Title Background

William Langland: A London Poet.

William Langland: A London Poet.

Like many others, including John But, WL was an immigrant to London from the countryside. Apart from three references to the Malvern Hills, there are few place-names in the poem from outside London, and none from the west country. The specifically London context is shown in WL’s precise knowledge of the duality of the mayor’s role (elected by the citizens yet answerable to the king); and the only contemporary person mentioned in the poem is John Chichester, mayor of London 1369-70. Bequests of copies of the poem in four wills drawn up before 1440 suggest an audience not limited to prosperous clerics and laymen, though manuscript ownership also suggests that the poem was known, valued, and copied in monastic houses.


Hanawalt, Chaucer's England, 91-109.

Cross Reference



Barron, Caroline M.