UCL English


Professor Susan Irvine

Email: s.irvine@ucl.ac.uk
Phone: 020 3108 1080
Internal phone: 51080

Susan Irvine

Education and Experience

Susan Irvine was educated at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and at the University of Oxford. Since 1992 she has been teaching in the Department of English at UCL, where she is now Quain Professor of English Language and Literature.

Her main area of interest is Old English prose and poetry, which she teaches both at undergraduate level and at graduate level on the MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. She has also supervised research students on a wide range of topics in this area, including the prose of King Alfred’s reign, biblical narratives and Beowulf.

She was Director of Old English for the AHRB-funded research database Fontes Anglo-Saxonici project, and Co-Director of the AHRC-funded Old English Boethius project. She was a visiting professor at the Università di Roma Tre in 2009 and in 2019.

She served a three-year term as Head of the English Department at UCL. She has served on a number of senior committees in the College.

She has been an external examiner at a number of institutions, including Cambridge, Leeds, Royal Holloway London, St Andrew’s, University College Dublin and York.

She was Second Vice-President of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists from 2012 to 2017. She is currently President of TOEBI (the society for the Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland).

She is a member of the Editorial Board for the journal Anglia and for the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library series based at the University of Harvard. She is also a member of the Council of the Early English Text Society, and of the International Advisory Committee for the Dictionary of Old English based at the University of Toronto.

She was awarded a five-year Anneliese Maier Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2015-20).

She proposed and ran three UCL Futures-funded events on the theme of ‘Literature Seen, Heard and Spoken’, which aimed to connect UCL with the wider community through an exploration of the interdisciplinary possibilities of literature. 

Research Interests

Susan Irvine has written extensively on Old English literature and language. She has published books on twelfth-century homiletic manuscripts, Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Old English Boethius

Her research has focused recently on literature associated with King Alfred’s court at the end of the ninth century. Her co-authored two-volume book entitled The Old English Boethius, published by Oxford University Press, won the 2011 International Society of Anglo-Saxonists’ prize for the ‘Best Edition published in Anglo-Saxon Studies, 2007-9’. She has also published a new Loeb-style edition of this work, in the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library series. 

Her current main project is a study and edition (for Oxford University Press) of the prologues and epilogues to Alfredian writings, an intriguing and eclectic set of texts which raise important issues relating to genre, the relationship between authorship and authority, and perceptions of poetic and prose style.

She has recently co-edited a collection of essays on childhood and adolescence in Anglo-Saxon literary culture, published by University of Toronto Press (2018), and a collection of essays on Old English anonymous homilies, published by Brill (2020).


The Anonymous Old English Homily: Sources, Composition, and Variation [co-edited with Winfried Rudolf] (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2020)

Childhood and Adolescence in Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture [co-edited with Winfried Rudolf] (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018)

Uncertain Beginnings: The Prefatory Tradition in Old English (Cambridge: Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, 2017) [booklet]

The Old English Boethius with Verse Prologues and Epilogues Associated with King Alfred [with Malcolm Godden], Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012)

The Old English Boethius: An Edition of the Old English Versions of Boethius’s De Consolatione Philosophiae [with Malcolm Godden], 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)The Anglo-Saxon

Chronicle MS E, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2004)

Repunctuating Beowulf [with Bruce Mitchell] (Western Michigan University: The Medieval Institute, 2000)

Old English Homilies from MS Bodley 343, Early English Text Society (Oxford University Press, 1993)

Selected Articles and Chapters in Books

‘“No sort of meaning in it and yet it was certainly English” (Lewis Carroll): Making Sense of an Old English Scribble in the Royal Psalter’, in Anglo-Saxon Micro-Texts, ed. Ursula Lenker and Lucia Kornexl (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019), pp. 145-60

‘The Protean Form of the Old English Boethius’, in The Legacy of Boethius in Medieval England, ed. Joey McMullen and Erica Weaver (Arizona: Arizona Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2018), pp. 1-17

‘Foster-Relationships in the Old English Boethius’, in Childhood and Adolescence in Anglo-Saxon England, ed. Susan Irvine and Winfried Rudolf (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018), pp. 202-21

‘The Alfredian Prefaces and Epilogues’, in A Companion to Alfred the Great, ed. Nicole Guenther Discenza and Paul E. Szarmach (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 143-70

‘The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, in A Companion to Alfred the Great, ed. Nicole Guenther Discenza and Paul E. Szarmach (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 344-67

‘Hanging by a Thread: Ælfric’s Saints’ Lives and the Hengen’, in Hagiography in Anglo-Saxon England: Adopting and Adapting Saints’ Lives into Old English Prose (c. 950-1150), ed. Loredana Lazzari, Patrizia Lendinara and Claudia Di Sciacca (Barcelona and Madrid: Fédération Internationale des Instituts d’Études Médiévales, 2014), pp. 67-94

‘English Literature in the Ninth Century’, in The Cambridge History of Early Medieval English Literature, ed. C.A. Lees (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 209-31

‘The Production of the Peterborough Chronicle’, in Reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Language, Literature and History, ed. A. Jorgensen, Studies in the Early Middle Ages (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010), pp. 49-66

‘Old English Prose: King Alfred and his Books’, in Beowulf and Other Stories: A New Introduction to Old English and Old Norse Literature, ed. R. North and J. Allard (Harlow: Pearson Education, 2007), pp. 46-71

‘Beginnings and Transitions: Old English’, in The Oxford History of English, ed. L. Mugglestone (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006; paperback edition, 2008), pp. 32-60

‘Fragments of Boethius: The Reconstruction of the Cotton Manuscript of the Alfredian Text’, Anglo-Saxon England 34 (2005), 169-81

‘Speaking One’s Mind in The Wanderer’, in Inside Old English: Essays in Honour of Bruce Mitchell, ed. J. Walmesley (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), pp. 117-33

‘Rewriting Women in the Old English Boethius’, in New Windows on a Woman’s World: Essays for Jocelyn Harris, ed. C. Gibson and L. Marr, 2 vols., Otago Studies in English 9 (Dept. of English, University of Otago, 2005), Vol. II, pp. 488-501

‘The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Idea of Rome in Alfredian Literature’, in Alfred the Great, ed. T. Reuter (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), pp. 63-77

‘Wrestling with Hercules: King Alfred and the Classical Past’, in Court Culture in the Early Middle Ages, ed. C. Cubitt (Turnhout: Brepols, 2003), pp. 171-88

‘Religious Context: Pre-Benedictine Reform Period’, in A Companion to Anglo-Saxon Literature, ed. P. Pulsiano and E. Treharne (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), pp. 135-50

‘The Persistence of Old English in the Twelfth Century', in Rewriting Old English in the Twelfth Century, ed. M. Swan and E. Treharne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 41-61

‘Linguistic Peculiarities in Late Copies of Ælfric and their Editorial Implications’, in Essays on Anglo-Saxon and Related Themes in Memory of Dr Lynne Grundy, ed. J. Roberts and J. Nelson, King’s College London Medieval Studies (King’s College London, 2000), pp. 237-57

‘Adam or Christ? A Pronominal Pun in The Dream of the Rood', The Review of English Studies n.s. 48 (1997), 433-47

‘‘Ulysses and Circe in King Alfred's Boethius: A Classical Myth Transformed', in Studies in English Language and Literature: `Doubt Wisely': Papers in Honour of E. G. Stanley, ed. M. J. Toswell and E. M. Tyler (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), pp. 387-401

‘Bones of Contention: The Context of Ælfric’s Homily on St Vincent’, Anglo-Saxon England 19 (1990), 117-32