Little can be gleaned as to his personal history, and of that little part is contradictory. In a note of the 15th century written on one MS. he is said to have been born in Oxfordshire, the son of a freeman named Stacy de Rokayle, while Bale, writing in the 16th century, makes his name Robert (certainly an error), and sayspage 230 he was born at Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire. From his great poem, Piers the Plowman, it is to be gathered that he was bred to the Church, and was at one time an inmate of the monastery at Great Malvern. He married, however, and had a daughter, which precluded him from going on to the priesthood. It has further been inferred from his poem that his father, with the help of friends, sent him to school, but that on the death of these friends the process of education came to an end, and he went to London, living in a little house in Cornhill and, as he says, not only in but on London, supporting himself by singing requiems for the dead. "The tools I labour with ... [are] Paternoster, and my primer Placebo, and Dirige, and my Psalter, and my seven Psalms." References to legal terms suggest that he may have copied for lawyers. In later life he appears to have lived in Cornwall with his wife and daughter. Poor himself, he was ever a sympathiser with the poor and oppressed. His poem appears to have been the great interest of his life, and almost to the end he was altering and adding to, without, however, improving it. The full title of the poem is The Vision of Piers Plowman. 3 distinct versions of it exist, circa 1362, circa 1377, and 1393 or 1398. It has been described as "a vision of Christ seen through the clouds of humanity." It is divided into 9 dreams, and is in the unrhymed, alliterative, early English manner. In the allegory appear such personifications as Meed (worldly success), Falsehood, Repentance, Hope, etc. Piers Plowman, introduced as the type of the poor and simple, becomes gradually transformed into the Christ. Further on appear Do-well, Do-bet, Do-best. In this poem, and its additions, Langland was able to express all that he had to say of the abuses of the time, and their remedy. He himself stands out as a sad, earnest, and clear-sighted onlooker in a time of oppression and unrest. It is thought that he may have been the author of a poem, Richard the Redeless: if so he was, at the time of writing, living in Bristol, and making a last remonstrance to the misguided King, news of whose death may have reached him while at the work, as it stops in the middle of a paragraph. He is not much of an artist, being intent rather on delivering his message than that it should be in a perfect dress. Manley, in the Cambridge History of English Literature, advances the theory that The Vision is the work of several writers, W.L. being therefore a dramatic, not a personal name. It is supported on such grounds as differences in meter, diction, sentence structure, and the diversity of view on social and ecclesiastic matters expressed in different parts of the poem.
The traditional view, accepted by such great authorities as Skeat and Jusserand, that a single author — and that author Langland — was responsible for the whole poem, in all its versions, has been so recently disputed that it seems best to state it in Skeat's own words, before giving briefly (in the "Writing" section) the alternative view, which propounds a theory of composite authorship, denying any real existence to "William Langland. The account of the single-author theory is repeated from Professor Skeat's article in the 9th edition of this work, slightly revised by him in 1905.
The author's name is not quite certain, and the facts concerning his life are few and scanty. As to his Christian name we are sure, from various allusions in the poem itself, and the title Visio Willelmi, &c., in many MSS.; so that we may at once reject the suggestion that his name may have been Robert. In no less than 3 MSS. [of the C-text; one not later than 1427] occurs the following colophon: "Explicit visio Willelmi W. de Petro le Plowman." What is here meant by W. it is difficult to conjecture; but it is just possible that it may represent Wychwood, or Wigornensis, i.e. of Worcester. As to the surname, we find the note that "Robert or William Langland made pers ploughman," in a handwriting of the 15th century, on the fly-leaf of a MS. copy [of the B-text] formerly belonging to Lord Ashburnham, and now in the British Museum; and in a Dublin MS. [of the C-text] is the note [in a 15th-century hand]: "Memorandum, quod Stacy de Rokayle, pater Willielmi de Langlond, qui Stacius fuit generosus et morabatur in Schiptone-under-Whicwode, tenens domini le Spenser in comitatu Oxon., qui predictus Willielmus fecit librum qui vocatur Perys Ploughman." There is no trace of any Langland family in the midland counties, while the Langley family were wardens of Wychwood forest in Oxfordshire between the years 1278 and 1362; but this consideration can hardly set aside the above statement. 
According to Bale, our author was born at Cleobury Mortimer, which is quite consistent with the supposition that his father may have moved from that place to Shipton in Oxfordshire, as there seems to have been a real connection between the families in those places.
"The internal evidence concerning the author is fuller and more satisfactory. By piecing together the various hints concerning himself which the poet gives us, we may compile the following account.
His name was William (and probably Langland), and he was born about 1332, perhaps at Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire. His father, who was doubtless a franklin or farmer, and his other friends put him to school, made a "clerk" or scholar of him, and taught him what Holy Writ meant.
In 1362, at the age of about 30, he found himself wandering upon the Malvern hills, and fell asleep beside a stream, and saw in a vision a field full of folk, i.e. this present world, and many other remarkable sights which he duly records. From this supposed circumstance he named his poem The Vision of William, though it is really a succession of visions, since he mentions several occasions on which he awoke, and afterwards again fell asleep; and he even tells us of some adventures which befel him in his waking moments.
In some of these visions there is no mention of Piers the Plowman, but in others he describes him as being the coming reformer who was to remedy all abuses, and restore the world to a right condition. It is remarkable that his conception of this reformer changes from time to time, and becomes more exalted as the poem advances. At the beginning he is no more than a ploughman, one of the true and honest laborers who are the salt of the earth; but at last he is identified with the great reformer who has come already, the regenerator of the world in the person of Jesus Christ; in the author's own phrase — Petrus est Christus.
If this be borne in mind, it will not be possible to make the mistake into which so many have fallen, of speaking of Piers the Plowman as being the author, not the subject, of the poem. The author once alludes to the nickname of Long Will bestowed upon him from his tallness of stature just as the poet Gascoigne was familiarly called Long George.
Though there is mention of the Malvern hills more than once near the beginning of the poem, it is abundantly clear that the poet lived for "many years in Cornhill (London), with his wife Kitte and his daughter Calote." He seems to have come to London soon after the date of the first commencement of his work, and to have long continued there. He describes himself as being a tall man, one who was loath to reverence lords or ladies or persons in gay apparel, and not deigning to say "God save you" to the sergeants whom he met in the street, insomuch that many people took him to be a fool.
He was very poor, wore long robes, and had a shaven crown, having received the clerical tonsure. But he seems only to have taken minor orders, and earned a precarious living by singing the placebo, dirige and seven psalms for the good of men's souls. The fact that he was married may explain why he never rose in the church. But he had another source of livelihood in his ability to write out legal documents, and he was extremely familiar with the law courts at Westminster. His leisure time must have been entirely occupied with his poem, which was essentially the work of his lifetime. He was not satisfied with rewriting it once, but he actually re-wrote it twice; and from the abundance of the MSS. which still exist we can see its development from the earliest draught (A-text), written about 1362, to its latest form (C-text), written about 1393.
"In 1399, just before the deposition of Richard II, appeared a poem addressed to the king, who is designated as "Richard the Redeless," i.e. devoid of counsel. This poem, occurring in only 1 MS. [of the B-text] in which it is incomplete, breaking off abruptly in the middle of a page, may safely be attributed to Langland, who was then in Bristol. As he was at that time about 67 years of age, we may be sure that he did not long survive the accession of Henry IV.
It may here be observed that the well-known poem, entitled Pierce Ploughman's Crede, though excellently written, is certainly an imitation by another hand; for the Pierce Ploughman of the Crede is very different in conception from the subject of William's Vision."
The poem exists in 3 forms. If we denote these by the names of A-text (or Vernon), B-text (or Crowley), and C-text (or Whitaker), we find, of the first, 10 MSS., of the second 14, and of the 3rd seventeen, besides 2 others of a mixed type. It will be seen that we thus have abundance of material, a circumstance which proves the great popularity of the poem in former times.
Owing to the frequent expressions which indicate a desire for reformation in religion, it was, in the time of Edward VI, considered worthy of being printed. Three impressions of the B-text were printed by Robert Crowley in 1550; and 1 of these was badly reprinted by Owen Rogers in 1561. In 1813 the best MS. of the C-text was printed by E. Whitaker. In 1842 Thomas Wright printed an edition from an excellent MS. of the B-text in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge (2nd ed., 1856, new ed., 1895). A complete edition of all 3 texts was printed for the Early English Text Society as edited by Rev. W.W. Skeat, with the addition of "Richard the Redeless," and containing full notes to all 3 texts, with a glossary and indexes, in 1867-1885. The Clarendon Press edition, by the same editor, appeared in 1886.
The A-text contains a prologue and 12 passus or cantos (i.-iv., the vision of the Lady Meed; v.-viii., the vision of Piers the Plowman; ix.-xii., the vision of Do-wel, Do-bet and Do-best), with 2567 lines. The B-text is much longer, containing 7242 lines, with additional passus following after xi. of A, the earlier passus being altered in various respects. The C-text, with 7357 lines, is a revision of B.
The general contents of the poem may be gathered from a brief description of the C-text. This is divided into twenty-three passus, nominally comprising four parts, called respectively Visio de Petro Plowman, Visio de Do-wel, Visio de Do-bet and Visio de Do-best. Here Do-bet signifies "do better" in modern English; the explanation of the names being that he who does a kind action does well, he who teaches others to act kindly does better, whilst he who combines both practice and theory, both doing good himself and teaching others to do the same, does best. But the visions by no means closely correspond to these descriptions; and Skeat divides the whole into a set of 11 visions, which may be thus enumerated: (1) Vision of the Field Full of Folk, of Holy Church, and of the Lady Meed (passus i.-v.); (2) Vision of the Seven Deadly Sins, and of Piers the Plowman (pass. vi.-x.); (3) Wit, Study, Clergy and Scripture (pass. xi., xii.); (4) Fortune, Nature, Recklessness and Reason (pass. xiii., xiv.); (5) Vision of Imaginative (pass. xv.); (6) Conscience, Patience and Activa-Vita (pass. xvi., xvii.); (7) Free-will and the Tree of Charity (pass. xviii., xix.); (8) Faith, Hope and Charity (pass. xx.); (9) The Triumph of Piers the Plowman, i.e. the Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (pass. xxi.); (10) The Vision of Grace (pass. xxii.); (11) The Vision of Antichrist (pass. xxiii.).
The bare outline of the C-text gives little idea of the real nature of the poem. The author's object, as Skeat describes it, was to "afford himself opportunities (of which he has amply availed himself) for describing the life and manners of the poorer classes; for inveighing against clerical abuses and the rapacity of the friars; for representing the miseries caused by the great pestilences then prevalent and by the hasty and ill-advised marriages consequent thereupon; and for denouncing lazy workmen and sham beggars, the corruption and bribery then too common in the law courts, and all the numerous forms of falsehood which are at all time the fit subjects for satire and indignant exposure. In describing, for example, the 7 deadly sins, he gives so exact a description of Glutton and Sloth that the reader feels them to be no mere abstractions, but drawn from the life; and it becomes hardly more difficult to realize Glutton than it is to realize Sir John Falstaff.
The numerous allegorical personages so frequently introduced, such as Scripture, Clergy, Conscience, Patience and the like, are all mouthpieces of the author himself, uttering for the most part his own sentiments, but sometimes speaking in accordance with the character which each is supposed to represent. The theological disquisitions which are occasionally introduced are somewhat dull and tedious, but the earnestness of the author's purpose and his energy of language tend to relieve them, and there are not many passages which might have been omitted without loss.
The poem is essentially 1 which improves on a rereading, and as a linguistic monument it is of very high value. Mere extracts from the poem, even if rather numerous and of some length, fail to give a fair idea of it. The whole deserves, and will repay, a careful study; indeed, there are not many single works from which a student of English literature and of the English language may derive more substantial benefit.
"The meter is alliterative, and destitute of final rhyme. It is not very regular, as the author's earnestness led him to use the fittest words rather than those which merely served the purpose of rhythm. The chief rule is that, in general, the same letter or combination of letters should begin 3 stressed syllables in the same line, as, for example, in the line which may be modernized thus: "Of all manner of men, the mean and the rich." Sometimes there are but 2 such rhyme-letters, as: "Might of the commons made him to reign." Sometimes there are 4, as: "In a summer season, when soft was the sun." There is invariably a pause, more or less distinct, in the middle of each line" (Ency. Brit., 9th ed., art. LANGLAND).
The view taken by Professor J.M. Manly, of Chicago, which has obtained some acceptance among scholars, is that the early popularity of the Piers Plowman poems has resulted in "the confusion of what is really the work of five different men," and that Langland himself is "a mythical author." The argument for the distinction in authorship rests on internal evidence, and on analysis of the style, diction and "visualizing" quality within the different texts.
Whereas Skeat, regarding the 3 texts as due to the same author, gives most attention to the later versions, and considers B the intermediate form, as on the whole the best, Manly recognizes in A the real poet, and lays special stress on the importance of attention to the A-text, and particularly pass. i.-viii. In this A-text the 2 first visions are regarded as by a single author of genius, but the 3rd is assigned to a continuator who tried to imitate him, the whole conclusion of the 12th passus being, moreover, by a 3rd author, whose name, John But, is in fact given towards the end, but in a way leading Skeat only to credit him with a few lines. The same process of analysis leads to crediting the B-text and the C-text to separate and different authors, B working over the 3 visions of the A-text and making additions of his own, while C again worked over the B-text. The supposed references to the original author A, introduced by B and C, are then to be taken as part of the fiction.
Who were the 5 authors? That question is left unsolved. John But, according to Professor Manly, was "doubtless a scribe" or "a minstrel." B, C and the continuator of A "seem to have been clerics, and, from their criticisms of monks and friars, to have been of the secular clergy," C being "a better scholar than either the continuator of A or B." A, who "exempts from his satire no order of society except monks," may have been himself a monk, but "as he exhibits no special technical knowledge or interests" he "may have been a layman."
As regards Richard the Redeless, Professor Manly attributes this to another imitator; he regards identity of authorship as out of the question, in consequences of differences in style and thought, apart altogether from the conclusion as to the authorship of Piers the Plowman.
by Walter W. Skeat
Contemporaneously with Chaucer there lived and worked 1 of the most remarkable of our poets, of whom we know little or nothing except from his works. And even these have been so little studied by the generality of readers, that the singular mistake has arisen of confusing the name of the work with the name of the author. It is common to see references made to "Piers Plowman" as if he were a writer living in the 14th century, which is no less confusing than if we should speak of Hamlet as flourishing in the reign of Elizabeth.
Our author’s name is not certainly known. That his Christian name was William there can be no doubt, though by some mistake he has sometimes been called Robert. In a note written on the fly-leaf of one of the Dublin MSS., in a hand of the 15th century, we are told that a certain Stacy de Rokayle, living at Shipton-under-Wychwood (about four miles from Burford in Oxfordshire), and holding land of Lord le Spenser, was the father of William de Langlond who wrote the book called Piers Plowman. The only difficulty about this testimony is the name Langland, which should rather, perhaps, be read as Langley; since the Langland family was at that date connected with Somersetshire, whilst there is actually a hamlet named Langley at no great distance from Shipton.
By a careful study of the internal evidence afforded us by the poet’s works, we can make out quite sufficient to give us a clear idea of the man. We gather, chiefly from his own words, that he was born about A.D. 1332, probably at Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire. His father and his friends put him to school (possibly in the monastery at Great Malvern), made a clerk or scholar of him, and taught him what holy writ meant. In 1362, at the age of about thirty, he first began work upon the poem, which was to occupy him during a great part of his after life.
The real subject of the poem is the religious and social condition of the poorer classes of England during the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II. His testimony is invested with a peculiar interest by the fact that he clearly knew what he was talking about. His own experience, and his own keen powers of observation provided him with an abundant supply of material. He saw the necessity of some reform, and endeavoured to realise in his own mind the person of the coming reformer. To this ideal person he gave the name of Piers the Plowman, to signify that great results can often be achieved by comparatively humble means; and perhaps as hinting, at the same time, that if the labouring classes were to expect any great improvement to take place in their condition, they had best consider what they could do to help themselves.
As years wore on, William’s supposed reformer seems to have become less actual to him, and assumed, as it were, a more spiritual form to his mind. At last he fully grasps the idea that it is better to turn from any expectation of a reformer to come to the contemplation of the Saviour who has come already. At this point, his mind seizes a bolder conception; he no longer describes Piers Plowman as he had done at first, as if he were no more than what was formerly called a head harvestman, giving directions to the reapers and sowing the corn himself that he might be sure it was sown properly; but he identifies him rather with the Good Samaritan, or personified Love, who is to be of more help to mankind than Faith as typified by Abraham, or than Hope as typified by Moses. The true Good Samaritan is He who told the parable of Himself; the Reformer is no other than Christ. When Christ became incarnate, He was like a warrior doing battle in another’s cause, and wearing his arms and cognisance. He put on the armour of Piers the Plowman when He took upon Himself human nature; and His victory over death was the earnest of the deliverance of mankind from all miseries, and the beginning of the improvement of the condition of the lower orders. Such ideas as these form, in fact, a part of the author’s own life; they are essentially an important chapter in his autobiography.
In the 1st instance, he began his poem under the form of a Vision, which took at last the name of the Vision of Piers the Plowman; though it is rather a succession of visions, in some of which Piers is never seen at all. The poet describes himself as wandering on the Malvern Hills, where he falls asleep beside a murmuring brook, and dreams of a Field full of Folk, i.e., the world, of the Lady Holychurch who acts as his instructress, of the Lady Meed who corrupts justice and is ready to bribe even the king himself, of the Seven Deadly Sins, and of Piers the Plowman. Such was the first draught of his poem, to which a sort of appendix was shortly added, with the title of Do-Well, Do-bet [i.e., Do-better], and Do-best.
It would appear that he had already some acquaintance with London life; and, soon after the writing of the first draught of the poem, he seems to have resided there permanently, taking up his abode in Cornhill, where he lived with his wife Kitte and his daughter Calote, for many long years. About A.D. 1377 he undertook the task of revising his poem; it ended in his completely rewriting it, at the same time expanding it to so great an extent that it grew to three times its former length. Incidentally, he describes himself as a tall man, going by the nickname of Long Will; one loath to reverence lords or ladies, or persons dressed in fur and wearing silver ornaments, and not deigning to say ‘God save you’ to the serjeants whom he met. It requires no great stretch of the imagination to picture to ourselves the tall gaunt figure of Long Will, in long robes and with shaven crown, striding along Cornhill, saluting no man by the way, and minutely observant of the gay dresses to which he paid no outward reverence. It further appears that he was thoroughly versed in legal forms, and conversant with the writing out of legal documents; such knowledge enabled him to earn small sums as a notary, and he was frequent in his attendance at Westminster Hall.
Towards the year 1393, or even a little earlier, we find him again becoming dissatisfied with the wording of his poem. Again he resolved to revise it thoroughly, but this time he is more careful about the form than the matter. Minute corrections and alterations were made in almost every line; a few passages were curtailed, and others somewhat lengthened. Perceiving that one long passage of his poem as it stood in the second draught was, as to its general contents, a repetition of a former passage, he so transposed his material as to bring the two passages together, interweaving them with such ingenuity that the numerous insertions seem to fall into their places naturally enough. The resulting third draught of the poem is not much longer than the second, In some points he made improvements, but the general effect of the whole is less striking and original; this being the inevitable result of his obvious desire to tone down some of the more outspoken passages, and to express a certain leaning towards conservatism such as frequently comes with advancing years. We are bound, perhaps, to consider this latest version of the poem as being, upon the whole, the best; but we cannot but remark that, whilst it is more mature, it is less vigorous.
Thus, during a period of more than thirty years, the poem called the Vision of Piers the Plowman, with its appendix of "Do-Well, Do-bet, and Do-best", descriptive of three stages in the Christian’s life and experience, grew slowly into its final shape under the author’s hands. It is a poem of almost unique character, and can hardly be judged by any of the usual standards. In one respect, it reminds us of Butler’s Hudibras; it was obviously written rather to give the author an opportunity of saying many things by the way than on such a definite plan as requires a close attention on the part of a reader. The general plan has but slight coherence, and merely aims at considering what improvement can be made in men’s characters, and what hope there is for the world from the teachings of Christianity. He who does a kindly action, does well; but he who teaches men to do good, does better; whilst he who combines both, who does good himself and teaches others to do the same, does best. From frequently dwelling on this theme, the poet at last considers the life of Christ; and, following the narrative of the gospels, describes His entry into Jerusalem, His betrayal and crucifixion. At this point, he supplements the gospel narrative from the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus, describing the descent of Christ into hell, His victory over Satan and Lucifer, and His release of the souls of the patriarchs from their long prison. Then follows the glorious Resurrection of the Saviour, the descent of the Holy Ghost, and the bestowal upon men of the gifts of the Spirit. But the progress of Christianity is checked to some extent by the descent of Antichrist and the attack of the Seven Deadly Sins upon the church; and the poem concludes by reminding us that the church is still militant, that corruptions have crept in where only truth should be preached, and that the end is not yet.
In 1399, during the brief space when the deposition of Richard II. was already imminent but had not yet been decided upon, our author wrote a poem, addressed to the king, upon the subject of the misgovernment under which England suffered. This poem, in the only extant manuscript, breaks off abruptly in the middle of a sentence; and, though it is of considerable interest, its immediate application was speedily set aside by the rapid progress of events.
The manuscripts of Piers the Plowman, in all three versions, are very numerous, and it was once an extremely favourite poem. In the reign of Edward VI. it was for the first time printed, and went through three editions in one year. It was familiar to several of our great writers, including Lydgate, Skelton, Gascoigne, Drayton, and Spenser.
The author’s vocabulary is extremely copious, which occasions one difficulty in understanding his language. Some have imagined that his language contains only words of English origin, but this notion must have originated in extreme ignorance. He uses, in fact, the common midland dialect of the time, into which French words were introduced with great freedom; and the percentage of French words employed by him is slightly greater than that which is to be found in Chaucer.
The metre is the usual unrhymed alliterative metre of the older English period; almost the only metre which can rightly be called English, since nearly all others have been borrowed from French or Italian. We commonly find about three syllables in each line, which begin with the same letter; and such syllables are, as a rule, accented ones. The general swing of the lines has been described as anapæstic; it is rather dactylic, with one or more unaccented syllables prefixed.
The characters which William describes as appearing to him in consecutive visions have all allegorical names, and some are visionary enough; but others may have been sketched from the life, and are as distinct as a drawing by Hogarth. The chief power of his writing resides in its homely earnestness, and in his hearty hatred of untruth in every form. In treating of theological questions, he is often obscure, minute, and tedious; but in treating of life and manners he is keen, direct, satirical, and vivid. Some portions of the poem could well be spared; others are of much value. It is not suited to all readers; but most of those who explore it must be glad that they have done so. Apart from its literary merit, it is one of the most valuable linguistic monuments in the whole range of our literature.
- The Vision of William Concerning Piers Plowman; together with Vita de Dowel, Dobet, et Dobest, secundum Wit et Resoun (edited by Walter W. Skeat). London: N. Trübner for the Early English Text Society, 1867.
- The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman by William Langley (or Langland): According to the version revised and enlarged by the author about A.D. 1377 (edited by Walter W. Skeat). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1874.
- The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman: In three parallel texts; together with Richard the Redeless (edited by Walter W. Skeat). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1886.
- Piers the Plowman: A critical edition of the A-version (edited by Thomas A. Knott & David C. Fowler). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1952.
- The Book Concerning Piers the Plowman (edited by Donald Attwater & Rachel Attwater). London: Dent / New York: Dutton, 1957.
- The Vision of Piers Plowman of William Langland (edited by Henry W. Wells & Nevill Coghill). London: Sheed & Ward, 1973.
- Piers Plowman (edited by Derek Pearsall). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978.
- William Langland's Piers Plowman: The C version: A verse translation (translated by George Economou). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.
- John M. Bowers, "Piers Plowman and the Police: notes towards a history of the Wycliffite Langland," Yearbook of Langland Studies 6 (1992), pp. 1–50.
- Malcolm Godden, The Making of Piers Plowman (London: Longman, 1990). ISBN 0-582-01685-1
- Pamela Gradon, "Langland and the Ideology of Dissent," Proceedings of the British Academy 66 (1980), pp. 179–205.
- Edith Rickert, "John But, Messenger and Maker," Modern Philology 11 (1903), pp. 107–17.
- Wendy Scase, Piers Plowman and the New Anticlericalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). ISBN 0-521-36017-X
- ↑ John William Cousin, "Langland, William," A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: Dent / New York: Dutton, 1910, 229-230. Wikisource, Web, Feb. 5, 2018.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Britannica 1911, 16, 175.
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 Britannica 1911, 16, 176.
- ↑ from Walter W. Skeat, "Critical Introduction: William Langland (1332?–1400?)," The English Poets: Selections with critical introductions (edited by Thomas Humphry Ward). New York & London: Macmillan, 1880-1918. Web, Apr. 3, 2016.
- ↑ Search results = au:William Langland, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Apr. 3, 2016.
- Selected Poetry of William Langland (ca.1330-ca.1386) (Piers Plowman: Prologue) at Representative Poetry Online.
- William Langland 1332-1400 at the Poetry Foundation.
- Langland in The English Poets: An anthology: Extracts from The Vision of Piers the Plowman
- William Langland at PoemHunter (19 poems)
- William Langland at Poetry Nook (45 poems)
- Audio / video
- William Langland in the Encyclopaedia Britannica
- William Langland at Spartacus Educational
- Langland, William in the Dictionary of National Biography
- William Langland (c.1330-1387) at Luminarium
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain, the 1911 Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Original text is at "Langland, William"
- International Piers Plowman Society Website of international scholarly organization for the study of Piers Plowman and other alliterative poems; includes searchable database of all scholarship on these poems since 1986.