The first comprehensive study of heroic women figures in Anglo-Saxon literature investigates English secular and religious prose and poetry from the seventh to the eleventh centuries. Given the paucity of surviving literature from the Anglo-Saxon period, the works which feature major women characters -- often portrayed as heroes -- seem surprisingly numerous. Even more striking is the strength of the female characterizations, given the medieval social ideal of women as peaceful, passive members of society. The task of this study is to examine the existing sources afresh, asking new questions about the depictions of women in the literature of the period. Particular attention is focused on the failed, possibly adulterous women of 'The Wife's Lament' and 'Wulf and Eadwacer', the monstrous mother of Grendel in 'Beowulf', and the chaste but heroic figures and saints Judith, Juliana, and Elene. The book relies for its analysis on recent and standard texts in Anglo-Saxon studies and literature, as well as a thorough grounding in Latin and vernacular historical documents and Anglo-Saxon writings other than the focal literary texts.