‘Beowulf’ is the earliest major work in English.
The earliest manuscript copy of the poem is stored in the British Library,
and is dated around 1010. Through the ages, there have been many translations, notably one by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Beowulf has always been regarded as a classic, and has inspired many writers
over the ages including W. H. Auden, Jorge Louis Borge, and J. R. R. Tolkien.
We use, in this wolfnote, the translation of 1973 by Michael Alexander.
Although there is no evidence to show that Beowulf is an actual historical
character, other names mentioned in the poem are certainly historical, including Hygelac, King of the Geats.
The poem is set in an area of Europe prior to the arrival of Christianity.
Its written format has been adapted for the Christian audience to which the
1010 manuscript refers.
We are never likely to know who the original author of the poem was, but
although it has been adapted for a Christian English audience, the setting of Northern Europe has not been changed.
Reference is also made to King Offa of the Angles, and it is widely agreed
that King Offa of 8th Century Mercia in England was a descendent.
There was much coming and going over the North Sea between the lands of
Beowulf and England, and the two geographic areas are strongly linked.