Sarah Tolmie

PhD, University of Cambridge
MA, University of Toronto
BA, University of Toronto

Extension: 46795
Office: HH 266


Sarah Tolmie is an Associate Professor who was trained as a medievalist at the University of Toronto and Cambridge. She teaches medieval and early modern literature, general British literature, and creative writing. Her research interests are in historiography, visionary poetry and embodiment. She has published articles on Middle English and Scots literature, as well as on Langland’s Piers Plowman.

She is also a poet and speculative fiction writer. Her newest work is All the Horses of Iceland, a magic realist family saga set along the Volga trade route in the ninth century about an Icelander bringing horses home from Mongolia. It will be out with in 2022. In 2020, she published three books, The New Weird short fiction collection Disease, the poetry collection Check, and the novella The Fourth Island. Her most recent novel with Aqueduct Press, in 2019, was The Little Animals, an alternate history of science starring Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, the 17th-century Dutch microscopist, and the goose girl from the Brothers’ Grimm. This book earned the Special Citation at the 2020 Philip K Dick Awards. Her second collection of poems from McGill-Queen’s, The Art of Dying, was a finalist for the 2018 Griffin Prize, while her first, Trio, was shortlisted for the League of Canadian Poets’ Pat Lowther Award in 2016. Her other works of fiction with Aqueduct Press include the two-novella collection Two Travelers, the linked short story collection NoFood, and the novel The Stone Boatmen, shortlisted for the Crawford Award from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts in 2015. Her creative work has appeared in Year’s Best Canadian Poetry in EnglishYear’s Best Weird FictionThe New QuarterlyGrainStrange HorizonsOn Spec, The Malahat Review and The Canadian Literary Review.

Readings, events and media can be found on her author site at

Selected Publications

“Langland, Milton and the Weird Trees: Teaching and Learning Through Piers Plowman and Paradise Lost,” Yearbook of Langland Studies 34 (forthcoming, 2020).

The Fourth Island,, October 2020.

Check, McGill-Queen’s University Press, October 2020.

Disease, Aqueduct Press, August 2020.

“Precor,” Carter V Cooper Prize Anthology 9, Exile Editions, August 2020.

The Art of Dying, poetry collection, McGill-Queen’s UP, 2018.

Two Travelers, novellas, Aqueduct Press, Seattle, 2016.

NoFood, short fiction, Aqueduct Press, Seattle, 2014

The Stone Boatmen, novel, Aqueduct Press, Seattle, 2014.

Sonnet in a Blue Dress and Other Poems, chapbook, Baseline Press, London, 2014.

Guest editor, with Randy Harris, of Metaphor and Symbol, special issue on Cognitive Allegory, 2011.

“The Book of the World as I Found It: Langland’s Piers Plowman and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus,Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 20.4 (2008).

“Langland, Wittgenstein and the Language Game,” Yearbook of Langland Studies 22 (2008).

"The Professional: Thomas Hoccleve,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 29 (2007): 341-73.

"Sacrilege, Sacrifice and John Barbour’s Bruce,” International Review of Scottish Studies 32 (2007): 7-32.

"Langland, Wittgenstein and the End of Language,” Yearbook of Langland Studies 20 (2006): 115-39.

"The Priue Scilence of Thomas Hoccleve,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 22 (2000): 281-309.

Fellowships & Awards

  • 2020, Special Citation, Philip K Dick Awards, The Little Animals

  • 2020, Shortlist for the Carter V Cooper Prize, “Precor”

  • 2019, Aurora Award for Poem/Song, “Ursula Le Guin in the Underworld”

  • 2019, Rhysling Award for SF Poetry, “Ursula Le Guin in the Underworld”

  • 2015, Canada Council, Mid-Career Writer's Grant for the novel The Little Animals
  • 2014, Ontario Arts Council, In-Progress Grant for  the novel The Little Animals
  • 2014, University of Utrecht, Descartes Centre for the History of Science, Junior Fellowship
  • 2012, Ontario Arts Council In-Progress grant for the sonnet sequence Trio.
  • 2010-12, Lois Claxton/Robert Hardyng Award, The Salvation Suit.
  • 2010-11, SSHRCC Research-Creation Grant, The Salvation Suit, 4A
  • 2009-10, SSHRCC Research-Development Grant, The Salvation Suit, 4A
  • 2008, Grain Prize, Dramatic Monologue
  • 2007, UW Travel Grant

Current Research

The Fourth Island, set in the Aran isles off the west coast of Ireland, came about because I did a reading from The Little Animals at the SFF Worldcon in Dublin last summer. Back in 2017 I attended a writers’ conference in Reykjavik. After percolating for a while, that experience sparked another historical fantasy novella, this time set along the Volga trade route from Scandinavia to Mongolia in the early ninth century. It will be coming out with in early 2022. During these pandemic months I have also been collaborating with a friend in Toronto to convert my 2014 book NoFood into a TV series.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

  • Middle English literature and historiography
  • Middle Scots literature and historiography
  • Premodern theory of mind and embodiment
  • Creative writing
  • Cognitive poetics
University of Waterloo

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