History of English Literature

Timeline created by Anyely Santiago
  • Period:

    Old English

    It's also called Anglo-Saxon. During this period the population of Great Britain (which spoke Celtic and Latin), was invaded by the English, Irish and Danish; which triggered the use of the English language mixed with Latin grammatical categories.
  • 800


    It is considered the first great work of Germanic literature. It speaks of Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon legends.
  • Period:

    Middle English

    It was the transition period between Old English and Modern English. It was based primarily on religious writings.
    During this period there were changes in the grammar of English, especially in word endings. In addition, French had an influence on English due to the French domination of England.
  • 1068


    English becomes the language of the lower classes (peasants and slaves) while French becomes the language of the court and property classes.
  • 1367

    Piers Plowman

    Piers Plowman
    Langland begins Piers Plowman's epic poem.
  • 1380


    Chancer writes the Canterbury tales in Middle English.
  • 1474

    First book printed in England

    First book printed in England
    William Caxton brings a printing press to England from Germany and the first book printed in England is published.
  • Period:

    English Renaissance

    It was a time based on classical learning and focused on the human, art, literature, culture and politics. Beauty and creativity were valued.
    It was divided into three periods: Elizabethan (1558-1603) during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Jacobean (1603-1625) during the reign of King James I, and Caroline (1625-1653) during the reign of Charles I.
  • 1564

    Marlowe and Shakespeare

    Marlowe and Shakespeare
    Malowe and Shakespeare are born.
  • Hamlet

    The character of Hamlet is recognized as representing the main ideals of the Renaissance.
  • Period: to


    This era is so called because the puritanical standards prevailed in England and its most representative figure was John Milton. The literature of this era included themes such as religious and political idealism.
  • Period: to

    Restoration Age

    It receives this name because this period began after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. During this period several literary forms gained confidence, including the novel, biography, history, travel writing and journalism.
  • Paradise Lost

    Paradise Lost
    "Paradise Lost" by John Milton is published.
  • Period: to

    18th Century

    During this time, debates about society and human nature were formed. It is considered the age of satire because writers used satire to criticize and expose social criticism.
  • Robinson Crusoe novel

    Robinson Crusoe novel
    Due to its detailed realism, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is considered the first English novel.
  • Dictorionary of the English language.

    Dictorionary of the English language.
    Samuel Johnson published his masterful dictionary of the English language.
  • Lyrical Ballads

    Lyrical Ballads
    The English poets Wordsworth and Cobridge publish the work "Lyrical Ballads" one of the romantic landmarks.
  • Period: to


    It was a literary movement marked by a focus on the individual, respect for nature and the primitive, idealization of women and spirituality.
  • Pride and Prejudice

    Pride and Prejudice
    The novel "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen is published
  • To Autumn

    To Autumn
    One of the most famous works of Romanticism is published: "To Autumn" by John Keats
  • Period: to

    Victorian Age

    This period took place during the reign of Queen Victoria and was characterized by a fusion of romantic and royalist styles. Her approach was based on idealistic portraits of difficult lives in which hard work, perseverance, love and luck prevailed.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
    Lewis Carroll published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
  • Sherlock Holmes

    Sherlock Holmes
    The character Sherlock Holmes appears in Conan Doyle's first novel.
  • Period: to

    Modern Literature

    This era was characterized by being totally opposite to the Victorian era because modern authors considered ugly things that were previously seen as beautiful and honorable.
    Literary trends such as Dadaism, the current of consciousness, futurism, cubism, expressionism and imaginism emerged.
  • Period: to

    Post-modern Literature

    This era was marked by parody, paranoia, black humor and self-confidence. One of the most representative works of this period is "The Crying of Lot 49" by Thomas Pynchon.
  • Period: to


    It is the literature written after the 2nd World War until today. This literature reflects different points of view on the political and social.