Skip to main content

Prof Alison Finlay

  • Research


    Research overview

    My research interests are primarily in Old Icelandic, though I also supervise research in Old English.

    I have worked on the Icelandic poets’ sagas and other sagas of Icelanders, and am currently engaged on a translation of the historical text Heimskringla, in collaboration with Anthony Faulkes. The first of three volumes of this translation will be published by the Viking Society for Northern Research in 2010.

    I am also involved in an international collaborative project to re-edit the corpus of Old Norse skaldic poetry, and am editing verses from the Kings’ sagas for Volume 1 of the edition Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages, shortly to be published by Brepols.

    I am currently editing, with Martin Arnold, a collection of articles on the fornaldarsögur, to which I have contributed a translation of Ásmundar saga kappabana. I am also writing a book provisionally called Skalds and Sagas, about the characterisation and function of poets in the Norse-Icelandic Kings’ sagas and the sagas of Icelanders. I am a member of an international and interdisciplinary project studying Jómsvíkinga saga, involving scholars from regions surrounding the Baltic where the action of the saga takes place; I expect to be producing a translation of the saga into English.

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    Old Icelandic sagas and skaldic poetry; Old English poetry.

    If you are considering applying for MPhil/PhD research in any of these areas, you may consider contacting Alison or the Admissions Tutor about your research plan before making an application.

    Current doctoral researchers


    Doctoral alumni



    I have taught at Birkbeck since 1977, in the areas of Old English, Old Icelandic, medieval literature and the history of the English language.

  • Publications




    Book Section

    • Finlay, Alison (2015) Elegy and old age in Egil's saga. In: de Looze, L. and Helgason, J.K. and Poole, R. and Tulinius, T.H. (eds.) Egil the Viking Poet. New Approaches to 'Egils saga'. Toronto Old Norse-Icelandic Series (TONIS). Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press. pp. 111-130. ISBN 9781442649699.
    • Finlay, Alison (2012) Bjarni gullbráskáld: Kálfsflokkr. In: Whaley, D. (ed.) Poetry from the Kings' Sagas 1 From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. pp. 877-889. ISBN 9782503518961.
    • Finlay, Alison (2012) Glúmr Geirason: Gráfeldardrápa. In: Whaley, D. (ed.) Poetry from the Kings' Sagas 1 From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. pp. 245-265. ISBN 9782503518961.
    • Finlay, Alison (2011) Risking one’s head: Vafþrúðnismál and the mythic power of poetry. In: Anlezark, D. (ed.) Myths, Legends, and Heroes: Essays on Old Norse and Old English Literature. Toronto, Canada: Toronto University Press. pp. 91-108. ISBN 9780802099471.
    • Finlay, Alison (2010) The saga of Ásmundr, killer of champions. In: Finlay, Alison and Arnold, M. (eds.) Making History: Essays on the Fornaldarsögur. London, UK: Viking Society for Northern Research. pp. 119-139. ISBN 9780903521840.
    • Finlay, Alison (2009) Chronology, genealogy and conversion: the afterlife of St Edmund in the north. In: Bale, Anthony (ed.) St Edmund, King and Martyr: Changing Images of a Medieval Saint. Suffolk, UK: York Medieval Press. pp. 45-62. ISBN 9781903153260.
    • Finlay, Alison (2007) Putting a Bawn into Beowulf. In: Hall, J.D. and Bland Crowder, A. (eds.) Seamus Heaney: Poet, Critic, Translator. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 136-154. ISBN 9780230206267.
    • Finlay, Alison (2007) Thomas Gray’s translations of old Norse poetry. In: Clark, D. and Phelpstead, C. (eds.) Old Norse Made New. Essays on the Post-Medieval Reception of Old Norse Literature and Culture. Viking Society for Northern Research. pp. 1-20. ISBN 9780903521765.
    • Finlay, Alison (2000) Skald sagas in their literary context 2: possible European contexts. In: Poole, R.G. (ed.) Skaldsagas: Text, Vocation, And Desire In The Icelandic Sagas Of Poets. Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde - Ergänzungsbände. Berlin, Germany: de Gruyter. pp. 232-271. ISBN 9783110823547.
    • Finlay, Alison (1997) The saga of Bjorn, champion of the Hitardal people. In: Hreinsson, V. and Cook, R. and Gunnell, T. and Kunz, K. and Scudder, B. (eds.) The Complete Sagas of Icelanders, including 49 Tales. Reykjavik, Iceland: Leifur Eiriksson Publishing Ltd.. pp. 255-304. ISBN 9789979929307.