Sally Mapstone grew up in West London and read English Language and Literature at Wadham between 1975 and 1978. She gained her DPhil on the advice to princes tradition, in Older Scots literature, from Oxford in 1986.
After graduating with first-class honours from Wadham in 1978, Mapstone became an Editor with Weidenfeld and Nicolson Publishers, London, and was Mother of the Chapel of the National Union of Journalists at Weidenfeld.
In 1984 she was appointed Lecturer in Medieval English Language and Literature, Worcester College, Oxford and Randall MacIver Junior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College, Oxford.
At St Hilda’s she was Lecturer in Medieval English Language and Literature, Fellow and Tutor in Medieval English Language and Literature, and Joanna Morse Memorial Fellow.
In 2006 she became Reader in Older Scots Literature in the University and was made Professor of Older Scots Literature in 2013. In 2006-7 she served as Junior Proctor of the University.
She was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Personnel and Equality) at Oxford in 2009, and in 2011 became Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) with responsibility for Oxford’s strategy and policies for teaching, learning, student support and admissions.
On 1 September 2016 Mapstone took up her position as the 11th Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, and was formally installed in post on 29 November 2016.
Mapstone’s research is primarily on Older Scots literature, of the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries (including literature in Latin) and on book history. She has also published on Chaucer and on Malory; and on Shakespeare. A number of her publications concern the identification of previously unrecognised textual witnesses to Older Scots texts. She also publishes on later Scottish writers.
Mapstone is Past President and Honorary President of the Scottish Text Society, a member of the Advisory Board of Studies in Scottish Literature, a member of the Editorial Board of Scottish Studies Review (to 2009) and an Honorary Fellow of the Project for the History of the Book in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh. She was elected a Fellow of English Association in 2013.
1. Scots and their Books in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Oxford, 1996)
2. The Long Fifteenth Century: Essays for Douglas Gray, co-ed. with Helen Cooper (Oxford, 1997)
3. The Rose and the Thistle: Essays on the Culture of Late Medieval and Renaissance Scotland, co-ed with Juliette Wood (East Linton, 1998)
4. A Palace in the Wild: Vernacular Culture and Humanism in Late Medieval and Renaissance Scotland, co-ed, with L.A.J.R. Houwen and A.A. MacDonald, (Leuven, 2000)
5. Ed. William Dunbar: ‘The Nobill Poyet’ (East Linton, 2001)
6. The European Sun, co-ed, with G. Caie, R.J. Lyall, and K. Simpson (East Linton, 2001)
7. Ed. Older Scots Literature (Edinburgh, 2005)
Mapstone was Deputy Chair of the University of Oxford Council and its General Purposes Committee. She served as a Member and Chair on a broad range of Oxford committees and boards. From 2011 to 2013, she chaired the group responsible for revising the University’s Strategic Plan 2013 to 2018.
She took a strong interest in diversity issues at Oxford, and launched the University’s mentoring scheme for senior women, Ad Feminam, in 2012, remaining its main sponsor to the present day. In 2016 she was the organizer of a major series of lectures by ‘Women of Achievement’.
Mapstone served as the only British representative on the steering group for the Pro-Vice Rectors for Teaching and Learning of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). She was lead author on an advice paper “Online Learning at Research-Intensive Universities” published by LERU in 2014. She serves on the international advisory board for the University of Helsinki.
She is active in the media as an academic and higher education leader, contributing to several programmes including Scots: the Language of the People (BBC2 Scotland) and Princes and Poets in the BBC Radio 3 essay series on the Stewarts in October 2010. She has been interviewed regularly in broadcast and print media on the subjects of digitization and MOOCs in particular and acted as an Oxford spokesperson in national and international interviews on general higher education matters.