People today are worried about solitariness and its health impact. Our project addresses these concerns through wide-ranging original research, alongside podcasts, radio programmes, public discussions, theatre productions, and educational events organised by the project team and our creative partners. Our approach is multi-disciplinary, drawing on research from the humanities, social and medical sciences.

Project Team

The project has a core team of researchers that investigates its themes and leads its public engagement programme.

Barbara Taylor

Principal Investigator

Barbara Taylor’s interests lie in the relationship between subjectivity and intellectual/political change.  Her early research focused on feminist theory and history: she has published two well-known books on British feminism, and in the late 1990s she ran a Leverhulme-funded international research project on feminism and Enlightenment.  Her current research focuses on ideas about selfhood and subjectivity in Britain during the long 18th century, especially ideas about the solitary self; she is writing a monograph provisionally titled Beast or God: Solitude and Subjectivity in Enlightenment Britain.

James Morland

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

James Morland’s research interests lie in the poetry of the long eighteenth century and its intersections with philosophy and medicine. He will be undertaking a project on solitude in relation to contemplations of life and death in various poetic contexts across the long eighteenth century, considering how both solitude and poetry provided a certain spaciousness for reflection on questions of life and death in the long eighteenth century with a specific interest in the influences of intellectual history, medicine, and philosophy and their relationship to poetic production.

Akshi Singh

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Akshi Singh’s doctoral work drew upon literary and anthropological writing to explore the history of psychoanalysis in colonial India, and the conceptual place of the primitive in psychoanalytic theory. She is now writing about how British Independent and Object Relations psychoanalysts discuss solitude and depression, and the ways in which these difficult states may carry with them possibilities for transformation and creativity.

Charlie Williams

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Charlie Williams’ research explores twentieth-century culture through the lens of the human sciences. His doctoral thesis examined the relationship between Cold War ‘brainwashing’ science and the 1960s psychedelic movement. Charlie’s current research focuses on the role played by the psy sciences in shaping cultural understandings of dropouts, outsiders and isolates in post war Britain. He is interested in how historical developments in the psy sciences have influenced how we interact with our social and physical environment and govern our minds and bodies today.

Nisha Ramayya

Research Fellow

Nisha Ramayya’s current research and practice focusses on race, poetry, and poetics in the UK. Her debut collection States of the Body Produced by Love (2019) is published by Ignota Books; other recent publications include In Me the Juncture (2019) published by Sad Press, and Threads (2018), a critical-creative pamphlet co-authored with Sandeep Parmar and Bhanu Kapil, published by clinic. She is a member of the ‘Race & Poetry & Poetics in the UK’ research group; the interdisciplinary practice-as-research group ‘Generative Constraints’; and a lecturer in Creative Writing at Queen Mary University of London.


Clare Whitehead

Project Manager

Clare Whitehead administrates the project and works with the Project Officer to run the project website.

Tasha Pick

Project and Communications Officer

Tasha Pick co-ordinates the activities and outputs of the project and serves as a point of contact for research associates and collaborators. She also runs the project website and social spaces.

Advisory Board

The project has a distinguished Advisory Board to help formulate research strategy, review the project findings at different stages, and develop the dissemination strategy.

Paul Cann

Paul Cann has recently retired as Chief Executive of Age UK Oxfordshire. His research and policy interests include pensioner poverty, loneliness and social exclusion and care issues. Mr Cann is a founding member of the Campaign to End Loneliness, and co-author of Safeguarding the Convoy: A Call to Action from the Campaign to End Loneliness (2011).

Thomas Dixon

Thomas Dixon is Professor of History and a founder member of the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London. He is a historian of medicine, philosophy and science, with particular interest in the history of the emotions. His most recent book is Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears (2015). He directs the project ‘Living with Feeling’, with which this project is partnered.

Rhodri Hayward

Rhodri Hayward is Reader in History and Director of the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London. He is a historian of psychiatry and neurobiology whose publications include Psychiatry in Britain (2013) and The Transformation of the Psyche in British Primary Care (2014).

Colin Jones

Colin Jones, CBE, FBA, is Professor of History at Queen Mary University of London. He specialises in French cultural, social and medical history and his many books include The Medical World of Early Modern France (co-author, 1998), Paris, Biography of a City (2004), and The Smile Revolution in 18th Century Paris (2014). Professor Jones is Past President of the Royal Historical Society.

Thomas Laqueur

Thomas Laqueur is Helen Fawcett Professor of History at University of California Berkeley. His many publications include Solitary Sex: a Cultural History of Masturbation (2003) and The Work of the Dead: a Cultural History of Mortal Remains (2015) which won five major prizes.

Hilary Marland

Hilary Marland is Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the History of Medicine at the University of Warwick. Her most recent book is Health and Girlhood in Britain, 1874-1920 (2013) Professor Marland is Principal Investigator on the Wellcome Trust project, ‘Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000’.

Stefan Priebe

Stefan Priebe is a consultant psychiatrist, Professor for Social and Community Psychiatry, and Director of the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry (Queen Mary University of London). Problems of social isolation and loneliness among people with mental disorders are among Professor Priebe’s many specialisms; he has published numerous articles on this topic and runs a befriending programme for psychiatric patients out of his Unit.

Sally Shuttleworth

Sally Shuttleworth, FBA, is Professorial Fellow in English at Oxford and Director of the European Research Council-funded project, ‘Diseases of Modern Life: 19th Century Perspectives’. Her most recent book is The Mind of the Child: Child Development in Literature, Science and Medicine, 1840-1900 (2010).

Christina Victor

Christina Victor is Professor of Gerontology and Public Health at Brunel University. She is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences.  Professor Victor has published many books and articles in the field of gerontology, including many on loneliness among the elderly. From May 2015 to January 2017 she ran an ESRC Seminar Series titled ‘Reimagining Loneliness’. She is Editor of Ageing and Society, the leading social gerontology journal in the UK, and an active member of the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Creative Partners

The project is working with several creative partners to produce artistic responses to questions of solitude and loneliness.

Natalie Steed

Natalie Steed is an audio and radio producer. Her award-winning work has been recognised at the British Podcast Awards, the Audio Production Awards and the UK Podcast Awards. She made the Radio 4 series A Short History of Solitude with Thomas Dixon, and produced the Places of Solitude podcast series with our project team.


Anna Harpin

Anna Harpin is Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Warwick. She is also the co-director of the theatre company Idiot Child, who are working with our project team and research network whilst developing a new show about loneliness. She works as writer and director with the company.

Susie Riddell

Susie Riddell is an actor and voice artist, trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She is the co-director of the theatre company Idiot Child, who are working with our project team and research network whilst developing a new show about loneliness. She performs in the company’s productions.

Sophie Burrows

Sophie Burrows is an illustrator and author. She won the V&A Student Illustrator of the Year award in 2019 for Crushing, a wordless, short-form graphic novel exploring feelings of loneliness. She is working on illustrations stemming from the research of our project team and from conversations produced as part of a Wellcome-funded Diversity & Inclusion initiative.

Rachel Long

Rachel Long is a poet and the founder of Octavia Poetry Collective for Womxn of Colour, housed at the Southbank Centre in London. She was shortlisted for the Forward Prizes Best First Collection with My Darling from the Lions. She is facilitating workshops and conversations produced with our project as part of a Wellcome-funded Diversity & Inclusion initiative.

Distinguished Visiting Fellows

The project hosts a number of Distinguished Visiting Fellows at Queen Mary University of London. Their fellowships allow for collaboration with the work of the project team and research network.

2019/2020 Distinguished Visiting Fellow

Amy Hungerford

Amy Hungerford is the Executive Vice President of Arts and Sciences, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her fellowship focused on her current project on acts of solitude in American literature and culture from the 19th century to the present and what relevance – with their ancient and modern tributaries, from Buddhist, Christian, psychological, poetic, disciplinary, and social-theoretical sources – they have for our conception of social life.

Research Network

The project involves an international network of researchers investigating aspects of solitude and loneliness.

The network comprises researchers from across the humanities, and the social and medical sciences, as well as clinicians, campaigners and policy advisors. You can read more about their research here.