Papers relating to Eiríkur Benedikz (1907-1988), scholar, diplomat and bibliophile, and his family, 1816-1999

Scope and Content

The collection comprises:

A manuscript translation of the saga poem, Helga, from its original Icelandic into Latin by Gulielmo Herbert LLD. 1816 (MS 718/1)

Black and white copies of photographs of Eiríkur and Margaret Benedikz, probably taken in the 1940s. 1999 (MS 718/2).

An accrual comprising a box of letters from G Thorkelin, various printed items including newspaper cuttings, copies of newpaper cuttings and published articles, in English and in Icelandic, is in need of appraising and cataloguing.

Administrative / Biographical History

Eiríkur Benedikz was born in Iceland in 1907 and attended school in Reykjavík. He studied English in Copenhagen, Cambridge and Leeds, and married Margaret Simcock. He returned to Iceland in 1931 where he worked for several years teaching English, writing textbooks, translating and interpreting.

He became British pro-council in Reykjavík in 1938 and was called to the newly-established Icelandic Legation in London in 1942. He remained there for the rest of his career, retiring as Minister Counsellor in 1978. He had been the guide and mentor of a series of ministers and ambassadors from Iceland. He played a beneficent role during the Cold War. He was appointed Knight of the Falcon in 1954, and Grand Knight in 1963. He became associated with University College London where he contributed to Modern Icelandic teaching from 1951. He was also a stalwart of the Viking Society for Northern Research and served as president from 1959-1962.

Eiríkur was a scholar and bibliophile who built an extensive collection of Icelandic literature. Through a friendship formed at University College London with Christine Fell, a lecturer at The University of Nottingham from 1971 and Chair of Early English Studies from 1981, his library was given to The University of Nottingham by the Benedikz family in 1998, where it can now be consulted. The Eiríkur Benedikz collection doubled the university's existing holdings of Old Icelandic manuscript facsimiles. It includes early printed books and rare editions of sagas and rímur. It covers the study of Icelandic culture in both foreign travel literature and native imprints. Works in translation include, not only Latin and English versions of Icelandic originals but also titles of modern Icelandic by major European authors.


No archival arrangement has been necessary.

Access Information

Accessible to all registered readers, but material in the subsequent accrual is not generally accessible until further cataloguing has taken place.

Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright on the description belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements


Conditions Governing Use

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email

Custodial History

The photographs of members of the Benedikz family were acquired by The University of Nottingham's Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections in May 1999. The translation of Helga was transferred to the Department in July 2001 from the collection of printed books given to the university by the Benedikz family in 1998.

Related Material

The University of Nottingham: Books in the Benedikz Collection of Icelandic Literature are recorded on the university's library catalogue, UNLOC

Geographical Names