Outline of history of english literatture all periods elifnotes 01 750x388

English Literature Periods

  • Period: 450 to 1066

    The Anglo-Saxon or Old English Period

    The name of this period comes from the Angles and the Saxons.
    The dialects, located in England, Scotland and Whales. This period is based on oral literature, ando some manuscripts. The principal writers of this period are:
    - Caedmon
    - Cynewulf
  • 700


    This epic poem was composed between 700 and 750.
    Its lenght is 3.182 verses
  • Period: 1066 to 1500

    The Anglo-Norman or Middle English period

    Middle English period was a time of transition for English Literature.
    At this point, English became more recognizable in all aspects: phonetic, grammar and lexicon. Two important languages influenced Enlish in this period: Franch and Latin. The principal writers of this period are:
    - Geoffrey Chaucer
    - Thomas Malory
    - Robert Henryson
  • 1400

    The Canterbury Tales

    The Canterbury Tales
    It is a collection of 24 stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer.
    It tells stories about a group of pilgrims. They are travelling from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket . Let's read a little of this work: Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
    The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
    And bathed every veyne in swich licour
    Of which vertu engendred is the flour…
  • Period: 1500 to

    The Renaissance or Early Modern Period

    It is one of the most important cultural period in English Literature. This period is divided in four part or ages:
    - The Elizabethan Age.
    - The Jacobean Age.
    - The Caroline Age.
    - The Commonwealth Period (1649–1660)
  • 1558

    Elizabethan Age (1558–1603)

    Elizabethan Age (1558–1603)
    One of the most important contribution to Enflish Literature on this period was on drama. Plays was common on this age, because it was one of the main entertainment event. The principal writers on this period are:
    - Christopher Marlowe
    - Edmund Spenser
    - William Shakespeare
  • The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus

    The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus
    Christopher Marlowe wrote The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus in 1592. This play is based on a story about a man who sells his soul to devil. Let's read a part: FAUSTUS:
    Nay, an this be hell, I’ll willingly be damn’d:
    What! sleeping, eating, walking, and disputing!
    But, leaving this, let me have a wife,
    The fairest maid in Germany;
    For I am wanton and lascivious,
    And cannot live without a wife. MEPHIST:
    Well, Faustus, thou shalt have a wife.
  • Jacobean Age (1603–1625)

    Jacobean Age (1603–1625)
    In this period, James I was reigning.
    The main topics in the works were moralty, evil and human condition.
    It's also famous the King James' translation of the Bible. The principal writers on this period are:
    - John Donne
    - Ben Jonson
    - William Shakespeare
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls

    For Whom the Bell Tolls
    I was written by John Donne, and it's collected in his work Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. Let's read: No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend's were.
    Each man's death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.
  • Caroline Age (1625–1649)

    Caroline Age (1625–1649)
    In this period, Charles I (or Carlous) was the King.
    The main topics are politics, metaphysics and tales. The principal writers on this period are:
    - John Milton
    - Robert Burton
    - George Herbert
  • The Anatomy of Melancholy

    The Anatomy of Melancholy
    It's a work by Robert Burton. Let's read: How far the power of spirits and devils doth extend, and whether they can cause this, or any other disease, is a serious question, and worthy to be considered: for the better understanding of which, I will make a brief digression of the nature of spirits. And although the question be very obscure, according to Postellus, “full of controversy and ambiguity,” beyond the reach of human capacity.
  • Commonwealth Period (1649–1660)

    Commonwealth Period (1649–1660)
    In this period, there was no king or queen; Then, a republic was declared after the Second English Civil War. The principal writers on this period are:
    - Thomas Hobbes
    - Thomas Fuller
    - John Milton
  • Paradise Lost

    Paradise Lost
    It's an epic poem by John Milton. Let's read: Hear all ye Angels, Progenie of Light,
    Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Vertues, Powers,
    Hear my Decree, which unrevok't shall stand.
    This day I have begot whom I declare
    My onely Son, and on this holy Hill
    Him have anointed, whom ye now behold
    At my right hand; your Head I him appoint;
    And by my Self have sworn to him shall bow
    All knees in Heav'n, and shall confess him Lord:
    Under his great Vice-gerent Reign abide
    United as one individual Soule
  • Period: to

    The Neoclassical Period

    The previous period was a puritanical age. In this period, we can find three ages:
    - The Restoration (1660–1700)
    - The Augustan Age (1700–1745)
    - The Age of Sensibility (1745–1785)
  • The Restoration (1660–1700)

    The Restoration (1660–1700)
    This period is also known as the Age of Dryden.
    King Charles II brought a new era with the restoration. This period is characterized by exploration of unlimited possibilities. The principal writers of this period are:
    - John Dryden
    - Samuel Butler
    - John Bunyan
  • Absalom and Achitophel

    Absalom and Achitophel
    It's written by John Dryden. Let's read: He said, and this advice above the rest
    With Absalom's mild nature suited best;
    Unblam'd of life, (ambition set aside,)
    Not stain'd with cruelty, nor puff'd with pride.
    How happy had he been, if destiny
    Had higher plac'd his birth, or not so high!
    His kingly virtues might have claim'd a throne;
    And blest all other countries but his own:
    But charming greatness since so few refuse,
    'Tis juster to lament him, than accuse.
  • The Augustan Age (1700–1745)

    The Augustan Age (1700–1745)
    It's also known as The Age of Pope.
    In this period, writers imitated first Augustans. The principal writers of this age are:
    - Alexander Pope
    - Jonathan Swift
    - Daniel Defoe
  • Eloisa to Abelard

    Eloisa to Abelard
    It's a poem by Alexander Pope. Let's read: Oh come! oh teach me nature to subdue,
    Renounce my love, my life, myself—and you.
    Fill my fond heart with God alone, for he
    Alone can rival, can succeed to thee. How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
    The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
    Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
    Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd.
  • The Age of Sensibility (1745–1798)

    The Age of Sensibility (1745–1798)
    It's also known as the Age of Johnson.
    In this period, neoclassicism and Enlightenment were captial. The principal writers of this age are:
    - Samuel Johnson
    - Henry Fielding
    - Tobias Smollett
  • The Vanity of Human Wishes

    The Vanity of Human Wishes
    It's a poem written by Samuel Johnson. Let's read: Let Observation with extensive View,
    Survey Mankind from China to Peru;
    Remark each anxious Toil, each eager Strife,
    And watch the busy scenes of crouded Life;
    Then say how Hope and Fear, Desire and Hate,
    O'erspread with Snares the clouded Maze of Fate,
    Where Wav'ring Man, betray'd by vent'rous Pride,
    To tread the dreary Paths without a Guide;
    As treach'rous Phantoms in the Mist delude,
    Shuns fancied Ills, or chases airy Good.
  • Period: to

    The Romantic Period

    This period began with William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s book Lyrical Ballads, and after French Revolution. The period ended before Victorian Era, and with the death of Sir Walter Scott. The Romantic Period is one of the most important period in English Literature. This period includes an age called Gothic Era. The principal writers of this period are:
    - William Wordsworth
    - William Blake
    - Lord Byron
    - John Keats
    - Jane Austen
    - Mary Shelley
  • Ozymandias

    This is a Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet: Let's read: I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away."
  • Period: to

    The Victorian Period

    Queen Victoria reigned on this period, which was very religious, intellectual and a great social time. This period is also important as Romantic Period. The principal writers of this period are:
    - Alfred Lord Tennyson
    - Charles Dickens
    - The Brontës
    - George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
    - William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Wuthering Heights

    Wuthering Heights
    This novel was written by Emily Brontë. Let's read: I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.
    A perfect misanthropist's heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow!
  • Period: to

    The Edwardian Period

    This period (King Edward VII was reigning) covers Queen Victoria's death and the beginning of World War I. This was a short period of time, but it has such great writers. The principal writers of this period are:
    - Joseph Conrad
    - Rudyard Kipling
    - H.G. Wells
    - Henry James
    - William Butler Yeats
  • The Second Coming (W. B. Yeats) - 1919

    The Second Coming (W. B. Yeats) - 1919
    Turning and turning in the widening gyre

    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst

    Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
  • Period: to

    The Georgian Period

    This period is named because of the reign of George V. The main topics refers to rural and pastoral passion. The principal writers of this period are:
    - Ralph Hodgson
    - John Masefield
    - W.H. Davies
    - Rupert Brooke
  • Sea-Fever (John Masefield) - 1902

    Sea-Fever (John Masefield) - 1902
    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking. I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
  • Period: to

    The Modern Period

    This period starts with World War I and ends with the final times of World War II. The common topics of this period are death, surrealism, realism and antipolitical discurses. The principal writers of this period are:
    - James Joyce
    - Virginia Woolf
    - Graham Greene
    - Dylan Thomas
    - Samuel Beckett
  • Do not go gentle into that good night (Dylan Thomas) - 1947

    Do not go gentle into that good night (Dylan Thomas) - 1947
    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light Though wise men at their end know dark is right
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way
  • Period: to

    The Postmodern Period (or Contemporary Period)

    This period begins with the end of World War II, and it is a direct response to mdernism. This period in English Literature remains nowadays. The principal writers in this period are:
    - Paul Auster
    - Margaret Atwood
    - Allen Ginsberg
    - Joseph Heller
    - Kazuo Ishiguro
    - Philip Roth
  • Howl (Allen Ginsberg) - 1956

    Howl (Allen Ginsberg) - 1956
    I’m with you in Rockland
    where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the roof they’ve come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls collapse O skinny legions run outside O shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we’re free I’m with you in Rockland
    in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night
  • Bibliography

    Burgess, Adam. "A Brief Overview of British Literary Periods." ThoughtCo, Jul. 29, 2021, thoughtco.com/british-literary-periods-739034.