Professor Roy Foster

Professor of Irish History and Literature

I have been teaching Irish history and literature , first at Birkbeck College, London, and then as the first Carroll Professor of Irish History at Oxford, for many years, and have published widely on Irish political, social and literary history.


I have been interested for many years in the cultural interactions between Ireland and Britain, raising questions of identity, politics and the degree to which a ‘colonial’ relationship existed between the two countries. For many years I worked on the authorised biography of W.B.Yeats, which appeared in two volumes in 1997-2003, and more recently have been publishing on the cultural and political radicalization of the revolutionary generation in Ireland at the beginning of the twentieth century. I am currently interested in the political dimensions of Irish writing from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Postgraduate teaching

Postgraduate supervision 

I am interested in supervising work in Irish cultural and political history in the modern period.


  • Irish Post Community Award, for distinguished achievement among the Irish in Britain 1982
  • Irish Life Arts Award for History 1991
  • James Tait Black Prize for Biography (for The Apprentice Mage) 1997
  • Hon. D. Litt., University of Aberdeen 1997
  • Hon D. Litt., Queen's University, Belfast 1998
  • Honorary Vice-President of Irish Literary Society 2001
  • Whitney Oates Visiting Fellow, Princeton University 2002
  • Rosenthal Award from Yeats Society 2003 
  • Hon D.Litt from Trinity College, Dublin 2003
  • Christian Gauss Award for Literary Criticism (for The Irish Story) 2003
  • Hon D. Litt from National University of Ireland 2004
  • Hon Fellowship Birkbeck College, University of London 2006
  • Hon Doctorate of Laws, Queen’s University, Ontario 2007
  • Visiting Professor University College Dublin 2010
  •  Wolfson/British Academy Research Professorship 2010
  •  Elected Honorary Member of Royal Irish Academy 2011
  •  James Joyce Award, from Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin, for contribution to Irish intellectual life 2012
  •  Hon D Litt from University of Edinburgh 2013
  • British Academy Medal for transforming a field of study (for Vivid faces) 2015
  •  Parnell [Visiting] Fellowship, Magdalene College Cambridge 2015-16
  •   Hon. D. Laws, University College Dublin 2016
  • Morris D.Forkosch Award from the American Historical Association (for Vivid Faces) 2016
  •  Hon Fellowship of Institute of Irish Studies, Liverpool University 2016
  • Orwell Prize Fellow 2017

Membership of professional associations or societies

Editorial Positions

Appearances in the media

I have appeared regularly on radio and television programmes in Britain and Ireland, usually to do with Irish history, and was a consultant in two major Irish television series on the Irish Revolution which screened in 2016. I also was consultant and part-presenter for Bob Geldof’s award-winning programme on Yeats, ‘Fanatic Heart’, shown on both RTE and BBC. For interviews see The Irish Times and The Guardian