A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/William of Malmesbury

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William of Malmesbury (fl. 12th cent.). -- Historian, was an inmate of the great monastery at Malmesbury. His name is said to have been Somerset, and he was Norman by one parent and English by the other. The date of his birth is unknown, that of his death has sometimes been fixed as 1142 on the ground that his latest work stops abruptly in that year. His history, written in Latin, falls into two parts, Gesta Regum Anglorum (Acts of the Kings of the English), in five books, bringing the narrative down from the arrival of the Saxons to 1120, and Historia Novella (Modern History), carrying it on to 1142. The work is characterised by a love of truth, much more critical faculty in sifting evidence than was then common, and considerable attention to literary form. It is dedicated to Robert, Earl of Gloucester, the champion of Queen Matilda. Other works by W. are De Gestis Pontificum Anglorum, Lives of the English Bishops, and a history of the Monastery of Glastonbury.