Oatley, Keith 1939–

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Oatley, Keith 1939–


Born March 16, 1939, in London, England; son of Harold and Winifred Oatley; married Sally Gass, June 9, 1961; children: Simon, Grant. Education: Clare College, Cambridge, B.A., 1961; University College, London, Ph.D., 1965; also studied at Imperial College, London, 1964-65.


Home—Brighton, England. Office—Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology, University of Toronto, 252 Bloor St. W., HDAP, Toronto M5S 1V6, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]


Psychologist, educator, and writer. National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Middlesex, England, senior scientific officer, 1965-66; University of Sussex, Brighton, England, lecturer in experimental psychology, beginning 1967-86; University of Toronto, Canada, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, 1971-72 and 1977-78, professor of applied cognitive psychology, 1991—, chair of the Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology, 1999-2002; University of Glasgow, Scotland, professor of cognitive psychology, 1986-90. Also served in the Committee of Mathematical Biology, University of Chicago, and Department of Psychology, University of Toronto.


Experimental Psychology Society, Royal Society of Canada (fellow), British Psychological Society (fellow), International Society for Research on Emotions (president, 1992-96).


Commonwealth Writer's Prize, best first book, 1994, for The Case of Emily V.



Brain Mechanisms and Mind, Dutton (New York, NY), 1972.

Perceptions and Representations: The Theoretical Bases of Brain Research and Psychology, Methuen (London, England), 1978.

Selves in Relation: An Introduction to Psychotherapy and Groups, Methuen (London, England), 1984.

Best Laid Schemes: The Psychology of Emotions, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1992.

(With Jennifer M. Jenkins) Understanding Emotions, Blackwell (Cambridge, MA), 1996, 2nd revised edition (with Jenkins and Dacher Kelter), 2006.

(Editor, with Jennifer M. Jenkins and Nancy L. Stein) Human Emotions: A Reader, Blackwell (Cambridge, MA), 1998.

Emotions: A Brief History, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 2004.

Contributor to psychology journals and to Nature, Animal Behavior, and Medical and Biological Engineering. Also series editor for Cambridge University Press Series "Studies of Emotion and Social Interaction."


The Case of Emily V., Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1993.

Natural History, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.


Trained as a psychotherapist and interested in wide range of associated research, including physiological psychology, visual perception, and epidemiological psychiatry, Keith Oatley has also written widely about science in both nonfiction and fiction formats. Among his nonfiction books is Best Laid Schemes: The Psychology of Emotions, which focuses on how emotions function within the human cognitive systems. Referring to the book as "distinctive, important and enjoyable," British Journal of Psychology contributor Fraser Watts also wrote: "The material treated in this book is sufficiently broad and unusual to be controversial, though personally I find it welcome and refreshing." Oatley also coauthored with Jennifer M. Jenkins the book Understanding Emotions, as well as the second, revised edition with Jenkins and Dacher Kelter. The book focuses on modern understanding of human emotions based on current scientific theory and empirical research. The authors discuss such aspects of emotion as emotional development in childhood, how emotions affect people individually, and mental health both in childhood and adulthood. The book also includes lists of supplemental readings.

In his first novel The Case of Emily V., Oatley presents a mystery featuring a collaboration between the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and the founding father of psychiatry Sigmund Freud. The story is told by Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Freud's patient Emily V. and revealed through a series of documents that are footnoted by a modern-day psychologist. The case revolves around Emily's belief that she killed her abusive guardian. Writing in the Library Journal, Jo Ann Vicarel commented that the author's "Victorian-style prose reflects that era." Most critics had high praise for Oatley's debut novel. Referring to The Case of Emily V. as "subtle and insightful," a Publishers Weekly contributor also wrote that the author's "rendition of the Baker Street duo will be a pleasant surprise." Writing on the Kevin's Corner Blog, Kevin R. Tipple commented that the author "provide[s] the reader an excellent mystery of depth and substance."

Natural History is an historical novel about the battle to stop the spread of cholera. Oatley tells the story of physician John Leggate's attempts to track the disease's spread in hopes of finding a way to prove his theories and prevent another epidemic. In the process, he meets and falls in love with musician Marian Brooks, which complicates his scientific efforts because the local newspaper editor is also in love with Marian and writes scathing reports decrying John's research. A Resource Links contributor noted that Natural History "engrosses and informs a reader all at the same time." Writing on the Bookloons Web site, Sally Selvadurai commented: "Enjoy it for an entertaining look at nineteenth century English society: its attitudes and mores, the complexities of romance, and a window into the world of medicine."



British Journal of Psychology, August, 1994, Fraser Watts, review of Best Laid Schemes: The Psychology of Emotions, p. 438.

Library Journal, October 1, 2006, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of The Case of Emily V., p. 52.

Publishers Weekly, September 11, 2006, review of The Case of Emily V., p. 37.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2006, review of Understanding Emotions.

Resource Links, June, 1997, review of The Case of Emily V., p. 235; October, 2000, review of Natural History, p. 49.


BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (April 16, 2007), Sally Selvadurai, review of A Natural History.

Keith Oatley Home Page,http://hdap.oise.utoronto.ca/oatley/index.htm (April 16, 2007).

Kevin's Corner Blog, http://www.hollywoodcomics.com/˜kevin/index.html/ (September 3, 2006), Kevin R. Tipple, review of The Case of Emily V.

University of Toronto Human Development and Applied Psychology Web site,http://hdap.oise.utoronto.ca/ (April 16, 2007), author's faculty Home Page.