Leaders, Lecturers & Tour Managers

Professor Heather O’Donoghue

Professor Heather O’Donoghue is a Fellow at Linacre College at the University of Oxford. Professor of Old Norse, she is an expert in Old Norse-Icelandic literature, not only on the poetry and prose of medieval Iceland and Norway, but also on its relationships with the contemporary literatures of England and Ireland. She has also explored the influence these Old Norse-Icelandic myths and sagas have had on post-medieval English literature, such as the work of William Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge, Walter Scott, William Morris, W.H. Auden, and Seamus Heaney; and most recently on the American novelist Neil Gaiman, and German writer Gunter Grass. Current research centres on how saga narratives are structured, and she is writing a book about the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf. Heather has also published on contemporary crime fiction, and has just finished a term as a judge on the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for contemporary thrillers, after many years as a judge on the Gold Dagger panel.

Outside academia, Heather’s main interests are birdwatching, natural history more generally, and watching football. Based in Oxford, she spends part of the year in rural Ireland with her husband and family. Heather led ASA’s tour ‘Iceland, Land of Ice and Fire: Myths, Legends and Landscapes’ in 2018 & 2019.


‘A Place in Time: Old Norse Myth and Contemporary Poetry in English and Scots’, in Studies in the Transmission and Reception of Old Nose Literature, Brepols, 2016

‘The Reception of Eddic Poetry’, in A Handbook to Eddic Poetry: Myths and Legends of Early Scandinavia, Cambridge University Press, 2016

English Poetry and Old Norse Myth, Oxford University Press, 2014

‘Old Wine in New Bottles: Tradition and Innovation in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy’, in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012

‘Historical and Archaeological Poetry of Recovery and Memory’, in The Oxford handbook of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry, Oxford University Press, 2012

‘ “The Wife’s Lament” and “Helreiö Brynhildar”: Different Responses to Similar Lives?’, in Stanzas of Friendship: Studies in Honour of Tatjana N. Jackson, Moscow, 2011

‘Owed to Both sides: W.H. Auden’s Double Debt to the Literature of the North’, in Anglo-Saxon Culture and the Modern Imagination, D.S. Brewer, 2010

‘Heaney, Beowulf and the Medieval Literature of the North’, in The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney, Cambridge University Press, 2009

‘Miögarösormr’, in Archipelago, vol.3, 2009

Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Short Introduction, John Wiley & Sons, 2008

From Asgard to Valhalla. The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths, I.B. Tauris, 2008

Skaldic verse and the poetics of saga narrative, Oxford University Press, 2005

Past Tours

Heather first joined ASA in 2018 and has since led two ASA tours to Iceland

  • Iceland, Land of Ice and Fire: Myths, Legends and Landscapes (2018 & 2019)