Michelle P. Brown, FSA, is Professor Emerita of Medieval Manuscript Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, Visiting Professor at University College London and the former Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library. She has been a historical consultant and on-screen expert on several radio and television programmes, has curated several major exhibitions and is a prolific author.
Michelle's latest book, Bede and the Theory of Everything (Reaktion, 2023), has been described by Dr Rowan Williams, as "a wonderfully readable and comprehensive introduction to perhaps the greatest European intellectual of his era, a writer whose scholarly achievement was foundational for much of the thought of the Western Middle Ages...."
In this book she investigates the life and world of the venerable Bede (c. 673–735), the foremost scholar of the early Middle Ages and the “father of English history.” She examines his notable achievements, such as calculating the first tide tables, playing a role in creating the amazing Ceolfrith Bibles and the Lindisfarne Gospels, popularising a unified Western dating system, setting into writing some of the earliest surviving Old English poetry, and composing his famous Ecclesiastical History of the English People.
In addition to providing an accessible overview of Bede’s life and work, Michelle will reveal some of her latest research: identifying Bede’s handwriting, analysing his research programme and how it encompassed a ’theory of everything’ in its time, and finding his previously lost translation of St John's Gospel – the earliest example of a part of the Bible in the English language.
There will also be performances on the evening of two compositions by David Clifton, Wycliffe Hall's artist in residence, who have set two of The Venerable Bede’s verses to music. Amongst Bede’s exceptional talents as one of the greatest scholars of Anglo-Saxon times, he was a gifted poet and musician, emphasising the use of the vernacular in his work. The new translations of his verses and the musical settings will reflect Bede’s priestly passion.
Copies of 'Bede and the Theory of Everything' will be available for purchase on the evening.