Exeter Book (Codex Exoniensis)
Written by: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition
EXETER BOOK [Codex Exoniensis], an anthology of Anglo-Saxon poetry presented to Exeter cathedral by Leofric,1 bishop of Exeter, England, from 1050 to 1071, and still in the possession of the dean and chapter. It contains some legal documents, the poems entitled Crist, Guthlac, Phoenix,Juliana, The Wanderer and others, and concludes with between eighty and ninety riddles. It was first described in Humphrey Wanley’s Catalogus ... (1705) in detail but with many inaccuracies; subsequently by J.J. Conybeare, Account of a Saxon Manuscript (a paper read in 1812; printed with some extracts from the MS. in Archaeologia, vol. xvii. pp. 180-197, 1814). A complete transcript made (1831) by Robert Chambers is in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 9067). It was first printed in 1842 by Benjamin Thorpe for the Soc. of Antiq., London, as Codex Exoniensis ... with an English Translation, Notes and Indexes. More recent editions, chiefly based on Thorpe’s text, are:—in Chr. Grein’s Bibliothek der A.S. Poesie (vol. iii. part 1, ed. R. Wülker, Leipzig, 1897, with a bibliography), J. Schipper in Pfeiffer’s Germania, vol. xix. pp. 327-339, and Israel Gollancz, The Exeter Book, pt. i. (1895), with English translation, for the Early English Text Society.
A detailed account, with bibliographies of the separate poems, is given by R. Wülker, in Grundriss ... der A.S. Literatur, pp. 218-236 (Leipzig, 1885); see also the introduction to The Crist of Cynewulf ..., edited by Prof. A.S. Cook, with introduction, notes and a glossary (Boston, U.S.A., 1900). For the poems contained in the MS. see also Cynewulf and Riddles.