“We can admire Swain’s combinations of economy, quizzicality, and depth-charge enquiry…” – New Welsh Review

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Ophelia Swam is my forthcoming novel, due out this year, 2020. It’s a Tudor Gothic story, focussing on the shift from herbal to anatomical medicine. I talk a bit more about its origins in Herbalism.

We’re all on hold for the moment due to the Coronavirus lockdown, but as a little taster, here is a review from my lovely Blackwell’s colleague, Thea Hobbs:

“A stunningly beautiful novel, Ophelia Swam swept me back into Tudor Oxfordshire, and somehow made it feel like home. Shifting the focus to the ordinary people whose lives were uprooted by the courtly drama of Tudor politics and weaving in threads of Hamlet and herbalism, this is a story that will stay with you long after you close the final page.”

Endless Forms Most Beautiful, a song cycle setting a selection of poems from Darwin’s Microscope to music written by composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad, debuted with a sold-out performance at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, on 18th October 2019. Music: Carola Darwin, soprano, and Gildas Quartet.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful received 4 out of 5 stars in The Times, described as a “shrewd, witty, and imaginative song cycle”. 

It was performed in a sold-out gig at Cambridge at Kettle’s Yard, on 28th November 2019.

The Naked Muse (Valley Press, 2016,) was hailed by the TLS as “an insightful, lyrical memoir which sheds light on the role of nude models depicted by artists throughout the centuries, illuminating both their immortality and invisibility”.

In 2016, I was one of the first three poets-in-residence at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. An interview at Scientia Crastina gives some insight into poetry & science residencies.

I also write and teach in the field of Medical and Health Humanities, and I’ve worked for Imperial College London, Duke University, and the University of Reading. I write regularly for The Lancet medical journals.