The ‘Hans Christian Anderson of America’ in St Andrews

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Jane Yolen

The “Hans Christian Andersen of America”, Jane Yolen, will make a special appearance at the University of St Andrews next month (1 November).

The author will deliver the 22nd Andrew Lang Lecture as part of a conference being held to celebrate the works of the poet, historian, folklorist and man of letters who had close associations with the University.

The first woman to give the lecture, Jane Yolen will follow in the footsteps of speakers such as John Buchan, Gilbert Murray and, most notably, JRR Tolkien. The Lord of The Rings author’s 1939 lecture, “On Fairy-Stories”, is now regarded as a classic discussion of fairy tales and folklore and has been reprinted many times.

Yolen, author of more than three hundred books, will deliver a lecture entitled “Folklore v Fakelore, an Imagined Conversation with Andrew Lang”. The lecture – which is free and open to the public – will take place in Lower College Hall, St Salvator’s Quadrangle, at 5.30pm and will be introduced by the Principal, Professor Louise Richardson.

Andrew Lang - courtesy of SCRAN

Andrew Lang – courtesy of SCRAN

On the day of the lecture, from 10am to 5pm, the University will host an academic conference entitled “Andrew Lang (1844-1912): A Centenary Celebration”, at which scholars from St Andrews and institutions around the world will discuss the life and work of Andrew Lang, to mark the centenary of his death in 1912.

Topics to be discussed at the conference will include Lang and Matriarchy by Dr Julia Reid, lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Leeds; and author and dramatist John Strehlow will discuss Lang’s role in changing attitudes to the Australian Aboriginal people.

Dr Christopher MacLachlan, Senior Lecturer in the School of English, who has organised the conference, said: “It is exciting to have such a well-known and successful international writer come to St Andrews to talk about Andrew Lang, and to have the opportunity to gather scholars devoted to his work to mark his centenary.”

Lang was a student at the University of St Andrews from 1861-1863, and received an honorary doctorate in Classics from the University in 1885. He also delivered the first Gifford Lectures in St Andrews in 1888-1889.

Among his poems is an “Ode to Golf” which refers to features of the Old Course, and includes his romantic vision of the town: “St Andrews by the Northern Sea, a haunted town it is to me!”

Although he died at Banchory, Lang is buried in the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral.

The Andrew Lang Lectures in his honour began in 1927, and thanks to a bequest from his biographer Roger Lancelyn Green, the University has a large collection of Lang’s manuscripts, typescripts and letters, as well as more than 400 books by, and about, Lang. There is also a street in St Andrews, Andrew Lang Crescent, named after him.

The conference will explore his contribution to the genre and his legacy, both as an original writer, and as a leading light in the Victorian study of folklore, including fairy-stories, the collection of which Lang is now most commonly associated with.

Places at the conference may be booked at the University’s Online Payment Services where further details of the programme are available. Booking is not required for the Yolen lecture.

Jane Yolen is an award-winning author of children’s books, fantasy, and science fiction, including Owl Moon (1987), The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988), and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? (2000). Yolen, who has been hailed as the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the 20th century, is also a poet, a teacher of writing and literature, and a reviewer of children’s literature.

Her books and stories have won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award, among many others.

Note to Editors

For images please contact the press office.

Dr MacLachlan is available on 01334 462649.

The Andrew Lang Lecture is open to all without charge.

Bookings for the conference can be made through the University of St Andrews Online Shop. It is not necessary to book for the conference to attend the lecture.

The Gifford Lectures were established by the will of Adam Lord Gifford in 1887 to promote “the knowledge of God” and are given at the Universities of St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Fiona MacLeod on 01334 462108 / 0771 414 0559.
Ref: (lang 03/10/12)
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