History of English Literature

  • 731

    The Venerable Bede

    The Venerable Bede
    The Venerable Bede, in his monastery at Jarrow, completes his history of the English church and people.
  • 800

    Beowulf

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

    The material of the Eddas

    The material of the Eddas
    The material of the Eddas, taking shape in Iceland, derives from earlier sources in Norway, Britain and Burgundy
  • 1300

    Duns Scotus

    Duns Scotus
    Duns Scotus, known as the Subtle Doctor in medieval times, later provides humanists with the name Dunsman or dunce.
  • 1385

    Troilus and Criseyde

    Troilus and Criseyde
    Chaucer completes Troilus and Criseyde, his long poem about a legendary love affair in ancient Troy.
  • 1469

    Thomas Malory

    Thomas Malory
    Thomas Malory, in gaol somewhere in England, compiles Morte d'Arthur – an English account of the French tales of King Arthur
  • 1524

    William Tyndale

    William Tyndale
    William Tyndale studies in the university at Wittenberg and plans to translate the Bible into English.
  • 1567

    The Book of Common Prayer

    The Book of Common Prayer
    The Book of Common Prayer and the New Testament are published in Welsh, to be followed by the complete Bible in 1588.
  • Henry VI and Richard III

    Henry VI and Richard III
    After tentative beginnings in the three parts of Henry VI, Shakespeare achieves his first masterpiece on stage with Richard III.
  • Hamlet

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

    Shakespeare's sonnets
    Shakespeare's sonnets, written ten years previously, are published
  • William Shakespeare´s dead.

    William Shakespeare´s dead.
    William Shakespeare dies at New Place, his home in Stratford-upon-Avon, and is buried in Holy Trinity Church.
  • The Augustan Age

    The Augustan Age
    The Augustan Age begins in English literature, claiming comparison with the equivalent flowering under Augustus Caesar
  • Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe

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

    Samuel Johnson

    Samuel Johnson publishes his magisterial Dictionary of the English Language. James Boswell meets Samuel Johnson for the first time, in the London bookshop of Thomas Davies and Samuel Johnson and James Boswell undertake a journey together to the western islands of Scotland.
  • James Woodforde

    James Woodforde
    James Woodforde, an English country parson with a love of food and wine, begins a detailed diary of everyday life.
  • Period: to

    William Blake Songs

    William Blake publishes Songs of Innocence, a volume of his poems with every page etched and illustrated by himself. In his Principles Jeremy Bentham defines 'utility' as that which enhances pleasure and reduces pain.
    William Blake's volume Songs of Innocence and Experience includes his poem 'Tyger! Tyger! burning bright'
    William Blake includes his poem 'Jerusalem' in the Preface to his book Milton.
    (https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/william-blake-39/blakes-songs-innocence-experience)
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
    English author Mary Wollstonecraft publishes a passionately feminist work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
  • Jane Austen, her first work

    Jane Austen, her first work
    English author Jane Austen publishes her first work in print, Sense and Sensibility, at her own expense.
  • Pride and Prejudice

    Pride and Prejudice
    Pride and Prejudice, based on a youthful work of 1797 called First Impressions, is the second of Jane Austen's novels to be published.
  • Charles Dickens beginning

    Charles Dickens beginning
    12-year-old Charles Dickens works in London in Warren's boot-blacking factory.
  • Charles Dickens, his first work

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

    Oliver Twist
    Charles Dickens' first novel, Oliver Twist, begins monthly publication (in book form, 1838)
  • Charles Darwin

    Charles Darwin
    Charles Darwin puts forward the theory of evolution in On the Origin of Species, the result of 20 years' research
  • The Mill on the Floss

    The Mill on the Floss
    George Eliot publishes The Mill on the Floss, her novel about the childhood of Maggie and Tom Tulliver.
  • 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.
  • Oscar Wilde

    Oscar Wilde
    Oscar Wilde's most brilliant comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest is performed in London's St. James Theatre. Oscar Wilde loses a libel case that he has brought against the marquess of Queensberry for describing him as a sodomite. Oscar Wilde is sent to Reading Gaol to serve a two-year sentence with hard labour after being convicted of homosexuality.
  • Dracula

    Dracula
    English author Bram Stoker publishes Dracula, his gothic tale of vampirism in Transylvania.
  • Peter Pan

    Peter Pan
    J.M Barrie's play for children Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up has its premiere in London.
  • Period: to

    D.H. Lawrence´s career

    D.H. Lawrence's career as a writer is launched with the publication of his first novel, The White Peacock.
    D.H. Lawrence publishes a semi-autobiographical novel about the Morel family, Sons and Lovers.
    D.H. Lawrence's novel about the Brangwen family, The Rainbow, is seized by the police as an obscene work.
    D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love, a continuation of the family story in The Rainbow, is published first in the USA.
  • The waves

    The waves
    Virginia Woolf publishes the most fluid of her novels, The Waves, in which she tells the story through six interior monologues
  • James Bond

    James Bond
    James Bond, agent 007, has a licence to kill in Ian Fleming's first novel, Casino Royale.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    Roald Dahl publishes a fantasy treat for a starving child, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  • Harry Potter

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