Beowulf – The Epic in Performance

Benjamin Bagby credit Claire Breay

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With Benjamin Bagby

Experience Benjamin Bagby’s acclaimed one-man performance of Beowulf, featuring voice and harp. Presented in the original Anglo-Saxon with modern English supertitles, the story is brought to life only a short distance from where the 1,000-year-old manuscript is displayed.

‘Mr Bagby comes as close to holding hundreds of people in a spell as ever a man has’ The New York Times

Beowulf is the name of a legendary medieval hero who defeats supernatural monsters in singlehanded combat. Tales of his exploits were certainly transmitted orally by storytellers throughout northern Europe, beginning as early as the 6th century, but at one point in its history – shortly after the year 1000 – the version of Beowulf we know today was written down by Anglo-Saxon scribes. 

In spite of its literary reputation, Beowulf’s roots remain firmly in the art of the performing scop (‘creator’), the tribal storyteller and singer, whose services were essential to the fabric of pre-literate society in early medieval England. The scop would re-tell the story of Beowulf, in song and speech, probably accompanying himself on a six-stringed harp such as the one unearthed at Sutton Hoo (fragments of which can be viewed in the British Museum).

Image: Benjamin Bagby 


Name: Beowulf – The Epic in Performance
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £15.00
Member: £15.00
Senior 60+: £12.00
Student: £10.00
Registered Unemployed: £10.00
Under 18: £10.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546