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The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature
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This Companion has been thoroughly revised to take account of recent scholarship and to provide a clear and accessible introduction for those encountering Old English literature for the first time. Including seventeen essays by distinguished scholars, this new edition provides a discussion of the literature of the period 600 to 1066 in the context of how Anglo-Saxon society functioned. New chapters cover topics including preaching and teaching, Beowulf and literacy, and a further five chapters have been revised and updated, including those on the Old English language, perceptions of eternity and Anglo-Saxon learning. An additional concluding chapter on Old English after 1066 offers an overview of the study and cultural influences of Old English literature to the present day. Finally, the further reading list has been overhauled to incorporate the most up-to-date scholarship in the field and the latest electronic resources for students.


‘Like its predecessor, this Companion is a truly comprehensive work. Considering both the price and the size, it is remarkable how comprehensive a work this is. In addition, this is a truly accessible work; all the contributors, as well as the editors, deserve high praise for their efforts. Particularly useful and comprehensive is the Further reading [section], which closes the volume. This second edition is an improvement on what was already an outstanding work. In this reviewer’s opinion, no library should be without [it], given especially the wide public to which it will appeal.’

Simone Bacchini Source: Reference Reviews

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Further reading

The reading list which follows is intended to provide simple and swift bibliographical orientation for the uninitiated reader in any of the specified areas of interest. It will be realized that, in many fields of Old English scholarship, the bibliography is practically inexhaustible. With respect to individual texts, therefore, we have simply attempted to cite some of the classic interpretative studies (with no attempt at comprehensiveness), in the hope that the enterprising student will derive from such studies a preliminary orientation, and will thereafter be able to pursue particular interests by consulting the more comprehensive works of reference listed throughout.


A complete list of all surviving Old English texts is given in A Plan for the Dictionary of Old English, ed. R. Frank and A. Cameron (Toronto, 1973). For secondary literature on the subject up to 1972 there is the truly comprehensive work by S. B. Greenfield and F. C. Robinson, A Bibliography of Publications on Old English Literature to the End of 1972 (Toronto and Manchester, 1980). More recent work is listed in the annual bibliographies in ASE (from 1972 on) and in the Old English Newsletter (from 1967 on). Annotated bibliographies on specific areas include: Old English Prose of Secular Learning, ed. S. Hollis and M. Wright (Cambridge, 1993) ; Old English Wisdom Poetry, ed. R. Poole (Cambridge, 1998) ; Old English Prose Translations of King Alfred’s Reign, ed. G. Waite (Cambridge, 2000) .

Historical and cultural background

There is valuable orientation in all aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture in The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England, ed. M. Lapidge, J. Blair, S. D. Keynes and D. G. Scragg (Oxford, 1999). An excellent bibliographical guide is S. D. Keynes, Anglo-Saxon History: a Select Bibliography, issued at frequent intervals by the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic in Cambridge (the most recent edition, the 11th, was issued in 2006) ; see also J. T. Rosenthal, Anglo-Saxon History: an Annotated Bibliography 450–1066 (New York, 1985). General studies include: F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd edn (Oxford, 1971) ; D. Whitelock, The Beginnings of English Society (Harmondsworth, 1952) ; P. Hunter Blair, An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England, 2nd edn (Cambridge, 1977) ; H. Mayr-Harting, The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd edn (London, 1990) ; D. Hill, An Atlas of Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford, 1981) ; J. Campbell, E. John and P. Wormald, The Anglo-Saxons (Oxford, 1982) , a book which is richly illustrated; and C. E. Fell, Women in Anglo-Saxon England (London, 1984; repr. Oxford, 1986) .

An invaluable compendium of historical sources in translation is EHD, to be supplemented by various translations, including: M. Lapidge and M. Herren, Aldhelm: the Prose Works (Cambridge, 1979) ; M. Lapidge and J. L. Rosier, Aldhelm: the Poetic Works (Cambridge, 1985) ; The Letters of Saint Boniface, trans. E. Emerton (New York, 1940) ; Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, ed. and trans. B. Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1969) ; Alcuin: the Bishops, Kings, and Saints of York, ed. and trans. P. Godman (Oxford, 1982) ; S. Allott, Alcuin of York (York, 1974) , a collection of Alcuin’s letters in translation; and S. Keynes and M. Lapidge, Alfred the Great: Asser’s ‘Life of King Alfred’ and Other Contemporary Sources (Harmondsworth, 1983). A collection of some relevant Norse poems, which provide significant background to Anglo-Saxon culture, is The Poetic Edda, ed. U. Dronke, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1969–2011) .

A survey of Anglo-Latin literature is given by M. Lapidge in Anglo-Latin Literature, 600–899 (London, 1996), pp. 1–35. The most authoritative studies of (aspects of) Anglo-Latin culture are W. Levison, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century (Oxford, 1946) ; P. Sims-Williams, Religion and Literature in Western England, 600–800, CSASE 3 (Cambridge, 1990). For Anglo-Saxon books and libraries, see now M. Lapidge, The Anglo-Saxon Library (Oxford, 2006). The Latin sources of Anglo-Saxon literature (in both Latin and Old English) are identified by the collaborative project Fontes Anglo-Saxonici (see below, under ‘Electronic resources’), as well as in the on-going series of ‘Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture’ (SASLC): Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture: a Trial Version, ed. F. M. Biggset al. (Binghamton, NY, 1990) ; Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture, I. Abbo of Fleury, Abbo of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and Acta Sanctorum, ed. F. M. Biggset al. (Kalamazoo, MI, 2001) ; Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture: the Apocrypha, ed. F. M. Biggs (Kalamazoo, MI, 2007). There is also much of relevance to our understanding of the cultural background of Old English literature in various collaborative volumes: England Before the Conquest: Studies in Primary Sources Presented to Dorothy Whitelock, ed. P. Clemoes and K. Hughes (Cambridge, 1971) ; Learning and Literature in Anglo-Saxon England: Studies Presented to Peter Clemoes, ed. M. Lapidge and H. Gneuss (Cambridge, 1985) ; Words, Texts and Manuscripts: Studies in Anglo-Saxon Culture Presented to Helmut Gneuss on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. M. Korhammeret al. (Cambridge, 1992) ; Latin Learning and English Lore: Studies in Anglo-Saxon Literature for Michael Lapidge, ed. K. O’Brien O’Keeffe and A. Orchard, 2 vols. (Toronto, 2005) .


The indispensable guide for students of Old English literature wishing to explore the manuscript context of the literature they study is N. R. Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford, 1957) , with supplement in ASE 5 (1976), 121–31. All manuscripts – Latin and Old English – which survive are listed helpfully by H. Gneuss, Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: a List of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100 (Tempe, AZ, 2001). For an authoritative study of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, script and libraries, see The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Volume I, c. 400–1100, ed. R. Gameson (Cambridge, 2012). The best general introduction to the palaeography of medieval manuscripts is B. Bischoff, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, trans. D. Ó Cróinín and D. Ganz (Cambridge, 1990). A useful collection of plates illustrating the development of script (including various kinds of Anglo-Saxon script) is found in M. P. Brown, A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600 (London, 1990) ; some vernacular manuscripts are usefully illustrated and discussed in R. L. Collins, Anglo-Saxon Vernacular Manuscripts in America (New York, 1976). For English manuscripts of the earlier period (up to 800), see the relevant entries in E. A. Lowe, Codices Latini Antiquiores, 11 vols. and suppl. (Oxford, 1934–71; 2nd edn of vol. II, 1972) and English Uncial (Oxford, 1960). For manuscripts of the later period, see T. A. M. Bishop, English Caroline Minuscule (Oxford, 1971) and D. N. Dumville, ‘English Square Minuscule Script: the Background and Earliest Phases’, ASE 16 (1987), 147–79 , English Square Minuscule Script: the Mid-Century Phases’, ASE 23 (1994), 133–64 , and English Caroline Script and Monastic History: Studies in Benedictinism, A.D. 950–1030 (Woodbridge, 1993). There is a brilliant demonstration of how knowledge of the manuscripts in which Old English poetry has been preserved is fundamental to any attempt at interpretation, by J. C. Pope, ‘Palaeography and Poetry: Some Solved and Unsolved Problems of the Exeter Book’, in Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries: Essays Presented to N. R. Ker, ed. M. B. Parkes and A. G. Watson (London, 1978), pp. 25–65 ; also essential for study of the biblical verse preserved in the Junius manuscript are B. C. Raw, ‘The Construction of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11’, ASE 13 (1984), 187–207 , and L. Lockett, ‘An Integrated Re-Examination of the Dating of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11’, ASE 31 (2002), 141–73 .

Many of the best-known surviving manuscripts of Old English literature are available in facsimile editions in the series Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile, 28 vols. (Copenhagen, 1951–2001), as well as in the on-going series of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile, ed. A. N. Doaneet al. (Binghamton, NY and Tempe, AZ, 1994–). More recently, many of the major literary manuscripts have been made available in digital form, either on the web or in disc-format. Kevin Kiernan’s Electronic Beowulf (London, 2004) contains Kiernan’s book on Beowulf and a digital version of the Beowulf manuscript and the Thorkelin transcripts and other material, on two CD-ROMs. Bernard Muir’s The Exeter Anthology of Old English Poetry: an Edition of Exeter Dean and Chapter MS 3501, 2nd edn (Exeter, 2000) , contains both a print edition of the text and a digital edition of the manuscript and other materials on DVD. Muir’s A Digital Facsimile of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Junius 11 (Oxford, 2004) provides a digital edition of the Junius manuscript and related materials on CD-ROM. Daniel O’Donnell’s Cædmon’s Hymn: a Multimedia Study, Archive and Edition (Cambridge, 2005) contains a book-form study of the poem and a CD-ROM containing digital images of all the copies of the poem. Digital copies of all the medieval manuscripts in the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, including copies of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the works of Wulfstan and other poetry, are now available on the web (by subscription) at Parker Library on the Web ( For details of the many twelfth-century manuscripts containing Old English texts, see The Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060 to 1220, ed. O. Da Rold, T. Kato, M. Swan and E. Treharne (Leicester, 2010) , at, which contains selected images.

For an introductory study of English runes, see R. I. Page, An Introduction to English Runes, 2nd edn (Woodbridge, 1999) .

Old English language

General and prehistory

For the history of the English language (including Old English), see the standard works listed above in ch. 2 (p. 48, n. 2). From among the innumerable publications on English and its history, the lively and well-illustrated Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, by D. Crystal (Cambridge, 1995) , should be mentioned. For the prehistory of Old English, see the excellent and comprehensive coverage by B. W. Fortson, Indo-European Language and Culture (Oxford, 2004) , and O. W. Robinson, Old English and its Closest Relatives: a Survey of the Earliest Germanic Languages (London, 1992).H. Gneuss, English Language Scholarship: a Survey and Bibliography from the Beginnings to the End of the Nineteenth Century (Tempe, AZ, 1996) , includes a concise treatment of the history of the study of Old English.


The fullest dictionary currently available is J. Bosworth and T. N. Toller, An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (Oxford, 1898) , with Supplement by T. N. Toller (Oxford, 1921) , and Revised and Enlarged Addenda by A. Campbell (Oxford, 1972). A convenient single-volume dictionary is J. R. Clark Hall and H. Meritt, A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, 4th edn (Cambridge, 1969). These dictionaries will eventually be superseded by the Dictionary of Old English, ed. A. Cameron, A. C. Amos, A. diP. Healeyet al. (Toronto, 1986 –; currently published to the end of G) , intially published on microfiche, then from 2004 on CD-ROM (letters A–G, 2011), and now available by subscription on the internet at

Concordances and thesaurus

Three works are now indispensable for any serious study of the Old English lexicon: A. diP. Healey and R. L. Venezky, A Microfiche Concordance to Old English (Toronto, 1980) , now largely superseded by the Dictionary of Old English Web Corpus by A. di P. Healey with J. Wilin and Xin Xiang, at (and on CD-ROM); and J. Roberts, C. Kay and L. Grundy, A Thesaurus of Old English, 2 vols., King’s College London Medieval Studies 11 (London, 1995) , a pioneering work: the complete vocabulary of Old English, conceptually arranged.


For phonology and inflexional morphology, the standard work remains A. Campbell, Old English Grammar (Oxford, 1959). Also important is A Grammar of Old English, I. Phonology, by R. M. Hogg, and II. Morphology, by R. M. Hogg and R. D. Fulk (Oxford, 1992–2011). More comprehensive than these, but available only in German, is K. Brunner, Altenglische Grammatik, 3rd edn (Tübingen, 1965). For syntax we have the monumental work by B. Mitchell, Old English Syntax, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1985) ,whose extensive indices should be consulted on any point of interpretation. Of the more concise grammars included in the numerous introductions to Old English, that in B. Mitchell and F. C. Robinson, A Guide to Old English, 7th edn (Oxford, 2007) , widely used, is to be recommended.


E. Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 4th edn (Oxford, 1960) , is still valuable. More recent handbooks are A. D. Mills, A Dictionary of British Place-Names (Oxford, 2003) and – with critical reviews – V. Watts, J. Insley and M. Gelling, The Cambridge Dictionary of Place-Names (Cambridge, 2004). For individual names of places, fields, rivers, etc., the on-going publications of the English Place-Name Society (including one or more volumes for each county) should always be consulted, where they happen to exist. For personal names, W. G. Searle, Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum (Cambridge, 1897) , though dated and in need of revision, remains useful.

Literary history

Because most Old English poetry cannot be dated, it is not possible to write a chronological account of Old English literature – on the problems involved in dating, see the excellent study by A. C. Amos, Linguistic Means of Determining the Dates of Old English Literary Texts (Cambridge, MA, 1980) – though there is a commendable attempt to treat the subject chronologically by R. D. Fulk and C. M. Cain, A History of Old English Literature (Oxford, 2003). Old English literary history is normally organized in terms of particular themes or genres. The fullest coverage is given by S. B. Greenfield and D. G. Calder, A New Critical History of Old English Literature (New York and London, 1986) , but there are many interesting perspectives in M. McC. Gatch, Loyalties and Traditions: Man and the World in Anglo-Saxon Literature (New York, 1971). Immensely valuable, above all for its treatment of the manuscript bases of the literature, is K. Sisam, Studies in the History of Old English Literature (Oxford, 1953). On the growth of our conception of Old English literary history, there are the interesting studies by E. G. StanleyImagining the Anglo-Saxon Past (Woodbridge, 2000) and The Scholarly Recovery of the Significance of Anglo-Saxon Records in Prose and Verse: a New Bibliography’, ASE 9 (1981), 223–62 – as well as The Recovery of Old English: Anglo-Saxon Studies in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, ed. T. Graham (Kalamazoo, MI, 2000). Finally, the literary historian should always bear in mind what has been lost to us: see esp. R. M. Wilson, The Lost Literature of Medieval England, 2nd edn (London, 1970) .

General literary criticism

Various volumes of collected essays provide a general introduction to Old English literature, both prose and verse. One such volume (now inevitably outdated in some respects) is Continuations and Beginnings: Studies in Old English Literature, ed. E. G. Stanley (London, 1966). Useful, too, are Old English Literature in Context, ed. J. D. Niles (Cambridge and Totowa, NJ, 1980) , Reading Old English Texts, ed. K. O’Brien O’Keeffe (Cambridge, 1997) , and Old English Literature: Critical Essays, ed. R. M. Liuzza (New Haven, CT and London, 2002). A recent book which throws important new light on many aspects of Old English literature is L. Lockett, Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditions (Toronto, 2011). Issues in editing Old English literature are discussed in: The Editing of Old English, ed. D. G. Scragg and P. E. Szarmach (Cambridge, 1994) ; F. C. Robinson, The Editing of Old English (Oxford, 1994) ; and S. L. Keefer and K. O’BrienO’Keeffe, New Approaches to Editing Old English Verse (Cambridge, 1998) .



The standard collected edition is still the six-volume Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records (ASPR) series, ed. G. P. Krapp and E. K. Dobbie (New York, 1931–42). More recent collections are Bernard Muir’s edition of The Exeter Anthology of Old English Poetry: an Edition of Exeter Dean and Chapter MS 3501, 2nd edn (Exeter, 2000) ; The Beowulf Manuscript: Complete Texts and ‘The Fight at Finnsburg’, ed. R. D. Fulk (Cambridge, MA and London, 2010) ; and Daniel Anlezark’s edition of biblical poetry, Old Testament Narratives (Cambridge, MA and London, 2011) , the latter two with facing-page translation.

Sources and analogues

M. J. B. Allen and D. G. Calder, Sources and Analogues of Old English Poetry: the Major Latin Texts in Translation (Cambridge and Totowa, NJ, 1976) ; D. G. Calderet al., Sources and Analogues of Old English Poetry, II: the Major Germanic and Celtic Texts in Translation (Cambridge and Totowa, NJ, 1983) .


Essential Articles for the Study of Old English Poetry, ed. J. B. Bessinger and S. J. Kahrl (Hamden, CT, 1968) ; S. B. Greenfield, The Interpretation of Old English Poems (London and Boston, 1972) ; T. A. Shippey, Old English Verse (London, 1972) ; Anglo-Saxon Poetry: Essays in Appreciation, ed. L. E. Nicholson and D. W. Frese (Notre Dame, IN, 1975) ; B. Raw, The Art and Background of Old English Poetry (London, 1978) ; Old English Poetry: Essays in Style, ed. D. G. Calder (Berkeley, CA, 1979) ; K. O’Brien O’Keeffe, Visible Song: Transitional Literacy in Old English Verse, CSASE 4 (Cambridge, 1990) ; The Old English Shorter Poems: Basic Readings, ed. K. O’Brien O’Keeffe (New York and London, 1994) ; Companion to Old English Poetry, ed. H. Aertsen and R. Bremmer (Amsterdam, 1994) ; P. Clemoes, Interactions of Thought and Language in Old English Poetry, CSASE 12 (Cambridge, 1995). On rhetorical devices in Old English poetry, see now J. Steen, Verse and Virtuosity: the Adaptation of Latin Rhetoric in Old English Poetry (Toronto, 2008) , and for onomastic wordplay in Old English there are fundamental articles by F. C. Robinson, ‘The Significance of Names in Old English Literature’, Anglia 86 (1968), 14–58 , and R. Frank, ‘Some Uses of Paronomasia in Old English Scriptural Verse’, Speculum 47 (1972), 207–26. There are valuable studies of aspects of the language of Old English poetry by D. Donoghue, Style in Old English Poetry: the Test of the Auxiliary (New Haven, CT, 1987) , and by M. S. Griffiths, ‘Poetic Language and the Paris Psalter: the Decay of the Old English Tradition’, ASE 20 (1991), 167–86 .

Oral formulaic theory

The article which initiated the pursuit of oral-formulaic diction in Old English poetry was F. P. Magoun, ‘The Oral-Formulaic Character of Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry’, Speculum 28 (1953), 446–67 , with the valuable caveat by L. D. Benson, ‘The Literary Character of Anglo-Saxon Formulaic Poetry’, Publications of the Modern Language Association 81 (1966), 334–41 ; see also A. B. Lord, The Singer of Tales (New York, 1960) ; J. Opland, Anglo-Saxon Oral Poetry (New Haven, CT, 1980) ; and numerous studies by J. M. Foley: ‘The Oral Theory in Context’, in Oral Traditional Literature: a Festschrift for Albert Bates Lord, ed. J. M. Foley (Columbus, OH, 1981), pp. 27–122 , Literary Art and Oral Tradition in Old English and Serbian Poetry’, ASE 12 (1983), 183–214 , and Traditional Oral Epic: the ‘Odyssey’, ‘Beowulf’ and the Serbo-Croatian Return (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1990) ; as well as J. D. Niles, Homo Narrans: the Poetics and Anthropology of Oral Literature (Philadelphia, PA, 1999) , and K. Reichl, Singing the Past: Turkic and Medieval Heroic Poetry (Ithaca, NY and London, 2000). It must be said, however, that in recent years interest in the alleged ‘oral-formulaic’ aspects of Old English verse has begun to wane.


The classic study of Old English metre is that by E. Sievers, ‘Old Germanic and Old English Metrics’, trans. G. D. Luster, in Essential Articles for the Study of Old English Poetry, ed. J. B. Bessinger and S. J. Kahrl (Hamden, CT, 1968), pp. 267–88 ; the most important modern study is that of R. D. Fulk, A History of Old English Meter (Philadelphia, PA, 1992). Other useful studies include: J. C. Pope, The Rhythm of Beowulf (New Haven, CT, 1942) ; A. J. Bliss, The Metre of ‘Beowulf’ (Oxford, 1958) , and An Introduction to Old English Metre (Oxford, 1962) ; T. Cable, The Metre and Melody of ‘Beowulf’ (Urbana, IL, 1974) ; C. B. Kendall, The Metrical Grammar of ‘Beowulf’, CSASE 5 (Cambridge, 1991) ; G. Russom, ‘Beowulf’ and Old Germanic Metre, CSASE 23 (Cambridge, 1998) ; T. A. Bredehoft, Early English Metre (Toronto, 2005) .

Collected editions and translations

The standard collected edition is ASPR (cited above, under ‘Editions’), though this is hardly suitable for beginners. Various introductory guides (such as that by Mitchell and Robinson, listed above) contain editions of the most popular Old English poems; and an excellent introduction and edition of some of these is J. C. Pope, Eight Old English Poems, 3rd edn, rev. R. D. Fulk (New York and London, 2001). There is a useful and fairly complete collection of Old English poetry in translation by S. A. J. Bradley, Anglo-Saxon Poetry (London, 1982).R. F. Hamer, A Choice of Anglo-Saxon Verse (London, 1960) contains texts with facing-page translations.

Individual poems

Beowulf The standard scholarly edition (which includes a vast assemblage of notes and ancillary material) is Klaeber’s Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg, 4th edn, rev. R. D. Fulk, R. E. Bjork and J. D. Niles (Toronto, 2008). Useful student editions include Beowulf: a Student Edition, ed. G. Jack (Oxford, 1997) , and Beowulf: an Edition with Relevant Shorter Texts, ed. B. Mitchell and F. C. Robinson (including ‘Archaeology and Beowulf’ by L. Webster) (Oxford, 1998). A convenient edition of all the texts in the Vitellius manuscript, including Beowulf itself, with facing-page translation, is The Beowulf Manuscript: Complete Texts and ‘The Fight at Finnsburg’, ed. R. D. Fulk (Cambridge, MA and London, 2010).G. N. Garmonsway and J. Simpson, Beowulf and its Analogues (London, 1968) , provides translations of the major historical and legendary texts relevant to the poem; as does R. W. Chambers, Beowulf: an Introduction to the Study of the Poem, 3rd edn, rev. C. L. Wrenn (Cambridge, 1959) , though much of its discussion, particularly that on archaeology and genealogy, is now thoroughly out of date and must be used with caution. For valuable guidance to the many ways in which Beowulf has been interpreted, see A Beowulf Handbook, ed. R. E. Bjork and J. D. Niles (Lincoln, NE, 1997) , and, for an anthology of early criticism of the poem, Beowulf: the Critical Heritage, ed. T. A. Shippey and A. Haarder (London and New York, 1998). There are useful anthologies of essays on Beowulf edited by R. D. Fulk, Interpretations of Beowulf: a Critical Anthology (Bloomington, IN, 1991 ) and by P. S. Baker, Beowulf: Basic Readings (New York and London, 1995). Of the legion book-length studies on Beowulf, the following deserve mention: D. Whitelock, The Audience of Beowulf (Oxford, 1951) ; A. G. Brodeur, The Art of Beowulf (Berkeley, CA, 1959) ; K. Sisam, The Structure of Beowulf (Oxford, 1965) ; E. B. Irving, A Reading of Beowulf (New Haven, CT, 1968) , and Rereading Beowulf (Philadelphia, PA, 1989) ; J. D. Niles, Beowulf: the Poem and its Tradition (Cambridge, MA, 1983) ; F. C. Robinson, Beowulf and the Appositive Style (Knoxville, TN, 1985) ; S. Newton, The Origins of ‘Beowulf’ and the Pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (Woodbridge, 1993) ; J. M. Hill, The Cultural World in Beowulf (Toronto, 1995) ; A. Orchard, Pride and Prodigies: Studies in the Monsters of the Beowulf-Manuscript (Cambridge, 1995) , and esp. A Critical Companion to Beowulf (Cambridge, 2003). On the question of the date of Beowulf, which remains a subject of vigorous debate, see The Dating of Beowulf, ed. C. Chase (Toronto, 1981; repr. with an extra chapter, 1997) , and, more recently, M. Lapidge, ‘The Archetype of Beowulf’, ASE 29 (2000), 5–41 .

Other heroic poetry There is a useful collection of the heroic poems by J. Hill, Old English Minor Poems (Durham, 1983). Individual editions include Deor, ed. K. Malone (London, 1933) ; Finnsburh: Fragment and Episode, ed. D. K. Fry (London, 1974) ; Waldere, ed. A. Zettersten (Manchester and New York, 1979) ; Widsith, ed. K. Malone, Anglistica 13 (Copenhagen, 1962) ; and see also the (still valuable) study by R. W. Chambers, Widsith: a Study of Old English Heroic Legend (Cambridge, 1912) , as well as The Battle of Brunanburh, ed. A. Campbell (London, 1938) .

The Battle of Maldon A valuable text, with full apparatus of scholarship by many hands, is The Battle of Maldon AD 991, ed. D. G. Scragg (Oxford, 1991). There is again a host of articles on the poem, among which the following are perhaps most stimulating: M. J. Swanton, ‘The Battle of Maldon: a Literary Caveat’, Journal of English and Germanic Philology 67 (1968), 441–50 ; J. E. Cross, ‘Oswald and Byrhtnoth: a Christian Saint and a Hero who is a Christian’, English Studies 46 (1965), 93–109 ; H. Gneuss, Die ‘Battle of Maldon’ als historisches und literarisches Zeugnis (Munich, 1976) , and ‘The Battle of Maldon 89: Byrhtnoth’s ofermod Once Again’, Studies in Philology 73 (1976), 117–37 ; R. Woolf, ‘The Ideal of Men Dying with their Lord in the Germania and in the Battle of Maldon’, ASE 5 (1976), 63–81 ; F. C. Robinson, ‘God, Death and Loyalty in The Battle of Maldon’, in J. R. R. Tolkien: Scholar and Storyteller, ed. M. Salu and R. T. Farrell (Ithaca, NY and London, 1979), pp. 76–98 ; and the essays collected in The Battle of Maldon: Fiction and Fact, ed. J. Cooper (London, 1993) .

Elegies There is a collected edition of the elegies by A. L. Klinck, The Old English Elegies: a Critical Edition and Genre Study (Montreal, London and Buffalo, NY, 1992) ; and there are many editions of individual poems: The Wanderer, ed. R. F. Leslie (Manchester, 1966) , and ed. T. P. Dunning and A. J. Bliss (London, 1969); The Seafarer, ed. I. L. Gordon (London, 1960) ; The Wife’s Lament, The Husband’s Message and The Ruin, in Three Old English Elegies, ed. R. F. Leslie (Manchester, 1961). For studies of the individual elegies, and of the genre as a whole, see the essays collected in The Old English Elegies: New Essays in Criticism and Research, ed. M. Green (London and Toronto, 1983) , as well as D. Whitelock, ‘The Interpretation of The Seafarer’, in The Early Cultures of Northwest Europe, ed. B. Dickins and C. Fox (Cambridge, 1950), pp. 259–72 ; S. B. Greenfield, ‘The Formulaic Expression of the Theme of Exile in Anglo-Saxon Poetry’, Speculum 30 (1955), 200–6 ; E. G. Stanley, ‘Old English Poetic Diction and the Interpretation of The Wanderer, The Seafarer and The Penitent’s Prayer’, Anglia 73 (1955), 413–66 ; G. V. Smithers, The Meaning of The Seafarer and The Wanderer’, Medium Ævum 26 (1957), 137–53 , and 28 (1959), 1–22 and 99–104; J. E. Cross, ‘On the Genre of the Wanderer’, Neophilologus 45 (1961), 63–75 ; P. A. M. Clemoes, ‘Mens absentia cogitans in The Seafarer and The Wanderer’, in Medieval Literature and Civilization: Studies in Memory of G. N. Garmonsway, ed. D. Pearsall and R. A. Waldron (London, 1969), pp. 62–77 ; P. L. Henry, The Early English and Celtic Lyric (London, 1966) ; K. P. Wentersdorf, ‘The Situation of the Narrator’s Lord in The Wife’s Lament’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 71 (1970), 604–10 ; and J. C. Pope, ‘Second Thoughts on the Interpretation of The Seafarer’, ASE 3 (1974), 75–86. Although it is not in English, mention should be made of the exhaustive study of The Seafarer by C. Cucina, Il ‘Seafarer’: la navigatio cristiana di un poeta anglosassone (Rome, 2008) .

Biblical poetry There are separate editions of Genesis A by A. N. Doane (Madison, WI, 1978) ; of Genesis B by B. J. Timmer, The Later Genesis (Oxford, 1948) , and by A. N. Doane, The Saxon Genesis: an Edition of the West Saxon ‘Genesis B’ and the Old Saxon Vatican ‘Genesis’ (Madison, WI, 1991) ; of Exodus by P. J. Lucas (London, 1977 ) and by E. B. Irving (New Haven, CT, 1953) ; of Daniel and Azarias by R. T. Farrell (London, 1974) ; of Judith by M. Griffith (Exeter, 1997) ; and of Christ I as The Advent Lyrics of the Exeter Book, ed. J. J. Campbell (Princeton, NJ, 1959). On scriptural poetry in general, see P. G. Remley, Old English Biblical Verse: Studies in Genesis, Exodus and Daniel, CSASE 16 (Cambridge, 1996). For individual poems, see the collection of essays edited by R. M. Liuzza, The Poems of MS Junius 11: Basic Readings (London, 2002) , and also F. C. Robinson, ‘Notes on the Old English Exodus’, Anglia 80 (1962), 373–8 ; R. Woolf, ‘The Fall of Man in Genesis B and the Mystère d’Adam’, in Studies in Old English Literature in Honor of Arthur G. Brodeur, ed. S. B. Greenfield (Eugene, OR, 1963), pp. 187–99 ; J. W. Earl, ‘Christian Traditions in the Old English Exodus’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 71 (1970), 541–70 ; J. F. Vickrey, ‘Exodus and the Battle in the Sea’, Traditio 28 (1972), 119–40 ; R. T. Farrell, ‘The Unity of the Old English Daniel’, Review of English Studies 18 (1967), 117–35 and The Structure of Old English Daniel’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 69 (1968), 533–59 ; A. W. Astell, ‘Holofernes’s Head: tacen and Teaching in the Old English Judith’, ASE 18 (1989), 117–33 ; R. B. Burlin, The Old English Advent: a Typological Commentary (New Haven, CT, 1968) ; J. R. Hall, ‘The Old English Epic of Redemption: the Theological Unity of Junius 11’, Traditio 32 (1976), 185–208. A recent collaborative volume includes several important essays on Old English biblical verse as well as an extensive bibliography: Old English Literature and the Old Testament, ed. M. Fox and M. Sharma (Toronto, 2012) .

The Dream of the Rood There is a useful edition by M. Swanton (Manchester and New York, 1970). Individual studies include: R. Woolf, ‘Doctrinal Influences on The Dream of the Rood’, Medium Ævum 27 (1958), 137–53 ; J. A. Burrow, ‘An Approach to The Dream of the Rood’, Neophilologus 43 (1959), 122–33 ; M. Swanton, ‘Ambiguity and Anticipation in The Dream of the Rood’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 70 (1969), 407–25 ; E. Ó Carragáin, ‘Crucifixion as Annunciation and the Relation of The Dream of the Rood to the Liturgy Reconsidered’, English Studies 63 (1982), 487–505 ; C. B. Pasternack, ‘Stylistic Disjunction in the Dream of the Rood’, ASE 13 (1984), 167–86 ; E. B. Irving, ‘Crucifixion Witnessed in The Dream of the Rood’, in Modes of Interpretation in Old English Literature: Essays in Honour of Stanley B. Greenfield, ed. P. R. Brown, G. R. Crampton and F. C. Robinson (Toronto, 1986), pp. 101–13 ; and A. Orchard, ‘The Dream of the Rood: Cross-References’, in New Readings in the Vercelli Book, ed. S. Zacher and A. Orchard (Toronto, 2009), pp. 225–53 .

CædmonC. L. Wrenn, ‘The Poetry of Cædmon’, Proceedings of the British Academy 32 (1946), 277–95 ; G. Shepherd, ‘The Prophetic Cædmon’, Review of English Studies 5 (1954), 113–22 ; K. Malone, ‘Cædmon and English Poetry’, Modern Language Notes 76 (1961), 193–5 ; F. P. Magoun, ‘Bede’s Story of Cædmon: the Case History of an Anglo-Saxon Oral Singer’, Speculum 30 (1955), 49–63 ; and esp. D. O’Donnell, Cædmon’s Hymn: a Multimedia Study, Archive and Edition (Cambridge, 2005) .

Cynewulf Editions include A. S. Cook, The Christ of Cynewulf (Boston, 1909) ; Juliana, ed. R. Woolf (London, 1965) ; Elene, ed. P. O. E. Gradon (London, 1958) ; and Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, ed. K. R. Brooks (Oxford, 1961) . For studies of the poet, see Cynewulf: Basic Readings, ed. R. E. Bjork (New York and London, 1996) , and The Cynewulf Reader, ed. R. E. Bjork (New York and London, 2001) , as well as earlier studies by D. G. Calder, Cynewulf (Boston, 1981) , and E. Anderson, Cynewulf: Structure, Style and Theme in his Poetry (Rutherford, NJ and Toronto, 1983) .

Wisdom poetry Old English wisdom poetry is helpfully collected by T. A. Shippey, Poems of Wisdom and Learning in Old English (Cambridge and Totowa, NJ, 1976) ; see also discussion by N. Howe, The Old English Catalogue Poems, Anglistica 23 (Copenhagen, 1985) ; E. T. Hansen, The Solomon Complex: Reading Wisdom in Old English Poetry (Toronto, 1988) ; and P. Cavill, Maxims in Old English Poetry (Cambridge, 1999). For the ‘Dialogues of Solomon and Saturn’, see R. J. Menner, The Poetical Dialogues of Solomon and Saturn (New York, 1941) , and D. Anlezark, The Old English Dialogues of Solomon and Saturn, AST 7 (Cambridge, 2009). For the so-called ‘Rune Poem’, see M. Halsall, The Old English Rune Poem: a Critical Edition (Toronto, Buffalo, NY and London, 1981) , and discussion by M. Clunies Ross, ‘The Anglo-Saxon and Norse Rune Poems: a Comparative Study’, ASE 19 (1990) 23–39 .

Riddles The best edition is that by C. Williamson, The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill, NC, 1977). There are countless articles, too numerous to list here, proposing solutions to individual riddles; for general studies of the riddles, see J. D. Niles, Old English Enigmatic Poems and the Play of the Texts (Turnhout, 2006) ; A. Orchard, ‘Enigma Variations: the Anglo-Saxon Riddle-Tradition’, in Latin Learning and English Lore: Studies in Anglo-Saxon Literature for Michael Lapidge, ed. K. O’Brien O’Keeffe and A. Orchard, 2 vols. (Toronto, 2005), I, 284–304 ; and D. Bitterle, Say What I Am Called: the Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book and the Anglo-Latin Riddle Tradition (Toronto, 2009) .


A few standard pieces of Old English prose will appear in most introductory guides, but otherwise the student is obliged to consult standard scholarly editions, and it is to these that reference is made here. A brief but useful selection of Old English prose in translation is M. Swanton, Anglo-Saxon Prose (London, 1975). Some parts of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are translated in EHD, and extracts from a number of Alfred’s writings are translated in S. Keynes and M. Lapidge, Alfred the Great: Asser’s ‘Life of King Alfred’ and Other Contemporary Sources (Harmondsworth, 1983). For bibliography, see K. J. and K. P. Quinn, A Manual of Old English Prose (New York and London, 1990) .

Alfredian and other ninth-century prose

King Alfred’s West-Saxon Version of Gregory’s Pastoral Care, ed. H. Sweet, EETS os 45 and 50 (London, 1871) , to be supplemented by C. Schreiber, King Alfred’s Old English Translation of Pope Gregory the Great’s ‘Regula pastoralis’ and its Cultural Context: a Study and Partial Edition according to all Surviving Manuscripts based on Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 12 (New York, 2003) ; The Old English Boethius, ed. M. Godden and S. Irvine, 2 vols. (Oxford, 2009) ; King Alfred’s Version of St Augustine’s Soliloquies, ed. T. A. Carnicelli (Cambridge, MA, 1969) ; King Alfred’s Old English Prose Translation of the First Fifty Psalms, ed. P. P. O’Neill (Cambridge, MA, 2001) ; Bischofs Wærferth von Worcester Übersetzung der Dialoge Gregors des Grossen, ed. H. Hecht, Bibliothek der angelsächsischen Prosa 5 (Leipzig, 1900) ; The Old English Version of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, ed. T. Miller, 2 vols. in 4 parts, EETS os 95 and 96 (London, 1890–1) ; The Old English Orosius, ed. J. Bately, EETS ss 6 (London, 1980) ; G. Kotzor, Das altenglische Martyrologium, 2 vols., Abhandlungen der bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil.-hist. Klasse 88 (Munich, 1981) , also partly available with facing-page translation in An Old English Martyrology, ed. G. Herzfeld, EETS os 116 (London, 1900). Studies include: J. M. Bately, The Literary Prose of Alfred’s Reign: Translation or Transformation? (London, 1980) , and Lexical Evidence for the Authorship of the Prose Psalms in the Paris Psalter’, ASE 10 (1982), 69–95 ; J. S. Wittig, ‘King Alfred’s Boethius and its Latin Sources’, ASE 11 (1983), 157–98 ; A. J. Frantzen, King Alfred (Boston, 1986) ; Studies in Earlier Old English Prose, ed. P. E. Szarmach (Albany, NY, 1986) ; J. M. Bately, ‘Old English Prose Before and During the Reign of King Alfred’, ASE 17 (1988), 93–138 ; E. G. Stanley, ‘King Alfred’s Prefaces’, Review of English Studies 39 (1988), 349–64 ; Alfred the Wise: Studies in Honour of Janet Bately, ed. J. Roberts, J. L. Nelson and M. Godden (Cambridge, 1997) ; Alfred the Great: Papers from the Eleventh-Centenary Conferences, ed. T. Reuter (Aldershot, 2003) ; M. R. Godden, ‘Did King Alfred Write Anything?’, Medium Ævum 76 (2007), 1–23. For bibliography, see Old English Prose Translations of King Alfred’s Reign, ed. G. Waite (Cambridge, 2000) , and also N. G. Discenza, ‘Alfred the Great: a Bibliography with Special Reference to Literature’, in Old English Prose: Basic Readings, ed. P. E. Szarmach (New York and London, 2000), pp. 463–502 .

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

The most widely quoted text of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is C. Plummer and J. Earle, Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1892–9). This edition is being replaced by the multi-volume edition The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: a Collaborative Edition, ed. D. Dumville and S. Keynes (Cambridge) , of which the following volumes of individual recensions are available: MS. A (ed. J. Bately, 1986) , MS. B (ed. S. Taylor, 1983) , MS. C (ed. K. O’Brien O’Keeffe, 2001) , MS. D (ed. G. P. Cubbin, 1996) , MS. E (ed. S. Irvine, 2004) and MS. F (ed. P. S. Baker, 2000). There is an excellent (synoptic) translation by D. Whitelock, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: a Revised Translation (London, 1961) , and a facsimile edition of MS A by R. Flower and H. Smith, The Parker Chronicle and Laws, EETS os 208 (London, 1941). For studies of the prose of the Chronicle, see C. Clark, ‘The Narrative Mode of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, in England Before the Conquest: Studies in Primary Sources Presented to Dorothy Whitelock, ed. P. Clemoes and K. Hughes (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 215–35 ; S. D. White, ‘Kinship and Lordship in Early Medieval England: the Story of Sigeberht, Cynewulf and Cyneheard’, Viator 20 (1980), 1–18 ; and T. A. Bredehoft, Textual Histories: Readings in the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ (Toronto, 2001) .


There is a useful bibliography on Ælfric by L. M. Reimsma, Ælfric: an Annotated Bibliography (New York and London, 1987) , supplemented by A. Kleist, ‘An Annotated Bibliography of Ælfrician Studies, 1983–96’, in Old English Prose: Basic Readings, ed. P. E. Szarmach (New York and London, 2000), pp. 503–47. For editions of Ælfric’s homilies, see Ælfric’s Catholic Homilies: the First Series, Text, ed. P. Clemoes, EETS ss 17 (Oxford, 1997) ; Ælfric’s Catholic Homilies: the Second Series, Text, ed. M. Godden, EETS ss 5 (London, 1979) ; and M. Godden, Ælfric’s Catholic Homilies: Introduction, Commentary and Glossary, EETS ss 18 (Oxford, 2000). (The nineteenth-century edition by B. Thorpe, The Homilies of the Anglo-Saxon Church: the First Part, Containing the Sermones Catholici or Homilies of Ælfric, 2 vols. (London, 1844–6) , includes a facing-page translation.) See also Homilies of Ælfric: a Supplementary Collection, ed. J. C. Pope, EETS os 259 and 260 (London, 1967–8). Ælfric’s ‘Lives of Saints’ must still be read in the nineteenth-century edition by W. W. Skeat, Ælfric’s Lives of Saints, EETS os 76, 82, 94 and 114 (London, 1881–1900; repr. as two vols. 1966) , with facing-page translation, although there are a few valuable modern editions of individual ‘Lives’, notably Ælfric’s Life of Saint Basil the Great: Background and Context, ed. G. Corona, AST 5 (Cambridge, 2006). The Old English translation of the Heptateuch, which is partly by Ælfric and partly anonymous, is ed. R. Marsden, The Old English Heptateuch and Ælfric’s Libellus de Veteri Testamento et Novo, EETS os 330 (Oxford, 2008). Other important editions of writings by Ælfric include: Ælfric’s Prefaces, ed. J. Wilcox, Durham Medieval Texts 9 (Durham, 1994) , which includes a very useful account of Ælfric’s life and background; Ælfric’s Letter to the Monks of Eynsham, ed. C. A. Jones, CSASE 24 (Cambridge, 1998) ; Ælfrics Grammatik und Glossar, ed. J. Zupitza, 3rd edn, rev. H. Gneuss (Berlin, 2001) , and Ælfric’s De temporibus anni, ed. M. Blake, AST 6 (Cambridge, 2009). The best brief introduction to Ælfric is H. Gneuss, Ælfric of Eynsham: his Life, Times and Writings, Old English Newsletter Subsidia 34 (Kalamazoo, MI, 2009) , and there is now a useful handbook ed. by H. Magennis and M. Swan, A Companion to Ælfric (Leiden and Boston, 2009) ; an important earlier study is P. A. M. Clemoes, ‘Ælfric’, in Continuations and Beginnings: Studies in Old English Literature, ed. E. G. Stanley (London, 1966), pp. 176–209. On the form and sources of Ælfric’s homily collections, see C. L. Smetana, ‘Ælfric and the Early Medieval Homiliary’, Traditio 15 (1959), 163–204 , and Ælfric and the Homiliary of Haymo of Halberstadt’, Traditio 17 (1961), 457–69 ; as well as M. McC. Gatch, Preaching and Theology in Anglo-Saxon England: Ælfric and Wulfstan (Toronto, 1977) ; The Old English Homily and its Backgrounds, ed. P. Szarmach and B. Huppé (Albany, NY, 1978) ; and The Old English Homily: Precedent, Practice, and Appropriation, ed. A. J. Kleist (Turnhout, 2007). On Ælfric’s saints’ Lives, see D. Bethurum, ‘The Form of Ælfric’s Lives of Saints’, Studies in Philology 29 (1932), 515–33 ; M. R. Godden, ‘Ælfric’s Saints’ Lives and the Problem of Miracles’, Leeds Studies in English 16 (1985), 83–100 ; Ælfric’s Lives of Canonised Popes, ed. D. G. Scragg, Old English Newsletter Subsidia 30 (Kalamazoo, MI, 2001) ; and M. Gretsch, Ælfric and the Cult of Saints in Late Anglo-Saxon England, CSASE 34 (Cambridge, 2005) .


See the edition (with facing-page translation) of P. S. Baker and M. Lapidge, Byrhtferth’s Enchiridion, EETS ss 15 (Oxford, 1995) , as well as P. S. Baker, ‘The OE Canon of Byrhtferth of Ramsey’, Speculum 55 (1980), 22–37 , and Byrhtferth’s Enchiridion and the Computus in Oxford, St John’s College 17’, ASE 10 (1982), 123–42 ; and M. Lapidge, ‘Byrhtferth of Ramsey and the Glossae Bridferti in Bedam’, Journal of Medieval Latin 17 (2007), 384–400 .


The standard edition is The Homilies of Wulfstan, ed. D. Bethurum (Oxford, 1957) , still to be supplemented by A. S. Napier, Wulfstan: Sammlung der ihm zugeschriebenen Homilien nebst Untersuchungen über ihre Echtheit (Berlin, 1883) ; the best known of Wulfstan’s homilies is edited separately by D. Whitelock as Sermo Lupi ad Anglos (London, 1939). His eschatological homilies are available in an online edition by Joyce Lionarons at On Wulfstan, see D. Whitelock, ‘Archbishop Wulfstan, Homilist and Statesman’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 24 (1942), 24–45 ; D. Bethurum, ‘Wulfstan’, in Continuations and Beginnings: Studies in Old English Literature, ed. E. G. Stanley (London, 1966), pp. 210–46 ; A. McIntosh, ‘Wulfstan’s Prose’, Proceedings of the British Academy 35 (1949), 109–42 ; O. Funke, ‘Some Remarks on Wulfstan’s Prose Rhythm’, English Studies 43 (1962), 311–18 ; M. McC. Gatch, Preaching and Theology in Anglo-Saxon England: Ælfric and Wulfstan (Toronto, 1977), esp. pp. 105–28 ; J. Lionarons, The Homiletic Writings of Archbishop Wulfstan (Cambridge, 2010) ; and the useful collection of essays in Wulfstan, Archbishop of York: the Proceedings of the Second Alcuin Conference, ed. M. Townend (Turnhout, 2004) .

Anonymous prose

There is a substantial body of anonymous Old English prose, much of it homiletic in nature; see in general D. G. Scragg, ‘The Corpus of Vernacular Homilies and Prose Saints’ Lives before Ælfric’, ASE 8 (1979), 223–77 , and The Old English Homily: Precedent, Practice, and Appropriation, ed. A. J. Kleist (Turnhout, 2007). For the Vercelli Book homilies, see the edition of D. G. Scragg, The Vercelli Homilies and Related Texts, EETS os 300 (Oxford, 1992) , with the following studies: D. G. Scragg, ‘The Compilation of the Vercelli Book’, ASE 2 (1973), 189–207 ; S. Zacher, Preaching the Converted: the Style and Rhetoric of the Vercelli Book Homilies (Toronto, 2009) ; and New Readings in the Vercelli Book, ed. S. Zacher and A. Orchard (Toronto, 2009) , including discussion of the poems in the Vercelli Book, and a comprehensive bibliography of scholarship on the manuscript by P. G. Remley, at pp. 318–415. For the Blickling Homilies, see the edition of R. Morris, The Blickling Homilies of the Tenth Century (3 vols., London, 1874–80, repr. as one vol., 1967) , with discussion by D. G. Scragg, ‘The Homilies of the Blickling Manuscript’, in Learning and Literature in Anglo-Saxon England: Studies Presented to Peter Clemoes, ed. M. Lapidge and H. Gneuss (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 299–316. For the collection of abbreviated saints’ Lives assembled in the Old English Martyrology, see the excellent website by Christine Rauer at On saints’ Lives, see esp. the studies in Holy Men and Holy Women: Old English Prose Saints’ Lives and their Contexts, ed. P. E. Szarmach (Albany, 1996). The anonymous late Old English translation of the Latin romance Apollonius is ed. P. Goolden, The Old English Apollonius of Tyre (Oxford, 1958) .

Old English after 1066

There is little point in trying to assemble an exhaustive reading list of primary sources that use Old English after the end of the Anglo-Saxon period; there are simply too many. In most cases these can be located through the secondary material that follows. Several important publications in this field contain material that overlaps two or more of the period and category distinctions made below. The following are essential to an enquiry into the post-Conquest life of Old English in any period: A. J. Frantzen, Desire for Origins: New Language, Old English, and Teaching the Tradition (New Brunswick, NJ, 1990) ; F. C. Robinson, ‘The Afterlife of Old English: a Brief History of Composition in Old English after the Close of the Anglo-Saxon Period’, in his The Tomb of Beowulf and Other Essays on Old English (Oxford, 1993), pp. 275–303 ; Anglo-Saxonism and the Construction of Social Identity, ed. A. J. Frantzen and J. D. Niles (Gainesville, 1997) ; Literary Appropriations of the Anglo-Saxons from the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century, ed. D. Scragg and C. Weinberg, CSASE 29 (Cambridge, 2000) .

History of the discipline and the scholarly recovery of Old English

E. N. Adams, Old English Scholarship in England from 1566–1800 (New Haven, CT, 1917) ; D. Douglas, English Scholars 1660–1730 (London, 1951) ; D. J. Palmer, The Rise of English Studies (London, 1965) ; H. Aarsleff, The Study of Language in England, 1780–1860 (Princeton, NJ, 1967) ; Anglo-Saxon Scholarship: the First Three Centuries, ed. C. T. Berkhout and M. McC. Gatch (Boston, 1982) ; A. Briggs, ‘Saxons, Normans and Victorians’, in The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs, II: Images, Problems, Standpoints, Forecasts (Brighton, 1985), pp. 215–33 ; J. R. Hall, ‘The Conybeare “Cædmon”: a Turning Point in the History of Old English Scholarship’, Harvard Library Bulletin 33 (1985), 378–403 ; T. A. Shippey and A. Haarder, Beowulf: the Critical Heritage (London, 1998) ; T. Graham, ‘Anglo-Saxon Studies: Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries’, J. R. Hall, ‘Anglo-Saxon Studies in the Nineteenth Century: England, Denmark, America’, and H. Sauer, ‘Anglo-Saxon Studies in the Nineteenth Century: Germany, Austria, Switzerland’, all in A Companion to Anglo-Saxon Literature, ed. E. Treharne and P. Pulsiano (Oxford, 2001), pp. 415–33, 434–44 , and 455–71, respectively.

Political context and historical background to Anglo-Saxonism

C. Hill, Puritanism and Revolution: Studies in Interpretation of the English Revolution of the Seventeenth Century, 2nd edn (Harmondsworth, 1986; originally published 1958) ; H. Reginald, ‘Origins of Racial Anglo-Saxonism in Great Britain Before 1850’, Journal of the History of Ideas 37 (1976), 387–410 ; R. Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: the Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge, MA, 1981) ; H. MacDougall, Racial Myth in English History: Trojans, Teutons and Anglo-Saxons (Montreal, 1982) ; S. R. Hauer, ‘Thomas Jefferson and the Anglo-Saxon Language’, Publications of the Modern Language Association 98 (1983), 879–98 ; C. A. Simmons, Reversing the Conquest: History and Myth in Nineteenth-Century British Literature (New Brunswick, NJ, 1990) ; J. Parker, ‘England’s Darling’: the Victorian Cult of Alfred the Great (Manchester, 2007) .

The later Middle Ages

A good port of entry is E. Treharne, ‘English in the Post-Conquest Period’, in A Companion to Anglo-Saxon Literature, ed. E. Treharne and P. Pulsiano (Oxford, 2001), pp. 403–14. See also C. Sisam, ‘The Scribal Tradition of the Lambeth Homilies’, Review of English Studies ns 2 (1951), 105–13 ; A. F. Cameron, ‘Middle English in Old English Manuscripts’, in Chaucer and Middle English: Studies in Honour of Rossell Hope Robbins, ed. B. Rowland (London, 1974), pp. 218–29 ; C. Clark, ‘People and Languages in post-Conquest Canterbury’, Journal of Medieval History 2 (1976), 1–33 ; S. K. Brehe, ‘Reassembling the First Worcester Fragment’, Speculum 65 (1990), 521–36 ; C. Franzen, The Tremulous Hand of Worcester: a Study of Old English in the Thirteenth Century (Oxford, 1991) ; S. Lerer, ‘Old English and its Afterlife’, in Medieval English Literature, ed. D. Wallace (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 7–34 ; Rewriting Old English in the Twelfth Century, ed. M. Swan and E. Treharne (Cambridge, 2000) ; R. A. Rouse, The Idea of Anglo-Saxon England in Middle English Romance (Cambridge, 2005) ; E. Treharne, ‘Reading from the Margins: the Uses of Old English Homiletic Manuscripts in the post-Conquest Period’, in Beatus Vir: Studies in Early English and Norse Manuscripts in Memory of Phillip Pulsiano, ed. A. N. Doane and K. Wolf (Tempe, AZ, 2006), pp. 329–58 , and Making their Presence Felt: Readers of Ælfric c. 1050–1350’, in A Companion to Ælfric, ed. H. Magennis and M. Swan (Leiden, 2009), pp. 399–422 ; Treharne’s forthcoming book, Living through Conquest: the Politics of English 1020–1220 (Oxford, 2012) will synthesize and sum up more than a decade’s research which she has carried out in this field.

Renaissance and early modern Old English

Much of Frantzen’s Desire for Origins deals with this period. See also F. L. Utley, ‘Two Seventeenth-Century Anglo-Saxon Poems’, Modern Language Quarterly 3 (1943), 243–61 ; several of the contributors to C. T. Berkhout and M. McC. Gatch, Anglo-Saxon Scholarship: the First Three Centuries (Boston, 1982) , including S. A. Glass, ‘The Saxonist Influence on Seventeenth-Century English Literature’, pp. 91–105; the several contributors to The Recovery of Old English: Anglo-Saxon Studies in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, ed. T. Graham (Kalamazoo, MI, 2000) ; L. Scragg, ‘Saxons Versus Danes: the Anonymous Edmund Ironside’, and J. Briggs, ‘New Times and Old Stories: Middleton’s Hengist’, in Literary Appropriations of the Anglo-Saxons from the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century, ed. Scragg and Weinberg, pp. 93–106 and 107–21 respectively; S. van Romburgh, ‘Why Francis Junius (1591–1677) Became an Anglo-Saxonist, or, the Study of Old English for the Elevation of Dutch’, Studies in Medievalism 11 (2001), 5–36 .

Romantic and Victorian Old English

H. B. Woolf, ‘Longfellow’s Interest in Old English’, in Philologica: the Malone Anniversary Studies, ed. T. A. Kirby and H. B. Woolf (Baltimore, MD, 1949), pp. 281–9 ; W. A. Quinn, ‘Hopkins’ Anglo-Saxon’, Hopkins Quarterly 8 (1981), 25–32 ; P. M. Tilling, ‘William Morris’s Translation of Beowulf: Studies in his Vocabulary’, in Studies in English Language and Literature in Honour of Paul Christophersen, ed. P. M. Tilling (Coleraine, 1981), pp. 163–75 ; R. C. Payne, ‘The Rediscovery of Old English Poetry in the English Literary Tradition’, in Anglo-Saxon Scholarship: the First Three Centuries, ed. C. T. Berkhout and M. McC. Gatch (Boston, 1982), pp. 149–66 ; M. Alexander, ‘Tennyson’s “Battle of Brunanburh”’, Tennyson Research Bulletin 4 (1985), 151–61 ; E. G. Stanley, ‘Translation from Old English: “The Garbaging War-Hawk”, or the Literal Materials from which the Reader can Re-create the Poem’, in his A Collection of Papers with Emphasis on Old English Literature (Toronto, 1987), pp. 83–114 ; C. H. Plotkin, The Tenth Muse: Victorian Philology and the Genesis of the Poetic Language of Gerard Manley Hopkins (Carbondale, IL, 1989) ; C. A. Simmons, ‘“Iron-Worded Proof”: Victorian Identity and the Old English Language’, Studies in Medievalism 4 (1992), 202–18 ; R. Boenig, ‘The Importance of Morris’s Beowulf’, Journal of the William Morris Society 12 (1997), 7–13 ; D. Pratt, ‘Anglo-Saxon Attitudes? Alfred the Great and the Romantic National Epic’, A. Sanders, ‘“Utter Indifference”?: the Anglo-Saxons in the Nineteenth-Century Novel’, E. B. Irving, Jr, ‘The Charge of the Saxon Brigade: Tennyson’s Battle of Brunanburh’, and T. Shippey, ‘The Undeveloped Image: Anglo-Saxon in Popular Consciousness from Turner to Tolkien’, all in Literary Appropriations of the Anglo-Saxons from the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century, ed. Scragg and Weinberg, pp. 138–56, 157–73, 174–93 and 215–36 respectively; M. C. Davidson, ‘Remembering our Saxon Forefathers: Linguistic Nationalism in Ivanhoe’, Studies in Medievalism 15 (2006), 41–54 ; C. Jones, ‘The Reception of William Morris’s Beowulf’, in Writing on the Image: Reading William Morris, ed. D. Latham (Toronto, 2007), pp. 197–208 , Anglo-Saxonism in Nineteenth-Century Poetry’, Literature Compass 7 (2010), 358–69 , and “Birthplace for the Poetry for the Sea-Ruling Nation”: Stopford Brooke and Old English’, in The Sea and Englishness in the Middle Ages: Maritime Narratives, Identity and Culture, ed. S. I. Sobecki (Cambridge, 2011), pp. 179–94 .

Twentieth- and twenty-first-century Old English

J. Milosh, ‘John Gardener’s Grendel: Sources and Analogues’, Contemporary Literature 19 (1978), 48–57 ; F. C. Robinson, ‘“The Might of the North”: Pound’s Anglo-Saxon Studies and “The Seafarer”’, Yale Review 71 (1982), 199–224 ; M. Dodsworth, ‘Offa, Charlemagne and Geoffrey Hill’, in Geoffrey Hill: Essays on his Work, ed. P. Robinson (Milton Keynes, 1985), pp. 49–61 ; H. Magennis, ‘Some Modern Writers and their Fontes Anglo-Saxonici’, Old English Newsletter 24 (1991), 14–18 ; F. C. Robinson, ‘Ezra Pound and the Old English Translational Tradition’, in his The Tomb of Beowulf and Other Essays on Old English (Oxford, 1993), pp. 259–74 ; M. J. Toswell, ‘Auden and Anglo-Saxon’, Medieval English Studies Newsletter 37 (1997), 21–8 ; N. Howe, ‘Praise and Lament: the Afterlife of Old English Poetry in Auden, Hill and Gunn’, in Words and Works: Studies in Medieval English Language and Literature in Honour of Fred C. Robinson, ed. P. S. Baker and N. Howe (Toronto, 1998), pp. 293–310 ; P. E. Szarmach, ‘“Anthem”: Auden’s Caedmon’s Hymn’, in Medievalism in the Modern World: Essays in Honour of Leslie J. Workman, ed. R. Utz and T. Shippey (Turnhout, 1998), pp. 329–40 ; D. Donoghue, ‘The Philologer Poet: Seamus Heaney and the Translation of Beowulf’, Harvard Review 19 (2000), 12–21 ; C. Jones, ‘“One a Bird Bore Off”: Anglo-Saxon and the Elegiac in The Cantos’, Paideuma 30 (2001), 91–8 ; H. Magennis, ‘Michael Crichton, Ibn Fadlan, Fantasy Cinema: Beowulf at the Movies’, Old English Newsletter 35 (2001), 34–8 ; C. McCarthy, ‘Language and History in Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf’, English 50 (2001), 149–58 ; H. Phillips, ‘Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf’, in The Art of Seamus Heaney, ed. T. Curtis (Bridgend, 2001), pp. 263–85 ; L. C. Gruber, ‘“So.” So What? It’s a Culture War. That’s Hwæt! Seamus Heaney’s Verse Translation of Beowulf, Bilingual and Critical Editions’, In Geardagum: Essays on Old and Middle English Language and Literature 23 (2002), 67–84 ; C. Jones, ‘W. H. Auden and “The ‘Barbaric’ Poetry of the North”: Unchaining One’s Daimon’, Review of English Studies 53 (2002), 167–85 , and ‘“One Can Emend a Mutilated Text”: Auden’s The Orators and the Old English Exeter Book’, TEXT 15 (2002), 261–75 ; C. Phelpstead, ‘Auden and the Inklings: an Alliterative Revival’, Journal of English and Germanic Philology 103 (2004), 433–57 ; M. J. Toswell, ‘Earle Birney as Anglo-Saxon Scop: a Canadian “Shaper” of Poetry?’, Canadian Poetry 54 (2004), 11–36 ; C. Jones, Strange Likeness: the Use of Old English in Twentieth-Century Poetry (Oxford, 2006) ; T. McGuire, ‘Violence and Vernacular in Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf’, New Hibernia Review / Iris Éireannach Nua 10 (2006), 79–99 ; R. Hampson, ‘Bill Griffiths and the Old English Lyric’, in The Salt Companion to Bill Griffiths, ed. W. Rowe (Cambridge, 2007), pp. 72–87 ; C. McCarthy, Seamus Heaney and Medieval Poetry (Cambridge, 2008), pp. 86–126 ; C. Jones, ‘“Where Now the Harp?” Listening for the Sounds of Old English Verse from Beowulf to the Twentieth Century’, Oral Tradition 24 (2009), 485–502 ; H. O’Donoghue, ‘Heaney, Beowulf, and the Medieval Literature of the North’, in The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney, ed. B. O’Donoghue (Cambridge, 2009), pp. 192–205 ; the several contributors to Anglo-Saxon Culture and the Modern Imagination, ed. D. Clark and N. Perkins (Cambridge, 2010) ; C. Jones, ‘New Old English: the Place of Old English in Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Poetry’, Literature Compass 11 (2010), 1009–19 ; H. Magennis, Translating ‘Beowulf’: Modern Versions in English Verse (Cambridge, 2011) .

Electronic resources

Since the publication of the first edition of this Companion (1991), there has been an explosion in the provision of material relevant to the study of Old English available in electronic form, either on CD-ROM or via the internet. Particularly important are digital images of manuscripts (cited above under ‘Manuscripts’) and dictionaries, corpora and concordances (cited above under ‘Language’). Most of the journals noted above and some of the books are now available online in addition to their print form. A rich site for medieval resources in general is The Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval Studies, at, and there is further relevant material in the online bibliography of Jack Lynch (Rutgers),

Some important tools not already mentioned are listed below.

Fontes Anglo-Saxonici: a Register of Written Sources Used by Anglo-Saxon Authors (CD-ROM Version 1.1), developed by Rohini Jayatilaka, Malcolm Godden and David Miles (Oxford: Fontes Anglo-Saxonici Project, English Faculty, Oxford University, 2002); also online at Detailed citations of source passages for Anglo-Saxon texts, in Old English and Latin.

Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England, Gives summary details and references for all the recorded inhabitants of Anglo-Saxon England from the late sixth to the late eleventh century.

The Anglo-Saxon Penitentials: a Cultural Database, by Allen Frantzen, Editions and images of the main penitential texts in Old English.

An Inventory of Script and Spellings in Eleventh-Century English, by D. G. Scragg et al., A record of the ways in which sounds were actually spelt and written in manuscripts of the eleventh century.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004), (by subscription). Includes biographies of many Anglo-Saxon writers and figures of historical importance.

Kemble: the Website of the British Academy / Royal Historical Society Joint Committee on Anglo-Saxon Charters, Contains texts and references for all Anglo-Saxon charters.