About the MHRA

The Modern Humanities Research Association encourages and promotes advanced study and research in the field of the modern humanities, especially modern European languages and literature, including English, and also cinema. It aims to break down the barriers between scholars working in different disciplines and to maintain the unity of humanistic scholarship. The Association fulfils this purpose through the publication of journals, bibliographies, monographs, critical editions, and the MHRA Style Guide, and by making grants in support of research. Membership is open to all who work in the Humanities, whether independent or in a University post, and the participation of younger colleagues entering the field is especially welcomed.

The MHRA is a large enterprise, governed by a Committee of around 30 Trustees, Officers and other representatives. The current Officers of the Association are the Hon. Chairman, Malcolm Cook, the Hon. Treasurer, Alison Finch, and the Hon. Secretary, Barbara Burns.

In a tradition going back for nearly a century, MHRA has annually elected a President. The President is a distinguished scholar who gives a formal Address to the Association, but who is not involved in its management.

The MHRA is a registered charity (No. 1064670). It was incorporated into a Company on 2 October 1997, on which date it took over the assets and liabilities of the unincorporated charity of the same name. MHRA is registered in England as a company limited by guarantee (No. 03446016), VAT number GB 239 2086 57. The Registered Office is: Salisbury House, Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2LA, United Kingdom.


The Association was founded at Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1918, in the rooms of Brian Downs, who was later to become Vice-Chancellor. The term Modern Humanities was chosen, in part, because 'modern languages' was then suggestive of school-teaching rather than University study. Until 1945, MHRA's main activity was to edit Modern Language Review and bibliographies of English studies and modern languages, respectively. Under the dynamic leadership of Stanley Aston, MHRA was then a founder member of the International Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures (FILLM), a UNESCO initiative. As Hon. Treasurer, serving from 1963 to 2001, Roy Wisbey transformed MHRA's finances, putting its publications onto a secure financial footing. He and his successors, David Wells, Dorothy Severin, Brian Richardson, and Alison Finch, steadily expanded MHRA's activities, acquiring for example the journal Austrian Studies and the Legenda imprint, and founding both new journals and book series.

For a more detailed history of the Association to 2004, see this account by David Wells.