Daisy Dunn

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Daisy Florence Dunn (born in 1987) is an author, classicist, and critic.


Daisy Dunn was born in London and attended Ibstock Place School and The Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton, Middlesex.[1] She read Classics at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and won a scholarship to study for an MA in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, London, specialising in Titian, Venice and Renaissance Europe.[2][3] In 2013, she was awarded a PhD in Classics and Art History from University College London with a thesis exploring ekphrasis in Greek and Latin poetry and sixteenth-century Italian painting.[4][5]

In 2016 she published her first two books, a literary biography of the Latin love poet Catullus and a new translation of his poems.[6][7] Both were launched at Peter Harrington Rare Books in Mayfair, London (date unknown).[8] The biography, entitled Catullus' Bedspread, received endorsements from Boris Johnson, Robert Harris and Tom Holland and was described as a 'superb portrait' in The Sunday Times.[9] Dunn's translation of one of Catullus' expletive words resulted in a series of letters in The Times Literary Supplement and an article in The Times.[10][11] At Bath Literature Festival Dunn compared Catullus to a 'Hoxton hipster'.[12]

Dunn's 2019 dual biography of Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, In the Shadow Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny, published as The Shadow of Vesuvius in the US, was a New York Times Editor's Choice, a Waterstones Best History Book of 2019, and a Book of the Year in several publications. Dunn was interviewed ahead of its release by The Sunday Times and by Dan Snow for his podcast HistoryHit. The book was an Amazon bestseller.

Also in 2019, Dunn published an anthology of ancient stories in English translation, Of Gods and Men: 100 Stories from Ancient Greece and Rome, for which she was interviewed by Paul Ross on TalkRadio and invited to speak at the British Library. A month later, she released Homer, part of a new 'expert' series of Ladybird books.

Dunn is a regular critic and commentator. She reviews books for the Evening Standard[13] and Literary Review[14], art and radio for The Spectator, and columns for The Daily Telegraph. She has contributed to the BBC World Service, TalkRadio, and BBC 2, for which she participated in the 2016 Christmas University Challenge for notable alumni, with her team winning the series. In 2018 and 2019 she presented two short films on Latin phrases and Ancient Wisdom for BBC Ideas.

In an article in The Guardian Simon Schama included Daisy Dunn in his list of leading female historians.[15] She was long-listed in 2015 for the international £20,000 Notting Hill Editions Prize [16] and in 2020 was awarded the Classical Association Prize.[17]


Dunn is the author of:

  • Catullus' Bedspread: The Life of Rome's Most Erotic Poet (HarperCollins/Harper Press, 2016) (UK Hardback ISBN 978-0007554331 and US Hardback ISBN 978-0062317025)
  • The Poems of Catullus: A New Translation (HarperCollins, 2016) (UK Paperback) ISBN 978-0007582969
  • In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny (William Collins, 2019) ISBN 978-0008211097[18] (US title: The Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny (Liveright, 2019) ISBN 978-1631496394[19])
  • Of Gods and Men: 100 Stories from Ancient Greece and Rome (Head of Zeus, 2019) ISBN 978-1788546744
  • Homer: A Ladybird Expert Book (Michael Joseph, 2019) ISBN 978-0718188283


  1. ^ Dunn, Daisy (14 March 2015). "Reading about your school is always a terrible idea". The Spectator. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  2. ^ Dunn, Daisy (2016). Catullus' Bedspread: The Life of Rome's Most Erotic Poet. London, England: HarperCollins. p. 312. ISBN 978-0007554331.
  3. ^ "Oxford University Department of Classics". University of Oxford. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  4. ^ Dunn, Daisy (2016). Catullus' Bedspread: The Life of Rome's Most Erotic Poet. London: HarperCollins. p. 312. ISBN 978-0007554331.
  5. ^ "University College London, Department of Greek and Latin". University College London, Department of Greek and Latin. Retrieved 6 April 2016.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Madden, Chris (29 January 2016). "Boris Johnson and Tatler help author launch her debut books". Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Tatler". tatler.com. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Dunn's bash is all Greek to Boris". The Evening Standard, Londoner's Diary. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  9. ^ Hart, Christopher. "Catullus' Bedspread by Daisy Dunn and The Poems of Catullus, translated by Daisy Dunn". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Letters to the Editor". The Times Literary Supplement. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  11. ^ Kidd, Patrick (12 May 2016). "Feast of Filth". The Times, TMS Diary.
  12. ^ Clark, Nick (7 March 2016). "The Independent Bath Literature Festival". The Independent. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  13. ^ ""The rise and fall of the house of Caesar", The Evening Standard". 10 September 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  14. ^ "Power to the people". Literary Review. November 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  15. ^ "'Big Books by blokes about battles': Why is history still written mainly by men?". The Guardian. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Notting Hill Editions Essay Prize 2015 longlist". Notting Hill Editions. Archived from the original on 17 March 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Daisy Dunn awarded the Classical Association Prize 2020 – Georgina Capel". Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  18. ^ Harry Sidebottom (5 July 2019). "In The Shadow of Vesuvius by Daisy Dunn review: an irresistible life of Pliny". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  19. ^ McGrath, Charles (10 December 2019). "They Were the Renaissance Men of Roman Antiquity". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 December 2019.