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Durham University

Department of English Studies


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Publication details for Dr David Ashurst

Ashurst, David (2009). 'Eddic Myth, Victorian Values: The Popularisation of Old Norse Mythology in Britain, 1837 to 1876.'. In Sang an Ægir: Nordische Mythen um 1900. Schultz, Katja & Heesch, Florian Heidelberg: Winter. 45-71.
  • Publication type: Chapter in book
  • ISSN/ISBN: 9783825355968
  • Keywords: Edda Victorian Reception

Author(s) from Durham


The essay examines the key works that helped to popularise eddic myths in Britain during the period from Queen Victoria’s accession in 1837 to her adoption of the title Empress of India in 1876, and it relates them to the main strands of Victorian thought. It maps points of contact, divergence and development between Grenville Pigott’s Manual of Scandinavian Mythology, Blackwell’s revision of Percy’s Northern Antiquities, Arnold’s ‘Balder Dead’, Thorpe’s Northern Mythology, and several writings by William Morris; pride of place, however, is given to the Keary sisters’ Heroes of Asgard, which offered its Victorian readers the most palatable and socially serviceable though least accurate view of Old Norse mythology by turning the Æsir into imperfect but benevolent super-heroes who use their powers to fight for ordinary people against their strange enemies.

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