Introduction to The Wooing of Swanhild
“The Wooing of Swanhild” is an uncompleted tale for which there are two manuscripts: an untitled draft (d1) and a shorter fair copy (d2). These two manuscripts are collated here with the edition of the tale May Morris published in The Collected Works of William Morris in 1915 (CW).
The 13 folios of d1 are written in ink on recto and verso. They are paginated 1-24, with the 13 folios unnumbered. Folios 1-11 are on blue paper with 34 horizontal aqua lines and are watermarked “E Towgood 1868.” Folios 12-14 are on white paper with 34 horizontal aqua lines and unwatermarked. The stanzas are numbered throughout the folios and there are occasional floral drawings through the text.
The 10 folios of d2 are written carefully in ink on recto only. They are paginated 1-10. All 10 folios are on white paper with 34 horizontal aqua lines and are unwatermarked.
Both manuscripts are located in the British Library, London, from the May Morris Bequest, BM Add. MS. 45308.
The source for this story of Sigurd and Gudrun’s daughter is “taken from the last chapters of the Volsunga Saga” (Mackail, 1:208), a translation of which Morris published in May 1870 as The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs. He also did a calligraphic manuscript of this translation in the same year (Oxford, Bodl. MS. Eng. misc. d. 268). The Volsunga Saga is an anonymous prose version in Old Norse, dating from the thirteenth century, of the much older account of the heroic deeds of the families of the Volsungs and the Niblungs, itself deriving in part from the Elder Edda. Morris returned to the Volsunga Saga in 1876 for his poetic version, The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs.
The copy-text for this edition is d2 until it ends with line 276 and then d1 for the remainder of the tale.