The Dr Williams's Centre for Dissenting Studies


Welcome to the Dr Williams's Centre for Dissenting Studies, a collaboration between the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary, University of London and Dr Williams's Library, 14 Gordon Square, London.

The Centre was set up in September 2004 under the joint directorship of Professor Isabel Rivers, Professor of Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Culture in the School of English and Drama, and Dr David Wykes, Director of Dr Williams's Library and Honorary Reader of the School.

Dr Williams's Library was established in the early eighteenth century under the will of Dr Daniel Williams, and is owned by an independent charity, Dr Williams's Trust. It is one of the oldest libraries open to the public still conducted on its original benefaction. Situated in Gordon Square, close to the British Library and the Senate House, it is the pre-eminent research library for English Protestant nonconformity.


The image in the Centre's logo is not of Daniel Williams but of Joseph Priestley, the subject of the Centre's first conference in 2005, from the portrait by William Artaud in Dr Williams's Library.


This website is updated regularly: for a summary of current events, research updates and links to our new online publications, please visit the News page.

The objectives of the Centre are:

  • to promote the use of the Library's unique holdings of puritan, Protestant nonconformist and dissenting books and manuscripts
  • to encourage research into and dissemination of these materials, by means of funded projects, conferences, studentships, fellowships and publication (including e-publishing and database creation)
  • to increase knowledge and understanding of the importance of puritanism and Protestant dissent to English society and literature from the sixteenth century to the present.