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BACKGROUND INFORMATION - ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author of the poem is not known. From the narrative, it can be inferred that he was a warm, humane, skilled and sophisticated storyteller who had a clear grasp of fundamental human values. Although the poem he tells is simple and straightforward, it is filled with in-depth nuances that capture the essence of human goodness.
Beowulf is written in the oral tradition where a story is verbally told. In written form, it follows traditional Anglo Saxon poetry, which has four stress lines. It is also filled with allusions, events, and individuals, evidently familiar to the poet and his audience. Beowulf, the protagonist, is surrounded by dozens of historical characters. Beowulf talks about Scyld, who is the founder of the Danish nation.
The author of Beowulf seems to have been influenced by both folk tales and Germanic literature. Beowulf's battle with Grendel is similar to the battle against a monster portrayed in "The Three Stolen Princesses, " a well-known folk tale of the time. In other Germanic literature of the period, there are lots of dragons, much like the one in the poem about Beowulf.
The exact date of the writing of Beowulf is unknown. The only existing copy of the poem was dated AD 1000; therefore, it had to have been written early than that date. It also could not have been composed before AD 521, because of its reference to the death of Hygelac. Since several of the Germanic characters alluded to in the poem are from the eighth century, it is often assumed that Beowulf was written in the eighth century.