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The Myth of Piers Plowman
Constructing a Medieval Literary Archive


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Part of Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature

  • Date Published: March 2014
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107043633

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About the Authors
  • Addressing the history of the production and reception of the great medieval poem, Piers Plowman, Lawrence Warner reveals the many ways in which scholars, editors and critics over the centuries created their own speculative narratives about the poem, which gradually came to be regarded as factually true. Warner begins by considering the possibility that Langland wrote a romance about a werewolf and bear-suited lovers, and he goes on to explore the methods of the poem's localization, and medieval readers' particular interest in its Latinity. Warner shows that the 'Protestant Piers' was a reaction against the poem's oral mode of transmission, reveals the extensive eighteenth-century textual scholarship on the poem and contextualizes its first modernization. This lively account of Piers Plowman challenges the way the poem has traditionally been read and understood. This title is available as Open Access on Cambridge Books Online and via Knowledge Unlatched.

    • Brings much new information about Piers Plowman to light, including archival discoveries
    • Makes lively and provocative claims that alter the way we read the poem and its context
    • Offers a complete new history of the poem's reception from c.1350 to 1850
    • This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Books Online and via Knowledge Unlatched
    Read more


    • Winner, 2016 Beatrice White Prize, English Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'A rollicking tale of how an entire field of study came to be created, or rather, fabricated … Warner's book is full of page-turning discoveries.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107043633
    • length: 239 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 156 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: archive fever and the madness of Joseph Ritson
    1. William and the werewolf: the problem of William of Palerne
    2. Localizing Piers Plowman C: Meed, Corfe Castle, and the London Riot of 1384
    3. Latinitas et Communitas Visionis Willielmi de Longlond
    4. Quod Piers Plowman: non-Reformist prophecy, c.1520–55
    5. Urry, Burrell, and the pains of John Taylor: the Spelman MS (Huntington Hm 114), 1709–66
    6. William Dupré, Fabricateur: Piers Plowman in the Age of Forgery
    Conclusion: Leland's madness and the tale of Piers Plowman

  • Author

    Lawrence Warner, King's College London
    Lawrence Warner is Senior Lecturer in Medieval English at King's College London and Director of the International Piers Plowman Society. His book, The Lost History of 'Piers Plowman': The Earliest Transmission of Langland's Work (2011), received Honorable Mention for the 2013 Richard J. Finneran Award of the Society for Textual Scholarship.


    • Winner, 2016 Beatrice White Prize, English Association

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