Clair Wills

Leonard L. Milberg Professor of Irish Letters

Princeton University

D. Phil., University of Oxford.  Clair Wills joined the faculty in 2015, having previously taught at Queen Mary, University of London, and the University of Essex. She studies Irish and British literature and culture, with a focus on the twentieth century, and issues of historical and political representation.  Her first publications were as a critic of contemporary Northern Irish poetry, examining representations of gender, history and politics in the work of writers such as Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian and Tom Paulin.  Books in this area include Improprieties: Politics and Sexuality in Northern Irish Poetry (1993) and Reading Paul Muldoon (1998).  During the 1990s she was involved in a large-scale collaborative project dedicated to anthologizing Irish women's writing, published as The Field Day Anthology of Irish Women's Writing (2002). Since then her focus has shifted towards cultural and social history, in studies such as the prize-winning That Neutral Island: A History of Ireland during the Second World War (2007) and Dublin 1916: The Siege of the GPO (2009).  Her most recent book is a study of the cultures of Irish migration to post-war Britain, The Best Are Leaving: Emigration and Post-War Irish Culture (2015).  She is currently writing a broader cultural history of post-war Britain, told from the perspective of European and Commonwealth immigrants, which will be published by Penguin Random House. She is Chair of Princeton’s Fund for Irish Studies series of events and seminars.