In addition to a governing committee, led by its Hon. Officers, MHRA has also in the past had a post of President. This was an honorary position, elected usually for a one-year term, and carried no duties except to deliver a formal Address. It has its origins in a time when public life in the UK revolved around in-person public meetings, and when the Association was less able to reach out to its community, though after 1970 reports of the Addresses would often appear in Modern Language Review.

Our final Presidential Address was delivered on 11 May 2018 by the leading comparatist Dame Marina Warner, and was published as part of the Centenary Lectures website. In our second century, we will continue to honour our distinguished colleagues, and to spread their ideas, but now through ventures such as our Selected Essays book series. (Early authors in this series include Alison Sinclair and Martin McLaughlin, Presidents in 2016 and 2015.)

Past Presidents and their Addresses

PresidencyPresidentText of Address (if available)
2018Marina WarnerSee The MHRA Centenary Lectures
2017Judith RyanTime, Space, and Sacred-Secular Configurations in Modern European Poetry (on this site)
2016Alison SinclairSee Putting it About (Legenda, 2021)
2015Martin McLaughlinSee Italian Rewritings (Legenda, forthcoming)
2014Clive ScottSee Adapting the Canon (Legenda, 2020)
2013Nigel Vincent
2012Donald RayfieldForgiving Forgery (at JSTOR)
2011Gillian BeerAlice in Time (at JSTOR)
2010H. B. NisbetOn the Rise of Toleration in Europe: Lessing and the German Contribution (at JSTOR)
2009Helder MacedoLanguages, Literature, and Power (at JSTOR)
2008John WoodhouseVenice's European Diaspora: The Case of James Leoni (1685-1746) (at JSTOR)
2007Marian HobsonStatues and Normalization (at JSTOR)
2006Arnold McMillinSmall is Sometimes Beautiful: Studying 'minor' Languages at University with Particular Reference to Belarus (at JSTOR)
2005Patrick FordPerformance and Literacy in Medieval Welsh Poetry (at JSTOR)
2004Derek PearsallMedieval Literature and Historical Enquiry (at JSTOR)
2003Roy WisbeyTristan: On Being the Contemporary of Gottfried von Straßburg (at JSTOR)
2002Jean-François BotrelThe Popular Canon (at JSTOR)
2001Giulio LepschyMother Tongues and Literary Languages (at JSTOR)
2000Gerald SmithRussian Poetry: The Lives or the Lines? (at JSTOR)
1999Haydn MasonThe European Enlightenment: Was It Enlightened? (at JSTOR)
1998Frank KermodeThe Discipline of Literature (at JSTOR)
1997D. H. GreenFrom Germania to Europe: The Evidence of Language and History (at JSTOR)
1996C. C. Smith"Ma in Spagna son già mille e tre": On Opera and Literature (on this site)
1995Peter BrandThe Renaissance of Comedy: The Achievement of Italian "Commedia Erudita" (at JSTOR)
1994Yuri D. LevinEnglish Literature in Eighteenth-Century Russia (at JSTOR)
1993William H. BarberVoltaire: Art, Thought, and Action (at JSTOR)
1992Denis DonoghueThe Use and Abuse of Theory (at JSTOR)
1991Nils Erik EnkvistFrom Phoneme to Discourse: A Half-Century of Linguistics (at JSTOR)
1990Werner WelzigOn Goethe's "Unterhaltungen" (at JSTOR)
1989Carlos FuentesNew Novel, New World (at JSTOR)
1988Cecil GraysonDe commodis litterarum atque incommodis (at JSTOR)
1987Hans RotheYoung and Old: Russian Literature in Europe (at JSTOR)
1986Ian D. McFarlaneThe Renaissance Epitaph (at JSTOR)
1985Eugenio CoseriuLinguistic Competence: What Is It Really? (at JSTOR)
1984Maynard MackAlexander Pope: Reflections of an Amateur Biographer (at JSTOR)
1983Ronald PeacockDrama and the Moral Connexion (at JSTOR)
1982A. A. Parker"Concept" and "Conceit": An Aspect of Comparative Literary History (at JSTOR)
1981Uberto LimentaniChanging Perspectives on the "Seicento": A Study in the Evolution of Taste (at JSTOR)
1980Helen GardnerLiterary Biography (at JSTOR)
1979Martin de RiquerL'Actualité historique dans "Don Quichotte" (at JSTOR)
1978Leonard ForsterLiterary Studies as Flight from Literature? (at JSTOR)
1977Harry LevinThe Title as a Literary Genre (at JSTOR)
1976K. David JacksonFifty Years of Celtic Philology (at JSTOR)
1975Jean StarobinskiLa vie et les aventures du mot "réaction" (at JSTOR)
1974René WellekPoetics, Interpretation, and Criticism (at JSTOR)
1973B. O. UnbegaunThe Russian Literary Language: A Comparative View (at JSTOR)
1972Carlo DionisottiA Year's Work in the Seventies (on this site)
1971Merritt Y. HughesThe Miltonic Future (at JSTOR)
1970S. C. AstonThe Saint in Medieval Literature (at JSTOR)
1969Edna Purdie
1968C. L. Wrenn
1967Marcel Bataillon
1966Eugène Vinaver
1965W. H. Bruford
1964Wolfgang Clemen
1963Helen C. White
1962Jean Pommier
1961F. P. Wilson
1960Dámaso Alonso
1959Alfred Ewert
1958Kemp Malone
1957Walter F. Schirmer
1956Bruno Migliorini
1955Douglas Bush
1954John Orr
1953W. J. Entwistle
1952Sigurður Nordal
1951C. J. Sisson
1949-50Albert C. Baugh
1948-49L. A. Willoughby
1947-48Henry Carrington Lancaster
1946-47Mildred K. Pope
1938-39H. J. Chaytor
1937-38J. D. M. Ford
1936-37Johannes Hoops
1935-36H. G. Fiedler
1934-35Mario Roques
1933-34William Craigie
1932-33Bernard Pares
1931-32E. Allison Peers
1930-31Fernand Baldensperger
1929-30Edmund G. Gardner
1928-29Levin L. Schücking
1927-28Carleton Brown
1926-27R. Menéndez Pidal
1925-26Emile Legouis
1924-25J. G. Robertson
1923-24Benedetto Croce
1922-23J. P. Manly
1921-22W. P. Ker
1920-21Otto Jespersen
1919-20Gustave Lanson
1918-19Sidney Lee