Skip to main content

Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies: 1967-1978

We would like to explore the possibility of establishing an 'Institute for Medieval Studies' in this University

John Le Patourel and A. C. Cawley
12 November 1965

In 1967, a group of medievalists across the University of Leeds led by John Le Patourel (School of History) formed the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (GCMS).

The Centre was made up of a wide range of academics from many arts, humanities, and language disciplines with a shared love for teaching and studying the Middle Ages.

The letter written to propose the opening of the Graduate Centre.

The letter written to propose the opening of the Graduate Centre.

The University of Leeds was a prominent location for the study of the Middle Ages long before the development of the GCMS. Alice Margaret Cooke was the second ever member
of staff in the School of History and the first appointed medievalist in 1907.

J.R.R. Tolkien was Reader in English Language from 1920-1925, during which time he produced a translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Orfeo, and Pearl.

In the 1950s and 1960s W.A.G. Doyle Davidson, a founder member of the Medieval Group and the GCMS, taught adult education courses on medieval language and literature for the Leeds Workers Educational Association.

The GCMS’s core aims were to bring together medievalists from different departments and to develop an MA in Medieval Studies. The GCMS fostered strong links with other centres for Medieval Studies. John Smith Roskell, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Manchester, visited the nascent Centre at Leeds to offer advice in 1967, as Manchester had just developed a Medieval Studies degree.

The first promotional brochures for the MA in Medieval Studies at Leeds were sent to universities around the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA. It was ‘not proposed to send generally to India, Pakistan, and other Commonwealth Countries’, but members of the GCMS were encouraged to send brochures to academic colleagues whom they knew personally.