Research explores the story of saffron in literature and local life


English Director of Studies Dr Bonnie Lander Johnson has contributed to an absorbing investigation into saffron, its local uses and stories.

The year-long project touches on the perfect conditions that led to locally-grown saffron being globally renowned from the 15th century. Saffron was seen as a luxury, even when found alongside salt on every dining table, and was one of our greatest exports before a sudden decline.

The research explores it’s use as a metaphor, as well as in food and medicine, and was undertaken by Bonnie alongside Professor Kasia Boddy, as well as Alice Wickenden, who is now at Edinburgh University.

The project is the latest from the Faculty of English Research forum on ‘Plant Life’, a traditional literary theme and at the heart of current debates about sustainability, the environment and even legacies of empire.

Bonnie is researching the Elizabethan botanical renaissance, with a book due to be published this year on Shakespeare’s interest in plants.