Anne Hudson currently Emeritus Professor of Medieval English, University of Oxford; also Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall (from 2003) and of St.Hugh’s College (from 2015).
I came up to St.Hugh’s College in 1957 from a state grammar school, to read English; I specialized in medieval language and literature and was taught mainly by Pamela Gradon in college, and by various tutors in other colleges. Having obtained a first in 1960, I continued to graduate work at St.Hugh’s, supervised by Professor Norman Davis; my thesis was awarded the DPhil in 1964. From October 1961 I became lecturer in medieval English at Lady Margaret Hall, then tutorial fellow there and university lecturer from October 1963. Twenty years later I was fortunate in being awarded a British Academy readership for three years 1983-6; this enabled me to work in a more concentrated fashion on the subject that from around 1967 had dominated my interest: the ideas, lives and writings of John Wyclif and his followers. I have continued to work on this area to the present. In 1988 I was awarded a fellowship of the British Academy, in 1989 a personal chair in the Oxford English faculty. I retired in 2003, but have continued academic research; projects supported by the Leverhulme Foundation 2010-14 and the AHRC (2016-18) have focussed on the Wycliffite Bible, the first complete translation of the entire Latin Bible into English, completed in the period c.1384-1400, banned by the ecclesiastical authorities from 1407 but surviving in whole or in part in c.250 manuscripts.
St.Hugh’s proved for a student a most agreeable home. My main interest beyond my English syllabus was, and remains, classical music. The college was short of an organist during my second year so I found myself unexpectedly needing to improve my playing, and learning to direct the choir. I also joined a number of choirs in other colleges, notably the Eglesfield choir at Queen’s.
Equally unexpected was a series of visits to see manuscripts in Prague and Vienna: the ideas of Wyclif had interested many, and notably Jan Hus, in Bohemia in the period from c.1380 onwards, and many manuscripts of his works survive there – often, indeed, only in that region and not in England. My first visits were while Czechoslovakia was still sorting out the aftermath of the invasion by the USSR in 1968. It has been extremely interesting to watch the changes since 1989 – and I still go once a year for work and to visit friends. I was very greatly honoured in 2010 by the award of an honorary doctorate of history from the Charles University in Prague, and by the Palacky medal award the same year by the Czech Academy.
Beyond my teaching and research work, I have been much involved in the Early English Text Society, serving in a number of capacities and for several years the Director; this has brought me in touch with a large number of scholars from many countries.