Professor Marion Turner has been awarded The British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize 2020 for her recent book Chaucer: A European Life.  

M Turner award

The Rose Mary Crawshay Prize is awarded annually for a work in the field of English Literature by a woman. It was established in April 1888 by Mrs Crawshay, a philanthropist and advocate for women’s rights, as ‘The Byron, Shelley, Keats In Memoriam Yearly Prize Fund’ but, since 1916, has been open to nominations for historical or critical work by female scholars on any subject connected to English Literature. Previous winners include Dr Marina MacKay (2019) for Ian Watt; The Novel and Wartime Critic, Dr Kate Bennett (2017) for John Aubrey, Brief Lives with an Apparatus for the Lives of our English Mathematical Writers and Dr Daisy Hay (2010) for Young Romantics.  

Marion is Associate Professor of English and Tutorial Fellow of Jesus College, where she teaches literature from 650 to 1550, and life-writing across time. Her research interests focus on Chaucer and Chaucer; A European Life was recently short-listed for the Wolfson History Prize 2020.   

Her previous publications include Chaucerian Conflict (OUP, 2007), and A Handbook of Middle English Studies (Wiley Blackwell, 2013). She is an elected Trustee of the New Chaucer Society. Her research for Chaucer: A European Life, was supported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, and she currently holds a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship. Her next book, also to be published by Princeton UP, will be a biography of Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, from antiquity to the present day.

Marion says, “It is an extraordinary honour to be awarded the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, and to follow in the footsteps of so many brilliant women. Writing a biography was a new venture for me, and it involved thinking creatively about the shape of a life, and about how life and poetry can productively be connected. I decided to structure Chaucer: A European Life through spaces and places, which enabled me to investigate how the poet’s imagination was formed – what he saw, where he went, how he thought. Chaucer was a great innovator, and his experiments emerged from a deep-rooted engagement with European poetry and ideas, while his life and career were embedded in global trade networks. I hope that this book has changed readers’ perceptions of who this canonical figure was, of how we might re-imagine a life, and of what Englishness meant – and means – across time.”