Resources & News
I would like to acknowledge the co-operation of the artists, publishers and estate custodians regarding image permissions and anecdotal information offered. Websites that contributed significantly in creating this one include: ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in Pictures’ created by art historian and writer James Russell (see here). Russell brings together some of the same images, and he mentions work by illustrator Juan Wijngaard and Des Hanley (not covered here). Russell was responsible for the introduction and commentary on Clive Hicks-Jenkins work in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: 14 prints by Clive Hicks Jenkins published in 2018 by the Penfold Press and his site includes an interview with Hicks-Jenkins. Furthermore, information at the British Library regarding the original images from the medieval manuscript were useful and accessible (see here).
As an ongoing resource for interested scholars I will present here a number of works that have direct and tangential intertextual links to the poem Sir Gawain and Green Knight. If you are a writer, researcher or creative, and you have, or know of work, that you feel should be mentioned please use the contact section of this site and provide links to the work. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has an explicit, coming of age, narrative arc, and as such has an archetypal similarity to many stories where an untested youth undergoes difficulties and changes as a result. Here I will include texts where the links are stronger than that foundational theme, where there are clear and intentional reference to the poem its imagery or characters.
Intertextual Links to Sir Gawain and Green Knight
Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses (1992) is a modern romantic novel that has strong intertextual links to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It follows the youth John Grady after he leaves his long term home, following the death of his grandfather, and travels south with a friend, Rawlins, from Texas into Mexico. Beyond the coming of age narrative arc, All the Pretty Horses includes Grady coming upon a grand house in the wilderness (a Mexican ranch), a powerful older female who is manipulative and wise (similarities with Morgan le Fay), an uncertain love interest with a beautiful young woman (linking with lady Bertilak) and the idea of scarring as a reminder of sin (linking with Gawain). Further links to Gawain include Grady’s idealism, and his lasting shame and guilt despite being absolved by a sympathetic judge. The importance of landscape, cycles of life and issues relating to friendship and honour are also key to both texts. In Boarders and Crossings (Monk, Ed. 2011) the chapter ‘The Ties that Bind: Intertextual Links between All the Pretty Horses and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ Megan Riley McGilchrist explores these links in detail (see here).
John Reppion and M.D. Penman produced a graphic novel adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight published in 2021 (with a hard cover version published in 2022). This adaptation has been highly praised and presents a stylised but naturalistic depiction of the medieval scenes. Of particular interest is the trickster depiction of the Green Knight who appears often sporting a maniacal grin. The publication can be viewed here.
Connected to this text is a four track album by Phil Legard and Layla Legard described as a celebration of the graphic novel. These tracks present atmospheric and immersive soundscapes that complement the tone of Reppion and Penman’s adaptation. The tracks can be found here.
Sir Gawain and the Green Maiden: A Medieval Romance (2022) written by Author and educator S. D. Evans is an imagined continuation of the legend of Sir Gawain. Interweaving three stories to explore the rich cultural texture of the late medieval period, with an accessible coming of age theme revolving around the character Mark Thomas at its core. The publication has been praised for its lingering impact, and the authentic presentation of 14th century characters. Information regarding this book can be found here.
Donald Barthelme’s The King (1990) is an absurdist and anachronistic retelling of Arthurian legend, which effectively conflates the Arthurian mythos with World War II Britain. Gawain is referred to as, captured behind enemy lines (a referrance to his time at Bertilak's castle perhaps), and his errors (with women) give the propagandist Haw Haw ammunition to use against a beleaguered Arthur and Churchill. The book includes front cover illustration and wood engravings within by Barry Moser. Aurélie Delevallée explores this text in ‘Donald Barthelme’s The King: The Manifold Guises of (an) American (’s) Memory’ (2017) in Les Cahiers de Framespa. e-STORIA, this text is available in English here.
Television and Cinema
Cursed (2020) is a Netflix series based on the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler. The series (10 episodes) reimagines the Arthurian mythos from the position of Nimue (Katherine Langford) an enchanted and ‘othered’ woman (rejected as a cursed individual by her village). Nimue will become the Lady of the Lake, a figure with significance in various versions of the Arthurian myth, as such much of the tension explored in the series is based on conflicts between enchanted, or, fay folk and the Red Paladins (Roman Catholic fanatics). Within the series, Gawain the Green Knight (Matt Stokoe) appears in six of the ten episodes as champion of the enchanted, Millar and Wheeler have conflated Gawain with the monstrous Green Knight, the character is tortured and killed but his body is preserved/entombed by Nimue and fans of the program have speculated that should there be another series Gawain would be resurrected as a more monstrous Green Knight incarnation.
Theatre and Performance
'Green Knight' is the title of a one woman theatre/storytelling piece that premiered at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe written and performed by Debbie Cannon. The show looks at the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight form the perspective of Lady Bertilak who tests Sir Gawain, and in who he finds a formidable adversary. Cannon’s show has featured at various venues and received praise for its originality and for Cannon’s stage presence. The director is Flavia D’Avila of Fronteiras Theatre Lab. Jen McGregor has provided dramaturgy and voicework. Information and Images regarding the show can be found here.
Gawain at Court (2019) oil on canvas by M. Eden.
14/08/2022: This page (see here) at the RA on a translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by John Ormerod Greenwood (1956) exists because of my research and correspondence with their archive and library teams. The page links to this online research hub Representing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight where the artwork by Roy Morgan from the translation can be seen. The RA attribute the anonymous poem to Hugh Mascy, although this is part of the introduction in that translation it has since been questioned and there is consensus that we still don’t know who the poet was. There are however a number of scholars who do attribute the poem to Mascy, for example see Kooper, E. (1982). THE CASE OF THE ENCODED AUTHOR: John Massey in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 83(2), 158–168. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43343444.
05/07/2022: From the 8th of July to the 13th of July 2022 Michael Eden is showing three paintings in the exhibition 'Verdant' curated by Camilla Brown for Middlesex University (see here). Those paintings are from the series 'Woodwose' inspired by references to the medieval wild-man of the same name in the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
17/06/2022: Representing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (this website) is listed at the Camelot Project see Gawain's character description page here and the section regarding websites with Arthurian content here. The Camelot Project sponsored by the University of Rochester was created by Alan Lupack and Tepa Lupack and was started in 1995 as a database of Arthurian texts, images, bibliographies, and basic information.
13/06/2022: Representing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (this website) listed on University of Arts London Research online, see here.
11/06/2022: Representing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (this website) contributes to the biography of artist Herbert Cole (1867-1930), see here.