Cynewulf is generally recognised as one of the two named Anglo-Saxon poets whose work survives in the vernacular, the other being Cædmon. Cynewulf’s name comes down to us in runic “signatures” in four Old English poems: “Juliana”, “Elene”, “Christ II” (also called “The Ascension”), and “The Fates of the Apostles”. The last is complicated by damage to the manuscript and some difficulties in interpretation. The four poems are preserved in two manuscripts: Exeter Cathedral Library, MS 3501 (the

Exeter Book

), and Vercelli, Biblioteca Capitolare, MS CXVII (the

Vercelli Book

). Both of these manuscripts date from the second half of the tenth century, but most scholars have argued that Cynewulf was active during the ninth century, probably in Mercia.

The two earliest

1057 words

Citation: Stokes, Peter Anthony. "Cynewulf". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 October 2006 [, accessed 29 February 2024.]

1102 Cynewulf 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.