Beowulf MS Now Online

The British Library has put the Beowulf manuscript on line. Beowulf starts on folio 132r. The library’s announcement is here.

The manuscript, London, British Library, Cotton Vitellius A.xv, contains two separate codices that have been bound together. The first, the Southwick Codex, occupies the first ninety-three folios. The Beowulf manuscript, also known as the Nowell Codex after sixteenth century antiquarian Laurence Nowell who owned it at one point, follows on 94r and contains five Old English works, a life of St. Christopher, a description of the Wonders of the East, Alexander’s Letter to Aristotle, and two poems, Beowulf and a verse translation of the book of Judith. The date of the composition of Beowulf is unknown, but the manuscript, the only surviving copy of the poem, was copied c. 1010 C.E.

The manuscript was badly damaged in a 1731 fire at the aptly named Ashburnam House. As a result, the manuscript pages have been bound in paper frames to prevent further deterioration.

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