Professor Richard North



Email: richard.north@ucl.ac.uk
External phone: 020 7679 3122
Internal phone:33122
Office: Foster Court 201



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Education

Richard North got his BA from Oxford in 1983 and his PhD from Cambridge in 1987. He held a postdoc in Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in 1987-8, and was appointed lecturer in Old and Middle English at UCL a year later. Since then he has taught English literature of all kinds, but mainly Old and Middle English, and also some Old Icelandic, to undergraduates and MA students, as well as supervising a small posse of PhD students.

Early Medieval research interests

These follow works which he teaches, keeping in mostly with Editions. In his book on English heathen gods (1997) North argued for the existence of Ingui, divine focus of a massive fertility cult permeating Anglian Britain from the fifth century to the late seventh.

Later he tried to prove that the Icelandic chieftain Sighvatr Sturluson, older brother of the more famous Snorri, wrote the first draft of Víga-Glúms saga in c. 1225.

Later still, his book on Beowulf (2006) made a case not only for the poem’s date of composition in 826-7, but also for a place, Breedon-on-the-Hill (NW Leics.), as well as an author in Eanmund, abbot of Breedon in 816 - c. 848. This book has a simple premise, that the resemblance between Beowulf and his sidekick Wiglaf on one hand and the Mercian kings Beornwulf (823-26) and Wiglaf (827-39) on the other is not a coincidence. 

Heathen Gods Origins of Beowulf


With Joe Allard (and Patricia Gillies) of the University of Essex, North edited and translated most of the Old English and Old Icelandic poetry and prose in the Longman Anthology of Old English, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman Literatures (2011): a reader to go with the much-loved ’Beowulf’ & Other Stories which came out in 2007 (and again, in 2011). 

The offerings in his vast Anthology include many sections from Beowulf and Andreas as well as the whole of Genesis B; some poems in Old Welsh, Gaelic, Old High German and Castilian; some more in Occitan from the south of France as well as an extract from the Chanson de Roland; and from the Viking pre-Christian side, the great Sonatorrek ‘hard loss of sons’ of Egill Skalla-Grímsson (c. 960), the Vellekla ‘gold-shortage’ of Einarr skálaglamm ‘cup-tinkle’ Helgason and the Þórsdrápa ‘eulogy on Þórr’ of Eilílfr Goðrúnarson (c. 985).

North had already made separate editions and translations of the Haustlǫng ‘harvest-long’ of Þjóðólfr of Hvinir (c. 900) and the Húsdrápa ‘eulogy on the house’ of Úlfr Uggason (c. 995). He has a theory that Skaldic verse should be read as poetry.

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More recently, he has collaborated with Martin Worthington in a comparative study of Beowulf and Gilgamesh, and is working with Mike Bintley on an edition, with parallel text and translation, of Andreas. He has also written critical essays on two contemporaneous comic (i.e. ‘comedic’) poems: on Andreas, seeing a Cervantesque mockery of Beowulf as part of this poem (c. 890?); and on the Ynglingatal ‘list of the sons of Ingvi-freyr’ of Þjóðólfr of Hvinir (c. 890), a parody of the old kings of Uppsala and their descendants living around Oslo.

Later Medieval research interests

At the moment North is trying to make the most detailed case yet for the influence of Beowulf on Grettis saga (‘The Saga of Grettir the Strong’, c. 1280s), to show how and why Geoffrey Chaucer adapted Il Filostrato ‘the love-lorn’ (c. 1336) of Giovanni Boccaccio in his own Troilus and Criseyde (c. 1387), and to help create a new app of The Canterbury Tales (1390s). The last project, undertaken in concert with (i.a.) Terry Jones and Prof Peter Robinson of the University of Saskatchewan, promises to fill the rest of his life, but before this ends North hopes to see the production of an app for at least Fragment I.

Public engagement measures

For two years North acted as President of the London-based Viking Society for Northern Research, for which he has since been working as Hon. Assistant Secretary. For two more years North was Director of the UCL MARS Centre (i.e. Medieval and Renaissance Studies). Presently he is adviser on Medieval literature and history to his team (the Brockley Badgers) in the local pub quiz. What other impact his scholarship has made on the outside world, if not lost in the ephemera of BBC radio and independent TV, may be found in the short history of his stand-up appearances in UCL Bright Club. He has informed on paganism for the Vocabulary of the Study of Religions, lectured on the solar alignments of the old royal site in Yeavering, Northumberland, and written on Angelina Jolie for Time Out.

Selected Publications

Books

1. Pagan Words and Christian Meanings, Costerus New Series 81 (Amsterdam and Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1991), 198 pp. ISBN 90 5183 305 9

2. The ‘Haustlǫng’ of Þjóðólfr of Hvinir, edited, with introduction, translation, commentary and glossary (London: Hisarlik Press, 1997), lxvii and 105 pp. ISBN 1 874312 20 6

3. Heathen Gods in Old English Literature, Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England 22 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), x and 374 pp. ISBN 0 521 55183 8

4. The Origins of ‘Beowulf’: From Vergil to Wiglaf (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), xviii and 365 pp., 6 Illustrations, 10 Figures, ISBN 0-19-926776-6

5. The Longman Anthology of Old English, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman Literatures, Richard North, Joe Allard, and Patricia Gillies (London: Pearson Education Ltd, 2011), 888 pp. ISBN 978-1-4082-4770-9

Edited Books

1. Latin Culture and Germanic Europe: Proceedings of the First Germania Latina Conference, ed. Richard North and Tette Hofstra, Germania Latina I (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1992), 128 pp. ISBN 90 0980 059 7

2. Fótarkefli rist Peter Foote 26.v.99 [birthday Festschrift], ed. Alison Finlay, Richard North and Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir, 2 vols. (London: Birkbeck Press, 1999), 55 and 33 pp.

3. ‘Beowulf’ & Other Stories: A New Introduction to Old English, Old Icelandic, and Anglo-Norman Literatures, ed. Richard North and Joe Allard (London: Pearson Education Ltd, 2007), c. 500 pp., 15 Illustrations. ISBN 1405835729

4. ’Beowulf’ & Other Stories:  A New Introduction to Old English, Old Icelandic, and Anglo-Norman Literatures, 2nd edition, ed. Richard North and Joe Allard (London:  Pearson Education Ltd, 2011), 556 pp., 29 illustrations, one new chapter.  ISBN 978-1-4082-8603-6

Articles and Chapters

1. ‘Jeux d’esprit in “Deor”‘: Geat and Mæðhild’, Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 27 (1988), 11-24

2. ‘Kening Finn en it ferdrach fan Finnsboarch yn de Beowulf’, Us Wurk 38 (1989), 1-11

3. ‘Tribal Loyalties in the Finnsburh Fragment and Episode’, Leeds Studies in English New Series 21 (1990), 13-43

4. ‘The Pagan Inheritance of Egill’s Sonatorrek’, Atti del 12. Congresso internazionale di Studi sull’alto Medioevo, ed. Teresa Pàroli (Rome: Il Calamo, 1991), pp. 147-67

5. ‘Getting to Know the General in The Battle of Maldon’, Medium Ævum 60 (1991), 1-15

6. ‘Saxo and the Swedish Wars in Beowulf’, in Saxo Grammaticus. Tra Storiografia e Letteratura, ed. Carlo Santini (Rome: Il Calamo, 1992), pp. 175-88

7. ‘King Æthelwulf and the Goths in “Deor”‘, Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 40 (1994), 7-20

8. ‘“Wyrd” and “wearð ealuscerwen” in Beowulf’, Leeds Studies in English New Series 25 (1994), 69-82

9. ‘Metre and Meaning in Wulf and Eadwacer: Signý Reconsidered’, in Loyal Letters: Studies in Mediaeval Alliterative Poetry and Prose, ed. L. A. J. Houwen and A. A. MacDonald (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1994), pp. 29-54

10. ‘Boethius and the Mercenary in The Wanderer’, Pagan and Christian Themes in Medieval Germanic Literature: Proceedings of the Second Germania Latina Conference, ed. L. A. J. R. Houwen and A. A. MacDonald, Germania Latina 2 (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1995), pp. 45-68

11. ‘Óðinn gegen Freyr: Elemente heidnischer Religion in der Víga-Glúms Saga’, in International Scandinavian and Medieval Studies in Memory of Gerd Wolfgang Weber, ed. M. Dallapiazza, O. Hansen, P. Meulengracht Sørensen and Y. S. Bonnetain, Hesperides: Studies in Western Literature and Civilization 12 (Trieste: Edizioni Parnaso, 2000), 347-365

12. ‘Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian Attitudes to 999/1000’, in Fins de Siècle / New Beginnings, ed. Ib Johansen, The Dolphin 31 (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2000), 17-38

13. ‘Goð geyja: the Limits of Humour in Old Norse-Icelandic Paganism’, Quaestio Insularis: Selected Proceedings of the Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, 1 (2000), 1-22

14. ‘Loki’s Gender, or Why Skaði Laughed’, in Monsters and the Monstrous in Medieval Northwest Europe, ed. K. E. Olsen and L. A. J. R. Houwen, Mediaevalia Groningana, New Series 3 (Louvain, 2001), 141-51

15. ‘Paganism, Anglo-Saxon’, in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. L. Jones, Macmillan Reference series (New York: Macmillan Reference, 2005), s.v.

16. ‘Money and Religion in Færeyinga saga’, in Viking and Norse in the North Atlantic: Select Papers from the Proceedings of the Fourteenth Viking Congress, Tórshavn, 19-30 July 2001, ed. A. Mortensen and S. V. Arge, Annales Societatis Scientiarum Færoensis, Supplementum XLIV (Tórshavn, 2005), 60-75

17. ‘Image and Ascendancy in Úlfr’s Húsdrápa’, Image, Word, Text: Studies in Anglo-Saxon Literature and its Insular Context in Honour of Éamonn Ó Carragáin, ed. Alastair Minnis and Jane Roberts, Studies in the Early Middle Ages, 18 (Turnhout, 2006), 369-404

18. ‘End Time and the date of Vǫluspá: Two Models of Conversion’, in Conversion and Colonization in Anglo-Saxon England, ed. Catherine E. Karkov and Nicholas Howe, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 318 (Tempe, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2006), 213-236

19. ‘An Introduction to this Book’, by Richard North, David Crystal and Joe Allard (2007)

20. ‘Old English Minor Heroic Verse’, in above

21. ‘The Dream of the Rood and Anglo-Saxon Northumbria’, by Éamonn Ó Carragáin and Richard North, in above

22. ‘OE scop and the Singing Welsh Bishop’, in Northern Voices: Essays on Old Germanic and Related Topics offered to Professor Tette Hofstra, ed. Kees Dekker, Alasdair MacDonald and Hermann Niebaum, Germania Latina VI, Mediaevalia Groningana, N.S. 11 (Leuven: Peeters, 2008), 199-122

23. ‘Sighvatr Sturluson and the authorship of Viga-Glums saga’, in Analecta Septentrionalia. Beiträge zur nordgermanischen Kultur- und Literaturgeschichte. Festschrift an Kurt Schier, ed. Wilhelm Heizmann and Astrid van Nahl, Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, March 2009), pp. 20-36.

24. ‘Revenue and Real estate: Archbishop Wulfred and the Strange Case of Cynehelm’, in Anglo-Saxon Traces, ed. Jane Roberts and Leslie Webster, Essays in Anglo-Saxon Studies 4, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 405 (Tempe, AZ, 2011), 181-99

25. ‘OE wopes hring and the Old Norse Myth of Baldr’, in Early Archaeology and Art in the British Isles: Studies in Honour of James Graham-Campbell, ed. Andrew Reynolds and Leslie Webster (Leiden: Brill, 2012), pp. 893-910

26. North, Richard and Martin Worthington, ‘Gilgameš and Beowulf: Foundations of a Comparison’, in Decoding Gilgameš, ed. Martin Worthington, KASKAL: Rivista di Storia, Ambienti e Culture del Vicino Oriente Antico, 9 (Florence, 2012), 157-97

27. ‘Kurzweilige Wahrheiten: Ari und das Ynglingatal in den Prologen der Heimskringla’, in Snorri Sturluson - Mythologe, Dichter, Politiker, ed. Heinrich Beck, Wilhelm Heizmann and Jan Alexander van Nahl, Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde, 85 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2013), 171-216

28. ‘Morgan le Fay and the Fairy Mound in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, in Airy Nothings: Imagining the Otherworld of Faerie from the Middle Ages to the Age of Reason: Essays in Honour of Alasdair A. MacDonald, ed. Karin E. Olsen and Jan R. Veenstra (Leiden and Boston, MA: Brill, 2014), pp. 75-98

29. [Forthcoming] ‘Paganism’, in Vocabulary for the Study of Religion, ed. Kocku von Stuckrad and Robert Segal (Leiden: Brill, 2014)

30. [Forthcoming 2014] ‘Meet the Pagans: Andreas and the Cult of Beowulf’, in Essays on the Transmission and Transformation of Medieval Knowledge, ed. Marilina Cesario and Malte Urban, proposal for Medieval Literature and Culture, Manchester University Press

31. [Forthcoming 2015] ‘You Sexy Beast: a Pig in the Villa in Vandalic North Africa and Boar-Cults in Old Germanic Heathendom’, in Beasts in Early Medieval England and Scandinavia, ed. Michael Bintley and Thomas Williams (Boydell and Brewer, Cambridge)


Translated Books

1. The First Universities: Studium Generale and the Origins of University Education in Europe, by Olaf Pedersen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) [orig. Studium Generale: De europæiske universiteters tilblivelse (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1979), 338 pp.] ISBN 0 521 59431 6

Other publications

1. ‘The Pagan Inheritance of Egill’s Sonatorrek’, in ‘Poetry in the Scandinavian Middle Ages’, VII International Saga Conference, Preprints, 4-10 September, 1988 Centro Italiano di Studi sull’ Alto Medioevo, Spoleto), pp. 289-300

2. ‘How was Hávamál performed?’, in ‘The Audience of the Sagas’, VIII International Saga Conference, Preprints, 11-17 August, 1991 (Gothenburg University)

3. ‘Heathen religion in Haustlöng’, in ‘Sagas and the Norwegian Experience’, X International Saga Conference, Preprints, 3-9 August, 1997 (Trondheim University), pp. 511-20

4. ‘Fótardrápa’ [20-stanza Skaldic poem in honour of Peter Foote], in Fótarkefli rist Peter Foote 26.v.99, ed. Alison Finlay, Richard North and Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir, 2 vols. (London: Birkbeck Press, 1999) I, 30-32

Some reviews

1. On Ursula Dronke, ed., The Poetic Edda, Volume 2, in Saga-Book of the Viking Society 25 (1999), 219-26

2. On Magnús Fjalldal, The Long Arm of Coincidence: the Frustrated Connection between Beowulf and Grettis Saga, in Envoi 8 (1999), 52-8

3. On Klaus von See, Europa und der Norden im Mittelalter, in Saga-Book of the Viking Society 26 (2002), 139-424

4. Richard North on Beowulf in Time Out