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John Richard Clark Hall

John Richard Clark Hall (1855 – 6 August 1931) was a scholar of Old English, notable for his work on Beowulf. In 1894 he published a dictionary of Anglo-Saxon words,[1] which he followed up with complete verse and metrical translations of the poem.[2] His 1901 translation was the tenth to be published in English; a metrical translation followed in 1914,[3] and in 1940 was edited by Charles Leslie Wrenn.[2]


John Richard Clark Hall was born in 1855,[4] and achieved both a Master of Arts and a Ph.D..[5]

Hall published two translations of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf,[2] in addition to multiple editions of A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary.[4] His first edition of the dictionary was published in 1894, and attempted to ease access by ordering entries by the words as they were actually spelled in common editions of Old English texts.[4] As Hall himself acknowledged in the second edition that followed in 1916, however, this "was admittedly an unscientific [approach], and opened the door to a good many errors and inconsistencies".[6] With the second edition he adopted the conventional method of using "normalised" entry words.[4] A third edition followed in 1931, a reprinting with a supplement by Herbert Dean Meritt came in 1960, and this was itself reprinted in 1984.[4]

In 1910, after publication of the first edition of his dictionary, Hall published a literal translation of Beowulf.[2] It was the tenth English translation of the work; the eighth, in 1892, had also been translated by a John Hall, John Lesslie Hall.[2] He followed this up four years later with another translation, this time in metre.[2] In 1940, after Hall's death, his prose translation was revised by Charles Leslie Wrenn, and again in 1950;[2] this latter edition included a preface by J. R. R. Tolkien.[7]

Hall died in 1931.[5] He had been living in Eastbourne in East Sussex.[5] His obituary labeled him a "protestant reformer", noted that he had formerly been on the Local Government Board in Whitehall, and that he had a net personalty of £13,309 and a gross of £15,762.[5]


  • Hall, John Richard Clark (April 1910). "A Note on Beowulf 1142–1145". Modern Language Notes. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 25 (4): 113–114. JSTOR 2915967. closed access
  • Stjerna, Knut (1912). Essays on Questions Connected with the Old English Poem of Beowulf. Extra Series. III. Translated by Hall, John Richard Clark. London: Viking Club: Society for Northern Research. Retrieved 24 January 2017. open access
  • Hall, John Richard Clark (1914). Beowulf: A Metrical Translation into Modern English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 24 January 2017. open access
  • Hall, John Richard Clark (1916). A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan. Retrieved 24 January 2017. open access
  • Hall, John Richard Clark (25 April 1925). "An Old Broadside". Notes and Queries. CXLVIII: 297. ISSN 0029-3970.
  • Hall, John Richard Clark (17 November 1928). "The Comprehensiveness of the Church". The Spectator. 141 (5, 238): 736.
  • Hall, John Richard Clark (1950). Wrenn, Charles Leslie (ed.). Beowulf and the Finnesburg fragment. London: George Allen & Unwin.



  • Hausmann, Franz Josef; Reichmann, Oskar; Weigand, Herbert Ernst; Zgusta, Ladislav, eds. (1990). "John R. Clark Hall and Herbert Dean Meritt". Dictionaries: An International Encyclopedia of Lexicography. 2. New York: Walter de Gruyter. p. 1443. ISBN 3-11-012420-3. Retrieved 8 June 2017. open access
  • Osborn, Marijane (2014). "Annotated List of Beowulf Translations: The List". The Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies. Archived from the original on 21 November 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  • "Protestant Reformer: John Richard Clark Hall". Wills and Estates. The Scotsman (27, 596). Edinburgh. 7 November 1931. p. 14.