I was an undergraduate at Wadham College, Oxford, where I also undertook my doctoral work as a Senior Scholar. After three years in the French Department of the University of Leeds, I became Fellow and Praelector in French at Queen’s in 1972, becoming an Ad hominem Reader in the University in 1994. I moved to All Souls College in 1996, having been elected as a Senior Research Fellow in History. I retired in 2012. While at Queen’s, I was appointed to a number of College offices, ending up as Estates Bursar in my final two years in the College. I have held visiting positions in the Netherlands, France, Germany, the United States, Canada and Australia. I was the Librarian of All Souls from 1998, from which position I retired in 2015.


After completing my thesis on feminism in France in the first half of the seventeenth century, I began work on the organisation and transmission of knowledge in Early Modern Europe. This involves the history of interpretation in the higher faculties of law, medicine and theology, and the economics and modalities of the trade in early modern scholarly books; I have published more than ninety articles in this field. I have also written on three Early Modern philosophers: Montaigne, Descartes and Cardano. My present projects include a study of the last writings of Cardano, and a survey of the reception of the classical tradition in the early Enlightenment, with special reference to Hippocrates.


  • Woman triumphant: feminism in French literature 1610‑52 (Clarendon Press, 1977)
  • The Renaissance notion of woman: a study in the fortunes of scholasticism and medical science in European intellectual life (Cambridge University Press, 1980)
  • Interpretation and meaning in the Renaissance: the case of law (Cambridge University Press, 1992)
  • Montaigne philosophe (Presses Universitaires de France, 1996)
  • Logic, signs and nature in the Renaissance: the case of learned medicine (Cambridge University Press, 2001)
  • Le monde et les hommes selon les médecins de la Renaissance  (Editions CNRS, 2006)
  • Descartes: Discours de la méthode and other writings, with an introduction and notes (World’s Classics, 2006)
  • Learning in the marketplace; essays in the history of early modern books (Brill, 2009)
  • Scholarship, Commerce, Religion: the learned book in the Ages of Confessions, 1560-1630 (Harvard University Press, 2012)
  • Episodes in the life of the early modern learned book (Brill, 2020)
  • See also the All Souls website for further details.