Chaucer scholar honored with prestigious Medieval Institute book prize

Contact: Deanne Puca
Dr. Marion Turner

Dr. Marion Turner is the recipient of Western's Otto Gründler Book Prize for her biography of medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A scholar of medieval secular literature and history has won Western Michigan University's Otto Gründler Book Prize for her biography of medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer.

Dr. Marion Turner, professor of English literature at the University of Oxford, where she holds a Tutorial Fellowship at Jesus College, is the winner of the 2021 prize for "Chaucer: A European Life."

The award, which comes with a $1,000 cash prize, was announced at the 56th International Congress on Medieval Studies held virtually this year. It is named for the late longtime director of WMU's Medieval Institute and has been awarded annually since 1997. It recognizes a monographic book on a medieval subject that the selection committee determines has made an outstanding contribution to the field. Authors from any country are eligible, and nominations are accepted from readers and publishers.

Turner's biography about Chaucer recreates the cosmopolitan world in which he rose from being a wine merchant's son to becoming one of the most celebrated of all English poets. Uncovering important new information about Chaucer's travels, private life and the early circulation of his writings, this innovative biography documents a series of vivid episodes and, at the same time, offers a comprehensive exploration of Chaucer's writings.

"For Turner, the world of Chaucer is not limited; it looms large and vivid. The very importance of international trade, together with multilingual creativity and manuscript exchange, required her to craft a new approach for writing Chaucer's biography; and she has done so. 'Chaucer: A European Life' is informative, innovative and a delightful read," says Dr. Jana K. Schulman, director of WMU's Medieval Institute.

Published by Princeton University Press in 2019, Turner's book was chosen as the 2019 Book of the Year by England's The Times, The Sunday Times and The Times Literary Supplement as well as a best summer read by the Evening Standard and the TLS. It was also picked as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year.

View past winners of the Gründler prize.

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