An episode unique to the late ninth-century Life of Gregory the Great by John the Deacon reports a famine that occurred in the year of Gregory’s death; a hostile party blamed the lavish generosity of the late pope for Rome’s suffering. The fury of the people was roused and they set out to burn Gregory’s books. However, the deacon Peter, Gregory’s familiarissimus, intervened to dissuade them, telling the people that Gregory’s works were directly inspired by God. As proof he asked God to take his life, and promptly dropped dead. This episode is not found in the earlier accounts of Gregory’s life: the brief account in the mid seventh-century Liber pontificalis, the early eighth-century Life by an anonymous monk of Whitby, and the mid eighth-century account by Paul the Deacon. Doubtful as John the Deacon’s account of the exchange between Peter and the mob may be, it does tell us something about the status of Gregory and his works in the mid 870s, when Pope John VIII commissioned the new hagiography. Gregory the Great became one of the most widely read authors of the Middle Ages, and even in his lifetime some of his works were eagerly sought after. With his popularity and influence Gregory not only added to the body of Christian literature, but also made a lasting contribution to the debate over what kinds of works it was appropriate for Christians to read. This essay will survey his works and discuss his ideas on reading and literature, and on the establishment of a Christian literary canon. The influence of Gregory’s works and ideas will be examined in relation to one particular medieval nation - Anglo-Saxon England. As the instigator of the Anglo-Saxon mission, Gregory enjoyed a great reputation as an author in Anglo-Saxon England, where his ideas on literature and society had a lasting impact.