William Langland: Poems & Style

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Introduction to Shakespeare: Life and Works

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Who Was William Langland?
  • 0:35 Works of Literature
  • 2:14 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

William Langland is a popular Middle English author most popularly known for the poem 'The Vision of Piers Plowman'. Learn more about William Langland's background and writing style and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Who Was William Langland?

William Langland was born around 1330 and died around 1400. He is one of the most popular authors from the Middle English period of literature because of his work on alliterative poetry. Details about William Langland's life are scarce. He is thought to be from Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, England. He is also thought to have been educated at the Benedictine school in Great Malvern. He made money by singing at the funerals of rich men. He also wrote poetry to make money and is thought to be the author of The Vision of Piers Plowman, a poem with a number of different religious messages.

Works of Literature

William Langland's most popular work is the poem The Visions of Piers Plowman. Langland grew up poor and the poem Piers Plowman explains what life was like for ordinary individuals in 14-century England. The poem was written in a way that everyone, despite their level of religious knowledge, could understand. It makes negative judgments about the nobility and heads of the church during the time. It was written in West Midland dialect and tells the story of a countryman named Piers. Langland is thought to represent the narrator from Piers Plowman, the dreamer.

The first version of The Vision of Piers Plowman was written in 1362. Langland constantly revised the poem and additional versions were published in 1377 and 1395. The 'A' version is the earliest and the 'C' and 'B' versions are revised versions. The 'Z' version was taken from versions A and B, which consisted of a prologue and stories about life, the capital sins, the dangers of materialism, and spiritual growth.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account