Explore unique collection items and expert articles relating to some of the earliest works of English literature and most influential figures in literary history.
Jenny Stevens introduces 'The Merchant's Prologue and Tale', exploring the way in which it combines literary genres and traditions, and refuses to give the reader a clear moral or message.Read more
The mystery plays and morality plays of the 15th and 16th centuries were very different from modern drama. They were performed in public spaces by ordinary people, and organised and funded by guilds of craftsmen and merchants. Hetta Howes takes us back in time to show how these plays portrayed scenes from the Bible, conveyed religious doctrine and encouraged their audiences to lead Christian lives.Read more
In the Middle Ages, the greatest knight was not simply the greatest warrior. He was also kind, courteous, generous and devoted to his lady: qualities that combined to produce perfect chivalry. Laura Ashe explores the ideal of chivalry through several works of the period.Read more
A S G Edwards explains how William Caxton brought the printing press to England, and published printed versions of works by writers including Chaucer, Malory, Gower, Cicero and Virgil.Read more
Medieval Europeans were fascinated by the lands that lay beyond their own continent. Josephine Livingstone looks at the real and imaginary travels of explorers and tradesman through works including The Book of John Mandeville, The Travels of Marco Polo and medieval maps.Read more
Works of literature
Explore key works of medieval literature
Beowulf is the longest epic poem in Old English, the language spoken in Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman ...
The anonymous poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is considered one of the masterpieces of Middle English ...