Beowulf (Limited Edition)

Illustrated by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Introduced by Janina Ramirez

Translated by Seamus Heaney

Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies

Seamus Heaney’s deeply felt interpretation, widely acknowledged as the greatest Beowulf translation of modern times, is presented in parallel with the Old English verse in this fabulous Folio edition. Featuring extraordinary illustrations by Clive Hicks-Jenkins and an exclusive introduction by Janina Ramirez, each of the 750 numbered copies has been signed by both contributors.

Add To Wish List
‘[Seamus Heaney’s] translation is a gift to anyone wanting to access the mystique and magic of the poem’s world.’
  1. Janina Ramirez, from her introduction

The most beautiful of all surviving Old English poems tells of the heroic deeds of Beowulf, warrior of high renown and leader of the Geats, who sails to the land of the Danes to halt the rampant bloodlust of the grim monster Grendel, fiend of hell, and of his vengeful hell-bride mother. After epic encounters the formidable superhero returns to his own land and becomes a wise and honoured king but, inescapably marked by fate, the ageing Beowulf is destined to face a third dread foe – the dragon.

Click Here to watch Clive Hicks-Jenkins and Janina Ramirez discuss what inspired Hicks-Jenkins's illustrations, Ramirez's fascinating new introduction, Seamus Heaney's translation and more.

Expertly bound in goatskin leather blocked in metallic blue and gold foils, this magnificent limited edition is printed in two colours throughout and glimmers with gold on the top page edges. Historian and best-selling author Janina Ramirez has contributed a stimulating introduction and Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ powerful illustrative scheme includes two exquisite page borders, eight double-page spreads and a striking print for framing. 

Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies

Bound in goatskin leather blocked in metallic blue and gold foils

Letterpress-printed limitation tip signed by Clive Hicks-Jenkins and Janina Ramirez

304 pages set in Bembo Arcadian

Printed in two colours throughout on Arena Natural paper

11 illustrations including 8 double-page spreads

Illustrated title page

Gilded page tops

Ribbon marker

Printed endpapers

Clamshell presentation box covered in blocked Saphir cloth and lined with printed Sirio paper

14˝ x 10˝

Print with presentation folder 

That Beowulf survives is almost miraculous. Composed between the 7th and 10th centuries AD and drawing on an oral tradition closely connected to the Icelandic sagas, the poem existed in just one 11th-century manuscript. Its brittle pages, damaged by fire and water, revealed a glimpse of the Anglo-Saxon world, a mingling of pagan past and Christian present that vanished with the Norman Conquest. Such is the frail foundation of a work championed by Tolkien and now seen as part of the bedrock of English literature; its tales of gilded banqueting halls, brave warrior-heroes, fantastic monsters and treasure-hoarding dragons remain unceasingly influential.

‘I consider Beowulf to be part of my voice-right.’
  1. Seamus Heaney, from his introduction

Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney first engaged with Beowulf some 35 years before he finally produced his award-winning translation. In his fascinating introduction, included in Folio’s edition, he explores his linguistic relationship with the poem with exquisite sensibility. Passionate about the directness of the narrative and the language, Heaney found the project all-consuming, and the result is something quite exceptional, a great work in its own right. Readers will gain immeasurably from seeing the Old English set side by side with his translation in Folio’s limited edition.

     Let whoever can
win glory before death. When a warrior is gone,
that will be his best and only bulwark.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins has created striking illustrations of extraordinary depth and texture to accompany the poem. His fabulous artwork, all completed entirely by hand, superbly reflects the tone and atmosphere of the verse. With remarkable skill, scenes are brought vividly to life using just two printed colours from a palette of blue, black and white. The artist’s powerful illustrative scheme includes two splendid page borders, eight double-page spreads, three half-page illustrations and a stunning print for framing.

Bestselling author and cultural historian Janina Ramirez is the perfect guide to the fantastical world of Beowulf. In her introduction, specially commissioned by the Folio Society, she sets the poem in the context of the Early Medieval period, an era of creativity and vibrancy, full of colour and light. Exploring the fascination that Beowulf has exerted for more than a millennium, Ramirez pays tribute to the beauty and musicality of Old English poetic forms and considers the importance of the gift that is Heaney’s translation. 

‘Beowulf has somehow defied all other Old English texts to become recognised as the nation’s first epic.’
  1. Janina Ramirez, from her introduction

Seamus Heaney was an Irish poet, playwright and translator. Born in 1939, he studied English Language and Literature at Queen’s University Belfast, graduating in 1961. Considered one of the greatest poets of his generation, Heaney was the recipient of many awards during his lifetime, including the Somerset Maugham Award and the Geoffrey Faber Award for his debut poetry collection, Death of a Naturalist (1966), and the T. S. Eliot Prize for District and Circle (2006). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, the David Cohen Prize for Literature in 2009 and the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2012. Heaney died in 2013.

A cultural historian, broadcaster and author based at the University of Oxford, Ramirez studied English Literature before concentrating on the art, literature and culture of Anglo-Saxon England at the Centre for Medieval Studies in York. She has written extensively for children and adults. Her most recent book, Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It, was released in July 2022 and became an instant Sunday Times bestseller.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins was born in Newport, south Wales, and worked as a choreographer and stage director before turning away from theatre to concentrate on painting. He exhibits regularly and his paintings, prints and private press books are in numerous public collections, including the National Museum of Wales and the Contemporary Art Society for Wales, as well as private collections and libraries around the world. He is a Royal Cambrian Academician and an Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University School of Art. In 2017 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Southampton Solent University. 


You May Also Like

  1. Limited Edition
    Selected Poems

    Selected Poems

    Thomas Hardy

    Illustrated by Stanley Donwood


    Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies

    Over 100 of Thomas Hardy’s greatest poems newly selected and introduced by Robert Macfarlane and with more than 30 specially commissioned illustrations by Stanley Donwood. Each copy is numbered by hand and signed by both anthologist and illustrator.

  2. The Lord of the Rings

    The Lord of the Rings

    J. R. R. Tolkien

    Illustrated by Eric Fraser and Ingahild Grathmer


    Successive generations have been spellbound by the exploits of Frodo, Gandalf and their comrades as they journey towards Mordor to do battle with the Dark Lord Sauron.

  3. The Odyssey

    The Odyssey


    Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith


    The greatest quest ever written is published as a stunning Folio edition that pairs Robert Fagles’s renowned translation with the illustrations of Grahame Baker-Smith.

  4. Bestsellers
    A Game of Thrones

    A Game of Thrones

    George R. R. Martin

    Illustrated by Jonathan Burton


    A Game of Thrones is presented in a spectacular collector’s edition - the first release in the Folio Society series of George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’.