History of English Literature

  • Period: 450 to 1066

    OLD ENGLISH

  • 731

    731 - C 800

    731 - C 800
    Bede, in his monastery at Jarrow, completes his history of the English church and people.
  • 800

    C. 800 - C 950

    C. 800 - C 950
    Beowulf, the first great work of Germanic literature, mingles the legends of Scandinavia with the experience in England of Angles and Saxons.
  • 950

    C 950

    C 950
    The material of the Eddas, taking shape in Iceland, derives from earlier sources in Norway, Britain and Burgundy.
  • Period: 1066 to 1500

    MIDDLE ENGLISH

    1066 - 1500
  • 1300

    C 1300 - C 1340

    C 1300 - C 1340
    Duns Scotus, known as the Subtle Doctor in medieval times.
  • 1340

    C 1340 - C 1367

    C 1340 - C 1367
    Ockham's Razor
  • 1367

    C 1367 - C 1375

    C 1367 - C 1375
    A narrator who calls himself Will, Poem of Piers Plowman.
  • 1375

    C 1375 - C 1385

    C 1375 - C 1385
    The courtly poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight tells of a mysterious visitor to the round table of King Arthur
  • 1385

    C 1385 - C 1387

    C 1385 - C 1387
    Chaucer completes Troilus and Criseyde, his long poem about a legendary love affair in ancient Troy.
  • 1387

    C 1387 - 1469

    C 1387 - 1469
    Chaucer begins an ambitious scheme for 100 Canterbury Tales, of which he completes only 24 by the time of his death.
  • 1469

    1469 - 1510

    1469 - 1510
    Thomas Malory, in gaol somewhere in England, compiles Morte d'Arthur.
  • Period: 1500 to

    ENGLISH RENAISSANCE

    1500 - 1660
  • 1510

    1510 - 1524

    1510 - 1524
    Erasmus and Thomas More take the northern Renaissance.
  • 1524

    1524 - 1549

    1524 - 1549
    William Tyndale plans to translate the Bible into English.
  • 1549

    1549 - 1564

    1549 - 1564
    The first version of the English prayer book is published with text by Thomas Cranmer.
  • 1564

    1564 - 1567

    1564 - 1567
    Marlowe and Shakespeare are born in the same year.
  • 1567

    1567 - 1582

    1567 - 1582
    The Book of Common Prayer and the New Testament are published in Welsh, to be followed by the complete Bible in 1588.
  • 1582

    1582 - 1587

    1582 - 1587
    The 18-year-old William Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway.
  • 1587 - 1590

    1587 - 1590
    Marlowe's first play, Tamburlaine the Great.
  • 1601 - 1604

    1601 - 1604
    Shakespeare's central character in Hamlet expresses both the ideals of the Renaissance and the disillusion of a less confident age.
  • 1611 - 1616

    1611 - 1616
    Shakespeare's last completed play, "The Tempest", is performed.
  • 1616 - 1621

    1616 - 1621
    William Shakespeare dies at New Place, his home in Stratford-upon-Avon, and is buried in Holy Trinity Church.
  • 1623 - 1633

    1623 - 1633
    John Heminge and Henry Condell publish thirty-six Shakespeare plays in the First Folio.
  • Period: to

    PURITAN

    1653 - 1660
  • Period: to

    RESTORATION AGE

    1660 - 1700
  • 1688 - 1690

    1688 - 1690
    Aphra Behn's novel Oroonoko makes an early protest against the inhumanity of the African slave trade.
  • Period: to

    18TH CENTURY

    1700 - 1798
  • 1719 - 1726

    1719 - 1726
    Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, with its detailed realism, can be seen as the first English novel.
  • 1747 - 1749

    1747 - 1749
    Samuel Richardson's Clarissa begins the correspondence that grows into the longest novel in the English language.
  • 1755 - 1758

    1755 - 1758
    Samuel Johnson publishes his magisterial Dictionary of the English Language.
  • 1792 - 1794

    1792 - 1794
    English author Mary Wollstonecraft publishes "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman".
  • Period: to

    ROMANTICISM

    1798 - 1837
  • 1837 - 1842

    1837 - 1842
    Charles Dickens' first novel, Oliver Twist, begins monthly publication.
  • Period: to

    VICTORIAN

    1837 - 1901
  • 1852 - 1854

    1852 - 1854
    London physician Peter Mark Roget publishes his dictionary of synonyms.
  • 1859 - 1860

    1859 - 1860
    Charles Darwin puts forward the theory of evolution in On the Origin of Species.
  • 1861 - 1862

    1861 - 1862
    Mrs Henry Wood publishes her first novel, East Lynne, which becomes the basis of the most popular of all Victorian melodramas.
  • 1897 - 1898

    1897 - 1898
    English author Bram Stoker publishes Dracula, his gothic tale of vampirism in Transylvania.
  • Period: to

    MODERN LITERATURE

    1901 - 1940
  • 1918 - 1919

    1918 - 1919
    Lytton Strachey fails to show conventional respect to four famous Victorians in his influential volume of short biographies entitled Eminent Victorians.
  • 1928 - 1929

    1928 - 1929
    Radclyffe Hall's novel The Well of Loneliness is the first to deal openly with a lesbian subject.
  • 1932 - 1933

    1932 - 1933
    US poet Archibald MacLeish publishes a narrative epic, Conquistador, about the conquest of Mexico.
  • Period: to

    POST MODERN

    1940 - 2000
  • 1960 - 1961

    1960 - 1961
    Penguin Books are prosecuted for obscenity for publishing D.H. Lawrence's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, and are acquitted.
  • 1972 - 1973

    1972 - 1973
    English dramatist Caryl Churchill's first play, Owners, is produced in London.
  • 1981 - 1982

    1981 - 1982
    Salman Rushdie's novel Midnight's Children uses the moment of India's independence to launch an adventure in magic realism.
  • 1987 - 1988

    1987 - 1988
    Talking Heads, a series of dramatic monologues by English author Alan Bennett, is broadcast on British TV.
  • 1992 - 1993

    1992 - 1993
    English poet Thom Gunn's The Man with Night Sweats deals openly with AIDS.
  • 1997 - 1998

    1997 - 1998
    A schoolboy wizard performs his first tricks in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
  • 2000

    2000
    The Amber Spyglass completes Philip Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials.
  • Period: to

    CONTEMPORARY

    PRESENT LITERATURE 2000 - 2020