"The history of English literature is a long and fascinating pageant. It begins roughly sixteen hundred years ago when the Roman legions abandoned the province of Britain and left the native Celts a prey to conquest by Anglo-Saxon tribes from the north of Europe. A primitive, warlike people who fought among themselves, against invading tribes of Danes, and against the harsh British climate, the Anglo-Saxons became known for their hearty feasts, skill in handicrafts, and long, heroic tales, as well as for their brooding, introspective blending of pagan beliefs with Christian teachings. Before they were absorbed by the conquering Normans from France, the Anglo-Saxons had produced the grim epic poem Beowulf and lyrics which sound for the first time in English literature the fascination of the English with the sea."
- From England in Literature by Robert C. Pooley, George K. Anderson, Paul Farmer, and Helen Thornton (1963)