Cædmon is the earliest English poet whose name is known. An Anglo-Saxon herdsman attached to the double monastery of Streonæshalch (Whitby Abbey) during the abbacy of St. Hilda (657–681), he was originally ignorant of the art of song but learned to compose one night in the course of a dream. He later became a zealous monk and an accomplished and inspirational religious poet.
Cædmon is one of twelve Anglo-Saxon poets identified in medieval sources, and one of only three for whom both roughly contemporary biographical information and examples of literary output have survived. His story is told to us in the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum ("History of the English church") by St. Bede.