British Literature Timeline - English 12

  • May 3, 731

    History of the English Church and People

    The Venerable Bede, the greatest of England's Latin scholars, wrote History of the English Church and People. It is part of the Anglo-Saxon Prose.
  • May 3, 750


    The surviving version of Beowulf is composed. Beowulf is an epic poem describing the story of a warrior known for his immense strength and courage. It is part of the Anglo-Saxon poetry.
  • May 5, 1375

    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

    The surving version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is composed.
  • May 5, 1386

    The Canterbury Tales

    The Canterbury Tales
    Chaucer began writing the Canterbury Tales, which is group of tales that describe stories told during a pilgrmage to Canterbury. Out of 120 projected tales only 24 were comleted. Included with this is "The Pardoner's Tale" and "The Wife of Bath's Tale."
  • May 10, 1423


    The ballads of the Old English & Medieval Periods are "Twa Corbies," "Lord Randall," "Get Up and Bar the Door," and "Barbara Allen." A ballad is a song or poem that tells a story in short verses and simple words. The Medieval ballads told mostly of adventure, love, disaster, or depths of passion.
  • May 5, 1470

    Morte d' Arthur

    It is believed that Thomas Malory wrote Morte d' Arthur while imprisoned.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1485 to

    English Renaissance Period

  • May 10, 1575

    Marlowe & Raleigh's Poems

    Christopher Marlowe's poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is an example of pastoral poetry, which descreibes the pleasures of simple life in the country. "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" by Sir Walter Raleigh is a reply to Marlowe's poem. It too is an example of pastoral poetry.
  • May 10, 1580

    Spenser & Sidney's Sonnets

    Edmund Spenser's sonnets consisted of Sonnet 1, Sonnet 35, and Sonnet 75. Spenser created a new type of nine-line stanza and a new sonnet form, known as the Spenserian sonnet. Many poets at the time described and idealized their lovers as "perfect." Sir Phillip Sidney's sonnets consisted of Sonnet 31 and Sonnet 39. Sidney was known as a true "Renaissance man." He wrote the first great sonnet sequence in English, Astrophel and Stella. They were the first linked by subject matter and theme.
  • Shakespear's Sonnets

    William Shakespeare's 154 sonnets include Sonnet 29, Sonnet 106, Sonnet 116, and Sonnet 130. Shakespear used a variety of sonnet forms, one of which is named after him. His sonnet form contained fourteen lines, with five iambic feet per line. Most of the time he ends his sonnet with a couplet stating the result or resolution.
  • Macbeth

    It isn't certain that Shakespeare's Macbeth is written at exactly 1604, but it is believed to have been written in the early 1600's. Macbeth is defined as a tragedy, where disaster falls upon a hero. Macbeth was first performed in 1606.
  • Period: to

    Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuries

  • Johnson's Poems

    Johnson's poems include "On My First SOn" and "Song: To Celia." He published a collection of some of his works in 1616. The volume was titled The Works of Benjamin Johnson. Many of Johnson's peoms are epigrammatic poems, which means that the writer had strived for brevity, clarity, and permanence.
  • Donne's Songs & Sonnets

    John Donne's Songs and Sonnets published. Includes "Song,"
    "A Valediction : Forbidding Mourning," "Holy Sonnet 10," and "Meditation 17."
  • Sir John Suckling's Poem

    One of Suckling's poems is "Song." He incorporated many of the lines from this poem into his plays. He was known as the cleverest of conversationalists and is said to have been capable to compose a poem at a moment's notice.
  • Richard Lovelace's Poem

    "To Althea, From Prison" was a poem that Richard Lovelace wrote while improsoned. The poem describes the value of integrity even if the result was prison.
  • Robert Herrick's Poem

    "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" is one of Herrick's famous poems. He uses the aspect of carpe diem within the poem. His poems were published during a very turbulent time and were criticized and ignored by other writers. His verses are highly regarded today.
  • The Rape of the Lock

    Alexander Pope captured the attention of the leading literary figures of the time with The Rape of the Lock. It is based on an actual dispute between two families, the Petres and the Fermors.
  • Gulliver's Travels

    Jonathan Swift satirizes religious and political strife in his most famous book, Gulliver's Travels. He focuses on the conflicts between the Church of England and Roman Catholicism, as well as conflicts between Protestant England and Catholic France. Ten thousand copies of Swift's book were sold in the first three weeks after it was published.
  • A Modest Proposal

    A Modest Proposal
    Jonathan Swift was very concerned with the poverty in Ireland and uses satire in A Modest Proposal to get his point across to the public. In the work, he mocks the lives of the upper class and suggests that their pursuit of luxery led them to want unimaginable delicacies.
  • "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"

    This is Thomas Gray's best-known poem. It contains some of the most remembered lines in English poetry. The poem describes the feeling of tragedy in life and helps to discover the true value of life. Gray helped lead to the artistic movement of Romanticism.
  • A Dictionary of the English Language

    In 1746 Samuel Johnson began work on A Dictionary of the English Language. Johnson was considered an intellectual pioneer of this period. He helped to set a standard for nonfiction works.
  • "To a Mouse"

    Robert Burns published his first collection of poems in 1786, which included "To a Mouse." The poem was loved by critics and country people alike. Burns always modeled his poems so that structure, grammar, and vocabulary were polished and complex, but took a chance with this poem by using the Scottish dialect to relate to the common people.
  • William Blake's Poems

    Blake's poems "The Lamb" and "The Tyger" describe contradicting animals. These two poems were designed to have a child-like feel, which is different from the styles of his time.
  • Period: to

    Romantic Period

  • "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," which is considered a masterpiece, as well as "Kubla Khan." Coleridge said that his poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" was based on a dream by John Cruikshank. Many of his poems were said to be based on dreams including "Kubla Khan."
  • William Wordsworth Poems

    Wordsworth's greatest work in poetry is known to be "The Prelude." He also wrote "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey," which was written in 1798 during a second visit to the great medieval church. Wordsworth quotes, "No poem of mine was composed under circumstances more pleasant for one to remember than this." He also wrote the poems "The World Is Too Much With Us" and "London, 1802."
  • Frankenstein

    Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley first published Frankenstein in 1818. It is a classic Gothic novel meant to inject terror or fear into the readers. The complete title of Mary Shelley's work is Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a Titan who is said to have created the first human beings.
  • Poems by John Keats

    Keats wrote many wonderful poems including "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer," "When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be," "Ode to a Nightingale," and "Ode on a Grecian Urn." An ode is a poem that pays respect to a person or thing. Keats created his own version of the ode, using ten-line stanzas of iambic pentameter, usually beginning with a quatrain and then a sestet.
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley's Poems

    Shelley wrote many great poems including "Ozymandias," "Ode to the West Wind," and "To a Skylark." He wrote many of his finest works while in Italy. He uses images that depict concrete objects that help to link nature and spirit.
  • George Gordon's (Lord Byron) Poems

    George Gordon wrote the poems "She Walks in Beauty" and "Don Juan," which is considered his masterpiece of a mock epic.
  • Period: to

    Victorian Period

  • Jane Eyre

    Jane Eyre
    Charlotte Bronte published the novel, Jane Eyre, which describes her experiences at a boarding school in 1847.
  • Poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson

    Alfred Lord Tennyson's poems included "In Memoriam, A.H.H.," "The Lady of Shalott," and "Ulysses." Tennyson's grief after a friend died became his imspiration for some of his greatest works. Many of his poems focus on death, religious faith, and immortality.
  • Hard Times

    Charles Dickens shows his distinctive social criticism in his late masterpiece Hard Times. Many of Dickens novels have been dramatized into plays and films. In Hard Times, Dickens is mocking the Utilitarianism by Jeremy Bentham, believing that it sought negative virtues.
  • The Browning's Poems

    Robert Browning ranks among the top with Tennyson as one of the greatest Victorian poets. His dramatic monologue, "My Last Duchess," still remains a favorite among many. Robert married Elizabeth Barrett Browning in 1846. Elizabeth wrote Sonnet 43, which has appeared in many anthologies.
  • "Dover Beach"

    Many of Matthew Arnold's poetry contains the theme of isolation of individuals from one another or from society. His poem "Dover Beach" is an example of this.
  • "God's Grandeur"

    Gerard Manley Hopkins was not well-known as a poet and although he was the most innovative poet of the Victorian period none of his works wear actually published until1918.
  • "To an Athlete Dying Young"

    A.E. Housman's poems were filled with gentle regret. Another one of his poems is "When I Was One-and-Twenty."
  • Period: to

    Modern & Postmodern Periods

  • "The Soldier"

    Rupert Brooke's wrote many war sonnets which include "The Soldier." His sonnets were traditional and idealistic. His tone in "The Soldier" is that of patriotic devotion and wistful memory.
  • William Butler Yeat's Poems

    Yeat's poems include "When You Are Old," "The Wild Swans at Coole," "The Second Comin," and "Sailing to Byzantium." He strived to explain mythology, symbolism, and philosophy within his poems.
  • Shooting an Elephant

    Shooting an Elephant
    George Orwell wrote Shooting an Elephant after his time as an imperial police officer. Shooting an Elephant is based on the experience with English rule in Burma.
  • "The Hollow Men"

    T.S. Eliot uses allusions to help him contrast the past with the present in "The Hollow Men." He was the most famous and most influential poet of his time. He was also a leader of the artistic movement of Modernism.
  • Anglo-Saxon Chronicles

    The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles is another great work from the Anglo-Saxon prose. It was written by a group of monks that compiled historical journals written in Old English.
  • The Exeter Book

    The Exeter Book included many stories that came by oral tradition including "The Seafarer," "The Wanderer," and "The Wife's Lament." It is said that Saxon Monks copied the English poems into The Exeter Book in A.D. 975.
  • Period: to Jan 1, 1485

    Old English & Medieval Periods