English Literature

Timeline created by Heidi Delgado
  • 450

    Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Period 450 - 1066

    Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Period 450 - 1066
    It was characterized by Oral Literature. Much of the prose during this time was a translation of something else or of another legal, medical, or religious nature.
  • 731

    The Venerable Bede

    The Venerable Bede
    He wrote on science, history, and theology, ranging from music and meter to exegetical commentary on Scripture. He knew patristic literature, as well as Pliny the Elder, Virgil, Lucretius, Ovid, Horace, and other classical writers. His biblical commentaries employed the allegorical method of interpretation and his Ecclesiastical History includes accounts of miracles, which for modern historians seem to be at odds with his critical approach to the sources of his work.
  • 850


    Written and recited in Great Britain, Beowulf is about characters in Scandinavia.
  • 990


    Outstanding works by the poets of the time Caedmon and Cynewulg.
  • 1066

    Medieval English Period

    Medieval English Period
    Most of the writings were religious in nature. Notable characters such as Chaucer, Thomas Malory, and Robert Henryson. Outstanding works "Piers Plowman" and "Sir Gawain" and "The Green Knight".
  • 1370

    'Piers Plowman'

    'Piers Plowman'
    Piers Plowman (written c. 1370–90) or Visio Willelmi de Petro Ploughman (William's Vision of Piers Plowman) is a Middle English allegorical narrative poem by William Langland. It is written in un-rhymed, alliterative verse divided into sections called passus (Latin for "step").
  • 1400

    ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’

    ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’
    ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ is considered a masterpiece of Middle English literature. Writing it was a very complicated feat, using not only alliteration but also a verse form called the ‘bob and wheel’.
  • 1500

    The Renaissance

    The Renaissance
    English literature is characterized by a special interest in human behavior as the main theme of the works, partly due to the influence of Italian humanism. While medieval English literature was nourished by religious themes, during the Renaissance writers opted for more secular themes.
  • 1558

    Elizabethan age (1558-1603)

    Elizabethan age (1558-1603)
    Probably the most splendid era in the history of English literature, during which writers such as Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Roger Ascham, Richard Hooker, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare flourished. The Elizabethan epithet is simply a chronological reference and does not describe any special features of the writing.
  • Jacobea Age (1603-1625)

    Jacobea Age (1603-1625)
    Jacobean literature, body of works written during the reign of James I of England. The successor to Elizabethan literature, Jacobean literature was often dark in mood, questioning the stability of the social order; of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies may date from the beginning of the period, and other dramatists, including John Webster, were often preoccupied with the problem of evil. The era’s comedy included the acid satire of Ben Jonson and the varied works of Francis Beaumont.
  • Caroline Age (1625-1649)

    Caroline Age (1625-1649)
    The Caroline period saw the flourishing of the cavalier poets (including Thomas Carew, Richard Lovelace, and John Suckling) and the metaphysical poets (including George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Katherine Philips), movements that produced figures like John Donne, Robert Herrick and John Milton. Cavalier poetry differs from traditional poetry in subject matter. Instead of tackling issues such as religion, philosophy and the arts, cavalier poetry aims to express the joys and celebrations.
  • Commonwealth Age (1649 - 1660)

    Commonwealth Age (1649 - 1660)
    The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales, later along with Ireland and Scotland, were governed as a republic after the end of the Second English Civil War and the trial and execution of Charles I. The political writings of John Milton and Thomas Hobbes appeared and, while the drama suffered, prose writers such as Thomas Fuller, Abraham Cowley, and Andrew Marvell published prolifically.
  • Neoclassical period (1660-1785)

    Neoclassical period (1660-1785)
    This age is called Neoclassical or Pseudo-Classical Age to mean the artificiality of the writers of this age. They imitated the ancient Greek and Roman literary tradition but lacked the originality of the writers of that period. It is subdivided into ages, which include The Restoration (1660-1700), The Age of Augustus (1700-1745) and The Age of Sensitivity (1745-1785).
  • The Restoration (1660-1700)

    The Restoration (1660-1700)
    The dates for Restoration literature are a matter of convention, and they differ markedly from genre to genre. Thus, the "Restoration" in drama may last until 1700, while in poetry it may last only until 1666 (see 1666 in poetry) and the annus mirabilis; and in prose it might end in 1688, with the increasing tensions over succession and the corresponding rise in journalism and periodicals, or not until 1700, when those periodicals grew more stabilized.
  • The Age of Augustus (1700-1745)

    The Age of Augustus (1700-1745)
    Augustan literature is a style of British literature produced during the reigns of Queen Anne, King George I, and George II in the first half of the 18th century and ending in the 1740s, with the deaths of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, in 1744 and 1745, respectively. It was a literary epoch that featured the rapid development of the novel, an explosion in satire, the mutation of drama from political satire into melodrama and an evolution toward poetry of personal exploration.
  • The Age of Sensitivity (1745-1785)

    The Age of Sensitivity (1745-1785)
    The period in British literature between approximately 1740 and 1800 is sometimes referred to as the "age of sensibility", in recognition of the great value that many Britons came to place on explorations of feelings and emotions in literature and other arts.
  • Romantic Period (1785-1832)

    Romantic Period (1785-1832)
    Romanticism is possibly the greatest literary and artistic movement of the 1700s, according to many scholars. The romantic period of poetry occurred when England was transforming her economy from agriculture to commerce, manufacturing, and commerce.
  • Victorian Period (1832-1901)

    Victorian Period (1832-1901)
    The Romantic period was a time of abstract expression and inward focus, essayists, poets, and novelists during the Victorian era began to reflect and comment on realities of the day, including criticisms of the dangers of factory work, the plight of the lower class, and the treatment of women and children. Prominent examples include poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and novelists Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. Barrett's poem entitled "Cry of the Children," published in 1844.
  • Edwardian Period (1901-1914)

    Edwardian Period (1901-1914)
    Edwardian era writers existed in a space between Victorian era Romanticism (prominent in the mid-19th century) and the early 20th century Modernist movement. These novels were designed to be read under the critical microscope of a society already moving away from Victorian Conservatism and moralism. Excellent Edwardian Novels: Three Weeks, by Elinor Glyn, “Gabriel-Ernest,” by Saki, The Title Market, by Emily Post, Sanctuary, by Edith Wharton.
    The Benefactress, by Elizabeth von Arnim.
  • Georgian period (1910-1936)

    Georgian period (1910-1936)
    El término " literatura de Augusto " se utiliza a menudo para el drama de Augusto , la poesía de Augusto y la prosa de Augusto en el período 1700-1740. El término "augusto" se refiere al reconocimiento de la influencia de la literatura latina de la antigua República Romana. Georgian society and its preoccupations were well portrayed in the novels of writers such as Henry Fielding, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen, characterised by the architecture of Robert Adam, John Nash and James Wyatt.
  • Modern Period (1914-1945)

    Modern Period (1914-1945)
    The Modern Period applies to British literature written since the beginning of World War I in 1914. The authors of the Modern Period have experimented with subject matter, form, and style and have produced achievements in all literary genres. Modernist writers include WB Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Virginia Woolf, and Wilfred Owen. The modernist period includes Robert Frost and Flannery O'Connor, as well as famous writers of The Lost Generation such as Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner.
  • Postmodern Period (1945–?)

    Postmodern Period (1945–?)
    Postmodernism blends literary genres and styles and attempts to break free of modernist forms.