ANGLO-SAXON 450-1066 (Old English Period)Much of the first half of this period—prior to the seventh century, at least—had oral literature. A lot of the prose during this time was a translation of something else or otherwise legal, medical, or religious in nature.
- Some works, such as Beowulf and those by period poets
Caedmon and Cynewulf, are important.
MIDDLE ENGLISH PERIOD 1066-1500Here you see a great transition in the language, culture and lifestyle of England. As with the Anglo-Saxon period, much of the writing of Middle English was religious in nature; however, from about 1350 onward, secular literature began to rise.
- This period is home to the likes Chaucer, Thomas Malory, and Robert Henryson.
- Notable works include "Piers Plowman" and "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight".
THE RENAISSANCE 1500-1660 (Early Modern)This period is often subdivided into four parts:
- Including the Elizabethan Age (1558–1603),
- The Jacobean Age (1603–1625),
- The Caroline Age (1625–1649), and
- The Commonwealth Period (1649–1660).
THE ELIZABETHAN AGE 1558-1603Was the golden age of English drama. Some of its noteworthy figures include:
- Christopher Marlowe,
- Francis Bacon,
- Edmund Spenser,
- Sir Walter Raleigh, and,
- William Shakespeare.
THE NEOCLASSICAL PERIOD 1600-1785The Neoclassical period is also subdivided into ages, including:
- The Restoration (1660–1700),
- The Augustan Age (1700–1745), and
- The Age of Sensibility (1745–1785).
THE JACOBEAN AGE 1603-1625Is named for the reign of James I.
It includes the works of:
- John Donne,
- Michael Drayton,
- John Webster,
- Elizabeth Cary,
- Ben Jonson, and
- Lady Mary Wroth. The King James translation of the Bible also appeared during the
THE CARAOLINE AGE 1625-1649Covers the reign of Charles I (“Carolus”). Some of the notable figures are:
- John Milton,
- Robert Burton, and
- George Herbert
THE COMMONWEALTH PERIOD 1649-1660Was so named for the period between the end of the English Civil War and the restoration of the Stuart monarchy.
This is the time when Oliver Cromwell, led Parliament, who ruled the nation. At this time, public theaters were closed to prevent public assembly and to combat moral and religious transgressions.
THE RESTORATION 1660-1700The Restoration period sees some response to the puritanical age, especially in the theater. Restoration comedies (comedies of manner) developed during this time under the talent of playwrights like:
- William Congreve and John Dryden. Satire, too, became quite popular, as evidenced by the
- Samuel Butler. Other notable writers of the age include
- Aphra Behn,
- John Bunyan, and
- John Locke.
THE AUGUSTAN AGE 1700-1745The Augustan Age was the time of:
- Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, who imitated those first Augustans and even drew parallels between themselves and the first set.
THE AGE OF SENSIBILITY 1745-1785Sometimes referred to as the Age of Johnson, was the time of:
- Edmund Burke,
- Edward Gibbon,
- Hester Lynch Thrale,
- James Boswell,
- Samuel Johnson. Ideas such as neoclassicism, a critical and literary mode, and the Enlightenment, a particular worldview shared by many intellectuals, were championed during this age. Novelists to explore include:
- Henry Fielding,
- Samuel Richardson,
- Tobias Smollett,
- Laurence Sterne The poets:
- William Cowper
- Thomas Percy.
THE ROMANTIC PERIOD 1785-1832American literature has its Romantic period, is referring to this great and diverse age of British literature, perhaps the most popular and well-known of all literary ages. Includes the works of:
- Wordsworth, Coleridge, William Blake, Lord, Byron, John Keats, Charles Lamb, Mary Wollstonecraft, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Thomas De Quincey, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley. There is a minor period, 1786–1800, called the Gothic era.
- Matthew Lewis, Anne Radcliffe, and William Beckford.
THE VICTORIAN PERIOD 1832-1901It was a time of great social, religious, intellectual, and economic
issues, The period has been divided into periods:
- Early 1832–1848
- Mid 1848–1870
- Late 1870–1901
Poets of this time include:
Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Matthew Arnold.
- Charles Dickens, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Samuel Butler.
THE EDWARDIAN PERIOD 1901-1832This period is named for King Edward VII and covers the period between Victoria’s death and the outbreak of World War I. Although a short period, the era includes incredible classic novelists such as:
- Joseph Conrad,
- Ford Madox Ford,
- Rudyard Kipling,
- H.G. Wells,
- Henry James. Notable poets such as:
- Alfred Noyes
- William Butler Yeats. Dramatists such as:
- James Barrie,
- George Bernard Shaw,
- John Galsworthy.
THE GEORGIAN PERIOD 1910-1936It refers to the reign of George V (1910–1936) but sometimes also
includes the reigns of the four successive Georges from 1714–1830.
The Georgian poets such as:
- Ralph Hodgson, John Masefield, W.H. Davies, and Rupert Brooke. Georgian poetry today is typically considered to be the works of minor poets anthologized by: Edward Marsh. The themes and subject matter tended to be rural or pastoral in nature, treated delicately and traditionally rather than with passion or with experimentation.
THE MODERN PERIOD 1914-1945Common features include bold experimentation with subject matter, style, and form, encompassing narrative, verse, and drama.
THE POSTMODERN PERIOD 1945-2000The postmodern period begins about the time that World War II ended. Some say the period ended about 1990, but it is likely too soon to declare this period closed. Poststructuralist literary theory and criticism developed during this time. Some notable writers of the period include:
- Samuel Beckett, Joseph Heller, Anthony Burgess, John Fowles, Penelope M. Lively, and Iain Banks. Many postmodern authors wrote during the modern period as well.