The Works of the Gawain Poet

The Works of the Gawain Poet

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness, Patience


A new volume of the works of the Gawain poet, destined to become the definitive edition for students and scholars.

This volume brings together four works of the unknown fourteenth-century poet famous for the Arthurian romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, in their original Middle English. In one of the great tales of medieval literature, Gawain, the noblest knight of King Arthur's court, must keep a deadly bargain with a monstrous knight and resist the advances of his host's beautiful wife. The dream vision of Pearl depicts a bereaved father whose lost child leads him to glimpse heaven. And in moral poems based on stories from the Bible, Cleanness warns against sins of the flesh and of desecration, while Patience encourages readers to endure suffering as God's will.

Little is known about the so-called 'Gawain poet', who wrote during the late fourteenth century. It is believed that he came from south-east Cheshire, an important cultural and economic centre at the time, and he was clearly well-read in Latin, French and English. Although he is not named as the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Patience, Cleanness, the four works have been attributed to him based on a careful comparison of their language, date and themes.

Myra Stokes was formerly Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at Bristol University. Her books include Justice and Mercy in Piers Plowman and The Language of Jane Austen.

Ad Putter teaches at the English Department and the Centre for Medieval Studies of the University of Bristol, where is Professor of Medieval English Literature. His monographs include Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and French Arthurian Romance and An Introduction to the Gawain Poet, and he is also co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend.


  • The Works of the Gawain Poet is a model of popular scholarship, one that harkens back to the glories of the old historical criticism of Tolkien and Henry Sweet. That it has appeared not under the imprimatur of a university press but as a reasonably priced paperback from Penguin Classics is a pleasant surprise. It belongs on the shelves of every library in the English-speaking world
    Washington Free Beacon

About the authors

Ad Putter

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Myra Stokes

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