THE SIR ISRAEL GOLLANCZ PRIZE 2009
MICHAEL LAPIDGE FBA
Emeritus Fellow, Clare College, Cambridge for the book The Anglo-Saxon Library
Michael Lapidge is a world authority on Anglo-Saxon literature, whose work has substantially modified and enhanced understanding of early medieval language and literature in the British Isles. In his recent book, The Anglo-Saxon Library (2006), he provides a comprehensive account of the works of learning and literature known, owned or used in Anglo-Saxon England between the first arrival of Christianity in 597 and the Norman Conquest in 1066.
He draws his evidence from contemporary lists of books owned by individuals or institutions, from citations of other works made by authors active in England during this period, and from the contents of surviving manuscripts in Latin and in Old English. From this evidence he is able to reach a detailed understanding of the quality of learning available in England one thousand years ago, during the reign of King Æthelred the Unready. It is a picture which many might find surprising, and perhaps even impressive.