History of English Literature

By juli_br
  • 731

    The Venerable Bede

    In his monastery at Jarrow, completes his history of the English church and people.
  • 800

    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

    Taking shape in Iceland, derives from earlier sources in Norway, Britain and Burgundy
  • 1300

    Duns Scotus

    Known as the Subtle Doctor in medieval times, later provides humanists with the name Dunsman or dunce
  • 1340

    William of Ockham

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

    The epic poem of Piers Plowman

    A narrator who calls himself Will, and whose name may be Langland, begins the epic poem of Piers Plowman. One of four new yeomen of the chamber in Edward III's household is Geoffrey Chaucer
  • 1375

    The round table of King Arthur

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

    Poem about a legendary love in Troy

    Chaucer completes Troilus and Criseyde, his long poem about a legendary love affair in ancient Troy
  • 1387

    100 Canterbury Tales

    Chaucer begins an ambitious scheme for 100 Canterbury Tales, of which he completes only 24 by the time of his death
  • 1469

    Thomas Malory

    In gaol somewhere in England, compiles Morte d'Arthur – an English account of the French tales of King Arthur
  • 1510

    Erasmus and Thomas

    More take the northern Renaissance in the direction of Christian humanism
  • 1524

    Translate the Bible

    William Tyndale studies in the university at Wittenberg and plans to translate the Bible into English
  • 1549

    Thomas Cranmer

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

    Birth of Marlowe and Shakespeare

    Marlowe and Shakespeare are born in the same year, with Marlowe the older by two months
  • 1567

    The Book of Common Prayer and the New Testament are published

    The Book of Common Prayer and the New Testament are published in Welsh, to be followed by the complete Bible in 1588
  • 1582

    Wedding of William Shakespeare

    The 18-year-old William Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway in Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Tamburlaine the Great

    Marlowe's first play, Tamburlaine the Great, introduces the swaggering blank verse of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama.
  • Edmund Spenser

    English poet Edmund Spenser celebrates the Protestant Elizabeth I as The Faerie Queene
  • Shakespeare achieves his first masterpiece

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

    Shakespeare's central character in Hamlet expresses both the ideals of the Renaissance and the disillusion of a less confident age
  • Authorized version of the Bible y William Shakespeare's name appears in a list of the King's Men

    James I commissions the Authorized version of the Bible, which is completed by forty-seven scholars in seven years
    William Shakespeare's name appears among the actors in a list of the King's Men
  • The Tempest

    Shakespeare's last completed play, The Tempest, is performed
  • William Shakespeare dies

    William Shakespeare dies at New Place, his home in Stratford-upon-Avon, and is buried in Holy Trinity Church
  • The temple

    George Herbert's only volume of poems, The Temple, is published posthumously
  • Anne Bradstreet

    The poems of Massachusetts author Anne Bradstreet are published in London under the title The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America
  • The Compleat Angler

    Devoted fisherman Izaak Walton publishes the classic work on the subject, The Compleat Angler
  • Paradise

    Paradise Lost is published, earning its author John Milton just £10
  • The Pilgrim's Progress

    Part I of The Pilgrim's Progress, written during John Bunyan's two spells in Bedford Gaol, is published and is immediately popular
  • English literature

    The Augustan Age begins in English literature, claiming comparison with the equivalent flowering under Augustus Caesar
  • George Berkeley

    25-year-old George Berkeley attacks Locke in his Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
  • The first English novel.

    Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, with its detailed realism, can be seen as the first English novel.
  • Treatise of Human Nature

    David Hume publishes his Treatise of Human Nature, in which he applies to the human mind the principles of experimental science
  • Thomas Gray

    English poet Thomas Gray publishes his Elegy written in a Country Church Yard
  • Samuel Johnson

    Publishes his magisterial Dictionary of the English Language
  • Laurence Sterne

    Publishes the first two volumes of Tristram Shandy, beginning with the scene at the hero's conception
  • Horace Walpole

    English author Horace Walpole provides an early taste of Gothic thrills in his novel Castle of Otranto
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica

    A Society of Gentlemen in Scotland begins publication of the immensely successful Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • Edward Gibbon

    English historian Edward Gibbon publishes the first volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Robert Burns

    Scottish poet Robert Burns publishes Tam o' Shanter, in which a drunken farmer has an alarming encounter with witches
  • Poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' is published in Lyrical Ballads
  • Book Milton

    William Blake includes his poem 'Jerusalem' in the Preface to his book Milton
  • The Lay of the Last Minstrel

    Walter Scott publishes The Lay of the Last Minstrel, the long romantic poem that first brings him fame
  • Jane Austen

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

    Based on a youthful work of 1797 called First Impressions, is the second of Jane Austen's novels to be published
  • Northanger Abbey and Persuasion

    Two of Jane Austen's novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, are published in the year after her death.
  • William Cobbett

    English radical William Cobbett begins his journeys round England, published in 1830 as Rural Rides
  • Oliver Twist

    Charles Dickens' first novel Oliver Twist, begins monthly publication in book form, 1838.
  • Lays of Ancient Rome

    English author Thomas Babington Macaulay publishes a collection of stirring ballads, Lays of Ancient Rome
  • Book of Nonsense

    Edward Lear publishes his Book of Nonsense, consisting of limericks illustrated with his own cartoons
  • Vanity Fair

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

    Begins the publication in monthly numbers of David Copperfield, his own favourite among his novels
  • Dictionary of synonyms

    London physician Peter Mark Roget publishes his dictionary of synonyms, the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases
  • The Warden

    English author Anthony Trollope publishes The Warden, the first in his series of six Barsetshire novels
  • Charles Dickens

    Puts forward the theory of evolution in On the Origin of Species, the result of 20 years' research. Charles Dickens publishes his French Revolution novel, A Tale of Two Cities
  • Charles Dickens

    Begins serial publication of his novel "Great Expectations" in book form 1861.
  • The Water-Babies

    English author Charles Kingsley publishes an improving fantasy for young children, The Water-Babies
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

    Lewis Carroll publishes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a development of the story he had told Alice Liddell three years earlier.
  • Second story of Alice's adventures

    Lewis Carroll publishes Through the Looking Glass, a second story of Alice's adventures
  • The Hunting of the Snark

    Lewis Carroll publishes The Hunting of the Snark, a poem about a voyage in search of an elusive mythical creature
  • Treasure Island

    Robert Louis Stevenson's adventure story, Treasure Island, features Long John Silver and Ben Gunn
  • Robert Louis Stevenson

    Introduces a dual personality in his novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • 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.
  • Sherlock Holmes

    Features in Conan Doyle's first novel, A Study in Scarlet
  • 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'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
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit

    Beatrix Potter publishes at her own expense The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • Peter Pan

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

    D.H. Lawrence's career as a writer is launched with the publication of his first novel, The White Peacock
  • Robert Graves

    Publishes his first book of poems, Over the Brazier
  • A Passage to India builds

    E.M. Forster's novel A Passage to India builds on cultural misconceptions between the British and Indian communities
  • Christopher Robin

    Features for the first time in A.A. Milne's When We Were Very Young
  • D.H. Lawrence

    New novel, in which Lady Chatterley is in love with her husband's gamekeeper, is privately printed in Florence
  • Virginia Woolf

    Publishes the most fluid of her novels, The Waves, in which she tells the story through six interior monologues
  • Aldous Huxley

    British author Aldous Huxley gives a bleak view of a science-based future in his novel Brave New World
  • Antonia White

    English author Antonia White publishes an autobiographical first novel, Frost in May
  • Evelyn Waugh

    British author Evelyn Waugh publishes a classic Fleet Street novel, Scoop, introducing Lord Copper, proprietor of The Beast.
  • Christopher Isherwood

    W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood emigrate together to the USA, later becoming US citizens.
    British author Christopher Isherwood publishes his novel Goodbye to Berlin, based on his own experiences in the city
  • Enid Blyton

    English children's author Enid Blyton introduces the Famous Five in Five on a Treasure Island
  • George Orwell

    Publishes Nineteen Eighty-Four, a novel set in a terrifying totalitarian state of the future, watched over by Big Brother
  • C.S. Lewis

    Gives the first glimpse of Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • J.R.R. Tolkien

    British philologist J.R.R. Tolkien publishes the third and final volume of his epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings
  • Doris Lessing

    British author Doris Lessing publishes an influential feminist novel, The Golden Notebook.
  • Michael Holroyd

    English biographer Michael Holroyd completes his two-volume life of Lytton Strachey
  • Ernst Friedrich Schumacher

    British economist Ernst Friedrich Schumacher publishes an influential economic tract, Small is Beautiful
  • Nicholas Kaldor

    British economist Nicholas Kaldor attacks monetarism in The Economic Consequences of Mrs Thatcher
  • Stephen Hawking

    British physicist Stephen Hawking explains the cosmos for the general reader in A Brief History of Time: from the Big Bang to Black Holes.
  • Pat Barker

    Regeneration is the first volume of English author Pat Barker's trilogy of novels set during World War I
  • Irvine Welsh

    Scottish author Irvine Welsh publishes his first novel, Trainspotting
  • J.K. Rowling

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

    Completes Philip Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials.