My research focuses on early modern monarchy and politics, looking in particular at the legitimization of power and the role of ceremony and ritual. I am currently working on the 1650s. Previously, I have published on Tudor and Stuart coronations, Mary I and female rule, and various aspects of early modern ceremony and drama (see Publications). My first book, The Drama of Coronation: Medieval Ceremony in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2008), looked at the history of the coronation ceremony in sixteenth-century England. I am the co-editor, with Anna Whitelock, of a collection of essays on Mary I and Elizabeth I: Tudor Queenship: The Reigns of Mary and Elizabeth (Palgrave, 2010).
I have given several public talks on my research, including at Hampton Court (released as a podcast), the Tower of London, local schools and branches of the Historical Association. I have broadcast for BBC1, BBC2 and Channel 4. My contribution (on Mary I) to the BBC2 series Fit to Rule: How Royal Illness Changed History was subsequently recorded as a podcast for Historic Royal Palaces.
Before becoming a full-time academic, I worked for several years in trade book publishing, at Weidenfeld & Nicolson and Atlantic Books.
I am currently working on the period of the English Republic and the rule of Oliver Cromwell. The project was supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2014, and the book, England’s Republic: The Lost Decade, 1649–1660, will be published by Faber and Faber.
The book tells the story of England's misrepresented republican years. Often referred to as the Interregnum, the republic has been treated as a pause between the acts of the Stuart kings, as a failure, and as a dull and joyless time. After all, the Puritans closed the theatres and abolished Christmas. My research engages with the disciplines of political, economic and social history, literature and art to reveal a strikingly different and more nuanced image of the republic. This period of political turbulence was also a time of experimentation and invention, flourishing trade and new art forms. In particular, the book reconsiders how and why Oliver Cromwell began to rule, dress and live like a king. He refused the crown, but as Lord Protector he established a household on a royal model and adapted many of the ancient ceremonies that former English kings had exploited. The book argues that England's republic is best understood as a kind of reign, less a republican failure than an astonishing attempt to reinvent kingship, whose impact on the cultural life of the country, and on the development of the British monarchy, is not yet fully understood.
Dr Alice Hunt
Faculty of Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom