Banquet Speaker: Mark Vessey MA DPhil

Company News From the Master

The Master is pleased to announce that Mark Vessey will be our main Speaker at our Annual Banquet on Monday, 8th April 2024.

Mark Vessey 2024

Mark is a great-great-grandson of a Master of the Sheffield Cutlers’ Company, who grew up in a corner of Derbyshire full of lead workings. He has known the Master since their school days.

Mark studied English at Cambridge, and Latin literature and Roman history in Paris and Oxford. He has been professor of English Literature at the University of British Columbia since 1990.

He is an expert in English literature of Shakespeare’s time, and has an international reputation as a historian of Christian Latin literature of the later Roman Empire.

His research has included the cultural processes by which aspects of the physical geography of the Bible lands have been integrated into the imaginative landscape of inhabitants of Britain.

Another focus of Mark’s work has been Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Renaissance educationalist and internationalist, whose curriculum for St Paul’s School became the model for schools run by the Livery Companies.

Erasmus’s path-breaking edition of the New Testament was published in 1516, the same year as Utopia written by his friend Thomas More, then Undersheriff of London. While Erasmus complained about English beer and edited the Bible, the ever-practical More experimented in Utopia with the hydrology of a fictional island roughly the size of England, and set out to imagine a modern polity that owed nothing to the Christian tradition.

In his remarks, Mark will present More as a pioneering thinker of social and urban infrastructure who was at the same time an enthusiast for the Erasmian reformation of religion.