Dorothy Whitelock was born in Leeds, England, and proved to be an excellent student. At age 20, she went up to Cambridge University, where she studied history and philology. Her specialty became studies of Anglo-Saxon poetry and history. In 1930, she published a translation and commentary on 39 Anglo-Saxon wills and became a lecturer at Oxford University. Like many female scholars of her era, Dorothy Whitelock was shut out of several important academic posts considered more suitable for men. However, she persevered in her scholarship and writing and produced a series of notable works, including her most famous book, English Historical Documents (1955). The majority of her works are considered the gold standard in the field. Her talents and achievements were finally recognised in 1956, when she was elected a fellow of the British Academy. In 1957, she returned to Cambridge University as the Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon. Under her direction, the Department of Anglo-Saxon and Kindred Studies was taken out of the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology and added to the Faculty of English, where it became the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic -- as it remains today.