Dr Mark Atherton



Dr Mark Atherton

Senior College Lecturer in English Language and Medieval English Literature

Dr Mark Atherton has been a College Lecturer at Regent’s since 2003, after earlier teaching and research at Cologne, York, Brussels and Manchester.  Since 2012 he has also taught the English language for Mansfield College, Oxford. More recently he has become Visiting Professor of Medieval English Literature at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany, dividing his time between Oxford and Düsseldorf during the winter semester 2016-17.

Mark’s main teaching in Oxford is to undergraduates studying for the BA in English. He teaches and lectures in the Faculty on Old English (Anglo-Saxon) literature, where his most recent research on J.R.R. Tolkien and on the history of Anglo-Saxon has focussed: he is concerned to show that early English literature is full and varied and there are many connections with and challenges to the literature and culture of the present day. He also teaches the English language, in other words the linguistics of English, the nature of English as a language, its differences to other languages, its grammar, style and rich lexicon.

Mark is interested in Old and Middle English, Medieval literature more generally, early history of English, cultural and religious history, English and other languages. Some sense of his research is seen in his membership of the following: the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture (at Regent’s), the Philological Society (London), TOEBI (Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland), and the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas.

Current research


Old English, Anglo-Latin literature, themes in late Anglo-Saxon literature:

The Battle of Maldon: War and Peace in Anglo-Saxon England (work in progress)

Teach Yourself Old English (Anglo-Saxon), new edition, with an anthology of Old English poems (work in progress) 

The Making of England: A New History of the Anglo-Saxon World (London: I.B. Tauris, forthcoming)


Recent Publications


There and Back Again: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Origins of the Hobbit (monograph; London: I.B. Tauris, 2012)


Teach Yourself Complete Old English (Anglo-Saxon) (London: Hodder, 2010) [this is a second, revised and expanded edition of Teach Yourself Old English (2006)


Celts and Christians: New Approaches to the Religious Traditions of Britain and Ireland (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2002) [edited papers from the lecture series at the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture]


Hildegard of Bingen: Selected Writings (London: Penguin Classics, 2001) [translation from the Medieval Latin, with introduction, notes and bibliography]



Mark Atherton, ‘Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 201 as a Mirror for a Prince: Apollonius of Tyre, Archbishop Wulfstan and King Cnut’, English Studies, 97:5 (2016), 451-472


Review of R.D. Fulk and Stefan Jurisinski (eds.) The Old English Canons of Edgar (forthcoming; Review of English Studies)


‘Tolkien and Old English’ in Stuart Lee (ed.), A Companion to J. R. R. Tolkien (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014)


‘Urban Perspectives in Late Anglo-Saxon Literature’, in Gale Owen-Crocker (ed.), Anglo-Saxon Towns: Essays in Memory of David Hill (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2014)


‘Coins, Merchants and the Reeve: Royal Authority in the Old English Legend of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus’, in Gale Owen-Crocker and Brian W. Schneider (eds.), Royal Authority in Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2013)


‘Imaginative Science: The Interactions of Henry Sweet’s Linguistic Thought and E.B. Tylor’s Anthropology’, Historiographia Linguistica, 37, 1/2 (2010): 64-104


‘“The Globe of Language”: Thomas Prendergast and Applied Linguistics in the 1870s’, Language and History 53, 1 (2010), 15-26


‘Priming the Poets: the Making of Henry Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Reader’, in David Clark and Nicholas Perkins (eds.) Anglo-Saxon Culture and the Modern Imagination (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2010), 31-49


‘To observe things as they are without regard to their origin’: Henry Sweet’s general writings on language in the 1870s’, Bulletin of the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas, 51 (November 2008), 41-58


‘Mentions of Offa in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Beowulf and Widsith’, in David Hill and Margaret Worthington (eds.), Æthelbald and Offa. Two Eighth-Century Kings of Mercia, BAR Reports British Series 383 (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2005)


‘Quoting and Re-Quoting: How the Use of Sources Affects Stylistic Choice in Old English Prose’, Studia Neophilologica, 72 (2000), 6-17


‘King Alfred’s Approach to the Study of Latin’, in D. Cram, A. Linn and E. Nowak (eds.), History of Linguistics 1996 Vol. 2: From Classical to Contemporary Linguistics (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1999), 15-22


‘Sweet, Henry’, in Michael Lapidge et al. (ed.), Blackwells Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford: Blackwells, 1998; 2nd edn 2013)


‘Dictionaries, Old English’, Blackwells Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England (1998/2013)


‘The Image of the Temple in the Psychomachia and Late Old English Literature’, The Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 79, 3 (1997), 263-85


‘Henry Sweet’s Psychology of Language Learning’, in Klaus D. Dutz and Hans-J. Niederehe (eds.), Theorie und Rekonstruction (Münster: Nodus, 1996), 149-168


‘Being Scientific and Relevant in the Language Textbook: Henry Sweet’s Primers for the Study of Colloquial English’, Paradigm, 20 (1996), 1-20


‘”Grasping Sentences as Wholes”: Henry Sweet’s Idea of Language Study in the Middle Ages’, Neuphilogische Mitteilungen, 96, 2 (1995), 177-185


‘The Figure of the Archer in Beowulf’, Neophilologus, 77 (1993), 653-657


Electronic publication

‘The sources of the Vercelli Homilies, Blickling Homilies I, II, III, the Old English Rogationtide Homilies, Belfour Homily VI, and Ælfric’s De temporibus anni’, in Fontes Anglo-Saxonici, CD-Rom Version 1.1 (Oxford, 2002)