Old English Reader
  • Publication Date: April 19, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781551118420 / 1551118424
  • 344 pages; 6" x 9"

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Old English Reader

  • Publication Date: April 19, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781551118420 / 1551118424
  • 344 pages; 6" x 9"

This book can be purchased on its own or in a discounted package with A Gentle Introduction to Old English. If you wish to order the package, please contact us at Customer Service or place the order through your bookstore using ISBN 978-1-77047-306-5.

The texts in this reader include prose, metrical prose, and poetry, and represent a variety of genres (saints’ lives and metrical charms as well as heroic verse). Frequently taught canonical texts are balanced with interesting, lesser-known works. The glossary is at the back of the book, and the companion website includes texts with clickable glossing, as well as additional texts for study.


“This rich selection of print texts, together with the author’s online reader and grammar, will appeal to twenty-first-century students as their introduction to Old English. Fresh, smart, and current in his interpretation of language and texts, McGillivray manages the difficult balance between knowledge of and sometimes doubts about our understanding of these writings of a thousand years ago and more. By foregrounding areas of uncertainty or disagreement in his introductions to the texts, McGillivray expertly guides beginning students of Old English to informed and sensitive readings of its prose and poetry.” — Antonette diPaolo Healey, University of Toronto

“McGillivray’s Reader, designed for beginning students, is the perfect up-to-date companion for his understated grammar, A Gentle Introduction to Old English. Its twenty-six texts range from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Beowulf to Maldon, Judith, and The Wanderer, and include other, less familiar works such as the metrical charms, and the prose Apollonius of Tyre and Wonders of the East. An online site reinforces the glossary by providing, at the click of a mouse, full grammatical and lexicographical information for each Old English word, as well as textual notes and manuscript descriptions.” — Prof, Institution/Publication

“It’s been a long time since beginning students of Old English have been offered this many texts to practice on. McGillivray gives us 26, including some unexpected ones. Here is God’s plenty, handsomely edited with excellent notes and glosses. Combined with McGillivray’s Gentle Introduction to Old English, which contains four more readings, and the auxiliary website, it’s hard to imagine a better resource for beginners in the field.” — James Earl, University of Oregon

“This compact and non-intimidating Old English Reader is to be welcomed. The uncluttered page appearance, with only a few footnotes, should help fluent reading along and prod the curious into using the glossary. The book sits well alongside McGillivray’s online materials, where far more detailed information may be interrogated easily.” — Jane Roberts, King’s College London

“Murray McGillivray’s Old English Reader provides access to an impressive range of works in prose and verse, including those that regularly appear in anthologies … and those that do not: excerpts from the Wonders of the East and, especially welcome, several of the Metrical Charms … The Reader also contains an extensive glossary, which at more than 160 pages comprises just over half of the total volume and serves as a key aid to help students translate the included works” — Glen Davis, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching



  1. Alfred’s Preface to Gregory
  2. Apollonius of Tyre
  3. Bede’s Account of the Conversion of Edwin of Northumbria
  4. Bede’s Account of the Poet Caedmon
  5. Cynewulf and Cyneheard
  6. The Great Army
  7. Sermo Lupi ad Anglos
  8. The Voyage of Wulfstan to Estland
  9. The Wonders of the East


  1. Ælfric’s Life of Saint Eugenia
  2. Ælfric’s Life of St. Oswald


  1. The Battle of Maldon
  2. Beowulf
  3. Deor
  4. The Dream of the Rood
  5. Exeter Book Riddles
  6. The Fortunes of Men
  7. Judith
  8. The Husband’s Message
  9. Metrical Charms
  10. The Seafarer
  11. The Story of Isaac
  12. The Wanderer
  13. The Whale
  14. The Wife’s Lament
  15. Wulf and Eadwacer


Murray McGillivray is Professor of English at the University of Calgary.

A Gentle Introduction to Old English and Old English Reader may be packaged for discounted price of $59.95. To order this package, please contact Customer Service.

Murray McGillivray has developed companion sites to support the study of Old English—please note that this site is not hosted by Broadview Press.

Old English Reader comes with access to a
companion website featuring additional online texts, both poetry and prose, that are not included in the bound book.

A Gentle Introduction to Old English comes with access to an Old English grammar companion website featuring a wide variety of additional resources, including pronounciation samples, additional interactive exercises, and online versions of the reading texts where each word can be clicked on in turn to get the corresponding glossary entry.

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