Gabriel Turville-Petre

Edward Oswald Gabriel Turville-Petre F.B.A. (known as Gabriel) (25 March 1908 17 February 1978) was Professor of Ancient Icelandic Literature and Antiquities at the University of Oxford. He wrote numerous books and articles in English and Icelandic on literature and religious history.


Gabriel Turville-Petre was born into a Roman Catholic, landed gentry family in England, the fourth of the five children of Oswald and Margaret Petre (née Cave). His older brother was the archaeologist Francis Turville-Petre. Gabriel was born at the ancestral home of Bosworth Hall, Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire in 1908. He was educated at Ampleforth College and at Christ Church, Oxford University. He studied for a B.Litt in English from 1931 1934 and was supervised by J. R. R. Tolkien.

He studied Icelandic and early Scandinavian literature and traditions from an early age, first in England and later in Iceland (where he spent several years) and in other northern countries.

Turville-Petre married Joan Elizabeth Blomfield on 7 January 1943. They had three sons: Thorlac Francis Samuel (born 6 January 1944), Merlin Oswald (born 2 July 1946) and Brendan Arthur Auberon (born 16 September 1948).

Turville-Petre was appointed the first Vigfusson Reader in Ancient Icelandic Literature and Antiquities at Oxford University in 1941, and was appointed Professor in 1953. He held the position until his retirement in 1975.

He was created a Knight of the Falcon (Iceland), a member of the Royal Gustavus Adolphus Academy (Sweden), and an honorary Life Member of the Viking Society for Northern Research. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1973.

Turville-Petre bequeathed his personal library to the English Faculty Library of Oxford University (Icelandic Collections).

Selected works


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