Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Hertford College. She has published and lectured widely on Shakespeare and on other early modern dramatists, and worked with numerous theatre companies. Her lectures are available as podcasts Not Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean Popular Theatre and Approaching Shakespeare.
Smith was educated at Abbey Grange school in Leeds and did her undergraduate degree at Somerville College, Oxford, from 1988 to 1991. She was a Prize Fellow at All Souls College Oxford. As part of her work on Shakespeare’s First Folio, Smith worked with conservators, digital specialists and crowd-sourced funding on a Bodleian Library project to digitise a copy of the book. In 2016, she authenticated a new copy of Shakespeare's First Folio found at Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute.
With Laurie Maguire of Oxford University she published a new argument in 2012 that Shakespeare's play All's Well that Ends Well was a collaboration with Thomas Middleton. The New Oxford Shakespeare edition of 2016, edited by Bourus et al, was the first printed edition of the play to accept this joint attribution. Another article with Laurie Maguire won the 2014 Hoffman Prize. She was a script advisor to Josie Rourke’s 2018 film Mary Queen of Scots. She edits the Cambridge University Press journal Shakespeare Survey.
Smith published This Is Shakespeare in 2019. The book was published as a guide to Shakespeare's plays. It extends from her lectures for Oxford undergraduates, which were also used as the basis for her Approaching Shakespeare podcast, where she discusses 20 of Shakespeare's plays in chronological order. She says she wanted the book "to give a sense of Shakespeare’s range across his career" but also "to keep the individual chapters self-contained, so that you could read one before going to the theatre."