Gillian Spraggs

Photo of Dr Gillian  Spraggs

I have been a Visiting Fellow in the Department since 2007. My research interests range quite widely but often focus on the presentation of outsider figures. I am also interested in the formation of legends and the intersection of folk tradition, literature and received historical narrative. I received my PhD from the University of Cambridge for work on the figure of the rogue in Tudor and early Stuart literature.

I teach some sessions for the MA in Creative Writing. My poems and translations have appeared in The Coffee House and in several anthologies. In 2005, with Deborah Tyler-Bennett, I wrote Creative Writing in Museums, a web-based course for the adult learning section of the V&A website. I take a close interest in copyright law reform and related issues and have contributed to public debates and consultations in this area. I hold a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from the University of Leicester. 

My primary area of research is the cultural and literary history of crime, particularly highway robbery and banditry. I am currently working on a study of the personal legends and documented careers of a number of robbers who were active in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the age of the classic mounted highwaymen of English folk-memory. 

In December 2013 I was nominated by the Creators’ Rights Alliance to a working group set up by the Intellectual Property Office to consult over the guidance on diligent search for the owners of copyright in a literary work, for use by prospective applicants to the new orphan works scheme. The guidance was published in September, 2014.

On 28 September, 2011 I was a panellist at a seminar held by Innovate Legal, a law firm in Fleet Street.  The subject of the seminar was the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property; I spoke on the topic of orphan works

I was invited by the Guardian to contribute a short piece on the Google Book Settlement to ‘The Week in Books’ section of the Guardian Review which appeared on 27 February, 2010.

On 23 February 2010 I was a panellist at the Google Books Policy Panel Breakfast held at the British Library by the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy. 

2012 ‘Highwaymen in Eighteenth-Century Records: the case of Sixteen-String Jack’ (10 February, London Metropolitan Archives, as part of the event Researching Criminal and Prison Lives

2010 ‘The Irish in London, 16th – 18th Centuries’ (9 March, Nottingham Irish Studies Group)

2008 ‘John Milton of London’ (5 December, Guildhall Library, Milton Quatercentenary event)

2007 ‘Trouble in Turnmill Street’ [the history of Elizabethan and Jacobean Clerkenwell from archive material, including the Middlesex Sessions records] (24 April, as part of the Criminal Londoners event held at London Metropolitan Archives; repeated 16 April, 2009)

2006 ‘Gentlemen of the Road: Highwaymen on Bagshot Heath’ (6 April, the Friends of Surrey Heath Museum, Camberley, Surrey)

2005 ‘James Hind, the Cavalier Highwayman’ (10 July, talk given at Faringdon Arts Festival, Oxfordshire)