Dr Kate Kennedy

Kate Kennedy studied at Cambridge University, the Royal College of Music and King’s College London. She has held research fellowships at Girton College Cambridge, Wolfson College Oxford, and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in music at Cambridge University. She is a Supernumerary Research Fellow at Wolfson College, and Co-Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-writing Home | The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing. She is the General Manager of the Museum of Music History, a member of the Artistic Advisory Board for Southbank Sinfonia at St John’s Smith Square, and a visiting professor at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.  

She won the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Public Engagement with Research in 2017, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2022.  


  • Cello: A Journey Through Silence to Sound – an exploration of the psychology of our relationship to instruments, through the lives of four players and their cellos. (Bloomsbury Press, 15 August 2024). 

  • Dweller in Shadows: A Life of Ivor Gurney (Princeton University Press, June 2021). 

  • Lives of Houses (co-editor with Hermione Lee): a selection of writers’ thoughts on houses and biography, contributors including Julian Barnes, Jenny Uglow and Simon Armitage (Princeton University Press, March 2020). 

  • Literary Britten (editor): a compendium of scholarship approaching Britten’s vocal works through analysis of their texts (Boydell and Brewer, 2018). 

  • The Silent Morning: Culture and Memory after the Armistice (co-editor) (Manchester University Press, 2013). 

  • The First World War: Literature, Music, Memory (co-editor) (Routledge, 2011).  

  • Ivor Gurney: Poet, Composer (editor) (special edition of Ivor Gurney Society Journal, vol. 13, 2007). 

Articles and book chapters: 

  • ‘Mother England’, Ivor Gurney Society Journal (vol. 14, 2008).  

  • ‘But still he died nobly’: Gurney’s Re-interpretation of the Pastoral Elegy, Ivor Gurney Society Journal (vol. 15, 2009). 

  • ‘Sight-reading Katherine Mansfield’: Landfall (University of Otago Press, vol. 219, 2010).  

  • ‘Ambivalent Englishness: Ivor Gurney’s ‘Ludlow and Teme’. Ivor Gurney Society Journal (2013).  

  • ‘Silence Recalled in Sound: British Classical Music, Literature and the Armistice’  (Manchester University Press, 2023). 

  • ‘Anti-Monuments: Mourning, Melancholia and the War Requiem’ 

  • ‘‘Music, Literature and the First World War’, Journal of International Relations (Chatham House with Blackwell, 2014). 

  • ‘A Tribute to my Brother: Women’s Literature and its Post-war Ghosts’ ‘Forbidden Mourning’: a special edition of the Journal of War and Culture Studies (2015). 

  • ‘Benjamin Britten’s operas’ and ‘Ivor Gurney and English Song,’ Edinburgh Companion to Music and Literature (Edinburgh University Press, 2017) 

  • ‘Asylum-made Lunatics: Life in Dartford’, Ivor Gurney Society Journal (2017). 

  • ‘Music’s War Poets’, Britain and Victory in the Great War, ed. Peter Liddle (Pen and Sword, 2018). 

  • ‘Music as Memorial’, Edinburgh Companion to World War One and the Arts, ed. Ann-Marie Einhaus (Edinburgh University Press, 2017) 

  • ‘Britten’s Narrators: Reliable and Otherwise’, Opera and Fiction, ed. Emma Sutton (Oxford University Press, 2022)  

Biography as Performance: research-inspired concert scripts, plays and dramatized recitals: 


  • ‘A Postcard from London, Spring 1914’ read by Jonathan Pryce, BBC Radio 3 In Tune, 10 January 2014 

  • Literary Britten, (Wigmore Hall, Cambridge, Buxton Festival and the Lammermuir Festival with Iain Burnside, Roderick Williams and Alex Jennings)  

  • A Music of One’s Own, based on Virginia Woolf’s references to music in diaries and letters (Commissioned by the Wigmore Hall for Sarah Connolly, Julius Drake and Fiona Shaw)  

  • The Dark Pastoral, based on little-known music and poetry of the First World War, Timothy West (Brighton International Festival, King’s Place, Ripon Cathedral, Buxton Festival, Prague International Festival and released as a CD in 2007 with Simon Russell Beale, Andrew Kennedy and Julius Drake)   

  • The Fateful Voyage a dramatized recital starring Alex Jennings, based on the music of William Denis Browne and FS Kelly, City of London Festival, June 2014 onwards (broadcast on Radio 3, touring since April 2015 across the UK, Czech Republic and Canada)  

  • To His Love, Alex Jennings, tenor Robert Murray (St. James’ Piccadilly, May 2014, Sage Gateshead January 2020, Oxford Lieder Festival 2022) 

Opera Libretti and Plays: 
  • The Fox and the Crow (Tête à Tête Opera Festival, 2013, composer: Charlotte Bray) 

  • Making Arrangements (Tête à Tête Opera Festival, 2015, singers from Jette Parker Young Artists Scheme, Royal Opera House, composer: Charlotte Bray) 

  • Out of the Ruins (Charlotte Bray, commissioned by Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, March – May 2015) 

  • The Fateful Voyage (Arts Council-funded multi-arts project), performances in the Welsh Centre, London and Wolfson College, Oxford with Alex Jennings and the Berkeley Ensemble, (2019) 

  • The Last Letter (Britten Sinfonia, composer Nico Muhly), Cambridge, Barbican Centre, Saffron Hall and Norwich, 2019) 

  • Through Silence to Sound (directed by Tom Morris, cellist Natalie Clein, composer Cheryl Frances Hoad), Wigmore Hall, September 2024. 

BBC Radio 3 research-based documentaries: 

The Cello and the Nightingale (19 May 2024) 

Stradivari (a 3-part series) 2024 

Healing Musicians (5-part series) autumn 2024 

Five Cellos Lost and Found (5-part series) October 2023 

Unmouthed – Ivor Gurney and the asylum (June 2022) 

In Ruhleben Camp (2019) 

Cristiani and her Cello (June 2019) 

From Convent to Concert Hall (2018) 

Dawn on the Somme – the music of war (2018)