Sir Herbert Grierson Centre for Textual Criticism and Comparative Literary History

Sir Herbert Grierson Centre for Textual Criticism and Comparative Literary History

Sir Herbert Grierson Centre for Textual Criticism and Comparative Literary History

School of Language and Literature
University of Aberdeen, King’s College, Aberdeen
AB24 3UB, Scotland, UK


Remit of the Centre

Building on Sir Herbert Grierson’s achievements as the first Professor of English at the University of Aberdeen, as poetry scholar, comparative literary historian, pioneering editor, translator and biographer, this new Centre seeks to extend his legacy, bringing together researchers and postgraduate students across the School of Language and Literature with an interest in one or more of the following areas:   

  • Literary study: poetics, literary history and comparative approaches to literature  
  • The relations between literature and intellectual history; the historical circulation of knowledge and cultural tradition; canonicity
  • Textual editing and criticism; manuscript studies; critical archive studies; the history of the book; material texts
  • Translation; the migrations of cultural production
  • The intersection of the textual and the visual
  • Biography, lifewriting and correspondence     

The Centre will complement and collaborate with other research centres in the School of Language and Literature such as The Centre for Early Modern Studies, the Sir Walter Scott Research Centre, the Research Institute for Irish and Scottish Studies, and the Washington Wilson Centre for Visual Culture.

Sir Herbert Grierson

Sir Herbert Grierson was Chalmers Professor of English Literature at the University of Aberdeen from 1894 to 1915.

He was a scholar of exceptional breadth and considerable influence. A classicist by training, he published on poetry in English spanning the sixteenth to the twentieth century.

His 1912 edition of the poems of John Donne played a key role in the revival of interest in the Metaphysical poets, and was also a landmark in modern textual editing. He was deeply concerned with the ways in which literature should be historicised, challenging traditional practices and advocating a much broader contextualisation, including, for example, bodies of scientific knowledge.

His work was striking for its comparative reach, making significant contributions to the study of early-modern Dutch poetry, as well as German, Italian and French literatures.

He was a translator of Latin, Dutch and French poetry into English; he wrote also on the relation of word and image. He was influential, too, in the field of Scottish literary studies, producing an important biography of Sir Walter Scott, and mentoring a young Hugh MacDiarmid.

He was a thoughtful commentator on developments in Humanities higher education.


The Sir Herbert Grierson Centre for Textual Criticism and Comparative Literary History is located on the Old Aberdeen campus, mainly in the Old Brewery and the Taylor Building.