Matthew Bevis completed his BA at the University of Bristol, before going on to study for an MPhil in European Romanticism at Glasgow and Bologna, and then for a PhD at Cambridge. He finished the thesis in 2000 and taught at Oxford before taking up lectureships at Sheffield (2001) and York (2005). He joined Keble in 2011.
His first book — The Art of Eloquence: Byron, Dickens, Tennyson, Joyce (OUP, 2007) — considered relations between political oratory and literary craft. He’s since edited or co-edited various collections of essays — including Some Versions of Empson (OUP, 2007) — and a few years back he wrote Comedy: A Very Short Introduction, which explored comedy as a literary genre and as a range of non-literary impulses and events (pantomime, circus, stand-up acts, caricatures, and other funny business).
Much of his recent work has focused on poetry: essays have included ‘It Wants to Go to Bed With Us‘, ‘Poetry by Numbers‘, ‘Unknowing Lyric‘ and ‘In Search of Distraction‘. Some of this material is preparatory thinking for a set of essays he’s writing, On Wonder, for Harvard University Press.
He has just finished a book entitled Wordsworth’s Fun, published by Chicago University Press, and is currently working on Knowing Edward Lear for OUP. The Lear project builds on the Chatterton Lecture he gave in 2012 and a volume he co-edited with James Williams, Edward Lear and The Play of Poetry (OUP, 2016). The research has also involved collaborations with the BBC, Harvard University, the Natural History Museum, the Ashmolean, The Tennyson Society, and other organisations. Full information — along with podcasts, online exhibitions, talks, and other materials — can be found here.
He writes for the London Review of Books, Harper’s, Raritan, Poetry, and other magazines (essays on Edward Thomas, Treasure Island and its adaptations, cockneys and nineteenth-century London, William Hazlitt, Robert Frost, Lewis Carroll, Elizabeth Bishop, Stevie Smith, Thomas De Quincey, John Ashbery, Edward Lear, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and A. R. Ammons). A sample of his work for the LRB — a short video-essay on Stevie Smith — is available here. His most recent piece for Poetry magazine won the 2018 Editors Prize for Feature Article; podcasts/interviews based on his work for Poetry are available here and here.