British Literature Periods

Deor’s Lament; The Wife’s Lament; and “The Seafarer”
Old English Period
Poems which represent the poems before the coming of Christianity. Rhythm, Kennings, Alliteration and Repetition are key features of them.

Old English Period
Anonymous author, around 750 A.D.
Contains both pagan and christian elements.
Hrothgar is attacked by Grendel. Beowulf is summoned. He slays Grendel, fights with his mother and dies while fighting with a dragon.

The Dream of the Rood
Old English Period
It is an example of Christian poetry. It is a poem about the crucifixion as told by the cross itself.

Caedmon’s Hymn
Old English Period
It is an example of Christian poetry. Caedmon was an uneducated herdsman. He couldn’t compose impromptu songs, embarrassed. One day he dreamt of this poem. It is about creation.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicles
Old English Period
King Alfred the Great translated the Latin works into Old English.
Beginning of English prose

Pearl Poet, William Langlard, Geoffrey Chaucer
Middle English Period
The three great poets of the 14th century.

John Wycliffe
Middle English Period
He translated the Bible into English

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Middle English Period
Pearl Poet
The challenge-The knightly quest-The temptation-The return blow

The Canterbury Tales
Middle English Period
Geoffrey Chaucer
Pilgrims’ stories + a prologue
the medieval characters are described vividly

Morte D’arthur
Middle English Period
Sir Thomas Malory
A combination of French Arthurian legends and the medieval alliterative poem “Morte Arthure”

mystery plays
Middle English Period
Drama was no longer under control of church, but topics were still religious.
Plays which were based on bible.

miracle plays
Middle English Period
Drama was no longer under control of church, but topics were still religious.
Plays, which were based on the lives of saints.

Everyman,The Castle of Perseverance, Mankind, Magnyfycence
Middle English Period
Morality plays which were allegorical: personified abstract concepts such as beauty, gluttony, virtue and vice.

Middle English Period
Popular song common in medieval literature.
Short melodic poems which express intense personal emotion.

Middle English Period
Popular song common in medieval literature.
Poems which tell stories of mostly folk origin.

Sir Thomes More, Sir Thomas Elyot, Roger Ascham
Renaissance Period
3 famous prose writers of Renaissance England. All influenced by Erasmus.

Renaissance Period
Sir Thomas More’s best known work.
Traveler Raphael meets More and tells about his adventures in the Utopia.
It is a satire.

Arcadia, The defense of Poesy, Astrophel and Stella
Renaissance Period
Important works of Sir Philip Sidney

A report of the truth of the fight about the isles of Acores
The discovery of the large, rich, beautiful empire of Guiana
The history of the world
Renaissance Period
Important works of Sir Walter Raleigh

fiction and chronicles
Renaissance Period
Popular prose in Rennaissance period.
It is a genre quite different from modern novels, and accounts of travels and historical events.

Lyly, Greene, Nashe, Holinshed, Hakluyt, Purchas
Renaissance Period
Important fiction and chronicle writers.
Their work inspired Shakespeare and Coleridge

Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes
Renaissance Period
Those times, philosophy was only a type of literature, not a discipline of its own.
These two philosophers wrote in English, rather than Latin.

Early 17th century prose stylists.
Renaissance Period
Robert Burton, Izaak Walton, John Selden
They turned away from the artificial style of Lyly and Sidney, helping to fashion a new kind of precise English prose.

The Character Writers
Renaissance Period
Joseph Hall, Sir Thomas Overbury, John Earle
They wrote short sketches of various human “types”

Sir Thomas Wyatt
Renaissance Period
One of the two typical Tudor poets of the early renaissance.
Influenced by Petrarchan sonnets: 14 lines, octaves and sestets
courtly love as subject

Henry Howard: Earl of Surrey
Renaissance Period
One of the two typical Tudor poets of the early renaissance.
an aristocrat poet like Wyatt.
He used blank verse, the unrhymed iambic parameter, for the first time in English literature.

The Elizabethan poets
Renaissance Period
An extraordinary period of creativity in poetry occurred during the latter years of Elizabeth’s reign and the early years of James I.
There were aristocratic poets (courtly lyricists) and students at Oxford and Cambridge (University Wits)

The Cavalier poets
Renaissance Period
They followed Ben Johnson and they supported the King.
Influenced by Latin poets Horace and Ovid.
Ignored the sonnet form and wrote in short lines, idiomatic diction, and urbane wit.

Metaphysical poetry
Renaissance Period
John Donne
It mingled passion and intellect using imagery allusions based on philosophy, geography and astronomy. (unusual imagery for traditional situations)

The indifferent, The flea, The ecstasy, A valediction forbidding mourning
Renaissance Period
John Donne
Metaphysical poems

Paradise Lost
Renaissance Period
John Milton
Epic poem which tells the story of the fall of the rebel angels from heaven, satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the garden of eden

Commonwealth poets
Renaissance Period
During the commonwealth period (1649-1660), even the poets were divided into opposing camps: the “parlimentarians” and the “royalists”

To his coy mistress
Renaissance Period
Andrew Marvell
A well known parlimentarian poet, he wrote this carpe diem poem which focuses on the theme of seizing the day

Renaissance Period
Pre-shakespearean drama.
Although didactic like mystery and miracle plays, these were more comic and realistic and the heroes more individualized. e.g. Henry Medwall, John Heywood

Academic comedy and Academic tragedy
(Acdemic plays)
Renaissance Period
Pre-shakespearean drama
plays performed by student actors in schools

Court drama
Renaissance Period
Pre-shakespearean drama
plays performed in holiday seasons for the queen

Public drama
Renaissance Period
It began by the first theater building built by James Burbage in 1576. The plays had these features:
-girls disguised as boys (Lyly: Galathea)
-romantic comedy (Greene: The old wive’s tale)
-revenge tragedy (Kyd: The Spanish tragedy)

The tragedy of King Richard III
The Tragedy of King Richard II
The First Part of Henry IV
The Second Part of Henry IV
The Life of Henry V
Renaissance Period
His history plays which focused ont he nature of kingship and the qualities of a good king.

The comedy of errors
The two gentlemen of verona
Love’s labour’s lost
A midsummer night’s dream
The taming of the shrew
The merchant of Venice
The merry wives of Windsor
Much ado about nothing
As you like it
Twelfth Night or what you will
All’s well that ends well
Measure for Measure
Trolius and Cressida
Pericles, prince of Tyre
The winter’s tale
The tempest
Renaissance Period
His comedies in various types such as masque fantasies, romantic comedy, farces and problem comedies.

The tragedy of Titus Andronicus
The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
The tragedy of Julius Caesar
The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
The tragedy of King Lear
The tragedy of Machbeth
Renaissance Period
His tragedies

Christopher Marlowe
Ben Johnson
Renaissance Period
These are other Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists. (other than Shakespeare)

The restoration age and the neo-classical period (18th c)
When Charles II was restored to the throne, he promoted worldly pleasures. But 1665 a plague and 1666 a great fire hit London: seemed as divine vengeance. Moreover, they lost some colonies=poverty
18th c=neo-classical period
advancements in physical sciences: divine order in universe
correctness more important than creativity
aristotle’s ideas of the unity of time,place and action

The Graveyard School
The first half of 18th century highly logical, philosophical, etc. The second half highly emotional, melancholy (precursor of romantic age)

comedy of manners
Restoration Period
A type of drama in which artificial values of the society (e.g. good form is better than ethics and morality) are criticized.

heroic plays
Restoration Period
A type of drama which is also called restoration tragedy. They are more integrated in plot because they follow the time, place and action unity

Weeping comedy
Restoration Period
A popular type of drama in early 18th century. Also called sentimental comedy

Satiric ballad opera
anti-sentimental plays
Restoration Period
Revival of satirical comedy of manners by John Gay Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Sheridan

Pilgrim’s Progress
Restoration Period
John Bunyan
It is the most successful allegory. It was translated into nearly every language.

Essay of Dramatic Poesy
Restoration Period
John Dryden
He defends the English drama against French drama.

Gulliver’s Travels
Restoration Period
Johnathan Swift
An allegorical satire in which society is criticized through symbols

Joseph Addison and Richard Steele
Restoration Period
These two prose writers wrote in periodicals which became very popular. People of London gathered in coffee houses and read their essays.

Robinson Crusoe
Restoration Period
Daniel Defoe
The first novel in English.

The fortunes and misfortunes of Moll Flanders
A journal of the plague year
Restoration Period
Daniel Defoe
His other novels (than Robinson Crusoe)

Restoration Period
Samuel Richardson
It is written in the epistolary novel form (letters) It is about how Pamela managed to marry her master.

Henry Fielding
Tobias Smollet
Restoration Period
Two writers who preferred picaresque novel form.
Writers of Shamela (burlesque of Pamela) and Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, etc.

Alexander Pope
Restoration Period
In “An essay on criticism” he defines true wit
He is also famous for his satires

Rape of the lock
The dunciad
Epistle to Dr.Arbuthnot
Restoration Period
Alexander Pope
His satires (mock-epic poetry)

James Boswell
Restoration Period
The shakespeare of biographies.
e.g. The life of Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson
Restoration Period
He published “The dictionary of English language” which fixed English spelling and established a standard for definition.
Boswell wrote his biography

The pre-romantic poets
Restoration Period
In the latter half of the 18th c. poets began to turn away from the rationalistic Neoclassical norms and limiting couplet verse form. They turned to the picturesque aspects of nature, melancholy of emotions, and the virtues of rural life.

The Romantic Period
The period between the years 1798 and 1832. In this period, England turned to an urban industrial society from a rural and agricultural society. This period witnessed the American revolution, the French revolution and the Industrial revolution.

William Blake
Robert Burns
William Wordsworth
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Lord Byron
Percy Bysshe Shelley
John Keats
Romantic Period
Great poets of this period.
Generally made reference to the nature, saw the barbaric past in a new light.

The Prelude
Romantic Period
William Wordsworth
The greatest poem of the 19th century. It is a great poetic blank-verse autobiography.

Supernatural poems and conversational poems
Romantic Period
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
He wrote about supernatural things and personal meditations

Lord Byron
Romantic Period
He wrote in many forms from dramatic poems, to comic epic (Don Juan) to satires and poetic travelogues.

Lord Byron
Romantic Period
Great poets of this period.

Personal essay
Romantic Period
Although poetry was the most important literary medium int his period, the essayists DeQuincey, Hazlitt and Lamb abandoned traditions of the formal essay for this more impressionistic, less structured essay that disclosed more of the personality of the writer.

Sense and Sensibility
Pride and Prejudice
Romantic Period
Jane Austen
She wrote novel of manners in a satiric way.

historical novels by Sir Walter Scott
Romantic Period
novels that told virtues of the past. “Waverly novels”
The Antiquary, Old mortality, Rob Roy, The Heart of the Midlothian, Ivanhoe, Kenilworth are some examples

The Victorian Period
1837-1901 England became a major imperial power. This period saw many industrial advancements from steam engines to railways, ships, printing presses and telegraph. In the political arena, socialism became a political force. Church was under attack by both the Oxford movement and Darwin’s theory.
Novel was most popular. Poets believed that improving readers morals was the aim, and Drama did not develop beyond melodrama.

Carlyle, Newman and Mill
Victorian Period
The prose writers of this period.

Arnold, Ruskin and Pater
Victorian Period
The major critics of this period.

The Bronte sisters
Victorian Period
Three sisters who had to use male pseudonyms to publish poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.
Jayne Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey belong to them.

Pickwick Papers
Oliver Twist
David Copperfield
Great Expectations
Victorian Period
Charles Dickens
Social criticism here is interlaced with humor.

George Eliot
Victorian Period
Her real name is Mary Ann Evans. She used a male pseudonym. She is accepted as the first modern novelist.

Samuel Batler
Lewis Carol
George Meredith
Victorian Period
Novelists opposed to Victorianism.
In the latter part of this era, three authors wrote innovative novels that opposed the sentimentality and moral pretentiousness of Victorians.
Erewhon (nowhere arranged); Alice in wonderland and The Egoist are some examples

Thomas Hardy
Victorian Period
His novels focused mainly on the struggle of the individual against the forces that govern the world.

Oscar Wilde
Victorian Period
He was one of the proponents of the “art for art’s sake” movement. he mainly wrote comedies of manners such as Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest.

Lord Tennyson
Victorian Period
He was made Lord for his poems. He was a moralist, a romantic lyricist and a morbid mystic.

Pre-Raphaelite Poets
Victorian Period
A group of painters and poets dedicated to carrying on romantic revolt against academic painting, they also romanticized the medieval past.

Algernon Charles Swinburne
Victorian Period
He rebelled against Victorian period (his contemporaries) He emphasised freedom and attracted young rebels of his time. He was a Pagan and a Freedom fighter.

John Glasworthy
Herbert George Wells
Arnold Bennett
20th Century
The three novelists that satirized the materialistic society and the bad conditions of the poor. appealed to middle class most. social criticism

Joseph Conrad
James Joyce
Virginia Woolf
David Herbert Lawrence
20th Century
These novelists experimented with form and language in different ways.

Huxley and Waugh
George Orwell and Sir William Golding
Edward Morgan Forster and Graham Greene
20th Century
These novelists criticized the society, wrote satires, and depicted characters search of a meaning in the chaotic world.

Lord of the Flies
20th Century
Sir William Golding
It tells the story of a group of boys who fall on a deserted island after a plane crash. Although they attempt to have democracy, they end up with savagery. (cruelty of humans)

Robert Graves and J.R.R. Tolkien
20th Century
History and mythology novels.

Poets of World War I
20th Century
Brooke, Housman and Owen
They had a pessimistic worldview

William Butler Yeats
20th Century
His life began with aesthetic period(creation and revelation of beauty) continued with mask period (terse and simple poems like wearing a mask) ended with prophetic poet period (creative period)

T.S. Eliot
20th Century
He is an American who became a British subject and the dominant proponent of the modernist poetry. His poetry influenced virtually every poet since 1920s.

modernist poets
20th Century
Dame Edith Sitwell and Dylan Thomas
They hoped for faith and love to replace cruelty, used surrealistic imagery

The “New Signatures” poets
20th Century
Auden and Spender
They published together in a volume called with that name. They were greatly influenced by Hopkins, Eliot and Owen, and they added Marxism to the Modernist creed.

Poets of “The Movement”
20th Century
Larkin, Fuller and Davie
They used a conversational style and wrote about everyday trivia. They did not have any political interest.

George Bernard Shaw
20th Century
Great playwright of this time. In his more than 50 plays he sought to provoke his audiences intellectually by making them laugh.

Nationalist Irish dramatists
20th Century
John Millington Synge and Sean O’Casey
They blend tragedy and comedy. They are Irish nationalists.

Samuel Beckett
20th Century
The starter of the theatre of the absurd.
e.g. Waiting for Godot
Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard and Athol Fugard followed him.