Woman Clunies Ross, Margaret Beryl (1942 - )

24 April 1942
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Alternative Names
  • Tidemann, Margaret Beryl (Maiden)

Written by Sharon M. Harrison, The University of Melbourne

Margaret Clunies Ross is a leading scholar and researcher in the fields of Old Norse-Icelandic literature and mythology and Old and Middle English. She was born in Adelaide on 24 April 1942. Clunies Ross was the eldest of six children born to parents Beryl Chudleigh Tidemann (née Birch) and Ernest Phillips Tidemann. Her father was a dentist and her mother was trained as a kindergarten teacher. Clunies Ross was educated at Walford House (later Walford Church of England Girls' Grammar School), attending the school from the age of nearly 5 to the age of almost 17. She studied at the University of Adelaide from 1959 to 1962, graduating at the age of nearly 21 with a BA (Hons) with First-Class Honours in English. Just as she entered the Honours stream, the Department of English appointed Ralph Elliott in the area of Old and Middle English and Clunies Ross took up subjects on Old English, Middle English and Germanic Philology. Elliott also offered an off-the-curriculum Old Norse course in the lunch hours. The following year the Department also appointed medievalist Peter Meredith, later a Professor of English and Medieval Drama at the University of Leeds. Clunies Ross recalls her early Adelaide days as the formative period of her academic career. The recipient of both a Commonwealth Scholarship and a State Bursary, she was urged into the Teachers' College and the system of bonded scholarships, although she had no interest in becoming a secondary school teacher. In 1963 she won a University of Adelaide George Murray Overseas Scholarship, and took the opportunity to study at Oxford University, even though it meant paying back her bond while undertaking studies at Oxford. Clunies Ross was the recipient of a Rosa Hovey Scholarship, reading English as an undergraduate with senior status at Somerville College, Oxford University, from 1963 to 1965. At Oxford University she also completed a BLitt in Old Norse under the supervision of Gabriel Turville-Petre, then one of the senior Old Norse scholars in the English-speaking world.

After completing her undergraduate studies, Clunies Ross held an appointment as a Lecturer at St Hilda's College and Lady Margaret Hall Oxford (1965-1968). She was awarded the Alice B Horsman Travelling Fellowship from Somerville College Oxford, visiting the Arnamagnaean Institute of Icelandic Studies, Copenhagen University (1968-1969). In 1969 Clunies Ross took up an appointment as a Lecturer at the University of Sydney where she built her career, gaining promotion to Senior Lecturer in 1974 and Associate Professor in 1984. In 1990 she was appointed McCaughey Professor of English Language and Early English Literature and, in 1997, Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney. Following her retirement in 2009, Clunies Ross was appointed Honorary Professor in the Medieval and Early Modern Centre and Emeritus Professor of English. She is also an Honorary Research Associate of the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge.

Clunies Ross has held numerous visiting fellowships: Honorary Research Associate University College London (1979-1980); Visiting Member, Linacre College Oxford (1979-1980); Visiting Scholar Germanic Languages University of North Carolina (1991-1992); Guest Researcher Institut für Nordische Philologie University of Munich and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Scholar (1986-1987); Visiting Scholar Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies Toronto (1995); Quartercentenary Visiting Fellow Emmanuel College Cambridge (1997); Visiting Professor Abteilung fur Skandinavistik Germanisches Seminar, University of Bonn (2000-2001); Visiting Scholar Nord-Europa Institut Humboldt University, Berlin (2002-2003); Visiting Fellow, All Souls College Oxford University (2003); Visiting Professor, University of Iceland (2007); and Visiting Professor Centre for Medieval Studies University of Bergen (Norway) (2011).

She has also served as a member of numerous committees and professional bodies. Elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities in 1990 she served as the its President from 1995 to 1998, the first woman elected to that position in any of the four Australian learned academies. From 1997 to 1998 she also served as President of the National Academies' Forum. She was a Delegate of the Australian Academy of the Humanities to the Union Académique Internationale, Brussels (1999-2003). Clunies Ross has been actively involved in the Australian Research Council (ARC) and its predecessor the Australian Research Grant Scheme (ARGS). In 1987 she served as a Member of the Humanities panel of the ARGS, continuing in this role for a further two eyars after the creation of the ARC in 1988. In 1989 she was a Member of the Panel for assessing ARC Fellows and Queen Elizabeth II Fellows. From 1995 to 1998 she was a member of the Council of the ARC. Clunies Ross is actively involved in societies and associations related to her field of research: Member of the Viking Society for Northern Research, University College London; Member of the International Saga Society, Australia/New Zealand Representative in 1988 and from 1982 to 1985; Member Advancement Committee International Society Anglo-Saxonists (1989-1992); and Member Australia and New Zealand Association for Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies.

Clunies Ross is the author of several books: Djambidj: An Aboriginal Song Series from Northern Australia, with Stephen A. Wild (1981); Goyulan, the morning star: an Aboriginal clan song series from north central Arnhem Land, with Johnny Mundrugmundrug (1987); Skáldskaparmál: Snorri Sturluson's ars poetica and medieval theories of language (1987); Prolonged echoes: Old Norse myths in medieval Northern society, 2 vols. (1994 and 1998); The Norse muse in Britain, 1750-1820 (1998); A history of old Norse poetry and poetics (2005); and The Cambridge introduction to the old Norse-Icelandic saga (2010). She is the editor of Songs of aboriginal Australia, with Tamsin Donaldson and Stephen A. Wild (1987); Old Icelandic literature and society (2000); Old Norse Myths, Literature and Society: Proceedings of the 11th International Saga Conference 2-7 July 2000, with Geraldine Barnes (2000) and separately ed. in The Viking Collection, Vol. 14 (Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark (2003); The Old Norse Poetic Translations of Thomas Percy (2001); General editor (with others) of Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages (2007-) and volume editor of Vol VII, Poetry on Christian Subjects (2007). Clunies Ross has authored many journal articles and book chapters and has also written articles on Australian Aboriginal rituals and contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. In 2007 she was presented with a festschrift edited by three of her former students, Judy Quinn, Kate Heslop and Tarrin Wills, Learning and Understanding in the Old Norse World: Essays in Honour of Margaret Clunies Ross. She is (or has been) a general editor, with colleagues, of the following scholarly book series: Making the Middle Ages (Brepols); Medieval Voyaging (Brepols); Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages (Brepols); Pre-Christian Religions of the North (Brepols); The Viking Collection (University Press of Southern Denmark).

Clunies Ross was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Gothenburg in 2000 and was elected a Fellow (arbetande ledamot) of the Royal Gustavus Adolphus Academy in Uppsala in 2001. In 2001 she received a Centenary Medal for services to Australian society and the humanities in the study of languages and literature.

She has one daughter and one son with her former partner, Les Hiatt. Her present partner is Emeritus Professor John Richard Green.

Additional sources: • Personal communication between Margaret Clunies Ross and Patricia Grimshaw, November 2012.

Published Resources

Edited Books

  • Who's Who in Australia, Crown Content, Melbourne, Victoria, 1927 - 2013. Details

Online Resources

See also