In our latest interview with authors from the Society for Renaissance Studies book series, we talk to Angela Andreani about her book Meredith Hanmer and the Elizabethan Church: A Clergyman’s Career in 16th Century England and Ireland, the surprising nature of research and the importance of good networking.
- What drew you towards Renaissance and Early Modern studies in general, and then humanism and intellectual history in particular?
Manuscript culture and its coexistence with early print technology, as well as the cultural and intellectual changes brought about by the Reformation.
- Apart from your own, what book would you recommend for people to read to learn more about your field of study?
There are too many, but as an introduction to religious and ecclesiastical history anything by Diarmaid McCulloch.
- Quite how typical or radical was Hanmer’s career as a clergyman, did his life mirror those of his contemporaries?
He was exceptionally good at falling out with people, so we have an unusually rich record of his dealings, which helps us understand that aspects of his career were probably quite typical of the age.
- How did your scholarly journey develop over the course of your research for this book? Did you end up where you always intended to?
Who does? No, the development of my journey over the course of my research for this book was full of surprises and unexpected scholarly friendships that I am glad to say continue to this day.
- What were the most fruitful sources you found in your research?
The National Archives (Kew), The National Archives of Ireland (Dublin), The Clergy of the Church fo England Database, Wood Athenae Oxonienses, The ODNB.
- Did you discover anything that made you rethink some of your initial ideas?
I think that exploring the details of people’s lives and thoughts, as far as they can be known, cannot but lead to discoveries that may challenge our ideas and preconceptions. For instance, I wouldn’t have thought that a clergyman’s life could be so unsettled.
- Do you have a favourite discovery or favourite fact from your research?
I really enjoyed finding out how Hanmer may have met his wife, and all the details about his interests, connections and whereabouts in Ireland that emerge from his manuscript notes.
- What are you working on now?
Religious writings in manuscript and print, especially sermons and treatises. But I also work on the history of language and linguistic ideas.
- If you were not an early modernist, is there any other period or history or historical field you would like to work on?
The Middle Ages.
- Is it necessary to be able to read and understand Latin to work in Renaissance / early modern studies?
It helps a lot.
- If you could instantly acquire one skill or ability to help your research, what would it be?
- Is there any advice you would give to PhD students or early career researchers for finding their feet or developing their work in your field?
Talk to people in different disciplines; annoy people with your research project until you feel they have understood it, only then you know that you have understood it; take breaks, enjoy yourself and allow time for ideas and thoughts to develop.
Angela Andreani is a researcher at the University of Milan, where she teaches English Linguistics. She specialises in the History of English and Elizabethan manuscripts and archives.
Her book, Meredith Hanmer and the Elizabethan Church: A Clergyman’s Career in 16th Century England and Ireland, was published in 2021: https://www.routledge.com/Meredith-Hanmer-and-the-Elizabethan-Church-A-Clergymans-Career-in-16th/Andreani/p/book/9780367523596