A writer of Anglo-Saxon poetry, whose authorship was discovered in the middle of the last century through the reading of his signature in runic characters within the poems.
Nothing is known of his life except what he tells of himself: that he was a minstrel in high favor, was converted from worldly ways, and devoted his later years to sacred poetry.
He is thought to have lived in Northumbria, or Mercia.
Some would identify him with Cynewulf, Bishop of Lindisfarne, others with an ecclesiastic of Dunwich who signed the decrees of the Council of Clovesho in 803.
The four poems authoritatively attributed to him are the "Christ," the "Elene," the story of Saint Helena, considered his masterpiece, the "Juliana," and the "Fates of the Apostles."
He probably wrote the very beautiful "Dream of the Rood."
It is more doubtful that he was the author of "Guthlac," "Andreas," the "Phoenix," or the riddles in the "Exeter Book."
His work reveals him as a true poet and a widely read scholar.
New Catholic Dictionary