Skip to main content

Black History Month: Select Books 30% Off

Harvard University Press - home
Old English Lives of Saints, Volume II

Old English Lives of Saints, Volume II


Edited and translated by Mary Clayton and Juliet Mullins

ISBN 9780674241299

Publication date: 11/19/2019

Old English Lives of Saints, a series composed in the 990s by the Benedictine monk Aelfric in his distinctive alliterative prose, portrays an array of saints—including virgin martyrs, married virgins, aristocrats, kings, soldiers, and bishops—for a late Anglo-Saxon audience. At a turbulent time when England was under increasingly severe Viking attack, the examples of these saints modeled courageous faith, self-sacrifice, and individual and collective resistance. The Lives also covers topics as diverse as the four kinds of war, the three orders of society, and whether the unjust can be exempt from eternal punishment. Aelfric intended this series to complement his Catholic Homilies, two important and widely disseminated collections used for preaching to lay people and clergy. The translation is presented alongside a new edition of Lives of Saints, for which all extant manuscripts have been collated afresh.


  • Both the first complete edition and the first complete translation of the Lives of Saints in 120 years…This is a stellar work in all respects…The translation is exceptionally elegant, accurate, and idiomatic…The volumes are not only well suited to classroom use but indeed constitute the new and definitive leading edition.

    —P. S. Langeslag, Anglia


  • Mary Clayton is Professor Emerita of Old and Middle English at University College Dublin.
  • Juliet Mullins is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin.

Book Details

  • 432 pages
  • 5-1/4 x 8 inches
  • Harvard University Press

From this author