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Home » » Who was the author of Beowulf?

Beowulf is one, of the most magnificent works of English literature. Few other stories capture the heroism and grandeur exhibited by Beowulf in fights with the three vicious monsters he encounters: the demon Greridel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon. Likewise, tew stories capture the sorrow of the epic's tragic conclusion. Clearly, the author of Beowulf was one of England's first great authors. But who was he? If you glance at a copy of Beowulf, you will likely see a name on the cover. 

However, the name you see does not belong to the author of Beowulf. rather, it belongs to the translator (a few of whom include . Seamus Heaney, Francis B. Gummere, and J. R. R. Tolkien). The reason for this is that historians are not sure who wrote the original Beowulf manuscript. Thus, sadly, the author of one of the greatest works of English literature remains anonymous. However, historians do know about the author of Beowulf, even if they do not know who the author was. Since Beowulf was most likely written shortly after England converted to Christianity, the Anglo-Saxon poet would have been familiar with both Paganism and Christianity. This theory helps explain why the poem's characters at times appear to waver between Pagan and Christian — beliefs and practices. 

Some historians and literary critics go even further, alleging the story of Beowulf may have existed before England's Christian conversion, perhaps as an oral narrative or poem. They suggest a Christian monk may have heard the poem and 'Christianized' it by reducing the pagan elements and adding references to the Christian God. This theory does not explain, however, why the author left some pagan references in the poem when he wrote it down. 


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