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David Lawton

We are delighted that Professor David Lawton from our Department of English Studies has been awarded the British Academy's Sir Israel Gollancz Prize for 2022.

This prestigious award recognises Professor Lawton’s lifetime contributions and field-defining research in Middle English studies, throughout his highly influential international career which continues to flourish at Durham University.

Essential reading

Professor Lawton has published extensively on Middle English alliterative poetry and on Chaucer, including his edition of the Norton Chaucer in 2019 which features a lively general introduction to Chaucer's life, language, and influence, bringing fresh scholarship to life for undergraduate readers.
His most recent monograph, Voice in Later Medieval English Literature: Public Interiorities (Oxford University Press, 2017), has been described by one reviewer as ‘necessary reading for those interested in the literature, culture and history of the European Middle Ages’.

Encouraging bravery

On receiving the award, Professor Lawton acknowledged the support and mentorship of colleagues, noting “I am grateful to the British Academy and deeply honoured to receive this prize in the name of Israel Gollancz, with whose work I have been familiar since my first steps as a researcher. It is honestly heartening to be cited for my ‘interventions’ in the field; these always feel risky, particularly for relatively junior scholars (as I was in the 1980s, when I made the first such interventions), and it’s important, I think, to encourage bravery in challenging received ideas.”

History of the prize

First awarded in 1925, the prize was established through a bequest from Mrs Frida Mond in 1924. It was her intention to associate both the prize and a lecture with Sir Israel Gollancz, the first Secretary of the British Academy, "in token of a highly valued old friendship and his effort to further these studies". 

During Sir Israel’s lifetime, at his own request, the award was known as the Biennial Prize for English Literature, but after his death in 1930 it became the Sir Israel Gollancz Prize.

The prize recognises outstanding work on subjects connected with Anglo-Saxon, early English language and literature, English philology, or the history of English language; or for original investigations connected with the history of English literature or the works of English writers, with preference for the earlier period.

Find out more

About our Department of English Studies

Ranked 4th by the Guardian University Guide 2022 and 36th in the in the 2022 QS World University Rankings by subject, the Department of English Studies boasts award-winning poets and a recently named New Generation Thinker amongst our teaching staff. 

Our broad subject range is made possible by our large and thriving community of more than 900 students, researchers and academics, with a busy programme of events including lectures, seminars, reading and discussion groups.

Feeling inspired? Visit our English Studies webpages for more information on our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.