Sacristy Press, based in Durham City, will be publishing an English version of a Danish best-selling and critically acclaimed book after securing two grants to fund the books translation.

Two grants totaling 55,000 DKK (approx. £6,600 GBP) have been awarded to Sacristy Press by the Danish Arts Foundation and the Consul George Jorck and Wife Emma Jorck’s Foundation to fund the translation of Danish best-selling novel “Hildas sang” (“The Song of Hild”) into English.

Based on the life of Abbess Hild of Whitby (AD 614–680), “Hildas sang”, written by Vibeke Vasbo, takes place in the religious and political upheavals of the seventh-century Northern Britain. As well as focusing on the lives of women, the book also reveals tensions between Danish-German invaders and the native Celts as a mirror for power struggles that reverberate internationally today.

“This is a meticulously researched novel about women’s lives and their prominent role in the Church during the Middle Ages, the political manoeuvres of conflicting religions, the building of a monastery, and the power exercised by the Church of Rome,” said Richard Hilton, Operations Director, Sacristy Press. “We are very pleased that with these two grants Sacristy Press able to fund the translation and 27 years after it was first published in Danish, this story about England will be able to read in English.”

In the novel the influential women find themselves having to contend with life within a patriarchal society, which included historical figures such as Penda of Mercia, Bishop Aidan, King Oswy, King Oswald, Sigebert of East Anglia, Wilfrid of Hexham, Caedwalla of Wales, and Edwin of Northumbria. The reader is taken to the burial at Sutton Hoo, the Battle of Hatfield, and the Synod of Whitby. “It’s an exciting and enthralling novel, totally true to the historian Bede and archaeological sources,” said Richard.

Originally published by Gyldendal in 1991, it was reviewed as being “written with dynamism and grim humour … there can be no doubt it will reach many readers, internationally too … a bestseller of great literary quality” (Poul Borum, Ekstra Bladet).

“It has been a long wait but I am so thrilled that with these grants ‘Hildas sang’ will finally be available in English,” said Vibeke Vasbo. “And I am really looking forward to working with Sacristy Press to make this happen and seeing the real, physical book next year.”

“Hildas Sang” was number 1 on the Danish bestseller list and remained in the top 10 for several months. It has received much critical acclaim over the years, and has also been published in Norway, where it was extremely well received.

The new translation is due to be released by Sacristy Press in two volumes during 2018.

Sacristy Press is a small, independent, publishing house based in Durham City, who publish theology and history, including historical fiction. The founding principles of Sacristy Press are that the best books happen when publishers and authors work together to ensure a high quality manuscript with exceptional production. Sacristy Press was founded in 2011, and is owned and run by Richard Hilton and Thomas Ball.