Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
The Huntington
Website URL
Early Modern British History, Gender History, Women's History, Manuscripts Studies, Digital Humanities, British Collections, Archives, Medieval Manuscripts, History of Sexual Violence, History of the Family
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Vanessa Wilkie is the William A. Moffett Senior Curator of Medieval Manuscripts and British History and the Head of the Library Curatorial Department at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in Southern California.

Vanessa received a BA with a double major in Government and History from the University of Redlands.  She earned both her MA in History (Public History with emphasis in Archival Management, Gender History, and Modern European History) and PhD (Early Modern British History, Gender History, Modern European History) from the University of California, Riverside.  Vanessa was previously the Lossett Visiting Assistant Professor of History at the University of Redlands and taught European History, British History, Gender History, and Gender Studies.

Vanessa has held research fellowships from the American Philosophical Society and the Houghton Library at Harvard University.

In 2015, Vanessa co-curated The Huntington’s exhibit, Magna Carta: Law and Legend 1215-2015.  In 2017, she curated her first solo-exhibit, The Reformation: From the Word to the World.  Today Vanessa served on the advisory committee for contemporary arts initiative /five.  As a curator, Vanessa is involved with an array of exhibitions and public programming in the arts and humanities.

As a member of the Board of Directors for Digital Scriptorium, Vanessa is deeply involved in digital humanities initiatives and works closely with other scholar-curators, digital humanists, librarians, archivists, conservators, imaging scientists, and computer scientists.

Vanessa’s most recent book is A Woman of Influence: the Spectacular Rise of Alice Spencer in Tudor England (Simon & Schuster, 2023) has received glowing reviews from media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic.  Her book addresses the legal and literary agency of elite mothers on behalf of their daughters and grandchildren.  This work addresses the history of sexual violence and women’s access to litigation in 16th and 17th century England.  Vanessa also also published on works on early modern death rituals, memorialization, and female editorial practices.  Her current research is explores decorated manuscripts, heraldry, and emblems, and the personal and political functions they served in early modern Europe.

Recent Publications

A Woman of Influence: The Spectacular Rise of Alice Spencer in Tudor England (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2023)

Op-Eds/Recent Blogs

Girls to the Front: A Reading List of Provocative Feminist History (LitHub, 2023)

A Family Archive Related to Jane Austen (Huntington Verso, 2022)

Securing Election Results in 1640 (Huntington Verso, 2021)

Academic Articles

“The Context for the Text: The Masque Entertainments of the Egerton-Hastings Family.” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 83, no. 2, 2020

“‘Here every dust would make history’: the dowager countess of Derby and constructing a legacy in Reformation England*” Historical Research, vol. 92, no. 257, 2019

“Reading and Writing Between the Lines: Lady Eleanor Douglas, a Midland Visionary and her Annotated Pamphlets” Midland History, vol. 41, no. 2, 2016


Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
Atlantic, British Isles, Caribbean, England, United Kingdom, Western Europe
Expertise by Chronology
Medieval, Pre-17th century, 17th century, Early Modern
Expertise by Topic
Book History, Family, Gender, Libraries & Archives, Museums, Public History, Sexuality, Sexual Violence, Women