‘Great Writers Inspire’ podcast on Beowulf and dragons!


I was delighted to be invited to contribute a podcast to the Fantasy Literature strand of the Oxford English Faculty’s Great Writers Inspire series.

You can find my podcast, Desiring Dragons: Creative and Critical Responses to the Dragon in ‘Beowulf’ at this link: here.

For my podcast, I decided to talk about how the dragon in the Old English epic Beowulf has inspired creative writers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, beginning with JRR Tolkien’s response to the dragon in his letters, literary criticism, and translation of the poem, and how he created the dragon of his dreams in the depiction of Smaug in The Hobbit. I then discussed the brilliant 2020 feminist translation of the poem by Maria Dahvana Headley (you can also read my review of the translation in History Today). In the podcast I discuss Headley’s decision to make her dragon female in the translation and the impact that this has on the dragon fight scenes. And finally I read two of my own original poems about the dragon (‘His Dragon’ and ‘The Dragon and the Thief’) from my current poetry project inspired by Beowulf.

If you’d like to learn more about Beowulf, please do have a listen to the episode of the podcast Backlisted in which myself, Andrew Male, John Mitchinson, and Andy Miller introduce the poem and explore modern adaptations and translations. The episode concludes with two more of my own original poems. The link to the episode is here.

It’s a pleasure to be a part of the Fantasy Literature research cluster at Oxford and writing this podcast would have been such a dream for my teenage self! I hope it’s as fun to listen to as it was to write!

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