Dining With Authors: A Bit Of A Mystery




I am currently teaching a course Medieval Literature at The Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College, and I am having a great time exploring these texts. Among the texts we are studying are Beowulf, Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, and Le Morte D’Arthur. Many themes and historical circumstances connect these works, but for the purposes of this post, I am concerned with the mysterious nature of their authors.


Unknown Author Beowulf, British Library Cotton Vitellius A.XV

Beowulf is an old English poem, probably written during the 800s or 900s A.D. and is arguably the oldest piece of English literature.  That is a scholarly debate and interesting, but it is not my main point here. The works deals with a warrior hero and is set in ancient Scandinavia.  The poet is usually called “the Beowulf poet.”  We have neither a clear idea nor evidence to indicate who he might have been.  That he was educated is clear, but was he a member of the clergy or nobility or someone else? We don’t know.


 Howard Pyle from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903)

We also do not know the identity or background of the person who was the poet of Sir Gawain And The Green Knight. An argument can be made about the approximate area of Britain from which he originated, but even that is scholarly supposition.  We simply do not know who this writer was.



On first glance, a different situation might seem to be the case with Le Morte D’Arthur, since an author’s name is attached to the work: Sir Thomas Malory. There is, however, a problem because there were at least seven people who claimed that name at that time, and we cannot be certain which one, if any, wrote the work.  Ah the interest of the literary mystery!

Given that uncertainty surrounding the identities of these three writers, I thought I would issue an invitation to these three unknown authors to dine at a pub with me and see who arrives.  Who do you think might be there? Who might choose to sit and dine with me and discuss their writings?



45 thoughts on “Dining With Authors: A Bit Of A Mystery

  1. I just love Beowulf! It´s such a wonderful story – no wonder Hollywood put it so often on the screen;)
    Do you visit the archives with your students sometime to look at the original manuscripts in your course? I´ve been lucky to do that a couple of years ago and it was one fantastic afternoon! Have a great weekend! Sarah:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Utterly interesting!! I had no idea of all these facts surrounding Beowulf and mainly Sir Gawain And The Green Knight. I was always fascinated by King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table and I’ve always wanted to know which parts were true and which parts were a myths in all these stories surrounding Richard Lionheart. I went to England twice because my Grandmother (God bless her she is will be 96 years old the 24th of March) is 100% British and she has told me so many amazing stories when I was still a little boy. My youth is filled with those incredible stories of noble quests and everlasting love! Would you have a suggestion as which book might be the best one and yet still rather accessible and would hold the most authentic version of these marvelous stories about King Arthur and his righteous successor Richard Lionheart. TY so much for bringing back to my heart those wonderfull tales.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    perhaps they are all time travelers and you have already met them 🙂
    I enjoyed your post…I would prefer Beowulf, he seems to be a mystery shrouded in shadows, probably observing
    I wonder who you would wish to show up….?
    a great mystery to unravel,

    Have a great week

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gulp… why do I suddenly feel like the child who is trying to eat a new vegetable? This is a good thing. Yes, I will read the Seamus Heaney translation. This will be huge for me; conquering my past, dark, Beowulf reading experience and learning anew. I can do this! Thank you, Charles.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fascinating post!
    I am stumbling around your blog for contact information. After searching your post tags, I find nothing on writing dialogue? Did I miss it or perhaps you would do so in a future blog?
    Thank you for signing on for my poetry blog. I do hope you enjoy some of my work. Léa

    Liked by 1 person

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