Kate Davison

Thesis Title: Ned Ward and his network: a social history of humour in eighteenth-century England.
Funded by: Wolfson Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship
Start Year: 2012

Email: kate.davison@sheffield.ac.uk 



Primary: Professor Phil Withington | Secondary: Professor Robert Shoemaker


Research Topic

This thesis focuses on the life, social network, and works of the satirist-tavern-keeper Ned Ward (1666-1731) – a major figure in early eighteenth-century print culture whose publications have become key primary source material for historians, despite little being known about the man himself. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary print and archival sources, this thesis uncovers Ward’s life and develops new methodologies for social network analysis in the past. In doing so, it re-evaluates Ward and his significance, while using him as a focal point to shed light on a number of wider historical narratives commonly ascribed to the period.


Academic background

  • M.Phil. Early Modern History, University of Cambridge, 2012
  • B.A. (Hons.) History, University of Exeter, 2011


Published work

  • ‘Occasional politeness and gentlemen’s laughter in 18th century England’, The Historical Journal, vol. 57, no. 4 (2014), pp. 921-45.


Conference papers

  • March 2016 (forthcoming): Institute of Historical Research, long eighteenth-century seminar title TBC
  • March 2016 (forthcoming): Renaissance Society of America ‘The renaissance provenance of enlightenment wit’
  • September 2015: Notions and practices of selfhood, Workshop organised by the Universities of Sheffield and Oldenburg ‘Social networks and the self’
  • February 2015: University of Oxford, eighteenth-century seminar‘Ned Ward’s social network in Grubstreet London’
  • December 2014: University of Sheffield, History Department research seminar ‘Historical social networks: the case of Ned Ward in early eighteenth-century London’
  • September 2014: International Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies, early career researcher seminars ‘Intimate bawdiness and gentlemen’s sociability in eighteenth-century England’
  • May 2014: Laughter and Satire in Europe, organised by the University of Warwick ‘Occasional politeness and gentlemen’s laughter in eighteenth-century England’
  • January 2014: British Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies ‘The hudibrastick brewer’: Ned Ward, the print industry and the drink trade’




Professional affiliations

  • British Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies, 2012-present