Helen Waddell (Helen Jane Waddell) Biography
(1889–1965), (Helen Jane Waddell), Lyrics from the Chinese, The Spoiled Buddha, The Wandering Scholars
British medievalist, born in Tokyo, where her father was a missionary; from the age of 10 onward she grew up in County Down, Ulster, and was educated at Queen's University, Belfast. Having studied under George Saintsbury, with whom she remained friendly, she produced Lyrics from the Chinese (1913), the first of her numerous works of translation; her play The Spoiled Buddha (1919) was produced in Belfast in 1915. Following a period of study at Somerville College, Oxford, she secured a travelling scholarship with Saintsbury's assistance and was in Paris from 1923 to 1925, pursuing her consuming interest in medieval culture at the Bibliothèque Nationale. Her researches resulted in The Wandering Scholars (1927), which remains of value as an introduction to medieval Latin literature. Medieval Latin Lyrics (1929) contains her creative but sometimes erratic translations. The two publications gained her a wide reputation for accessible and imaginatively stimulating scholarship which she consolidated with the novel Peter Abelard, her best-known work, in 1933. From 1945 her health began to deteriorate; Poetry in the Dark Ages (1948), the texts of her W. P. Ker lectures at Glasgow, was her last publication of any note. Her other works include a translation of Manon Lescaut (1931) by Antoine-François Prévost. There is a biography (1986) by F. Corrigan, who edited Waddell's More Latin Lyrics from Virgil to Milton (1976).