Waddell, Helen (1888-1965)


Helen Waddell (1889-1965), mediaeval scholar, poet and author. b. May 31, 1889, Tokyo, Japan, removing to Banbridge, Co. Down in 1900. Ed. Victoria College and Queen’s University, Belfast and later, Somerville College, Oxford, where she was Susette Taylor Fellow. During her fellowship, spent 2 years in Paris studying the Carmina Burana and other Low Latin Goliardic compositions by the ‘vagantes’ of the Middle Ages, the results of which were to form the basis of her major work, ‘The Wandering Scholars’ (1927), for which she received the A.C. Benson Silver Medal by the Royal Society of Literature. Dedicated her life to the study and dissemination of mediaeval Latin literature and humanism, publishing, lecturing and broadcasting widely in her chosen field throughout her career. In addition to ‘The Wandering Scholars,’ her best known works have been ‘Mediaeval Latin Lyrics’ (1929), ‘Beasts and Saints’ (1934) and ‘The Desert Fathers’ (1936). Was assistant editor of the magazine, ‘Nineteenth Century’ and received numerous honorary degrees. Suffered from a progressive neurological disorder from c. 1950. d. London, 1965. Sources: Women of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary, Kit and Cyril O'Céirín (Galway, 1996); Dictionary of Ulster Biography, Kate Newmann (Belfast, 1993)

Mediaeval scholar, poet and author