Jonathan Padley is a specialist in English children’s literature from the eighteenth century to the present day. His research prioritises primary sources and queries margins and the marginalisation of authors, characters, and texts. He has argued that the child protagonists of children’s literature can be understood, etymologically and theoretically, as monsters.

Aside from children’s literature, Jonathan works on English literature from the eighteenth century onwards, as well as genre study and interdisciplinary dialogues between literature, media, music, science, and theology. His publications have identified a significant anomaly in the bibliography of Tennyson’s English Idyls, and - with Kenneth Padley - helped track down an often-referenced but previously-unpublished paper on Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings by the late Barry Gordon, as part of a wider study on Christology in Middle-earth.

Jonathan is the Widening Participation Officer of Churchill College in the University of Cambridge, and an Honorary Research Associate of the Department of English Language and Literature at Swansea University. Previously, he was a Lecturer and Tutor at Gorseinon College, now part of Gower College Swansea. From 2013 to 2015, Jonathan was seconded to the Welsh Government’s Department for Education and Skills, as the Cambridge representative on the Oxbridge Ambassador for Wales project. He co-led the project’s widening participation research and worked on the implementation of its key policy outcome, the Seren Network, to which he still regularly contributes. From 2015 to 2016, Jonathan was Churchill’s Admissions Tutor for Arts.

Areas of Expertise

  • Children's Literature
  • English Literature Post-1750
  • Education
  • Music
  • Theology


  1. Peter Pan: Indefinition Defined. The Lion and the Unicorn 36(3), 274-287.
  2. 'Declare the interpretation': Redacting Daniel in Early Bibles for English Children. Biblical Interpretation 19(3), 311-336.
  3. & 'From mirrored truth the likeness of the True': J.R.R. Tolkien and Reflections of Jesus Christ in Middle-earth. English 59(224), 70-92.
  4. Marginal(ized) Demarcator: (Mis)Reading The Water-Babies. Children's Literature Association Quarterly 34(1), 51-64.
  5. No Idyl(l) Matter: The Orthographic and Titular History of Alfred Tennyson’s English Idyls. The Tennyson Research Bulletin 9(1), 97-110.

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