Dr Harry Spillane

Bye-Fellow in History and College Teaching Associate, Downing College
Director of Studies, Newnham College (Part IB)
University Ceremonial Officer (Assistant Bedell)

I completed my PhD in 2022 whilst at Peterhouse, under the supervision of Professor Alexandra Walsham and Mr Scott Mandelbrote. My thesis explored the creation, production and reception of the Bishops’ Bible (first published in 1568) in Elizabethan and early Stuart Britain. My thesis was examined by Dr Arnold Hunt (Cambridge) and Dr Lucy Wooding (Lincoln College, University of Oxford).

I completed by undergraduate degree at Oxford (Merton College) in 2017 before moving to Cambridge (Peterhouse), on a Newton Scholarship, where I completed my MPhil in 2018 under the supervision of Dr Arnold Hunt. My MPhil research explored the Protestant use of Catholic prayer books in Elizabethan England.

I was the History Faculty Cranmer Scholar from 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 and have received the History Faculty Dr Lightfoot Scholarship. In 2021 I received the Gordon Duff Prize from Cambridge University Library (https://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/gordonduff/previous-winners-gordon-duff-prize) and my article in Reformation was shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society 2023 Alexander Prize (https://blog.royalhistsoc.org/2023/06/01/rhs-alexander-prize-the-2023-shortlist/).

From 2023-2024, I will be the Director of Studies for Part IB at Newnham and a Bye-Fellow in History at Downing, whilst continuing to hold a Visiting Fellowship from the Bodleian Library.

My doctoral research, currently being turned into a monograph, explores the difficulties and practicalities of producing English Bibles under Elizabeth I with a particular focus on how Archbishop Matthew Parker and his bishops produced the Bishops’ Bible of 1568 – and then revised it in 1572. I wish to challenge perceptions that it was a universal failure and understand more fully how it shaped the Elizabethan Church and English Protestant identity from the 1570s. This project seeks to use methodologies that have been developed by Historians of the Book to understand how bibles were created and purchased whilst considering the social and cultural impact of the Bishops’ Bible on Elizabethan Protestant culture. I am particularly interested in the materiality of the Bishops' Bible and its afterlife in the 17th and 18th centuries.

More broadly, I am interested in the development of different Protestant ‘identities’ in post-Reformation Britain, the ways in which the British Reformations shaped the book trade, and the attempts by writers and polemicists on either side of the confessional divide to rewrite the history of the Church for their own purposes. I am also writing a study of the works of the Elizabethan polemicist William Fulke and an exploration of Matthew Parker's reforms at Stoke-by-Clare College under Henry VIII.

I supervise undergraduate historians taking the outline paper 'Early Modern Britain' (O4) and the Part IB topic paper 'The British Reformations and their Discontents' (Paper 8). I also offer occasional supervisions for 'Material Culture in the Early Modern World' at Part II (Paper 14). Since 2021, I have been involved in the delivery of the Undergraduate Transition Programme which provides a series of lectures and classes on study skills and research practices to first year historians.

I previously taught Paper 4 (British political history, 1485-1714) and Paper 9 (British economic and social history, c. 1500-1750), offering supervisions and source classes, and lectured for the Historical Arguments and Practices module on the topics of Religion, Memory and Public History.

I support history teaching and examining at the Institute of Continuing Education and provide teaching for the Bridging Programme at Corpus Christi College.

Recent public lectures and conference papers:

July 2023: Society for Renaissance Studies, Liverpool – ‘Curating History: Matthew Parker’s Library Bequests’.

May 2023: Lambeth Palace Library, London, - ‘The Bishops’ Bible and the Church of England’.

April 2023: Society for Reformation Studies, Cambridge – ‘William Fulke, Gregory Martin, and the Translation of the English Catholic Bible’.

December 2021: Institute of Historical Research, London – ‘A Testament and a Monument: The Bishops’ Bible and the early Elizabethan Church’.

September 2021: Reformation Studies Colloquium, Birmingham – ‘Printing Bibles in Elizabethan England’.

July 2021: SHARP: Moving Texts, online – ‘Print as Censorship in the Elizabethan Era’.

June 2021: “Forging and Forgetting”, University of Birmingham – ‘Matthew Parker, Bede, and the Elizabethan Church’.

May 2021: Workshop for the Early Modern Period, Cambridge (Jointly hosted with Edinburgh University) – ‘The smell of the leather and feel of the page: book history and the senses in a digitized age’.

May 2021: RefoRC Conference – ‘The Elizabethan Church, Anglo-Saxon History, and the English Bible’.

April 2021: Oxford Medieval History Conference – ‘Matthew Parker, English Bibles, and the Elizabethan Church’.

February 2021: Early Modern British and Irish History Seminar, Cambridge – ‘A Matter Newly Seene: The Bishops’ Bible and the Early Elizabethan Church’.

April 2020: Renaissance Society of America, Philadelphia – ‘Reading and Using the Bishops’ Bible’.

April 2019: Society of Reformation Studies, Westminster College – ‘Christopher Sutton and his Meditations: Catholic Books for Protestant Readers’.

January 2019: Early Modern History Workshop, Cambridge – ‘The Godly Household and the House of God; Preparations for Public Worship in Late Elizabethan England’.



Tags & Themes


Peterhouse, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RD


Key publications


'"A Matter Newly Seene": The Bishops' Bible, Matthew Parker, and Elizabethan Antiquarianism', Reformation, 27:2 (2022), 107-124. [Shortlisted for the RHS 2023 Alexander Prize].

'Eucharistic devotion and textual appropriation in post-Reformation England', The Seventeenth Century, 36:6 (2021), 869-92.

Book Reviews:

Review of How the English Reformation Was Named, by B. Guyer, Ecclesiology, 20:1 (2024), 105-108.

Review of Paratexts of the English Bible, 1525-1611, by D. Shuger, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 74:3 (2023), 670-671.

Review of Five London Parishes in the Reformation, by G. Gibbs, Reformation and Renaissance Review, 23:3 (November, 2020), 256-257.

Review of Stuart Succession Literature, Moments and Transformations, P. Kewes and A. McRae (ed.), The Journal of Royal Studies, 6:1 (July, 2019), 123-125.

Review of Elizabethan Publishing and the Making of Literary Culture, by K. Melnikoff, The Sixteenth Century Journal, 50:4 (Winter, 2019), 1304-1306.

Review of Edwin Sandys and the Reform of English Religion, by S. Bastow,The Sixteenth Century Journal [Forthcoming, 2024].