History of English Literature

  • Period: 460 to 1066

    The Old English Period

    Old English literature, or Anglo-Saxon literature, encompasses the surviving literature written in Old English in Anglo-Saxon England, in the period after the settlement of the Saxons and other Germanic tribes in England c. 450, after the withdrawal of the Romans, and "ending soon after the Norman Conquest" in 1066.
  • 731


    The venerable Bede in his monatery at Jarrow, complete his history of the English church and people
  • 800


    The first great work of Germany literature, mingles the legends of Scandinavia with the experience in England of Angles and Saxons.
  • 950

    The Eddas

    The Eddas
    The material of the Eddas, taking shape in Iceland, derives from earlier sources in Norway, Britain and Burgundy.
  • Period: 1066 to 1500

    Middle English

    The term Middle English literature refers to the literature written in the form of the English language known as Middle English, from the 14th century until the 1470s. During this time the Chancery Standard, a form of London-based English became widespread and the printing press regularized the language.
  • 1300

    Duns Scotus

    Duns Scotus
    Duns Scotus, known as the subtle Doctor in medieval times, later provides humanists with the name Dunsman or Dunce.
  • 1367

    The epic poem of Piers Plowman

    The epic poem of Piers Plowman
    A narrator who calls himself, Will and whose name maybe Langland, begins the epic poem of Piers Plowman.
  • 1385

    Troilus and Criseyde

    Troilus and Criseyde
    Chaucer completes Troilus and Criseyde, his long poem about a legendary love affair in anciant Troy.
  • Period: 1500 to

    English Renaissance

    England had a strong tradition of literature in the English vernacular, which gradually increased as English use of the printing press became common by the mid 16th century. By the time of Elizabethan literature a vigorous literary culture in both drama and poetry included poets such as Edmund Spenser, whose verse epic The Faerie Queene had a strong influence on English literature but was eventually overshadowed by the lyrics of William Shakespeare, Thomas Wyatt and others.
  • 1524

    Translate the Bible

    Translate the Bible
    William Tyndale studies in the university at Wittenberg and plans to traslate the Bible into English.
  • Period: 1558 to

    Elizabethan Age

    "Golden Age of English Literature"
    The time period during which Shakespeare lived and wrote his plays.
  • The Faerie Queene

    The Faerie Queene
    English poet Edmund Spenser celebrates the protestand Elizabeth I as The Faerie Queene
  • Richard III

    Richard III
    After tentative beginnings in the three parts of Henry VI, Shakespeare achieves his first master piece on stage with Richard III
  • Period: to

    Jacobean Age

    Greatest period for English drama.
  • The Masque of Blackness

    The Masque of Blackness
    Ben Jonson writes The Masque of Blackness, the first of his many masques for the court of James I
  • The Tempest

    The Tempest
    Shakespeare´s last completed play, The Tempest, is performed.
  • Period: to

    Caroline period

    In literature, and especially in drama, the Caroline period has often been regarded as a diminished continuation of the trends of the previous two reigns.
  • The Temple

    The Temple
    George Herbert´s only volume of poems, The Temple, is published posthumously.
  • The Compleat Angler

    The Compleat Angler
    Devoted fisherman Izaack Walton publishes the classic work on the subject, The Compleat Angler.
  • Period: to

    Puritan Age

    The writing style of the Puritan Age was predominantly plain with simple sentences and language. Metaphorical constructions were in limited use and excessive ornamentation or dramatic appeals were discouraged.
  • Samuel Pepys

    Samuel Pepys
    On the first day of the new year Samuel Pepys gets up late, eats the remains of the turkey and begins his dairy.
  • Period: to

    Restoration Age

    The period from 1660 to 1700 is known as the Restoration period or the Age of Dryden because monarchy was restored in England. Dryden was the representative writer of this period.
  • Paradise Lost

    Paradise Lost
    Paradise Lost is published, earning its author Jhon Milthon just 10 pounds.
  • Samuel Pepys

    Samuel Pepys
    Samuel pepys ends his dairy, after only writing it for nine years.
  • Period: to

    18th Century

    European literature of the 18th century refers to literature (poetry, drama, satire, and novels) produced in Europe during this period. The 18th century saw the development of the modern novel as literary genre, in fact many candidates for the first novel in English date from this period, of which Daniel Defoe's 1719 Robinson Crusoe is probably the best known.
  • Period: to

    Augustan Period

    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 Tatler

    The Tatler
    The Tatler launches a new style of journalism in Britain´s coffee houses, followed two years later by The Spectator
  • Robinson Crusoe

    Robinson Crusoe
    Daniel Defoe´s Robinson Crusoe, with its detailed realism, can be seen as the first English novel.
  • Period: to

    Age of Sensibility

    This period is also sometimes described as the "Age of Johnson". Samuel Johnson(1709–1784), often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer
  • Elegy written in a Country Church Yard

    Elegy written in a Country Church Yard
    English poet Thomas Gray publishes his Elegy written in a Country Church yard
  • The Decline and Fall of the Raman Empire

    The Decline and Fall of the Raman Empire
    English historian Edward Gibbon publishes the first volume of The decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
  • Age of Reason

    Age of Reason
    Thomas Paine publishes his completed Age of Reason, an attack on conventional christianity.
  • Lyrical Ballads

    Lyrical Ballads
    English poets Wordsworth and Coleridge jointly publish Lyrical Ballads, a milestone in the Romantic movement.
  • Period: to


    Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century. Various dates are given for the Romantic period but here the publishing of William Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads in 1798 is taken as the beginning, and the crowning of Queen Victoria in 1837 as its end.
  • Lady of the Lake

    Lady of the Lake
    Walter Scott´s poem Lady of the Lake brings tourists in unprecedented number to Scotland´s Loch Katrine
  • Pride and Prejudice

    Pride and Prejudice
    Pride and Prejudice youthful work of 1797 called First Impressions, is the second of Jane Austen´s novels to be published
  • Oliver Twist

    Oliver Twist
    Charles Dickens´ first novel, Oliver Twist begins monthly publications (in book form 1838)
  • Period: to


    Victorian literature is literature, mainly written in English, during the reign of Queen Victoria. It was preceded by Romanticism and followed by the Edwardian era. While in the preceding Romantic period, poetry had been the dominant genre, it was the novel that was most important in the Victorian period.
  • A Tale of Two Cities

    A Tale of Two Cities
    Charles Dickens publishes his French Revolution novel, A Tale of Two Cities.
  • A Study in Scarlet

    A Study in Scarlet
    Sherlock Holmes features in Conan Doley´s first novel, A Study in Scarlet
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray

    The Picture of Dorian Gray
    Oscar Wilde publishes his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray in which the ever-youthful hero´s portrait grows old and ugly.
  • Period: to

    Modern Literature

    Modernist literature, has its origins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly in Europe and North America, and is characterized by a very self-conscious break with traditional ways of writing, in both poetry and prose fiction
  • The Wings of the Dove

    The Wings of the Dove
    Henry James publishes the first of his three last novels, The Wings of the Dove
  • Mrs Dalloway

    Mrs Dalloway
    Virginia Woolf publishes he novel Mrs Dalloway, in which the action is limited to a single day
  • Goodbye to Berlin

    Goodbye to Berlin
    British author Christoper Isherwood publishes his novel Goodbye to Berlin, based on his own experience in this city.
  • Period: to

    Post Moderns

    Postmodern literature is literature characterized by reliance on narrative techniques such as fragmentation, paradox, and the unreliable narrator; and is often (though not exclusively) defined as a style or a trend which emerged in the post–World War II era.
  • Five in Five on a Treasure Island

    Five in Five on a Treasure Island
    English children´s author Enid Blyton introduces the famous Five in Five in a Tresure Island
  • Satanic Verses

    Satanic Verses
    Ayatollah Khomeini declares a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his satanic verses
  • The Amber Spyglass

    The Amber Spyglass
    The Amber Spyglass completes Philip Pullman´s trilogy, his dark material.
  • Period: to


    Contemporary literature is defined as literature written after World War II through the current day. ... Works of contemporary literature reflect a society's social and/or political viewpoints, shown through realistic characters, connections to current events and socioeconomic messages.
  • Atonement

    Like several other novels on the list, global popularity of the work would not reach fruition until its cinematic adaptation, but in England alone, this novel was praised for its dramatic prose and insightful take on the ways that fiction intervenes in our lives
  • Me, Cheeta

    Me, Cheeta
    Lever’s satire of autobiography and Hollywood fame is one of the most hilarious books to come out of England in recent years.