book-length literary history of Old English prose has ever been written, and
perhaps for good reason. The corpus is vast and much of it has traditionally
been regarded as non-literary. In this paper, I will make the case for the
value of such a project, outlining my approach and explaining the rationale for
the book’s structure and scope. Moving away from the ‘great man’ view of
literary history, this project will place the achievements of named prose
authors such as Alfred, Wulfstan and Ælfric in a much wider story of prose
experiment and stylistic development stretching from the seventh to eleventh
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