Dr Gemma Allen

Retained Lecturer in History

Teaching activities

  • Early modern British and European History
  • Gender History

Detailed Biography


Lecturer in Early Modern History at The Open University


I have extensive media training, as in January 2013 I was selected out of two thousand applicants to receive specialist training as a BBC ‘Expert Women’. For details about my recent appearance on BBC R4’s Woman’s Hour and further information about my media work, see my personal webpage, http://gemmaallen.com/. You can also find me on Twitter, @DrGemmaAllen.

Relevant Links


Research interests

My research centres on the political, religious and cultural history of later sixteenth and early seventeenth-century England and particularly the study of early modern women.

My new book, The Cooke Sisters: Education, Piety and Politics in Early Modern England (2013), explores the lives of five remarkable sixteenth-century women: Mildred Cooke Cecil (1526-1589), Anne Cooke Bacon (1528-1610), Margaret Cooke Rowlett (c.1533-1558), Elizabeth Cooke Hoby Russell (c. 1540-1609) and Katherine Cooke Killigrew (c. 1542-1583). Part of the select group of Tudor women allowed access to a formal education, the Cooke sisters were also well-connected through their marriages to influential Elizabethan politicians. Drawing particularly on their own writings, this book reconstructs for the first time the sisters' humanist education and reveals the extent of their religious and political agency. The extensive extant correspondence of one of the Cooke sisters, Lady Anne Bacon, is the subject of my forthcoming edition in 2014 for the Camden series. My current research project looks more widely at the political activities of early modern Englishwomen.



The Cooke Sisters: Education, Piety and Politics in Early Modern England (MUP, 2013).


The Correspondence of Lady Anne Bacon, c. 1552-1610 (Forthcoming: Camden Society Publications/CUP, 2014).

Peer-reviewed chapters

‘Women as Counsellors in Sixteenth-Century England: The Letters of Lady Anne Bacon and Lady Elizabeth Russell’ in J. Daybell and A. Gordon (eds), Women and Letters in Early Modern Britain: Gendered Rhetorics and Networks in Renaissance Correspondence (Forthcoming: Ashgate).

‘“a briefe and plaine declaration”: Lady Anne Bacon’s 1564 Translation of the Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae’, in P. Hardman and A. Lawrence-Mathers (eds), Women and Writing, c.1340-c.1650: The Domestication of Print Culture (Boydell and Brewer, 2010), pp. 62-76.


Review of The Letters of Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza, edited by G. Redworth (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2012) in The English Historical Review, forthcoming.

Review of Laura Lunger Knoppers (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Early Modern Women’s Writing (Cambridge, 2009) in The English Historical Review, CXXVI, 521 (2011), pp. 934-936.

Review of Melissa Franklin Harkrider’s Women, Reform and Community in Early Modern England: Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, and Lincolnshire’s Godly Aristocracy (Boydell and Brewer, 2008) in The English Historical Review, CXXIV, 510 (2009), pp. 1164-5.