The Early Lives of St Dunstan contains new editions, with translation and extensive commentary, of the two earliest Lives of St Dunstan, archbishop of Canterbury (960-88) and one of the principal figures of the tenth-century English church. The two Lives were composed in the early eleventh century (within a few years of Dunstan's death in 988), and provide eye-witness accounts of some of the most important events in the archbishop's long and troubled life. Neither of them has been translated before; the provision of translations and commentary facilitates a new understanding of this cardinal figure of the pre-Conquest English church. Neither Life has been edited since the nineteenth century; the editions in the present book are based on a wholly new interpretation of the manuscript evidence for the two works, so that the text which is presented here is radically different from the text currently in use (that of William Stubbs, published in 1874); furthermore, the excruciatingly difficult Latin of the author of the earliest Life, who names himself only as B., has hindered historians from acquiring a proper understanding of Dunstan's life and achievements.
The new translation, in combination with detailed philological and historical notes, allows scholarly access to the work for the very first time, and allows a fresh assessment of many aspects of tenth-century English history.