was born in Stockholm in 1949. She took her M.A. degree at Lund University in 1969 and her PhD in English at the same university in 1979. Marianne Thormählen gained a readership in English Literature at Lund University in 1979 and became a Senior Lecturer there in 1985. She spent two years in Hamburg as an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow in the late 1980s. In 1996 she was appointed to the Chair of English Literature at Lund, from which she retired in 2016.

Marianne Thormählen was Dean of Research in the Humanities and Theology at Lund University from 2009 to 2014. She was a Visiting Fellow of All Souls in the spring of 2002 and President of the International Association of University Professors of English from 2004 to 2007, and she is an Honorary Member of the T. S. Eliot Society. She is a member of a number of learned societies, including the (British) English Association and the (Swedish) Royal Academy of Letters.

Her publications include books and articles on T. S. Eliot, the Earl of Rochester, and the Brontë sisters. In 2003 she edited a volume on modernism (Rethinking Modernism) for Palgrave. In 2012, Cambridge University Press published another book edited by her, The Brontës in Context.

Marianne Thormä1hlen is Publishing Director of the newly started Lund University Press (http://lunduniversitypress.lu.se), which publishes top-quality monographs and edited volumes by Lund scholars. She is also a state-authorised translator and interpreter in English and German. From 1977 to 1987 she served on the Local Council, the Social Welfare Committee, and the Immigrants’ Council in the municipality of Eslöv in southern Sweden, where she has lived since 1972.


Edited by: Marianne Thormählen, Lunds Universitet, Sweden

Very few families produce one outstanding writer. The Brontė family produced three. The works of Charlotte, Emily and Anne remain immensely popular, and are increasingly being studied in relation to the surroundings and wider context that formed them. The forty-two new essays in this book tell 'the Brontė story' as it has never been told before, drawing on the latest research and the best available scholarship while offering new perspectives on the writings of the sisters. A section on Brontė criticism traces their reception to the present day. The works of the sisters are explored in the context of social, political and cultural developments in early-nineteenth-century Britain, with attention given to religion, education, art, print culture, agriculture, law and medicine. Crammed with information, The Brontės in Context shows how the Brontės' fiction interacts with the spirit of the time, suggesting reasons for its enduring fascination.

The Brontės in Context, hardback
The Brontės in Context, paperback

Reviews so far

'General readers will enjoy it as much as Brontė students and fans, and its careful avoidance of anything too topical or controversial will keep it fresh for years. Thormählen's high-quality contributors, assembly of reliable facts and data, pertinent commentary, maps, illustrations, splendid chronology and further reading lists make it everything that one could wish for.' Times Literary Supplement

'The high quality of scholarship in combination with the clarity of the jargon-free writing make it a book accessible to all. Those new to the Brontės will receive a solid introduction; those familiar with the Brontė story will be surprised by new information and fresh insights. Much of the knowledge one gains over the years from reading many disparate books is gathered together into this one volume, helping the reader to develop a coherent and comprehensive understanding of this literary family's life and historical contexts. I would recommend The Brontės in Context not only to those interested in the Brontės, but to anyone studying literature in the Victorian age. /---/ [It] will serve current and future generations of Brontė readers, students and scholars admirably; it will also prompt new avenues of study as readers delve deeper into the variety of issues that this volume covers. The Brontės in Context exemplifies the best writing, communicating not only information but also pleasure to the reader who enters its pages, ensuring that it will have a lasting contribution to make to the world of Brontė studies.' Brontė Studies

'Readers of The Brontės in Context will gain fresh insights into the writings of the sisters, and also how those writings relate to the concerns of their time and contribute to our understanding of the nineteenth-century mindset. Already my copy is getting thumb-marked, and I'm sure the book will be a valued handbook for years to come.' Emerald Insight


English Now

Selected Papers from the 20th IAUPE Conference in Lund 2007

In August 2007, about 200 senior researchers in the field of English, language and literature, spent a week in Lund taking the temperature of their subject. Nearly 150 papers were presented in 19 conference sections. This volume contains a lively selection, chosen by the 37 Section Chairs as saying something about where research in the discipline is heading. Also included are the two plenary lectures about the state and future of English in the academy by Elizabeth Traugott (language) and Helen Vendler (literature).
      A common feature unites this diverse collection: English literature and language as a vital concern for real people, all over the world and in the past as well as the present. Here 'English' reaffirms its human credentials, moving forward with fresh confidence and enthusiasm. (Lund Studies in English 112, ISBN 978-91-976935-0-9)


Order from skriftserier@ht.lu.se

English Now


All the seven Brontė novels are concerned with education in both senses, that of upbringing as well as that of learning. The Brontė sisters all worked as teachers before they became published novelists. In spite of the prevalence of education in the sisters' lives and fiction, however, this is the first full-length book on the subject. Marianne Thormählen explores how their representations of fictional teachers and schools engage with the intense debates on education in the nineteenth century, drawing on a wealth of documentary evidence about educational theory and practice in the lifetime of the Brontės. This study offers much new information both about the Brontės and their books and about the most urgent issue in early-nineteenth-century British social politics: the education of the people, of all classes and both sexes.

The Brontės and Education, hardback
The Brontės and Education, paperback

Reviews so far

'Compelling and unique ... This thoroughly researched volume looks at ... contemporaneous education controversies. Summing up: highly recommended.' Choice

'... writes with considerable panache and vigor. In this reviewer's experience the book makes a very enjoyable read not only for a scholar public but for a general audience as well'. www.bronteblog.blogspot.com.
Read the whole review at http://bronteblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/bronts-and-education-review.html

'... crisp, objective and lively ... Thormählen triumphs in the light she shines on the educational world in which the family lived ... This book is an exciting helpmate in the struggle to secure a firm understanding of factors that fed the Brontė sisters' imaginative development ...' Brontė Studies

''Thormählen's prose is lucid yet sophisticated, each paragraph redolent with pithy thoughts and new twists on familiar truths ... Thormählen guides us sure-footedly ... [the notes constitute] a veritable textbook on early nineteenth-century education ... [The Brontės and Education is] a deeply satisfying work that enriches our appreciation of the Brontės and their world." Modern Philology



appeared from Cambridge University Press in 1999. The first full-length study of religion in the Brontė fiction, it shows how the Brontės' familiarity with the contemporary debates on doctrinal, ethical, and ecclesiastical issues informs their novels. Divided into four parts, the book examines denominations, doctrines, ethics, and clerics in the work of the Brontės. The analyses of the novels clarify the constant interplay of human and divine love in their development. While demonstrating that the Brontės' fiction is usually in agreement with the basic tenets of Evangelical Anglicanism, The Brontės and Religion emphasises the characteristic spiritual freedom and audacity of the Brontės. Lucid and vigorously written, it opens up new perspectives for Brontė specialists and enthusiasts alike on a fundamental aspect of the novels greatly neglected in recent decades.
       Excerpts from reviews: "[a] well-informed [study] based on scrupulous readings and meticulous judgments" (Times Literary Supplement); "[the author's] willingness to read with the grain of the novels' religion makes for absorbing reading" (Victorian Studies); "a refreshingly textual study of the Brontės' fiction" (The Review of English Studies); "a work of extraordinarily comprehensive scholarship" (The Journal of Ecclesiastical History); "the kind of writing which will endure and remain valuable for many years to come" (Theology); "I very much enjoyed this book" (Reviews in Religion & Theology).

The Brontės and Religion, hardback
The Brontės and Religion, paperback



Around 1979, scholars adopted the term "modernism" as a designation for the radical changes that took place in Anglo-American literature in the early twentieth century. The concept lent prestige to works and authors associated with it, encouraging the development of a vast body of criticism while blocking academic recognition of literature to which it does not readily apply. In Rethinking Modernism, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2003 and edited by Marianne Thormählen, fifteen scholars of modernism subject the concept to sceptical scrutiny as they revisit their special areas of expertise. The general question they all face is not so much "what was modernism?" -- a familiar question -- as "was/is modernism?" Their results show that although "modernism" remains a useful concept under certain conditions, for them -- as for any reader of this book -- modernism will never be quite the same again.
      The book ends with a 20-page bibliography of works on modernism in two parts, compiled by the editor; the Literary Research/Recherche littéraire reviewer called it "comprehensive and invaluable". Other reviewers have praised the book as forming a "both focused and vigorous" volume (The Yearbook of English Studies) and as offering noteworthy "considerations of category breakers and the construction of categories by the reception of literary works" (The Review of English Studies).

Rethinking Modernism

T. S. Eliot is felt by many to have been the poet of the twentieth century, and his famous The Waste Land is the best known poem of that century in English. Many people have found it hard to come to grips with, though, and reading Eliot remains a challenge.

"A hoax", "tripe", a piece of "rhythmical grumbling" (the latter is the poet“s own description) -- is T. S. Eliot“s The Waste Land really worth all the attention it has come in for since its publication in 1922? Thousands of literary critics and scholars have been writing about it -- what inspired such enormous efforts? And will the new millennium gratefully drop it into semi-oblivion as a period piece belonging to the world of yesterday? You“ll know more about The Waste Land, and about Eliot, and about the way you yourself respond to modern poetry after reading Marianne Thormählen“s The Waste Land: A Fragmentary Wholeness. First published in 1978, it has become a standard work on the poem, partly thanks to its generous annotation and bibliography which have helped many students chart their own way through this challenging terrain. The book tells you about the poem“s gestation, Ezra Pound“s midwifery, metre and rhythm in the Waste Land, and the symbolic imagery that is such a powerful dimension in all of Eliot“s work. It also suggests ways of freeing the reader from the obligation to make it all hang together by working out a consistent "plan" or "structure". Let The Waste Land: A Fragmentary Wholeness help you form your own relationship with the greatest modernist poem, unhampered by preconceived notions and unworried by its alleged "difficulty". (Lund Studies in English No. 52, 1978; 248 pp.)

The Waste Land - A Fragmentary Wholeness

T. S. Eliot“s poems and plays are full of animals, from the alley cats of the early poems by way of the eagle, leopards, and unicorns in Ash-Wednesday to the birds in Four Quartets. Marianne Thormählen“s Eliot“s Animals takes you on a guided tour of Eliot“s bestiary, showing how the poet brought a rich variety of ideas about animals into his texts and invested those texts with layers of meaning derived from, for instance, Dante, Baudelaire, and the Bible. Eliot“s Animals is a book to dip into for the Eliot reader curious to see how a particular scene can be perceived with reference to the function of a particular animal image. There is no need to read it straight through -- but those who do will learn something new about Eliot“s range and subtlety in handling symbolic features. (Lund Studies in English No. 70, 1984; 197 pp.)

Eliot's Animals

In 1993, a group of Eliot scholars came together in Lund to address the question of T. S. Eliot“s standing a hundred years after his death and on the threshold of a new millennium. The 1990s were years of Eliot-bashing; much was made of his alleged misogyny, racism, and anti-semitism, and even at the beginning of decade it was obvious that the poet“s status had suffered. Bernard Bergonzi, Lois A. Cuddy, Barbara Everett, Rudolf Germer, Nancy D. Hargrove, M. Teresa Gibert-Maceda, Stephen Medcalf, A. David Moody, Kristian Smidt, and Marianne Thormählen analysed different aspects of Eliot“s work and found enough strength and power in it to be cautiously optimistic about his future. Emrys Jones read a paper on a Stratford production of Murder in the Cathedral which focused attention on Eliot“s writing for the stage, and Grover Smith, who could not attend the meeting, contributed a new approach to The Cocktail Party. All these essays were published in the volume called T. S. Eliot at the Turn of the Century, including A. David Moody on Eliot and the mind of Europe, Nancy D. Hargrove on Eliot“s annus mirabilis in Paris (1910-1911), Bernard Bergonzi on Eliot and the city, Lois A. Cuddy on evolution in Eliot“s work, Rudolf Germer on Eliot and religion, M. Teresa Gibert-Maceda on women and Eliot, Marianne Thormählen on the problem of the individual personality in Eliot“s poetry and plays, Stephen Medcalf on the Sweeney poems, Kristian Smidt on Eliot“s less than fair treatment of the Victorians in his criticism, and Barbara Everett on the unpleasantness of meeting Mr Eliot. The volume also contains an edited version of a panel discussion about Eliot“s standing and Eliot studies. (Lund Studies in English 86, 1984; 244 pp, ed. Marianne Thormählen.)

Editor, T.S. Eliot at the Turn of the Century


The 1999 Oxford University Press edition by Harold Love of the works of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, praises Marianne Thormählen's Rochester: The Poems in Context (Cambridge University Press, 1993; a paperback edition appeared in 2006) as the most up-to-date book on Rochester's poetry, a "fresh, personal, and profoundly learned" study (pp. xlvi-xlvii). Other scholars have called it "splendid" (The Yearbook of English Studies), "intelligent and careful" (The Review of English Studies), "judicious" (Times Literary Supplement), and "smart and useful ... a treasure trove of information [for which] readers of Rochester will be indebted to Ms Thormählen for years to come" (The Scriblerian).
      Marianne Thormählen regards Rochester as a serious poet who devoted much time and care to his verse and aimed for the highest standards in his writing. This view runs counter to the traditional idea of Rochester as the "wicked earl" who wrote with ease; but she bolsters it with convincing evidence of painstaking literary desk-work, deliberate exploitation and subversion of poetical conventions, and subtly crafted references to people and events in Charles II's and Louis XIV's Europe. Rochester's much-talked-about obscenities are shown to belong within a sombre framework of dissatisfaction with sensual pursuits and distrust of male sexual ability. The book ends with a consideration of Rochester's famous deathbed conversion. A select bibliography directs the reader to every notable work on Rochester up to 1990.

Rochester: The Poems in Context, hardback
Rochester: The Poems in Context, paperback