Digital Text

The Early English Bestiary

Edited by Richard Morris

Originally published as part of An Old English Miscellany.
Published for the Early English Text Society [O.S. 49] by N. Trübner & Co., London, 1872

Available Text Formats

Full edition (396 KB PDF file)

About this Text

The "early English bestiary" is a thirteenth century verse translation of an earlier Latin Physiologus attributed to Theobaldus. The name of the translator is unknown. The Latin Physiologus probably is that found in British Library, Harley MS 3093; it is also found in British Library, Additional MS 10415 and Arundel MS 243. The English translation is found in British Library, Arundel MS 292, which is the manuscript used by Morris for this edition. The "early English" of this text is a transitional form of English; it neither the Old English of Beowulf nor the Middle English of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, though it has similarities to both. A glossary is provided for the early English words found in the poem. The original Latin text from Harley MS 3093 is also provided.

Richard Morris (1833-1894) was an English philologist, born in London. In 1871 he was ordained in the Church of England, and from 1875-1888 was head master of the Royal Masonic Institution for Boys. Between 1862 and 1880 he prepared twelve volumes for the Early English Text Society, edited Chaucer (1866) and Spenser (1869) from the original manuscripts, and published Specimens of Early English (1867).


The print edition of this text was published in London in 1872; the digital edition was created from the original in 2004 by David Badke. The digital edition includes only part of the original printed book. The original print edition by Richard Morris (1833-1894) is believed to be in the public domain.