Beowulf is an Old English epic poem. While the only surviving manuscript is thought to date to around 1000 CE, the narrative reflects conditions in the continental homeland of the Anglo-Saxons during the Sixth Century.
The hero, Beowulf, is a prince of the Geats, a people based in Modern Sweden. He travels to Heorot, court of King Hrothgar of the Danes to fight the monster Grendel, and Grendel's mother. Later, as King of the Geats, he is killed in a final mortal struggle with a dragon.
The relationship between the pagan and Christian elements in Beowulf has been the subject of much debate, often bound up with questions about the role of oral and literary composition in its creation. The poem continues to spark much scholarly and popular interest, sustained by feature films and high-profile translations such as those by J.R.R. Tolkien and Seamus Heaney.
Free online texts
British Library: Beowulf - digitised Old English manuscript.
British Library/University of Kentucky: Electronic Beowulf. Browse the original Old English manuscript and multiple transcriptions online.
Gutenberg: Beowulf, modern English translation by Francis B. Gummere (1910). Multiple formats.
Gutenberg: Beowulf, modern English translation by J. Lesslie Hall. Multiple formats.
Internet Archive: Beowulf with the Finnsburgh Fragment, Old English text, edited by A.J Wyatt, revised by R.W. Chambers (1914). Multiple formats.
Internet Archive: Beowulf, Old English text, edited by Walter John Sedgefield (1913). Multiple formats.
Internet Archive: Beowulf, translated by Chauncey Brewster Tinker (1912). Multiple formats.
Internet Archive: Beowulf, translated by Clarence Griffin Child (2000). Multiple formats.
McMaster University: Beowulf in Hypertext - Old English text and modern English translation by Francis B. Gummere (1910).
Poetry Foundation: Beowulf - modern English translation by Francis B. Gummere (1910). HTML format.
University of Adelaide: Beowulf, modern English translation by Francis B. Gummere (1910). Multiple formats.
University of Cambridge Digital Library: Beowulf, verse translation by William Morris (1898). Digital manuscript image.
Wikisource: Beowulf - Old English editions and modern English translations. HTML format.
Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies: Annotated List of Beowulf Translations, by Marijane Osborne
The Atlantic: Beowulf is Back! by James Parker, April 2017.
Beowulf Resources - dedicated website.
British Library: Beowulf - Item page.
Librivox: Beowulf, public domain audiobooks.
London Review of Books/Guardian: Hasped and hooped and hirpling - Heaney conquers Beowulf, by Terry Eagleton, 3 November 1999.
National Endowment for the Humanities: The Beauty of Anglo-Saxon Poetry - A Prelude to Beowulf - Lesson plans.
The New Yorker: Slaying Monsters, Tolkien's Beowulf, by Joan Acocella, 2 June 2014.
Norton Online: audio readings by Seamus Heaney.
The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes
Virgil: The Aeneid - Some scholars believe the composer of Beowulf was familiar with Virgilian forms.
Saxo Grammaticus: Gesta Danorum
The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki - features some charaters which appear ot be cognate with those of Beowulf.
Bloom's Western Canon: Beowulf is listed.