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Dr Harry R. McCarthy

Early modern drama

Harry R. McCarthy’s research centres on early modern theatre and questions concerning the body in performance. He is particularly interested in boy actors on the early modern stage (the topic of his PhD thesis) and has more recently developed an interest in how sport, exercise, and theatre intersect in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature and culture.

Academic interests

Harry R. McCarthy’s academic interests include: 

  • Early modern theatre history
  • Contemporary performance of early modern plays
  • Movement and the body
  • Education
  • Boyhood.

Degrees obtained

  • BA, Exeter.
  • MSt., Oxford.
  • PhD, Exeter.


Harry R. McCarthy completed his undergraduate studies in English and French at the University of Exeter before moving to Oxford to complete the MSt. in English (1550-1700). He returned to Exeter to undertake a PhD on boy actors on the early modern English stage before being appointed at Jesus in 2019.

He is currently working on a project which connects ideas concerning education, sport and exercise, and performance in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and has recently collaborated with theatre companies such as Shakespeare’s Globe (London) and Edward’s Boys (Stratford-upon-Avon). Until 2017, he was Performance Review Editor for Shakespeare Bulletin.

Other interests

Classical music, theatre, fashion (studying and following), and food and drink (both history and consuming thereof).

Publications, links and resources

  • McCarthy, H. R. (forthcoming 2021) “Fletcher and Field” in José A. Pérez Díez and Martin Wiggins (eds), The Oxford Handbook of John Fletcher. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • McCarthy, H. R. (forthcoming 2020) Edward’s Boys: Performing Early Modern Drama Beyond Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press [Elements in Shakespeare Performance]
  • McCarthy, H. R. (2020) “The Circulation of Youthful Energy on the Early Modern London Stage: Migration, Intertheatricality, and ‘Growing to Common Players.’” Shakespeare Survey, vol. 73, pp. 43-62.
  • McCarthy, H. R. (2018) “Men in the Making: Youth, the Repertory, and the ‘Children’ of the Queen’s Revels, 1609-13.” English Literary History, vol. 85, no. 3, pp. 599-629.
  • Harry McCarthy regularly reviews books and performances for Early Theatre, Renaissance Studies, Shakespeare, and Shakespeare Bulletin.
  • You can hear a podcast about Edward’s Boys’ production of Ben Jonson’s The Silent Woman.
  • You can watch an interview about Dr McCarthy's work on the “A Bit Lit” YouTube channel.

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