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British Literature: Old English 450-1066 - Middle English 1100-1500

A guide for ENG 240 Foundations of British Literature.

Beowulf First Page

Image of the Beowulf manuscript from the anonymous Anglo-Saxon scribe who wrote the 'Nowell Codex', Cotton Vitellius A.x.v. 129 r.


An image from the Ellsmere Manuscript considered a prime authority for the text of The Canterbury Tales and one of the most beautiful literary manuscripts of its period.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, late 14th-century

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from original manuscript, artist unknown)

Library Materials

Subject Headings

Here are some subject headings to use in the OPAL catalog when searching for Old English resources.

  • English literature -- Old English, ca. 450-1100 -- History and criticism
  • Women -- England -- History -- Middle Ages, 500-1500.
  • Epic poetry, English (Old)
  • Epic poetry, English (Old) -- History and criticism.
  • Manuscripts, English (Old)
  • English poetry -- Middle English, 1100-1500 -- History and criticism
  • Arthurian romances -- History and criticism.
  • Gawain (Legendary character) -- Romances -- History and criticism.
  • Chaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400. Canterbury tales -- Sources.
  • Christian pilgrims and pilgrimages in literature.