Professor Derek Alsop

Professor Emeritus

Derek Alsop retired in 2017, but continues to research and to teach as a Guest Lecturer.




Appointed as a Deputy Head when he joined the Department in 2001, Derek became Head of English from 2004-10. He was awarded one of the first University Teaching Fellowships in 2003, and later became a Senior Teaching Fellow. His research interests are music and literature, eighteenth-century literature, and modernism. He has scripted and presented over thirty programmes for BBC Radio 3. His first collection of poems, More Bagpipe Music, was published in 2012.


Derek has a wide range of research interests. His Ph.D was on Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, and his first publications were on Sterne and Rochester. The period 1660-1770 has continued to be his main focus, both in published works and in his many programmes for the BBC, particularly on Handel (the subject of his online Archive). In 2010 he published a general survey of this period. He has also always been interested in modernism, particularly the work of Samuel Beckett, resulting in several articles and chapters. Recently he has returned to his specialist period with further research on Sterne and work on John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera.

Published work

Main Research Publications and Outputs

Printed Publications

‘Textual Variants in Cascando: An Argument for a Scholarly Edition’, Journal of Beckett Studies (Edinburgh University Press), Volume 22.1 (April, 2013), pp.1-34

‘Federman’s Beckett: Two Voices in the Closet’, Modernism/modernity (Johns Hopkins University Press), Volume 21, No.1 (January, 2013), pp.15-32

‘Playing on: chess and its metaphors in the life and work of Samuel Beckett’, Critical Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 4 (December 2012), pp.26-40

More Bagpipe Music: Poems on Scotland (Chester: University of Chester Press, 2012)

‘Ionesco: An Error of Calculation?’, with Kirsty Law, Notes & Queries (OUP), Vol. 256 (New Series, Vol. 58), no. 4, December 2011, pp.604-605

 ‘Literature 1660-1714’, in Studying English Literature, ed. Ashley Chantler and David Higgins (London: Continuum, 2010), pp.70-89

‘Literature 1714-1789’, in Studying English Literature, ed. Ashley Chantler and David Higgins (London: Continuum, 2010), pp.90-110

‘Artful Anthology: The Use of Literary Sources for Handel’s Jephtha’ in The Musical Quarterly, Summer 2002 Volume 86, Number 2 (OUP, 2004) pp.349-62

The Practice of Reading: Interpreting the Novel, co-authored with Chris Walsh (Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1999)

'"Strains of New Beauty": Handel and the Pleasures of Italian Opera, 1711-1728', in Pleasure in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Roy Porter and Marie Mulvey Roberts (Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1996), pp. 133-63

'The Dark Veil of Language: Proliferation and Indeterminacy in Sterne and Rabelais', in The Timeless and the Temporal: Writings in Honour of John Chalker, edited by Elizabeth Maslen (Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, London, 1993), pp. 152-72

'"An Epistolary Essay from M.G. to O.B. upon Their Mutual Poems" and  the Problem of the Persona in Rochester's Poetry', in Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700, Fall 1988, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.61-68

Online Articles

'Handel, George Frideric,  Rodelinda, 1725’, Literary Encylopedia Online, July, 2012

'Handel, George Frideric, Rinaldo, 1711’, Literary Encylopedia Online, June, 2012

'Handel, George Frideric, Giulio Cesar in Egitto, 1724', Literary Encylopedia Online, June, 2012

'Handel, George Frideric, Tamerlano, 1725’, Literary Encylopedia Online, June, 2012

'Handel, George Frideric,  Ariodante, 1735’, Literary Encylopedia Online, June, 2012

‘George Frideric Handel’, Literary Encylopedia Online, December, 2011

Online Archive

‘Derek Alsop’s Handel Archive’


‘Handel’s Words’ [publicised as ‘The Great and Good Mr Handel’] – a scripted talk for BBC Radio 3, produced by Clive Portbury, broadcast 16/4/09 and 17/12/09

‘Celebrity, Scandal and Opera Genius: Handel’s Rodelinda and the Royal Academy’ – a scripted interlude for BBC Radio 3, produced by Freya Mitchell, BBC Radio 3, 6/5/06

‘Handel, Radamisto, and the Royal Academy’ – a scripted interlude for BBC Radio Manchester, produced by Paul Hindmarsh, BBC Radio 3, 30/5/2000

Postscript: The Ring of Words – a series of five programmes for BBC Radio 3’s ‘Postscript’ series, on the twentieth-century musical adaptation of literary sources, produced by David Gallagher – BBC Radio 3, 26,27,28,29,30/4/99:

Britten and Hardy: 'The Choirmaster's Burial', 26/4/99

Holst and Vaughan: 'The Evening Watch', 27/4/99

C.W.Orr and A.E. Housman: 'The Carpenter's Son', 28/4/99

Vaughan Williams and Bunyan: 'Valiant for Truth', 29/4/99

Finzi and Shakespeare: 'Fear No More the Heat of the Sun', 30/4/99

‘"How Dark are Thy Decrees": The Sources of Handel’s Jephtha’ - scripted interlude for BBC Prom production - BBC Radio 3, 1/9/97

‘Scandal, Satire and Sublimity: Mozart and Beaumarchais - The Marriage of Figaro’- scripted interlude for BBC Radio 3 production, live from Glyndebourne, 14/6/97

‘Handel’s Alessandro Severo and Eighteenth-Century pasticcio opera’ - interview for BBC Radio 3, 15/3/97; 16/3/97

Handel’s Semele: an English Opera?’ - scripted interlude for BBC Radio 3 Proms production of Semele, produced by Fiona Shelmerdine, BBC Radio 3, 5/8/96

‘Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and its Homeric Source’ – an interview for BBC Radio 3, produced by Verity Sharp, 15/6/96

‘Handel's Rodelinda’, interview for ‘Music Matters’, produced by Jessica Isaacs, BBC Radio 3, 10/2/96; 11/2/96

Handel's Ezio and the Second Period of the Royal Academy’, two scripted interludes, produced by Kate Boulton, for BBC Radio 3 opera  production,  6/12/95