Piers Plowman

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss William Langland’s poem, written around 1370, about a man called Will who fell asleep on the Malvern Hills and dreamed of Piers the Plowman. This was a time between the Black Death and The Peasants’ Revolt, when Christians wanted to save their souls but doubted how best to do it - and had to live with that uncertainty. Some call this the greatest medieval poem in English, one offering questions not answers, and it can be as unsettling now as it was then.

Play on BBC Sounds website

Guests

  • Laura Ashe 11 episodes
    Professor of English Literature at Worcester College, University of Oxford
  • Lawrence Warner No other episodes
    Professor of Medieval English at King's College London
  • Alastair Bennett No other episodes
    Lecturer in Medieval Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London

Reading list

  • Richard II
    Laura Ashe (Penguin, 2016) Google Books →
  • A Guidebook to Piers Plowman
    Anna Baldwin (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) Google Books →
  • An Introduction to Piers Plowman
    Michael Calabrese (University of Florida Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • The Cambridge Companion to Piers Plowman
    Andrew Cole and Andrew Galloway (eds.) (Cambridge University Press, 2014) Google Books →
  • The Vision of Piers Plowman: The B Text
    William Langland (ed. A.V.C. Schmidt) (Everyman, 1995) Google Books →
  • Piers Plowman: A New Translation of the B Text
    William Langland (trans. A.V.C. Schmidt) (Oxford University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • Piers Plowman: The A Version
    William Langland (ed. by Miceal F. Vaughan) (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Piers Plowman: A New Annotated Edition of the C-text
    William Langland (ed. by Derek Pearsall) (University of Exeter Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Chaucer's People: Everyday Lives in the Middle Ages
    Liza Picard (W&N, 2017)
  • Piers Plowman: An Introduction
    James Simpson (Liverpool University Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • Reading Piers Plowman
    Emily Steiner (Cambridge University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • The Myth of Piers Plowman: Constructing a Medieval Literary Archive
    Lawrence Warner (Cambridge University Press, 2014) Google Books →

Related episodes


Programme ID: m000nvsl

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000nvsl

Auto-category: 821.1 (English poetry)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Seven centuries ago, William Langland wrote a poem about a man called Will, who fell asleep on the Malvern Hills and dreamed of Piers the Plowman.