Nora K. Chadwick

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Nora Kershaw Chadwick CBE FSA FBA (28 January 1891 – 24 April 1972)[1] was an English medievalist.


Mrs. Chadwick was born in Lancashire in 1891. Nora was the first daughter of James Kershaw and Emma Clara Booth, married in 1888. Their second daughter was Mabel born in 1895.

Nora received her undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge and lectured at St Andrews during World War I. She returned to Cambridge in 1919 to study Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse under Professor Hector Munro Chadwick. They were married in 1922.[2] The Chadwicks turned their home into a literary salon, a tradition which Mrs. Chadwick maintained after the death of her husband in 1947.[2] Most of her life was spent on research, mainly into the Celts.[3] She was University Lecturer in the Early History and Culture of the British Isles, University of Cambridge, 1950–58. Mrs. Chadwick received honorary degrees from the University of Wales, the National University of Ireland and the University of St Andrews, and she was a respected scholar. She was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1961.[2]

Chadwick is well known for her famous essay, "The Monsters and Beowulf" in which she argues that Grendel's mother might have been a goddess from Norse mythology, possibly the myth of the Valkyries.


  • The Growth of Literature was published in 1932. She published a series on Russian literature:
I: The Ancient Literatures of Europe (1932)
II: Russian Oral Literature, Yugoslav Oral Poetry, Early Indian Literature, Early Hebrew Literature (1936)
III: The Oral Literature of the Tatars and Polynesia, etc. (1940)

She also wrote The Beginnings of Russian History, an enquiry into sources (1946).

  • Chadwick collaborated with V. M. Zhirmunsky on a revision of the part of volume III that deals with epic poetry in Central Asian languages. The revised text was published separately in 1969 as Oral Epics of Central Asia.
In 1955 she wrote Poetry and Letters in early Christian Gaul.
In 1949 she wrote Early Scotland.
In 1954 she published Studies in Early British History.
In 1963 she wrote Celtic Britain (ancient people and places).
In 1964 she wrote The Age of Saints in the Celtic Church.
In 1965 she published The colonization of Brittany from Celtic Britain.
in 1966 she wrote The Druids
In 1967 she wrote Celtic Realms with Myles Dillon.
In 1970 she wrote The Celts with an introductory chapter by Dr. J.X.W.P.Corcoran: The Origins of the Celts: The Archaeological Evidence.[3]
  • Nora Chadwick also wrote about the Anglo-Saxon language:
In 1955 she published The Study of Anglo-Saxon with her husband.

A list of the publications of Hector and Nora Chadwick was printed for her 80th birthday in 1971.


  1. ^ CHADWICK, Nora Kershaw, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2015; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014
  2. ^ a b c Davidson, H. R. Ellis (1972). "Nora Kershaw Chadwick". Folklore. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 83 (3): 254–5. ISSN 0015-587X. JSTOR 1259552 – via JSTOR. (registration required (help)). 
  3. ^ a b 'Nora Chadwick' The Celts 1970


  • Chadwick, Nora K. "The Monsters and Beowulf." The Anglo-Saxons: Studies in Some Aspects of Their History. Ed. Peter ed Clemoes. London: Bowes & Bowes, 1959. 171-203.
  • Chadwick, Nora "The Celts" with an introductory chapter by J.X.W.P.Corcoran.. Penguin Books 1970.

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