Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – at one time a staple of college reading for English Lit majors – has a curious history. The author was roughly contemporary with Geoffrey Chaucer (1340s-1400). The poem ranks as one of the two great poems of the period, with Chaucer’s Troilus and Crisedye being the other.
The author’s identity, however, remains unknown. He used an English dialect representative of the Midlands area of England (Chaucer’s English was London through and through). Some scholars have suggested it some of its scenes would situate the poem in Staffordshire in west-central England. It exists in a single manuscript, together with Pearl and two Bible stories entitled Purity and Patience. The poems are written in the same hand and the same English dialect.
The manuscript was unknown until it surfaced in the library of Henry Savile (1569-1617), who lived in Bank in Yorkshire. The manuscript is now with the British Library in London.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.