Professor Heather O'Donoghue

My primary field of research is Old Norse-Icelandic literature – that is, the poetry and prose of medieval Iceland and Norway. I have also worked and published on relations between Old Norse-Icelandic literature and Old English literature, and am interested in links with Old and Middle Irish. Most of my recent research has been on the reception of Old Norse literature in post-medieval European culture – primarily, but not exclusively, European and American literature – and the afterlife of Old Norse myth, especially in its political dimension. In 2014 my book English Poetry and Old Norse Myth was published by Oxford University Press. It begins with possible Scandinavian elements in Old English poetry (especially Beowulf) and traces the continuing and developing influence of Old Norse myth, taking in such poets as Dryden and Pope, Thomas Gray and William Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge, Walter Scott, Matthew Arnold, William Morris, Hugh MacDiarmid and David Jones, W.H. Auden, and Seamus Heaney, as well as a large number of less mainstream poets, particularly contemporary ones. In the last few years, I have published a number of papers on the reception of Old Norse myth and literature, and have recently investigated the influence of Old Norse myth on Thomas Hardy, R.L.Stevenson, Herman Melville, Gunter Grass and Neil Gaiman. My monograph Narrative in the Icelandic Sagas: Meanings of Time in Old Norse Literature is due to be published by Bloomsbury in 2020.

I have also published on contemporary crime fiction, and was recently a judge on the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for contemporary thrillers, having spent many years as a judge on the CWA Gold Dagger award for crime fiction.


Serving as a judge for the annual Dagger Award for Crime Fiction.

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