Happy Saint George’s Day! While the patron saint of England is a controversial figure, he is undoubtedly most immortalised for his dragon-killing feats. Although dragons today may be the stuff of myth rather than fact, they live on in literature. Join today’s #MondayMusing and let us know what your favourite dragon is.
George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has brought dragons to the screen (and page) more vividly than ever, but these beasts are just the latest to inhabit the pages of fiction. Other famous ones include Ursula K Le Guin’s dragons in the Earthsea series, or Terry Pratchett’s dragons of Discworld.
But while dragons are commonly associated with the modern fantasy genre, the story behind J.R.R. Tolkien’s infamous Smaug takes us down a different literary labyrinth. Tolkien was not only a novelist, but a Professor of Anglo-Saxon literature at Oxford. He was well aware of the rich literary heritage in which dragons could be encountered, including in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, the medieval Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, or Spenser’s Elizabethan romance The Faerie Queen.
Tolkien was also undoubtedly aware of the dragons (or ‘worm’) stories that populated folk tales and songs throughout the North East. Here in County Durham we’re home to the most famous of these, the Lambton Worm – a story which has been extensively researched by our Records of Early English Drama team.
Whether you go looking in ancient myth and legend, or more recent fantasy novels, there are plenty of dragons to choose from. Which is your favourite?