Rachel grew up in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, where she attended her local comprehensive, Carleton High School, and coeducational sixth-form, NEW College. After heading to St Hugh’s College, Oxford, as an undergraduate she returned north to the University of St Andrews to complete her MA and MLitt in Shakespeare Studies. She was awarded her PhD, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, from St Andrews in 2014. Since then, she has been a Research Associate at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) and the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge, a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson, and a Lecturer in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at University College London. She rejoined Wolfson in Michaelmas 2022 as College Assistant Professor, Director of Studies, and Fellow in English.
Her doctoral work became her first book project, Clandestine Contracts: Marriage, Law, and Literary Adaptation in Early Modern Europe, completed with the support of a Philip A Knachel Fellowship from the Folger Institute, a European Research Council postdoctoral research associateship, and a Laura Bassi Scholarship. This book traces the journey across the early modern world of selected tales of clandestine marriage, the medieval institution of Christian marriage undertaken outside the recognition of legal authorities. Clandestine Contracts shows how the relationship between versions of its focal tales is shaped by legal anxieties about clandestine marriage and thereby demonstrates the centrality of legal questions to transnational literary adaptation.