Professor Erica McAlpine awarded 2022 Rose Mary Crawshay Prize

8 Sep 2022

Erica McAlpine
Professor Erica McAlpine

Congratulations to Professor Erica McAlpine who has been awarded the 2022 Rose Mary Crawshay Prize by the British Academy for her book The Poet’s Mistake (Princeton University Press, 2020). This prize is awarded for historical or critical work on any subject connected with literature, written by a woman.

Professor McAlpine said: “I am absolutely delighted that my study of mistakes in poems has been given the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize—an honour that has previously gone to many women whose books I have read and admired. I began writing The Poet’s Mistake with the conviction that scholarship about poetry should be as honest as possible about the triumphs and mishaps encompassing a poet’s work. As a writer very capable of making errors of my own, I found it fascinating to think about how readers, across several centuries, have handled and mishandled mistakes committed by the poets they most admire. I hoped my book could serve not only as a catalogue of mistakes in the history of poetry but also as a call for critics to descry error wherever it appears—not in order to take poets down a notch but rather to celebrate the difficulty of their craft. My aim was to write a book that could be as comic in its subject matter as it was serious about its claims for our discipline. I am so grateful that it struck a chord with the jury of the British Academy and that it has been recognised in this way.”

The Poet's Mistake Book Cover
The Poet's Mistake Book Cover

Erica McAlpine is Associate Professor of English at the University of Oxford and the A. C. Cooper Tutorial Fellow in English at St Edmund Hall. Educated first at Harvard and then at Cambridge and Yale, she held short-term teaching positions at Temple, Villanova, and Exeter Universities before coming to Oxford initially for a career development fellowship at Keble and then her current faculty and college post. Her research and teaching interests span American and British poetry from Romanticism onwards, and she has published critical essays on a range of 19th-, 20th-, and 21st- century poets including John Clare, Elizabeth Bishop, and James Merrill. Her poetry has appeared in journals including The AtlanticThe Times Literary SupplementThe SpectatorThe New CriterionThe American ScholarRaritanSlate, and The Yale Review, and her collection of poems, The Country Gambler, was published in 2016. The Poet’s Mistake is her first academic monograph.

This article is based on The British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize page.

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