Isabel Rivers, Ph.D.

Professor of Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Culture, Queen Mary University of London 

Isabel Rivers is a literary and intellectual historian of the long eighteenth century, with particular interests in the history of religion and philosophy and the history of the book. Her books include Reason, Grace, and Sentiment: A Study of the Language of Religion and Ethics in England, 1660–1780, 2 vols (1991–2000); she has also edited Books and their Readers in Eighteenth-Century England (1982) and Books and their Readers in Eighteenth-Century England: New Essays (2001), and, with David Wykes, Joseph Priestley, Scientist, Philosopher, and Theologian (2008) and Dissenting Praise: Religious Dissent and the Hymn in England and Wales (2011). She has published over forty chapters and articles on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature, religion, and thought, on authors ranging from John Bunyan to David Hume.

With Dr David L. Wykes she co-founded the Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies in 2004, and was Co-Director until 2012. She is Principal Investigator for the Dissenting Academies Project, with Wykes as Project Partner. The main outcome to date is Dissenting Academies Online, two fully searchable databases covering dissenting academies and their tutors, students, archives, and libraries for the period 1660 to 1860; the second outcome, in preparation, is A History of the Dissenting Academies in the British Isles, 1660-1860, of which she is editor, with Mark Burden as assistant editor.

Professor Rivers gave the 2008 MWRC Annual Lecture titled: ‘John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards’, with a focus on Wesley’s edition of Edwards’ The Life of David Brainerd.

Select Recent Publications

Vanity Fair and the Celestial City: Dissenting, Methodist, and Evangelical Literary Culture in England, 1720–1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)

‘The Pilgrim’s Progress in the Evangelical Revival’, in The Oxford Handbook of John Bunyan, ed. Michael Davies and W. R. Owens  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)

‘Inward Religion and its Dangers in the Evangelical Revival’, in Heart Religion: Evangelical Piety in England and Ireland, 1690-1850, ed. John Coffey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)

‘Whitefield’s Reception in England, 1770-1839’, in George Whitefield: Life, Context, and Legacy, ed. Geordan Hammond and David Ceri Jones (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016) 

‘Thomas Jackson (1783–1873), Book Collector, Editor, and Tutor’, Wesley and Methodist Studies, 6 (2014), 63-89.

 ‘Scougal’s Life of God in the Soul of Man: the Fortunes of a Book, 1676–1830’, in Philosophy and Religion in Enlightenment Britain, ed. Ruth Savage (2012).

‘Philip Doddridge’s New Testament: The Family Expositor (1739-56)’, in The King James Bible after 400 Years: Literary, Linguistic and Cultural Influences, ed. Hannibal Hamlin and Norman Jones (2010).

‘John Wesley as Editor and Publisher’, in The Cambridge Companion to John Wesley, ed. Randy L. Maddox and Jason E. Vickers (2010).

‘Religious Publishing’, in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, vol. 5, 1695–1830, ed. Michael Suarez and Michael Turner (2009).

‘William Law and Religious Revival: The Reception of A Serious Call’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 71:4 (2008), 633-649.

‘The First Evangelical Tract Society’, Historical Journal, 50 (2007), 1-22.

‘Religion and Literature’, in The Cambridge History of English Literature, 1660–1780, ed. John Richetti (2005).

‘Joseph Williams of Kidderminster (1692–1755) and his Journal’, Journal of the United Reformed Church History Society, 7 (2005), 358–78.