c. 450-c. 1066
The Anglo-Saxon Era of British literature, also known as the Old English Period, began sometime after 450 following the conquest of Celtic England by a series of Germanic tribes, including the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians. Only about a dozen writers of this period are known today and their writings survive primarily in the form of fragments or references in later works, so very little is known about most of them.
What can be known with some certainty is that literacy in this period was restricted to an elite group of theologians and Church scholars or scribes who formed some of the earliest evangelical movements of Christianity into the former Roman territories. Consequently, their writings were almost exclusively religious prose or poetry.
An exception would be the epic of Beowulf, which is believed to have originated in ancient Nordic or Scandinavian tradition but was among the first works to be recorded in what came to be known as Old English. As such, it is included in most curricular studies of the earliest British literature.
The following authors in our database represent the Anglo-Saxon Period of British Literature:
|Anonymous: Beowulf (c. 800s AD)||Caedmon (d. 670 AD)|
|Anonymous: The Dream of the Rood (600s AD)||Cynewulf (800s AD)|
|Bede, The Venerable (672/3 AD-735 AD)|
Click on any of the above names to open the corresponding biographical essay.
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