Timeline: English literature

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In History
  • 800

    Germanic literature

    Germanic literature
    Beowulf, the first great work of Germanic literature, mingles the legends of Scandinavia with the experience in England of Angles and Saxons
  • 949

    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
  • 1367

    poem of Piers Plowman

    poem of Piers Plowman
    A narrator who calls himself Will, and whose name may be Langland, begins the epic poem of Piers Plowman
  • 1385

    Troilus and Criseyde

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

    compiles Morte d'Arthur

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

    the northern Renaissance

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

    translate the Bible

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

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

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

    Gulliver's Travels
    Jonathan Swift sends his hero on a series of bitterly satirical travels in Gulliver's Travels
  • the longest novel in the English

     the longest novel in the English
    Samuel Richardson's Clarissa begins the correspondence that grows into the longest novel in the English language
  • English's Dictionary

    English's Dictionary
    Samuel Johnson publishes his magisterial Dictionary of the English Language
  • 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
  • Pickwick Papers

    Pickwick Papers
    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)
  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin

    The Pied Piper of Hamelin
    English poet Robert Browning publishes a vivid narrative poem about the terrible revenge of The Pied Piper of Hamelin
  • the Thesaurus of English

     the Thesaurus of English
    London physician Peter Mark Roget publishes his dictionary of synonyms, the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases
  • Darwin's theory of evololution

    Darwin's theory of evololution
    Charles Darwin puts forward the theory of evolution in On the Origin of Species, the result of 20 years' research
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

    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
  • Oxford Dictionary

    Oxford Dictionary
    Oxford University Press publishes the A volume of its New English Dictionary, which will take 37 years to reach Z
  • 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
  • The Jungle Book

    The Jungle Book
    Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book surrounds the child Mowgli with a collection of vivid animal guardians
  • Dracula

    English author Bram Stoker publishes Dracula, his gothic tale of vampirism in Transylvania
  • The War of the Worlds

    The War of the Worlds
    H.G. Wells publishes his science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds, in which Martians arrive in a rocket to invade earth
  • 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
  • Winnie-the-Pooh

    Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and the others make their first appearance in A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Treasure Island

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

    C.S. Lewis gives the first glimpse of Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • James Bond

    James Bond
    James Bond, agent 007, has a licence to kill in Ian Fleming's first novel, Casino Royale
  • Lord of the Flies

    Lord of the Flies
    William Golding gives a chilling account of schoolboy savagery in his first novel, Lord of the Flies
  • The Lord of the Rings

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

    the Giant Peach
    British author Roald Dahl publishes a novel for children, James, and the Giant Peach
  • 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
  • the Big Bang to Black Holes

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

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