Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

In a programme first broadcast in 2018, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the jewels of medieval English poetry. It was written c1400 by an unknown poet and then was left hidden in private collections until the C19th when it emerged. It tells the story of a giant green knight who disrupts Christmas at Camelot, daring Gawain to cut off his head with an axe if he can do the same to Gawain the following year. Much to the surprise of Arthur’s court, who were kicking the green head around, the decapitated body reaches for his head and rides off, leaving Gawain to face his promise and his apparently inevitable death the following Christmas.

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  • Laura Ashe 11 episodes
    Professor of English Literature at Worcester College, University of Oxford
  • Ad Putter No other episodes
    Professor of Medieval English Literature at the University of Bristol
  • Simon Armitage No other episodes
    Poet and Professor of Poetry at the Universities of Leeds and Oxford

Reading list

  • Gawain and the Green Knight
    Simon Armitage (trans.) (Faber, 2007) Google Books →
  • The Arthur of the English: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval English Life and Literature
    W. R. J. Barron (ed.) (University of Wales Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • A Companion to the Gawain-Poet
    Derek Brewer and Jonathan Gibson (eds.) (D.S.Brewer, 2007) Google Books →
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Sources and Analogues
    Elisabeth Brewer (D.S.Brewer, 1992) Google Books →
  • The Gawain-Poet
    J.A. Burrow (Northcote House Publishers Ltd, 2000) Google Books →
  • An Introduction to the Gawain Poet
    Ad Putter (Longman, 1996) Google Books →
  • The Works of the Gawain Poet: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Patience, Cleanness
    Ad Putter and Myra Stokes (eds.) (Penguin, 2014) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m0001kr8

Episode page:

Auto-category: 821.109 (English poetry–Middle English, 1100-1500)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is regarded as the greatest chivalric poem of the medieval world.