History of English Literature (PDF Included) - Periods of Literature

 

history of literature in english

The history of literature is the historical development of writings in prose or poetry that attempt to provide entertainment, enlightenment, or instruction to the reader/listener/observer, as well as the development of the literary techniques used in the communication of these pieces. Not all writings constitute literature. English literature, the body of written works produced in the English language by inhabitants of the British Isles (including Ireland) from the 7th century to the present day. The major literatures written in English outside the British Isles are treated separately under American literature, Australian literature, Canadian literature, and New Zealand literature. The story of English literature begins with the Germanic tradition of the Anglo-Saxon settlers. Beowulf stands at its head. The French poetic tradition inclines to lines of a regular metrical length, usually linked by rhyme into couplets or stanzas. German poetry depends more on rhythm and stress.


History of literature - Wikipedia


This article is focused on English-language literature rather than the literature of Englandso that it includes writers from ScotlandWalesthe Crown dependenciesand the whole of Irelandas well as literature in English from countries of the former British Empireincluding the United States. However, history of literature in english, until the early 19th century, it only deals with the literature of the United Kingdomthe Crown dependencies and Ireland.

It does not include literature written in the other languages of Britain. The English language has developed over the course of more than 1, years. Beowulf is the most famous work in Old English, and has achieved national epic status in England, despite being set in Scandinavia. However, following the Norman conquest of England inthe written form of the Anglo-Saxon language became less common.

Under the influence of the new aristocracy, French became the standard language of courts, parliament, and polite society. This history of literature in english of English lasted until the history of literature in english, when the Chancery Standard late Middle Englisha London -based form of English, became widespread.

Geoffrey Chaucer —author of The Canterbury Tales was a significant figure in the development of the legitimacy of vernacular Middle English at a time when the dominant literary languages in England were still French and Latin. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in also helped to standardise the language, as did the King James Bibleand the Great Vowel Shift. Poet and playwright William Shakespeare — is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of the world's greatest dramatists.

The English language spread throughout the world with the development of the British Empire between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history. And in the last hundred plus years numerous writers from Great Britainthe island of Irelandthe USA, and members of other former British colonies have received the Nobel Prize for works in the English language.

Old English literatureor Anglo-Saxon literature, history of literature in english, encompasses the surviving literature written in Old English in Anglo-Saxon Englandin the period after the settlement of the Saxons and other Germanic tribes in England Jutes and the Angles c. Widsithwhich appears in the Exeter Book of the late 10th century, gives a list of kings of tribes ordered according to their popularity and impact on history, with Attila King of the Huns coming first, followed by Eormanric of the Ostrogoths.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old Englishfrom the 9th century, that chronicle is the history of the Anglo-Saxons. This is a work of uncertain date, celebrating the Battle of Maldon ofat which the Anglo-Saxons failed to prevent a Viking invasion.

Oral tradition was very strong in early English culture and most literary works were written to be performed. The only surviving manuscript is the Nowell Codexthe precise date of which is debated, but most estimates place it close to the year Beowulf is the conventional title, [18] and its composition is dated between the 8th [19] [20] and the early 11th century.

The poem is one of the earliest attested examples of Old English and is, with the runic Ruthwell Cross and Franks Casket inscriptions, one of three candidates for the earliest attested example of Old English poetry. It is also one of the earliest recorded examples of sustained poetry in a Germanic language. Classical antiquity history of literature in english not forgotten in Anglo-Saxon England, history of literature in english, and several Old English poems are adaptations of late classical philosophical texts.

The longest is King Alfred 's — 9th-century translation of Boethius ' Consolation of Philosophy. After the Norman conquest of England inhistory of literature in english, the written form of the Anglo-Saxon language became less common. As the invaders integrated, their language and literature mingled with that of the natives, and the Norman dialects of the ruling classes became Anglo-Norman.

From then until the 12th century, Anglo-Saxon underwent a gradual transition into Middle English. Political power was no longer in English hands, so that the West Saxon literary language history of literature in english no more influence than any other dialect and Middle English literature was history of literature in english in the many dialects that corresponded to the region, history, culture, and background of individual writers.

In this period religious literature continued to enjoy popularity and Hagiographies were written, adapted and translated: for example, The Life of Saint AudreyEadmer 's c. Middle English Bible translationsnotably Wycliffe's Biblehelped to establish English as a literary language. Wycliffe's Bible is the name now given to a group of Bible translations into Middle English that were made under the direction of, or at the instigation of, John Wycliffe.

They appeared between about and Another literary genre, that of Romancesappears in English from the 13th century, with King Horn and Havelock the Danebased on Anglo-Norman originals such as the Romance of Horn c. Langland's Piers Plowman written c.

It is one of the better-known Arthurian stories of an established type known as the "beheading game". Developing from Welsh, Irish and English tradition, history of literature in english, Sir Gawain highlights the importance of honour and chivalry, history of literature in english. Preserved in the same manuscript with Sir Gawayne were three other poems, now generally accepted as the work of the same author, including an intricate elegiac poem, Pearl.

Middle English lasted until the s, when the Chancery Standarda London-based form of English, became widespread and the history of literature in english press started to standardise the language. Chaucer is best known today for The Canterbury Tales. This is a collection of stories written in Middle English mostly in verse although some are in prosethat are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together from Southwark to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral, history of literature in english.

Chaucer is a significant figure in the development of the legitimacy of the vernacularMiddle English, at a time when the dominant literary languages in England were still French and Latin.

At this time, literature in England was being written in various languages, including Latin, Norman-French, and English: the multilingual nature of the audience for literature in the 14th century is illustrated by the example of John Gower c.

A contemporary of William Langland and a personal friend of Chaucer, Gower is remembered primarily for three major works: the Mirroir de l'OmmeVox Clamantisand Confessio Amantisthree long poems written in Anglo-NormanLatin and Middle English respectively, which are united by common moral and political themes.

Significant history of literature in english works were also created in the 14th century, including those of Julian of Norwich c. Julian's Revelations of Divine Love about is believed to be the first published book written by a woman in the English language. It was popular and influential in the later revival of interest in the Arthurian legends. In the Middle Agesdrama in the vernacular languages of Europe may have emerged from enactments of the liturgy.

Mystery plays were presented in the porches of cathedrals or by strolling players on feast days. Miracle and mystery plays, along with morality plays or "interludes"later evolved into more elaborate forms of drama, such as was seen on the Elizabethan stages. Another form of medieval theatre was the mummers' playsa form of early street theatre associated with the Morris danceconcentrating on themes such as Saint George and the Dragon and Robin Hood.

These were folk tales re-telling old stories, and the actors travelled from town to town performing these for their audiences in return for money and hospitality. Mystery plays and miracle plays are among the earliest formally developed plays in medieval Europe. Medieval mystery plays focused on the representation of Bible stories in churches as tableaux with accompanying antiphonal song. They developed from the 10th to the 16th century, history of literature in english the height of their popularity in the 15th century before being rendered obsolete by the rise of professional theatre.

There are four complete or nearly complete extant English biblical collections of plays from the late medieval period. The most complete is the York cycle of 48 pageants. They were performed in the city of Yorkfrom the middle of the 14th century until Having grown out of the religiously based mystery plays of the Middle Ages, the morality play is a genre of medieval and early Tudor theatrical entertainment, which represented a shift towards a more secular base for European theatre.

The plays were most popular in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. Like John Bunyan 's allegory Pilgrim's ProgressEveryman examines the question of Christian salvation through the use of allegorical characters. After William Caxton introduced the printing press in England invernacular literature flourished. The English Renaissance was a cultural and artistic movement in England dating from the late 15th to the 17th century.

It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance that is usually regarded as beginning in Italy in the late history of literature in english century. Like most of northern Europe, England saw little of these developments until more than a century later. Renaissance style and ideas were slow in penetrating England, and the Elizabethan era in the second half of the 16th century is usually regarded as the height of the English Renaissance, history of literature in english.

This Italian influence can also be found in the poetry of Thomas Wyatt —one of the history of literature in english English Renaissance poets.

Edmund Spenser c. Poems intended to be set to music as songs, history of literature in english, such as those by Thomas Campion —history of literature in english, became popular as printed literature was disseminated more widely in households. Gorboduc is notable especially as the first verse drama in English to employ blank verseand for the way it developed elements, from the earlier morality plays and Senecan tragedyin the direction which would be followed by later playwrights.

William Shakespeare — stands out in this period as a poet and playwright as yet unsurpassed. Shakespeare's career continues in the Jacobean period.

In the early 17th century Shakespeare wrote the so-called " problem plays ", as well as a number of his best known tragediesincluding Macbeth and King Lear. Less bleak than the tragedies, these four plays are graver in tone than the comedies of the s, but they end with reconciliation and the forgiveness of potentially tragic errors.

After Shakespeare's death, the poet and dramatist Ben Jonson — was the leading literary figure of the Jacobean era.

Jonson's aesthetics hark back to the Middle Ages and his characters embody the theory of humourswhich was based on contemporary medical theory, history of literature in english. Others who followed Jonson's style include Beaumont and Fletcherwho wrote the popular comedy, The Knight of the Burning Pestle probably —08a satire of the rising middle class.

Another popular style of theatre during Jacobean times was the revenge playwhich was popularized in the Elizabethan era by Thomas Kyd —and then further developed later by John Webster? George Chapman c. Shakespeare popularized the English sonnetwhich made significant changes to Petrarch 's model. A collection of by sonnetsdealing with themes such as the passage of time, love, beauty and mortality, were first published in a quarto. The most important prose work of the early 17th century was the King James Bible.

This, one of the most massive translation projects in the history of English up to this time, was started in and completed in This represents the culmination of a tradition of Bible translation into English that began with the work of William Tyndaleand it became the standard Bible of the Church of England.

The Metaphysical poets John Donne — and George Herbert — were still alive afterand later in the 17th century a second generation of metaphysical poets were writing, history of literature in english, including Richard Crashaw —Andrew Marvell —Thomas Traherne or — and Henry Vaughan — The Cavalier poets were another important group of 17th-century poets, who came from the classes that supported King Charles I during the English Civil War — King Charles reigned from and was executed They "were not a formal group, but all were influenced by" Ben Jonson.

Most of the Cavalier poets were courtiers, with notable exceptions. For example, Robert Herrick was not a courtier, but his style marks him as a Cavalier poet. Cavalier works make use of allegory and classical allusions, and are influenced by Roman authors History of literature in english, Cicero and Ovid. John Milton — "was the last great poet of the English Renaissance" [60] and published a number of works beforeincluding A L'Allegro ,; Il Penseroso; Comus a masque; and Lycidas However, his major epic works, including Paradise Lost were published in the Restoration period.

It saw Locke's Two Treatises on Governmentthe founding of the Royal Societythe experiments and the holy meditations of Robert Boylethe hysterical attacks on theatres from Jeremy History of literature in englishthe pioneering of literary criticism from History of literature in english, and the first newspapers.

The official break in literary culture caused by censorship and radically moralist standards under Cromwell's Puritan regime created a gap in literary tradition, allowing a seemingly fresh start for all forms of literature after the Restoration. During the Interregnum, the royalist forces attached to the court of Charles I went into exile with the twenty-year-old Charles II.

The nobility who travelled with Charles II were therefore lodged for over a decade in the midst of the continent's literary scene.

John Miltonone of the greatest English poets, wrote at this time of religious flux and political upheaval.

Milton is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost

 

English literature - Wikipedia

 

history of literature in english

 

English literature, the body of written works produced in the English language by inhabitants of the British Isles (including Ireland) from the 7th century to the present day. The major literatures written in English outside the British Isles are treated separately under American literature, Australian literature, Canadian literature, and New Zealand literature. The story of English literature begins with the Germanic tradition of the Anglo-Saxon settlers. Beowulf stands at its head. The French poetic tradition inclines to lines of a regular metrical length, usually linked by rhyme into couplets or stanzas. German poetry depends more on rhythm and stress. The history of literature is the historical development of writings in prose or poetry that attempt to provide entertainment, enlightenment, or instruction to the reader/listener/observer, as well as the development of the literary techniques used in the communication of these pieces. Not all writings constitute literature.