English Literature

  • 731

    The Venerable Bede (673 - 735)

    The Venerable Bede (673 - 735)
    In his monastery at Jarrow, completes his historyof the English church and people
  • 800

    Beowulf

    Beowulf
    The first great work of Germanic literature, mingles the legends of Scandinavia with the experiencein England of Angles and Saxons
  • 950

    The material of the Eddas

    The material of the Eddas
    Taking shappe of Iceland, derives from earlier sources in Norway, Britain and Burgundy.
  • 1300

    Dunns Scotus (1265 - 1308)

    Dunns Scotus (1265 - 1308)
    Knows as the Subtle Doctor in medieval times, later provides humanists with the name Dunsman or dunce
  • 1340

    William of Ockham

    William of Ockham
    Advocates paring down arguments to their essentials, an approach later known as Ockham's razor
  • 1367

    William Langland

    William Langland
    A narrator who calls himself Will, and whose name may be Langland, begins the epic poem of Piers Plowman
  • 1375

    Britain

    Britain
    The courtly poem Gawain and the Green Knight tells of a mysterious visitor to the round table of King Arthur
  • 1385

    Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 - 1400)

    Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 - 1400)
    Chaucer completes Troilus and Criseyde, his long poem about a legendary love affair in ancient troy.
  • 1387

    Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 - 1400)

    Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 - 1400)
    Chaucer begins an ambitious scheme for 100 Canterbury Tales, of which he completes only 24 by the time of his death.
  • 1469

    Thomas Mallory (1416 - 1471)

    Thomas Mallory (1416 - 1471)
    In gaol somewhere in England, compiles Morte d'Arthur - an English account of the French tales of King Arthur
  • 1510

    Erasmus and Thomas More

    Erasmus and Thomas More
    Take the northern Renaissance in the direction of Cristian humanism
  • 1524

    William Tyndale (1494 - 1536)

    William Tyndale (1494 - 1536)
    Plans to translate the Bible into english
  • 1549

    Thomas Cranmer (1489 - 1556)

    Thomas Cranmer (1489 - 1556)
    The first version of the English prayer book, or Book of Common Prayer, is published with text by Thomas Cranmer
  • 1564

    England

    England
    Marlowe and Shakespeare are born in the same year, with Marlowe the older by two months
  • Cristopher Marlowe

    Cristopher Marlowe
    Marlowe's first play, Tamburlaine the Great, introduces the swaggering blank verse of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama
  • William Shakespeare

    William Shakespeare
    Shakespeare's central character in Hamlet expresses both the ideals of the Renaissance and the disillusion of a less confident age.
  • England

    England
    James I commissions the Authorized version of the Bible, which is completed by forty-seven scholars in seven years
  • Ben Jonson (1572 - 1673)

    Ben Jonson (1572 - 1673)
    Ben Jonson writes The Masque of Blackness, the first of his many masques for the court of James I.
  • William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

    William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
    Shakespeare's last completed play, The Tempest, is performed
  • William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

    William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
    William Shakespeare dies at New Place, his home in Stratford-upon-Avon, and is buried in Holy Trinity Church
  • John Heminge and Henry Condell

    John Heminge and Henry Condell
    They publish thirty-six Shakespeare plays in the First Folio
  • Anne Bradstreet (1612 - 1672)

    Anne Bradstreet (1612 - 1672)
    The poems of Massachusetts author Anne Bradstreet are published in London under the title The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America
  • Izaak Walton (1593 - 1683)

    Izaak Walton (1593 - 1683)
    Devoted fisherman Izaak Walton publishes the classic work on the subject, The Compleat Angler.
  • John Milton (1608 - 1674)

    John Milton (1608 - 1674)
    Paradise Lost is published, earning its author John Milton just £10
  • John Bunyan (1628 - 1688)

    John Bunyan (1628 - 1688)
    Part I of The Pilgrim's Progress, written during John Bunyan's two spells in Bedford Gaol, is published and is immediately popular
  • Aphra Behn (1640 - 1689)

    Aphra Behn (1640 - 1689)
    Aphra Behn's novel Oroonoko makes an early protest against the inhumanity of the African slave trade
  • John Locke (1632 - 1704)

    John Locke (1632 - 1704)
    John Locke publishes his Essay concerning Human Understanding, arguing that all knowledge is based on experience
  • George Berkeley (1685 - 1753)

    George Berkeley (1685 - 1753)
    25-year-old George Berkeley attacks Locke in his Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
  • Daniel Defoe (1660 - 1731)

    Daniel Defoe (1660 - 1731)
    Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, with its detailed realism, can be seen as the first English novel
  • Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745)

    Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745)
    Sends his hero on a series of bitterly satirical travels in Gulliver's Travels
  • Thomas Gray (1716 - 1771)

    Thomas Gray (1716 - 1771)
    English poet Thomas Gray publishes his Elegy written in a Country Church Yard.
  • Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

    Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)
    Samuel Johnson publishes his magisterial Dictionary of the English Language
  • Laurence Sterne (1713 - 1768)

    Laurence Sterne (1713 - 1768)
    Laurence Sterne publishes the first two volumes of Tristram Shandy, beginning with the scene at the hero's conception
  • Scotland

    Scotland
    A Society of Gentlemen in Scotland begins publication of the immensely successful Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • Edward Gibbon (1737 - 1794)

    Edward Gibbon (1737 - 1794)
    English historian Edward Gibbon publishes the first volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • William Blake (1757 - 1827)

    William Blake (1757 - 1827)
    William Blake publishes Songs of Innocence, a volume of his poems with every page etched and illustrated by himself
  • Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)

    Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)
    Anglo-Irish politician Edmund Burke publishes Reflections on the Revolution in France, a blistering attack on recent events across the Channel
  • Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809)

    Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809)
    Thomas Paine publishes his completed Age of Reason, an attack on conventional Christianity.
  • Walter Scott (1771 - 1832)

    Walter Scott (1771 - 1832)
    Walter Scott publishes The Lay of the Last Minstrel, the long romantic poem that first brings him fame
  • Walter Scott (1771 - 1832)

    Walter Scott (1771 - 1832)
    Walter Scott's poem Lady of the Lake brings tourists in unprecedented numbers to Scotland's Loch Katrine
  • Jane Austen (1775 - 1817)

    Jane Austen (1775 - 1817)
    Pride and Prejudice, based on a youthful work of 1797 called First Impressions, is the second of Jane Austen's novels to be published
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822)

    Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822)
    Percy Bysshe Shelley publishes probably his best-known poem, the sonnet Ozymandias
  • Mary Shelley (1797 - 1851)

    Mary Shelley (1797 - 1851)
    Mary Shelley publishes Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, a Gothic tale about giving life to an artificial man
  • Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)

    Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)
    24-year-old Charles Dickens begins monthly publication of his first work of fiction, Pickwick Papers (published in book form in 1837)
  • Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)

    Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)
    Charles Dickens' first novel, Oliver Twist, begins monthly publication (in book form, 1838)
  • Robert Browning (1812 - 1889)

    Robert Browning (1812 - 1889)
    English poet Robert Browning publishes a vivid narrative poem about the terrible revenge of The Pied Piper of Hamelin
  • Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)

    Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)
    Ebenezer Scrooge mends his ways just in time in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol
  • Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881)

    Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881)
    In his novel Coningsby Benjamin Disraeli develops the theme of Conservatism uniting 'two nations', the rich and the poor
  • William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 - 1863)

    William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 - 1863)
    English author William Makepeace Thackeray begins publication of his novel Vanity Fair in monthly parts (book form 1848)
  • Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)

    Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)
    Charles Dickens begins the publication in monthly numbers of David Copperfield, his own favourite among his novels
  • Peter Mark Roget (1779 - 1869)

    Peter Mark Roget (1779 - 1869)
    London physician Peter Mark Roget publishes his dictionary of synonyms, the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases
  • Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882)

    Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882)
    Charles Darwin puts forward the theory of evolution in On the Origin of Species, the result of 20 years' research
  • Alfred Tennyson (1809 - 1892)

    Alfred Tennyson (1809 - 1892)
    Tennyson publishes the first part of Idylls of the King, a series of linked poems about Britain's mythical king Arthur
  • Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)

    Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)
    Charles Dickens publishes his French Revolution novel, A Tale of Two Cities
  • Edward FitzGerald (1809 - 1883)

    Edward FitzGerald (1809 - 1883)
    Edward FitzGerald publishes The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, romantic translations of the work of the Persian poet
  • George Eliot (1819 - 1880)

    George Eliot (1819 - 1880)
    English author George Eliot wins fame with her first full-length novel, Adam Bede
  • Ellen Wood (Mrs. Henry Wood) (1814 - 1887)

    Ellen Wood (Mrs. Henry Wood) (1814 - 1887)
    Mrs Henry Wood publishes her first novel, East Lynne, which becomes the basis of the most popular of all Victorian melodramas
  • Charles Kingsley (1819 - 1875)

    Charles Kingsley (1819 - 1875)
    English author Charles Kingsley publishes an improving fantasy for young children, The Water-Babies
  • Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898)

    Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898)
    Lewis Carroll publishes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a development of the story he had told Alice Liddell three years earlier
  • Algernon Swinburne (1837 - 1909)

    Algernon Swinburne (1837 - 1909)
    Algernon Swinburne scandalizes Victorian Britain with his first collection, Poems and Ballads
  • Karl Marx (1818 - 1883)

    Karl Marx (1818 - 1883)
    The first volume of Das Kapital is completed by Marx in London and is published in Hamburg
  • Matthew Arnold (1822 - 1888)

    Matthew Arnold (1822 - 1888)
    English author Matthew Arnold publishes Culture and Anarchy, an influential collection of essays about contemporary society
  • Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898)

    Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898)
    Lewis Carroll publishes Through the Looking Glass, a second story of Alice's adventures
  • William Gladstone (1809 - 1898)

    William Gladstone (1809 - 1898)
    William Gladstone's pamphlet Bulgarian Horrors, protesting at massacre by the Turks, sells 200,000 copies within a month
  • Britain

    Britain
    The Aesthetic Movement and 'art for art's sake', attitudes personified above all by Whistler and Wilde, are widely mocked and satirized in Britain
  • Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894)

    Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894)
    Robert Louis Stevenson's adventure story, Treasure Island, features Long John Silver and Ben Gunn
  • Britain

    Britain
    Oxford University Press publishes the A volume of its New English Dictionary, which will take 37 years to reach Z
  • Richard Burton (1821 - 1890)

    Richard Burton (1821 - 1890)
    Explorer and orientalist Richard Burton begins publication of his multi-volume translation from the Arabic of The Arabian Nights
  • Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894)

    Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894)
    Robert Louis Stevenson introduces a dual personality in his novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928)

    Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928)
    Thomas Hardy publishes his novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, which begins with the future mayor, Michael Henchard selling his wife and child at a fair
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 - 1930)

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 - 1930)
    Sherlock Holmes features in Conan Doyle's first novel, A Study in Scarlet
  • Sir James Frazer (1854 - 1941)

    Sir James Frazer (1854 - 1941)
    Scottish anthropologist James Frazer publishes The Golden Bough, a massive compilation of contemporary knowledge about ritual and religious custom
  • Rudyad Kipling (1865 - 1936)

    Rudyad Kipling (1865 - 1936)
    Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book surrounds the child Mowgli with a collection of vivid animal guardians
  • Herbert George Wells (1866 - 1946)

    Herbert George Wells (1866 - 1946)
    H.G. Wells publishes The Time Machine, a story about a Time Traveller whose first stop on his journey is the year 802701
  • Bram Stoker (1847 - 1912)

    Bram Stoker (1847 - 1912)
    English author Bram Stoker publishes Dracula, his gothic tale of vampirism in Transylvania
  • Herbert George Wells (1866 - 1946)

    Herbert George Wells (1866 - 1946)
    H.G. Wells publishes his science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds, in which Martians arrive in a rocket to invade earth
  • Edith Nesbit (1858 - 1924)

    Edith Nesbit (1858 - 1924)
    E. Nesbit publishes The Story of the Treasure Seekers, introducing the Bastable family who feature in several of her books for children
  • Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943)

    Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943)
    Beatrix Potter publishes at her own expense The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943)

    Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943)
    The Tale of Peter Rabbit is published commercially, a year after being first printed by Beatrix Potter at her own expense
  • Joseph Conrad (1857 - 1924)

    Joseph Conrad (1857 - 1924)
    Joseph Conrad publishes his novel Nostromo, about a revolution in South America and a fatal horde of silver
  • James Matthew Barrie (1860 - 1937)

    James Matthew Barrie (1860 - 1937)
    J.M Barrie's play for children Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up has its premiere in London
  • Herbert George Wells (1866 - 1946)

    Herbert George Wells (1866 - 1946)
    The heroine of H.G. Wells' novel Ann Veronica is a determined example of the New Woman
  • Great Britain

    Great Britain
    The Times Literary Supplement is published in London as an independent paper, separate from The Times
  • Maynard Keynes (1883 - 1946)

    Maynard Keynes (1883 - 1946)
    In The Economic Consequences of the Peace Maynard Keynes publishes a strong attack on the reparations demanded from Germany
  • Alan Alexander Minle (1882 - 1956)

    Alan Alexander Minle (1882 - 1956)
    Christopher Robin features for the first time in A.A. Milne's When We Were Very Young.
  • Alan Alexander Minle (1882 - 1956)

    Alan Alexander Minle (1882 - 1956)
    Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and the others make their first appearance in A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh.
  • Arthur Ransome (1884 - 1967)

    Arthur Ransome (1884 - 1967)
    Swallows and Amazons is the first of Arthur Ransome's adventure stories for children
  • Archibald MacLeish (1892 - 1982)

    Archibald MacLeish (1892 - 1982)
    US poet Archibald MacLeish publishes a narrative epic, Conquistador, about the conquest of Mexico
  • Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) (1903 - 1950)

    Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) (1903 - 1950)
    In Down and Out in Paris and London English author George Orwell writes a sympathetic account of the people he meets on hard times
  • Allen Lane (1902 - 1970)

    Allen Lane (1902 - 1970)
    British publisher Allen Lane launches a paperback series to which he gives the name Penguin Books
  • Evelyn Waugh (1903 - 1966)

    Evelyn Waugh (1903 - 1966)
    British author Evelyn Waugh publishes a classic Fleet Street novel, Scoop, introducing Lord Copper, proprietor of The Beast
  • Rebecca West (1892 - 1983)

    Rebecca West (1892 - 1983)
    British author Rebecca West publishes an account of Yugoslavia, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon.
  • Ian Fleming (1908 - 1964)

    Ian Fleming (1908 - 1964)
    James Bond, agent 007, has a licence to kill in Ian Fleming's first novel, Casino Royale.
  • Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

    Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)
    Politician and author Winston Churchill completes his six-volume history The Second World War
  • William Golding (1939 - 1993)

    William Golding (1939 - 1993)
    William Golding gives a chilling account of schoolboy savagery in his first novel, Lord of the Flies
  • John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892 - 1973)

    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892 - 1973)
    British philologist J.R.R. Tolkien publishes the third and final volume of his epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings
  • Roald Dahl (1916 - 1990)

    Roald Dahl (1916 - 1990)
    British author Roald Dahl publishes a novel for children, James and the Giant Peach
  • Anthony Burgess (1917 - 1993)

    Anthony Burgess (1917 - 1993)
    Anthony Burgess publishes A Clockwork Orange, a novel depicting a disturbing and violent near-future.
  • Roald Dahl (1916 - 1990)

    Roald Dahl (1916 - 1990)
    Roald Dahl publishes a fantasy treat for a starving child, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  • Nikolaus Pevsner (1902 - 1983)

    Nikolaus Pevsner (1902 - 1983)
    German-born British art historian Nikolaus Pevsner completes his monumental 46-volume Buildings of England
  • Stephen Hawking (1942 - 2018)

    Stephen Hawking (1942 - 2018)
    British physicist Stephen Hawking explains the cosmos for the general reader in A Brief History of Time: from the Big Bang to Black Holes.
  • Joanne Rowling (1965 - )

    Joanne Rowling (1965 - )
    A schoolboy wizard performs his first tricks in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone