Ruth Finnegan FBA is an anthropologist and creative writer with interdisciplinary interests, especially in classical studies, literature, sociolinguistics, modes of thought, and cultural history. She is renowned as the scholar who has made a whole generation of Africanists realise the singular importance of oral literature. She is Emeritus and Research Professor at the Open University UK, a Fellow of the British Academy, and an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College Oxford.

Born in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1933, she studied classics at Oxford, followed by social anthropology, then fieldwork and university teaching in Africa.

Her books include Oral Literature in Africa, Oral Poetry, Literacy and Orality, The Hidden Musicians, Oral Traditions and the Verbal Arts, South Pacific Oral Traditions, Communicating, and The Oral and Beyond: Doing Things with Words in AfricaBlack Inked Pearl, Pearl of the Seas, and The Magic Adventure: Kris and Kate Build a Boat.