Treasures in Focus: Beowulf
Treasures in Focus is a series of pocket guides to some of the British Library's greatest treasures.
Beowulf is the most famous poem in Old English, the language spoken in England before the Norman Conquest.
More than 3,000 lines long, the poem survives in a single medieval manuscript, produced around the year AD 1000. Beowulf belongs both to a different era, when books were made by hand, and to our modern world, in which the poem continues to be adapted for new audiences.
This pocket-size introduction to Beowulf reproduces key pages of the poem, and describes the history of the manuscript, not least its escape from fire in the eighteenth century. The images are accompanied by extracts from the translation by William Morris, published originally in 1895. The Treasures in Focus series is available exclusively through the British Library Shop.
JULIAN HARRISON is Curator of Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts at the British Library, and is an Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Glasgow. He is joint editor of The Chronicle of Melrose Abbey: A Stratigraphic Edition, Volume One (Woodbridge, 2007), and of Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain (London, 2009). He is currently compiling an inventory of the Cotton manuscripts, charters, rolls and seals at the British Library.