Heather Wells

email - h.wells.1@research.gla.ac.uk

Research title: Catharine Trotter Cockburn (c.1674-1749): The influence of nation, faith and gender in her literary writing.

Research Summary

English-born playwright and philosopher Catharine Trotter Cockburn (c.1674-1749) published an epistolary novella (Olinda, 1693) and had five plays performed on the London stage between 1695 and 1706, before developing her reputation as a moral and philosophical writer in her later years. She married Scottish clergyman Patrick Cockburn in 1708 and lived in Aberdeenshire from 1726-1737 when the couple took up permanent residence in the English village of Longhorsley. Through her Scottish parents, Catharine Trotter Cockburn is related to a number of significant Scottish families who were known for patronising Scottish writers and her own writing shares many characteristics found within Scottish literature.

As it has been largely ignored by contemporary Scottish literary scholarship, my thesis aims to examine the literary writing of Catharine Trotter Cockburn in a Scottish literary context by comparing her writing to what existed in Scotland at the time. I aim to show that the main themes and characteristics of her writing are a comfortable fit with Scottish literary tradition and that she can be considered a significant pre-Enlightenment figure of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. 

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0808-5056


Wells, H., ‘“A New Toot Out of an Old Horn”: Re-evaluating the Relevance of Seventeenth-century Scottish Drama’, eSharp 25:2 (2017), 57-69.


Grants & Awards

  • 2016-2017: Scottish Literature Postgraduate Research Bursary (Tuition Fees)
  • September 2017: Andrew Tannahill Bursary (Tuition Fees)
  • May 2018: Research Support Award (Research trip to the British Library, London)
  • September 2018: Colonel Walter Scott Scholarship (Tuition Fees)



Wells, H., ‘Reaching Beyond the Margins: Scottish Restoration Playwrights and the Absence of Theatrical Community’, paper delivered at ‘The Communities and Margins of Early Modern Scotland’ (St Mungo’s Museum, Glasgow, UK, 20-21 October 2017)

Wells, H., ‘Catharine Trotter (c. 1674 – 1749): Questioning Nationality and the Expression of National Identity’, paper delivered at ‘The 14th ESSE (European Society for the Study of English) Conference’ (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, 29 August – 2 September 2018)


  • Scottish Literature 2A: Early Scottish Literature and Language (Graduate Teaching Assistant)
  • Scottish Literature 2B: Early Scottish Literature and Language (Graduate Teaching Assistant)

Additional Information

Student Representative (Postgraduate) for Scottish Literature and the School of Critical Studies