The Vikings and the Victorians

April 2002
12 black and white illustrations
456 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780859916448
Format: Paperback
BIC JFC, 1DN, 2AB, 3JH, 4P

The Vikings and the Victorians

Inventing the Old North in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Andrew Wawn

The first book-length treatment of C19 fascination with Norse heroes.
This is the first book-length treatment of the Victorians' fascination with the old north. It explores the ways in which the terms 'Viking' and 'Viking Age', both unknown in 1800, were invented, explored and popularised during the nineteenth century. The material examined - published and unpublished - includes novels, poems, plays, lectures, reviews, secondary school textbooks, saga-stead travelogues, private correspondence, art and music, as well as dictionaries, grammars and scholarly editions of eddas and sagas. In the cast of characters Sir Walter Scott, William Morris, Edward Elgar and Rudyard Kipling appear alongside long-forgotten amateur enthusiasts from Lerwick to the Isle of Wight. We follow the pursuit of Viking-related archaeology, dialectology, folklore, philology, runology and mythology. We see the old north used to legitimise many concepts and causes - from buccaneering mercantilism and imperial expansion to jury trial and women's rights. In drawing this wide range of materials together, Andrew Wawn presents a comprehensive and colourful account of the construction and translation of the Viking Age in Queen Victoria's Britain.
ANDREW WAWN is Professor of Anglo-Icelandic Studies at the University of Leeds.


Fascinating and impressively scholarly ... a remarkable achievement. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT [Heather O'Donoghue] Delightful, erudite... With immense knowledge and a sense of humor, Wawn has brought a world of great importance brilliantly to life. CHOICE