Dr Laura Varnam
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Introducing a Medieval Masterpiece
Dr Laura Varnam is known at the Festival as a du Maurier expert but in her day job she teaches Medieval English Literature at University College, Oxford. Over the past few years Laura has entertained festival-goers with tales from Geoffrey Chaucer, the Anglo-Saxon poet of Beowulf, and the medieval mystic Margery Kempe. This year she introduces us to the late fourteenth-century chivalric romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. When King Arthur asks for a Christmas game, the adventure that befalls the court is startling and strange. Enter a green knight on a green horse who asks for a volunteer to strike him a blow with his own axe, in return for a rematch in a year’s time. When Gawain beheads him, the Green Knight simply picks up his severed head and rides away, to the astonishment of the court! Find out what happens next in Laura’s lively and entertaining talk on a medieval masterpiece that continues to fascinate modern writers, including poet laureate Simon Armitage, whose translation of the poem was published in 2009.