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Gawain with William
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Original Linocut - Mediaeval Lovers 1
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Original Linocut - The Werewolf!
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Tea for Two with William
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Lovers by Moonlight – UNIQUE hand tinted print
Lovers by the Castle – UNIQUE hand tinted print
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All Six Linocuts
Lovers at the Joust – UNIQUE hand tinted print
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William and the Werewolf, also known as William of Palerne (Palermo), is a magical mediaeval love story and adventure romance.
Originally written in France in the twelfth century and then translated into English in the fourteenth, this magnificent alliterative poem tells the story of a young Sicilian prince who is kidnapped by a werewolf. But not all is as it seems – the werewolf is the Spanish prince Alphonse whose stepmother had transformed him so that her son could inherit the kingdom. As for William, he would have been killed or imprisoned by his own wicked uncle were it not for the werewolf…
The story is a parallel adventure following both William and Alphonse as they unravel these injustices and eventually find redemption. Along the way, William falls in love and elopes with the headstrong Melior and it is their relationships that makes this poem truly enchanting. Some of the descriptions of the exquisite pain of first love are still as vivid and realistic today as they would have been 800 years ago.
As well as being a mediaeval adventure romance in its classic form, the poem addresses a wide range of themes. They include inheritance rights; the freedom of women to choose for themselves; the importance of forgiveness; familial duties; the duties of social class; the codes of social behaviour and much more. William and the Werewolf is a book that can be enjoyed on two levels: as a beautiful romance and as a coded insight into the lives and ethics of mediaeval European society.
This edition is translated from the fourteenth century Middle English by Michael Smith, whose translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and King Arthur’s Death have also been published by Unbound. As with his previous books, William and the Werewolf will feature a detailed historical introduction, a comprehensive glossary and notes, and Michael’s own rich linocut illustrations.
William and the Werewolf will appeal not just to mediaevalists and lovers of English literature, but also to anyone who enjoys a beautiful and romantic story where right is done and love conquers all!
Please do support this stunning new translation – it will be a pleasure (and a treasure) for any booklover to own.
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Michael Smith comes from Cheshire and read history at the University of York, specialising in English and European mediaeval history. In later years, he studied as a printmaker at the Curwen Print Study Centre near Cambridge. His first book, a translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, published in July 2018 from Unbound. His second book The Death of King Arthur is published February 2021. You can find out more about his mediaeval-themed art and printmaking at www.mythicalbritain.co.uk.
- 2nd September 2021 Join me on a journey to hear the voice of mediaeval writers and how they inspire me - short film
I have produced a brief film about the beauty of fourteenth century Middle English and why I find it so inspiring; in particular, the notion of making contact with the voices and personalities of the unknown writers themselves.
In the film, I introduce you to some familiar proverbs which you might not think were centuries old. I also take you into the world of the narrator…21st July 2021 Is there really life after death? Austin Friars in London reveals some secrets
If you walk from Liverpool Street Station in London towards St Paul's Cathedral along Old Broad Street you might, in one unthinking moment, blink and miss a curious little alleyway on your right hand side. At the corner where the pedestrian turns into Throgmorton Street is Austin Friars; the unprepossessing entrance to a part of London now long forgotten.
Here is a place where centuries ago…29th June 2021 Imagined castles and faraway lands in mediaeval romance
As well as being rich in chivalric exploits and common themes of quest and adventure, mediaeval romances are also defined by their setting; in particular those of castles and countries. Possibly due to its French origins and/or the presence of the Normans in Sicily, the story on which William and the Werewolf is based sets itself in the Italian peninsula, with dynastic links to Spain and to Greece…18th May 2021 William and the Werewolf new linocut illustrations
Dear subscriber – as the fundraising continues for William and the Werewolf, I thought I’d update you with work behind the scenes: the not inconsiderable task of illustrating the book! I estimate I’ll need to produce around 40 linocut illustrations to give balance to the translation; reflecting its “feel good” theme, I’ve chosen a gentler illustrative style than with King Arthur; more akin to…28th April 2021 An end to sleaze, duplicity and lies - voices from the past show us the way
As once again government ministers become embroiled in allegations of sleaze embedded in a suffocating cloud of self-entitlement, mendacity and lack of empathy, it’s all too often easy to forget that we’ve been here before - in the end days of Edward III and the years of Richard II.
In the days before social media and a notionally free press (and indeed the days before what we claim to call…5th April 2021 A new kind of chivalry - not Apocalypse Now
Mediaeval poets knew how to describe a good battle: lots of charging, slashing, blood and gore. The Alliterative Morte Arthure, King Arthur's Death, is one such example - perhaps taking matters to extremes at times with the nature of knightly injuries inflicted. And yet... how warfare is described may, it seems, depend on your patron. Who was the scribe writing the romance for?
In William and…2nd March 2021 M R James, Humphrey de Bohun and William and the Werewolf
In 1936, M R James and E G Millar published The De Bohun Manuscripts: a Group of Five Manuscripts Executed in England about 1370 for Members of the De Bohun Family through the Roxburghe Club. Describing together a group of manuscripts of major importance, it revealed the De Bohuns (prounounced de Boon) as patrons of works of the highest order.
Outside the collections of royal circles, these…4th February 2021 A mediaeval scribe and the secrets he reveals
The work of mediaeval scribes was one of quiet concentration and, at times, excruciating pain and toil; their manuscripts often all we have left to tell of the dedicated, yet unsung, lives they lived. In the case of the Middle English William of Palerne (William and the Werewolf) there is only one mansucript to tell such a tale of its creator, contained today within a larger manuscript, King’s…17th January 2021 The folk motif of the Fair Unknown in William of Palerne
In the words of Leah Haught of the Camelot Project, the "Fair Unknown" is a “universally popular folk motif with strong Arthurian connections in which a young man of questionable lineage becomes an integral part of society. Initially appearing in court without an established identity, the Fair Unknown nevertheless boldly demands to be knighted.” Classic examples in the Arthurian canon are Chretien…22nd December 2020 Mediaeval marriage vows and dramatic tension in William and the Werewolf
In my last update, I discussed the passion of the two lovers in William and the Werewolf, that between the Sicilian prince William and the Roman princess, Melior. In this update, I want to reflect on the significance of this for the story and how the poet frames the romance so it is rich in tension for its contemporary audience.
Central to the tension is William’s perceived unroyal status …11th November 2020 Courtly love, sex and desire in William and the Werewolf
A central component of William and the Werewolf (the fourteenth century romance also known as William of Palerne) is the love between William, the poem’s central character, and Melior, the daughter of the Roman Emperor. Yet it is how this love plays out which makes us consider our approach to the notion of “courtly love”.
When the emperor first brings William to his palace as a foundling in…19th October 2020 Home entertainment and the reading of books in the mediaeval household.
Public storytelling, alongside minstrelsy, dancing, jesting and games, formed an important part of entertainment in noble, knightly and/or merchant households in fourteenth century England. Such storytelling included readings from stories such as William and the Werewolf (William of Palerne).
Like a number of such works, it takes the form of a long poem, broken down into manageable sections…5th October 2020 A mediaeval werewolf with a difference
The character of the werewolf in the Middle English poem William of Palerne (the romance of William and the Werewolf) is one which, when we meet it, is not what we were expecting. A benign creature whose mission is to help others combat injustice is in remarkable contrast to the notion of the werewolf in our own minds. Why is he so different?
To consider the notion of the werewolf, it is important…
These people are helping to fund William and the Werewolf.
Sir Harold Walker
An anonymous donor
Monica & William Haig