English literature


  • 731

    731 The Venerable Bede

    731   The Venerable Bede
    St Bede - also known as the Venerable Bede - is widely regarded as the greatest of all the Anglo-Saxon scholars. He wrote around 40 books mainly dealing with theology and history.
    His scholarship covered a huge range of subjects, including commentaries on the bible, observations of nature, music and poetry.
  • 950

    c. 950 The Middle Ages

    c. 950  The Middle Ages
    The literature of Scandinavia and, in particular, of Iceland has reflected two extraordinary features of the social and cultural history of pagan Europe and of Iceland. The way in which names such as Siegfried, Brunhild, and Atli (Attila) cropped up again and again in different European literatures has borne witness to the dissemination of legends and traditions common to the early Germanic tribes of Europe, starting from the great movements westward in the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries.
  • 995

    c. 995 Sei Shonagon

    c. 995	Sei Shonagon
    Sei Shonagon, a lady-in-waiting to the Japanese empress, records her thoughts and impressions in her Pillow Book
  • 1000

    701-1000 Beowulf

    701-1000 Beowulf
    “Beowulf” may have been written any time between the 8th and the early 11th Century by an unknown author or authors, or, most likely, it was written in the 8th Century and then revised in the 10th or 11th Century. It was probably originally written in Northumbria, although the single manuscript that has come down to us (which dates from around 1000) contains a bewildering mix of Northumbrian, West Saxon and Anglian dialects.
  • 1066

    1066 Middle English and Chaucer

    1066 Middle English and Chaucer
    From 1066 onwards, the language is known to scholars as Middle English. Ideas and themes from French and Celtic literature appear in English writing at about this time, but the first great name in English literature is that of Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400). Chaucer introduces the iambic pentameter line, the rhyming couplet and other rhymes used in Italian poetry (a language in which rhyming is arguably much easier than in English, thanks to the frequency of terminal vowels).
  • 1300

    c. 1300 Duns Scotus

    c. 1300  Duns Scotus
    John Duns, commonly called Duns Scotus c. 1266 – 8 November 1308), a Scotsman, is generally considered to be one of the three most important philosopher-theologians of Western Europe in the High Middle Ages, together with Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham. Scotus has had considerable influence on both Catholic and secular thought. Duns Scotus was given the scholastic accolade Doctor Subtilis (Subtle Doctor) for his penetrating and subtle manner of thought.
  • 1301

    1301 Piers Plowman and Sir Gawain

    1301 Piers Plowman and Sir Gawain
    Of these two great English alliterative poems, the second is entirely anonymous and the first virtually so. The narrator of Piers Plowman calls himself Will; occasional references in the text suggest that his name may be Langland. Nothing else, apart from this poem, is known of him.
  • 1343

    1343 Geoffrey Chaucer

    1343 Geoffrey Chaucer
    Geoffrey Chaucer (London, c.1343-ibid, October 25, 1400) was an English writer, philosopher, diplomat, and poet, best known as the author of the Canterbury Tales. He is considered the most important English poet of the Middle Ages and the first to be buried in the Corner of the Poets of Westminster Abbey.
    He also achieved fame during his life as an alchemist and astronomer and composed a treatise on the astrolabe dedicated to his ten-year-old son Lewis.
  • 1367

    1367-1400 Geoffrey Chaucer at court

     1367-1400 Geoffrey Chaucer at court
    A few years later Chaucer becomes one of the king's esquires, with duties which include entertaining the court with stories and music. There can rarely have been a more inspired appointment. Chaucer's poems are designed to be read aloud, in the first instance by himself. Their range, from high romance to bawdy comedy, is well calculated to hold the listeners spellbound. Courtly circles in England are his first audience.
  • 1385

    1385 Troilus and Criseyde

    1385	Troilus and Criseyde
    (Troilus and Criseyde) is an epic poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which re-tells in Middle English the tragic story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde set against a backdrop of war during the Siege of Troy. It was composed using rime royale and probably completed during the mid-1380s. Many Chaucer scholars regard it as the poet's finest work. As a finished long poem it is more self-contained than the better known but ultimately unfinished The Canterbury Tales.
  • 1387

    The Canterbury Tales: 1387-1400

    The Canterbury Tales: 1387-1400
    Collections of tales are a favourite literary convention of the 14th century. Boccaccio's Decameron is the best-known example before Chaucer's time, but Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales outshines his predecessors. He does so in the range and vitality of the stories in his collection, from the courtly tone of 'The Knight's Tale' to the rough and often obscene humour of those known technically as fabliaux.
  • 1460

    1460–1500 Robert Henryson

    1460–1500 Robert Henryson
    Robert Henryson (Middle Scots: Robert Henrysoun) was a poet who flourished in Scotland in the period c. 1460–1500. Counted among the Scots makars, he lived in the royal burgh of Dunfermline and is a distinctive voice in the Northern Renaissance at a time when the culture was on a cusp between medieval and renaissance sensibilities.
    His poetry was composed in Middle Scots at a time when this was the state language.
  • 1469

    1469 Thomas Malory

    1469  Thomas Malory
    Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1415 – 14 March 1471) was an English writer, the author or compiler of Le Morte d'Arthur (originally titled The Whole Book of King Arthur and His Noble Knights of the Round Table). Since the late 19th century, he has generally been identified as Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel in Warwickshire. Occasionally, other candidates are put forward for authorship of Le Morte d'Arthur, but the supporting evidence for their claim has been described as "no more than circumstantial".
  • 1501

    1501 Tudor lyric poetry

    1501 Tudor lyric poetry
    Modern lyric poetry in English begins in the early 16th century with the work of Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547). Wyatt, who is greatly influenced by the Italian, Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) introduces the sonnet and a range of short lyrics to English, while Surrey (as he is known) develops unrhymed pentameters (or blank verse) thus inventing the verse form which will be of great use to contemporary dramatists.
  • 1501

    1501 Literature and culture

    1501 Literature and culture
    Literature has a history, and this connects with cultural history more widely. Prose narratives were written in the 16th century, but the novel as we know it could not arise, in the absence of a literate public. The popular and very contemporary medium for narrative in the 16th century is the theatre. The earliest novels reflect a bourgeois view of the world because this is the world of the authors and their readers working people are depicted, but patronizingly, not from inside knowledg.
  • 1553

    1553–1625 John Florio

    1553–1625  John Florio
    John Florio (1553–1625), known in Italian as Giovanni Florio, was a linguist and lexicographer, a royal language tutor at the Court of James I, and a possible friend and influence on William Shakespeare. He was also the first translator of Montaigne into English. He was born in London, and in 1580 he married Aline, the sister of poet Samuel Daniel. The couple had three children, Joane Florio, baptised in Oxford in 1585; Edward, in 1588 and Elizabeth, in 1589. He died in Fulham, London in 1625.
  • 1558

    1558-1603 Elizabethan literature

    1558-1603  Elizabethan literature
    Elizabethan literature refers to bodies of work produced during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603), and is one of the most splendid ages of English literature.
    During her reign a London-centred culture, both courtly and popular, produced great poetry and drama. English playwrights combined the influence of the Medieval theatre with the Renaissance's rediscovery of the Roman dramatists, Seneca, for tragedy, and Plautus and Terence, for comedy.
  • 1564

    1564-1616 William Shakespeare

    1564-1616 William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship.
  • 1593 Venus and Adonis

    1593 Venus and Adonis
    Venus and Adonis is a narrative poem by William Shakespeare published in 1593. It is probably Shakespeare's first publication. The poem tells the story of Venus, the goddess of Love; of her unrequited love; and of her attempted seduction of Adonis, an extremely handsome young man, who would rather go hunting. The poem is pastoral, and at times erotic, comic, and tragic. It contains discourses on the nature of love, and observations of nature.
  • 1597 Romeo and Juliet

    1597 Romeo and Juliet
    Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers.
  • 1601 Hamlet

    1601	Hamlet
    The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to Hamlet , is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare at an uncertain date between 1599 and 1602. Set in Denmark, the play dramatises the revenge Prince Hamlet is called to wreak upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of Hamlet's father, King Hamlet. Claudius had murdered his own brother and seized the throne, also marrying his deceased brother's widow.
  • 1701 The rise of Romanticism

    1701 The rise of Romanticism
    A movement in philosophy but especially in literature, romanticism is the revolt of the senses or passions against the intellect and of the individual against the consensus. Its first stirrings may be seen in the work of William Blake (1757-1827), and in continental writers such as the Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the German playwrights Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
  • 1701- Neoclassicism

    1701- Neoclassicism
    Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of classical antiquity. Neoclassicism was born largely thanks to the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, at the time of the rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
  • 1843 Henry James

    1843   Henry James
    Henry James, (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916) was an American-British author regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism, and is considered by many to be among the greatest novelists in the English language.
    He is best known for a number of novels dealing with the social and marital interplay between emigre Americans, English people, and continental Europeans. His later works were increasingly experimental.
  • 1860 "Great Expectations”

    1860  "Great Expectations”
    Great Expectations is the thirteenth novel by Charles Dickens and his penultimate completed novel: a bildungsroman that depicts the personal growth and personal development of an orphan nicknamed Pip. It is Dickens's second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person. The novel was first published as a serial in Dickens's weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. In October 1861, Chapman and Hall published the novel in three volumes.
  • 1863 Charles Kingsley

    1863   Charles Kingsley
    The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby is a children's novel by Charles Kingsley. Written in 1862–63 as a serial for Macmillan's Magazine, it was first published in its entirety in 1863. It was written as part satire in support of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species.
  • 1882-1941 Virginia Woolf

    1882-1941 Virginia Woolf
    Virginia Woolf, born Adeline Virginia Stephen (London, January 25, 1882-Lewes, Sussex, March 28, 1941), was a British writer, considered one of the most prominent figures of the avant-garde Anglo-Saxon modernism of the twentieth century and feminism international.
    " It was rediscovered during the 1970s, thanks to this essay, one of the most cited texts of the feminist movement, which exposes the difficulties of women.
  • 1885 Richard Burton

    1885  Richard Burton
    Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS 19 March 1821 – 20 October 1890) was a British explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat. He was famed for his travels and explorations in Asia, Africa and the Americas, as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures. According to one count, he spoke 29 European, Asian and African languages.
  • 1890-1979 Jean Rhys

    1890-1979 Jean Rhys
    Jean Rhys, born Ella Gwendolyn Rees Williams (24 August 1890 – 14 May 1979), was a mid-20th-century novelist who was born and grew up in the Caribbean island of Dominica. From the age of 16, she was mainly resident in England, where she was sent for her education. She is best known for her novel Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), written as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. In 1978 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her writing.
  • 1892 Lady Windermere's Fan

    1892  Lady Windermere's Fan
    Lady Windermere's Fan, A Play About a Good Woman is a four-act comedy by Oscar Wilde, first performed on Saturday, 20 February 1892, at the St James's Theatre in London. The story concerns Lady Windermere, who suspects that her husband is having an affair with another woman.
  • 1901 Poetry in the later 20th century

    1901 Poetry in the later 20th century
    Between the two wars, a revival of romanticism in poetry is associated with the work of W.H. (Wystan Hugh) Auden (1907-73), Louis MacNeice (1907-63) and Cecil Day-Lewis (1904-72). Auden seems to be a major figure on the poetic landscape, but is almost too contemporary to see in perspective. The Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas (1914-53) is notable for strange effects of language, alternating from extreme simplicity to massive overstatement.
  • 1902 The wings of the Dove

    1902 The wings of the Dove
    The Wings of the Dove is a 1902 novel by Henry James. It tells the story of Milly Theale, an American heiress stricken with a serious disease, and her effect on the people around her. Some of these people befriend Milly with honourable motives, while others are more self-interested.
  • 1903 The Riddle of the Sands

    1903  The Riddle of the Sands
    The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service is a 1903 novel by Erskine Childers. The book, which enjoyed immense popularity in the years before World War I, is an early example of the espionage novel and was extremely influential in the genre of spy fiction. It has been made into feature-length films for both cinema and television.
  • 1903 The Ambassadors

      1903 The Ambassadors
    The Ambassadors is a 1903 novel by Henry James, originally published as a serial in the North American Review (NAR). This dark comedy, seen as one of the masterpieces of James's final period, follows the trip of protagonist Lewis Lambert Strether to Europe in pursuit of Chad Newsome, his widowed fiancée's supposedly wayward son; he is to bring the young man back to the family business, but he encounters unexpected complications.
  • 1904 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

    1904 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the first novel of Irish writer James Joyce. A Künstlerroman in a modernist style, it traces the religious and intellectual awakening of young Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and an allusion to Daedalus, the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology. Stephen questions and rebels against the Catholic and Irish conventions under which he has grown, culminating in his self-exile from Ireland to Europe.
  • 1904-1972 Cecil Day-Lewis

    1904-1972  Cecil Day-Lewis
    Cecil Day-Lewis (or Day Lewis) CBE (27 April 1904 – 22 May 1972), often writing as C. Day-Lewis, was an Anglo-Irish poet and the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968 until his death in 1972. He also wrote mystery stories under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake. During World War II, Day-Lewis worked as a publications editor in the Ministry of Information for the UK government, and also served in the Musbury branch of the British Home Guard.
  • 1916 Roald Dahl

    1916 Roald Dahl
    Roald Dahl (Llandaff, September 13, 1916-Oxford, November 23, 1990) was a novelist and author of Welsh tales of Norwegian origin, 1 famous writer for children and adults. Among his most popular books are Charlie and the chocolate factory, James and the giant peach, Matilda, The great good-natured giant, Agu Trot, The witches and Tales of the unexpected.
  • 1919-2013 Doris Lessing

    1919-2013  Doris Lessing
    Doris May Lessing (née Tayler; 22 October 1919 – 17 November 2013) was a British-Zimbabwean (Rhodesian) novelist. She was born to British parents in Iran, where she lived until 1925. Her family then moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where she remained until moving in 1949 to London, England. Her novels include The Grass Is Singing (1950), the sequence of five novels collectively called Children of Violence (1952–1969.
  • 1922 The Forsyte Saga

    1922 The Forsyte Saga
    The saga of the Forsytes is a series of three novels and two intermissions published between 1906 and 1921 by John Galsworthy. Account the vicissitudes of the main members of a British family of upper-middle class. Only a few generations of their farmer ancestors, family members are aware of their status as new rich. The main character, Soames Forsyte, sees himself as an "owner," by virtue of his ability to accumulate material possessions, even if they do not provide him with pleasure.
  • 1930-1998 Edward James Hughes

    1930-1998  Edward James Hughes
    Edward James Hughes (17 August 1930 – 28 October 1998) was an English poet and children's writer. Critics frequently rank him as one of the best poets of his generation, and one of the twentieth century's greatest writers. He served as Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death. In 2008 The Times ranked Hughes fourth on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
  • 1931 The Waves

    1931 The Waves
    The Waves; is the seventh novel by Virginia Woolf, published on October 8, 1931. It is Woolf's most experimental novel. It is formed by soliloquies of the six characters in the book: Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny and Louis. Also important is Percival, the seventh character, although readers never hear him speak for himself.
  • 1955 "Through the Tunnel“

    1955  "Through the Tunnel“
    "Through the Tunnel" is a short story written by British author Doris Lessing, originally published in the American weekly magazine The New Yorker in 1955.
  • 1957 The Hawk in the Rain

    1957 The Hawk in the Rain
    The Hawk in the Rain is a collection of poems by the British poet Ted Hughes. Published in 1957, it was Hughes's first book of poetry. The book received immediate acclaim in both England and America, where it won the Galbraith Prize. Many of the book's poems imagine the real and symbolic lives of animals, including a fox, a jaguar, and the eponymous hawk. Other poems focus on erotic relationships, and on stories of the First World War, Hughes's father being a survivor of Gallipoli.
  • 1957 Room at the Top

    1957  Room at the Top
    Room at the Top is a novel by John Braine, first published in the United Kingdom by Eyre & Spottiswoode in 1957, about the rise of an ambitious young man of humble origin, and the socio-economic struggles undergone in realising his social ambitions in post-war Britain. A film adaptation was made in 1959, followed in 2012 by a TV film. John Minton's cover art from the first edition was restored and used on the new edition by Valancourt Books in 2013.
  • 1964 Charlie and the Chocolate Factor

    1964   Charlie and the Chocolate Factor
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children's book by British author Roald Dahl. This story featueres the adventures on the new products. At that time (around the 1920s), Cadbury and Rowntree's were England's two largest chocolate makers and they each often try to steal trade secrets by sending spies, posing as employees, into the other's factory.
  • 1965 J.K Rowling

    1965   J.K Rowling
    Joanne Rowling; born 31 July 1965), writing under the pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist, philanthropist, film producer, television producer and screenwriter, best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series. The books have won multiple awards, and sold more than 500 million copies, becoming the best-selling book series in history.
  • 1966 Wide Sargasso Sea

    1966   Wide Sargasso Sea
    Wide Sargasso Sea is a 1966 novel by Dominica-born British author Jean Rhys. The author lived in obscurity after her previous work, Good Morning, Midnight, was published in 1939. She had published other novels between these works, but Wide Sargasso Sea caused a revival of interest in Rhys and her work and was her most commercially successful novel.
  • 1975 Heat and Dust

    1975  Heat and Dust
    Heat and Dust (1975) is a novel by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala which won the Booker Prize in 1975.
    The initial stages of the novel are told in the first person, from the narrative voice of a woman who travels to India, to find out more about her step-grandmother, Olivia. She has various letters written by Olivia, and through reading these, and learning from her own experiences in India, she uncovers the truth about Olivia and her life during the British Raj in the 1920s.
  • 1992 The Man With Night Sweats

    1992  The Man With Night Sweats
    The Man With Night Sweats (1992), dominated by AIDS-related elegies. Neil Powell praised the book: "Gunn restores poetry to a centrality it has often seemed close to losing, by dealing in the context of a specific human catastrophe with the great themes of life and death, coherently, intelligently, memorably. One could hardly ask for more."
  • 1994 Captain Corelli's Mandolin

    1994  Captain Corelli's Mandolin
    Captain Corelli's Mandolin, released simultaneously in the United States as Corelli's Mandolin, is a 1994 novel by the British writer Louis de Bernières, set on the Greek island of Cephalonia during the Italian and German occupation of the Second World War. The main characters are Antonio Corelli, an Italian army captain, and Pelagia, the daughter of the local physician, Dr Iannis.
  • 1997 Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone

      1997  Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone
    Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone, also called Harry Potter 1 or abbreviated HP1 (original title in English, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 1 except in the United States, where it was titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone), is the first book of the Harry Potter literary series, written by the British author JK Rowling in 1997, which also represented Rowling's debut as a professional writer.
  • 1998 Birthday Letters

    1998  Birthday Letters
    Birthday Letters, published in 1998, is a collection of poetry by English poet and children's writer Ted Hughes. Released only months before Hughes's death, the collection won multiple prestigious literary awards. This collection of eighty-eight poems is widely considered to be Hughes's most explicit response to the suicide of his estranged wife Sylvia Plath in 1963, and to their widely discussed, politicized and "explosive" marriage.
  • 2000 The Amber Spyglass

    2000  The Amber Spyglass
    The Amber Spyglass is the third novel in the His Dark Materials trilogy, written by English author Philip Pullman. Published in 2000, it won the 2001 Whitbread Book of the Year award, the first children's novel to do so. It was named Children's Book of the Year at the 2001 British Book Awards, and was the first children's book to be longlisted for the Man Booker Prize