Women’s Literary Culture before the Conquest

This project, funded by the award of a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, offers the first sustained exploration of the literary culture of women in early medieval England.

It explores both the conditions that enabled a rich and varied culture to thrive, and the reasons why that remarkable culture is almost invisible today.

Histories of English Literature, including women’s literary histories, have tended to exclude or to marginalize the contributions of early medieval women. The project analyses new material to provide a better understanding of literary history and a new perspective on Anglo-Saxon literary production that places women at its very centre. 

In the course of the project  I will be visiting archives and libraries across Europe. The project blog will provide regular updates on this research.

The findings of the project will be published in a book that is contracted to appear in Bloomsbury's Studies in Early Medieval History series, edited by Ian Wood.


Our research is published in a host of journals.

Stay connected


Twitter profile image for Diane_Watt
Gender discrimination in schools is unacceptable but do we really need the lesbophobic headline ⁦@BBCWales⁩? https://t.co/yW0rBtcxOy
Twitter profile image for Diane_Watt
Was Joan of Arc a transman? @ThingsTransform examines Joan’s case and many more https://t.co/OVKSTsjrtv

Latest blog posts


Can the Fragments Speak? Cotton Caligula A.XIV and Lambeth Palace MS 427.

London, Lambeth Palace, MS 427, fols.209v-210r. Reproduced with the kind permission of Lambeth Palace...


Forthcoming event: The Medieval Literary Canon in the Digital Age

Keynotes speakers: Karina van Dalen-Oskam (Amsterdam), Peter Robinson (Saskatchewan), Diane Watt (Surrey)...