English literature

The literature of England is one of the highest achievements of a great nation. It should not, however, be read simply as a national expression. It is a body of significant statements about abiding human concerns. The language in which it is written has evolved over hundreds of years and is still changing. Several nations, including Canada, the United States, and Australia, are indebted to England for a literary heritage.
Old English Literature

The beginnings of English literature appeared in the 7th or 8th century AD. After the Romans withdrew their troops from Britain in 410, there followed a long period of social unrest, war, and turbulence. The Britons were forced to defend themselves alone against Picts and Scots from Scotland. Then the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes came from the European continent. They plundered city after city. If these invaders left any literature, none of it has survived. By the middle of the 6th century the Britons had been pushed to the western borders of England, where they set up small tribal governments. When this society became established, English literature began. In 597 Pope Gregory I sent Augustine to convert the British to Christianity. He established a Benedictine abbey at Canterbury as the seat of his diocese. This became the center of learning and scholarship of all Western Europe.
Early Works of Scholarship

Bede the Venerable, a monk, was the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholar. His beautifully written Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People) is a monumental account of his times. ( See also Bede the Venerable.) Another monk, Alcuin, was probably the most learned man in the Europe of his time. He was a liturgical reformer and was largely responsible for the revival of Latin scripts under Charlemagne. Alfred the Great made contributions to this already rich literature by writing in the native tongue and encouraging scholarly translations from Latin into Old English (Anglo-Saxon). Alfred translated some Latin texts himself into the tongue of the West Saxons; and it was under him, probably, that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was begun. This history of the chief events of each year is of prime importance to historians. Under Alfred, Bede's Historia ecclesiastica also was translated from the Latin, so that the people could study their past. (See also Alfred the Great.)
Old English Poetry

Beowulf, the most notable example of the earliest English poetry, is an odd blend of

Christianity and paganism. Old English, the language of Beowulf, is the source of modern English. Although Old English differed greatly from the language of today, much of the vigor and precision of modern English comes from the many AngloSaxon forms still used. The older language was a highly inflectional one; that is, it had many case endings for the nouns, pronouns, and adjectives and a complex system of verbs. It resembled modern German in grammar and in much of its vocabulary as well. The story of Beowulf takes place in lands other than England, but the customs and manners described were those of the Anglo-Saxon people. This epic poem describes their heroic past. It tells of Beowulf's three fierce fights—with the monster Grendel, the equally ferocious mother of Grendel, and the fiery dragon. By conquering them, Beowulf saves his people from destruction. ( See also Beowulf.) The versification of Beowulf is highly stressed, with the strong beats falling upon syllables that alliterate—(that is, which repeat the same sound). These lines illustrate this forceful technique:
Lonely and waste is the land they inhabit, Wolf-cliffs wild and windy headlands. Much of Old English poetry, such as The Battle of Brunanburg and The Battle of Maldon, is heroic and martial. The Wanderer and The Sea-Farer have a sad and pleasing lyric quality.

Only two Old English poets are known by name. Caedmon was an unlearned cowherd (see Caedmon). According to legend, he was inspired by a vision and miraculously acquired the gift of poetic song. Unfortunately, only nine lines by this first known poet survive. The second known poet was Cynewulf. Little is known of him except that he signed his poems in a kind of cypher, or anagram, made up of ancient figures called runes (an alphabet used by early Germanic tribes preceding the use of the Roman alphabet in England). His poems, such as Christ, deal with religious subjects.
Middle English Literature

In the battle of Hastings, fought on Oct. 14, 1066, Harold II, last of the Anglo-Saxon kings, was killed (see Hastings, battle of). William the Conqueror then assumed the kingship. After subduing vicious resistance, he established a rule that was almost entirely Norman-French. The Norman conquest greatly changed English life. All positions of power were filled by Frenchmen. Over all the old English vigor was imposed this foreign culture. The Old English language went untaught and was spoken only by “unlettered” people. The language of the nobility and of the lawcourts was Norman-French; the language of the scholars was Latin. This situation lasted for nearly 300 years. During this period the Old English language changed. Its old case endings broke down, and the grammar became quite simple. Anglo-Saxon words were lost, and French words were added. The strong, crude iron of the Old English language was being slowly shaped into the flexible steel of present-day English. The cult of chivalry came into being, fed by the great Crusades. The tales of King

Arthur and his Round Table were a result of this movement. Education flourished, and the first universities, Oxford and Cambridge, were founded in the 12th century. During these 300 years there was little literature in the changing English language. The few lyrics (Sumer is icumen in, Alysoun, 1300?) and other works (Ormulum, 1200?; Layamon's Brut, 1205?) have a small interest. The Middle English period also marked the beginning of a native English drama, which was at first closely associated with the church. About 900 the antiphonal chant “Quem quaeritis in sepulchre, o Christocolae?” was first used preceding the Introit of the Mass. Other dramatic additions were made to the sacred offices, and soon dialogue between individual members of the choir was added in celebrations of certain feast days. Finally, miniature dramas developed. In time these little plays (or tropes), becoming more secular, were moved outdoors. ( See also drama.) The early cycles of miracle and mystery plays possibly began as celebrations of traditional religious feasts and fasts. In any case, by the end of the 14th century the observances of certain festivals—for example, Corpus Christi—regularly involved pageants. These plays were staged in larger towns, such as York, Wakefield, and Chester, on wagons that were moved from place to place in a procession, perhaps chronological, of events. (See also miracle play.) In addition to mystery and miracle plays, morality plays were also popular at the end of the Middle English period. They usually personified such abstractions as Health, Death, or the Seven Deadly Sins and offered practical instruction in morality.
Chaucer Heralds a New Literature

By the end of the 14th century the language (in its altered form called Middle English) was being used by nobles as well as commoners. In 1362 it became the language of lawcourt pleadings, and by 1385 it was widely taught in place of French. Most of the great literature of the time was written from 1360 to 1400, a good part of it by one man, Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer was one of the world's greatest storytellers. His Canterbury Tales is a masterpiece, with characters who remain eternally alive—the Wife of Bath, with her memories of five husbands; the noble Knight, returned from heroic deeds; his gay young son, the Squire (“He was as fressh as is the month of May”); the delightful Prioress (“At mete [meat] wel ytaught was she with alle/ She leet [let] no morsel from hir lippes falle.”); and entertaining scoundrels, such as the Friar, Summoner, and Pardoner. ( See also Chaucer.) At the same time as Chaucer, another man was writing in the northern part of England. He is known as the Pearl Poet, from the name of one of his four poems in an old manuscript. Generally he is remembered for his narrative poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. There are a number of poems about Sir Gawain (just as there are about Sir Lancelot, Sir Perceval, and King Arthur), but this is the best. Unfortunately, it is written in the Lancashire dialect and is almost as difficult to read as Old English. Chaucer may be

read with a little study because the Midland dialect in which he wrote became the standard one for English writing. Even in translation, however, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is fascinating. Another poet contemporary with Chaucer was William Langland, a figure almost as shadowy as the Pearl Poet. His masterpiece, also in a somewhat difficult dialect, is The Vision of Piers Plowman. It consists of a series of dream-visions in which human life passes in review. Langland wrote with power and sincerity. He attacked the social ills of his time, rebuked evildoers, and urged men to “learn to love.”
Legends and Ballads

For nearly 200 years after the death of Chaucer there were almost no great literary works produced in England. One noteworthy exception is Le Morte d'Arthur, by Sir Thomas Malory. Malory made up this great collection of stories about King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table from the Arthurian legends circulating in French plus the English romances about the knights. Le Morte d'Arthur was the main source for later retellings of the stories. (See also Malory, Thomas.) Another outstanding literary achievement of the times was the creation of the great English and Scottish ballads. These were probably sung by people at social gatherings. The ballads preserved the local events and beliefs and characters in an easily remembered form. It was not until several hundred years later that people began to write down these ballads. They are immensely vivid stories that modern readers find especially attractive. Three familiar ballads are The Wife of Usher's Well, about her three ghost sons; Sir Patrick Spens, concerning his death by drowning; and Edward, about his murderous revenge.
The Renaissance in English Literature

During the 15th century an intellectual movement called the Renaissance swept Western Europe. The word means “rebirth” and refers especially to the revival of ancient Greek learning. For centuries scholars in Italy, Spain, and elsewhere had been translating the ancient works into Latin. Printing from movable type, invented about 1450, provided the means for circulating the books widely. This spread of ancient learning kindled a new spirit of inquiry and hastened the overthrow of feudal institutions. (See also Renaissance.) Some modern scholars have questioned whether a total rebirth of learning actually took place. There had been, for example, Latin scholars in the earlier medieval period. It is certain, however, that something did happen in the course of the 15th century that changed the history of Western civilization and the set of people's minds. For England, the year 1485 is a convenient date for marking this change from medievalism. In that year two significant events took place: the Wars of the Roses ended on Bosworth Field and William Caxton printed Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. The printing of Le Morte d'Arthur was a radical departure from the past. Before

Caxton established his first press in England, Johann Gutenberg and his partners had printed the Bible, in about 1455, in Germany, and printers were at work in several other European countries before the end of the 15th century. Caxton, however, turned to his native language rather than to Latin for his text. His first printed book was The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (1475), which he translated. Before the end of the century he printed several more books in English, including Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1478). The number of presses quickly increased in England, and with them, of course, the number of printed books. In England the Renaissance coincided roughly with the reigns of the Tudor rulers Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. Under Elizabeth's brilliant rule England became a world power.
English Renaissance Poets

The three great poetic geniuses of Elizabethan times were Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare. All were typical Renaissance men, trained in the classics, fond of fine living, full of restless energy and a zest for ideas. Writing was a social fashion of this time, a pastime enjoyed by the nobles as well as by men of lower stations. Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, and Sir Thomas Wyatt are two striking instances of a talent for poetry existing in men of affairs. Although active in England's service, in their short lives the two became familiar with French and Italian verse forms. They adapted the Italian sonnet for English use, and Surrey introduced blank verse in his translation of the Aeneid. A third nobleman with a talent for writing was Sir Philip Sidney. He wrote a beautiful sonnet series, Astrophel and Stella (1591), and produced a tremendously long and somewhat tedious novel called Arcadia (1590). These men wrote only for amusement, but they also gave money and encouragement to poor, struggling writers. (See also Sidney, Philip.)
Spenser and Marlowe

Edmund Spenser, also active in public service, was much more the professional man of letters than Wyatt or Sidney. His Shepheardes Calender (1579) is made up of 12 poems, one for each month of the year. These poems were more charming than any England had seen for 200 years. Spenser wrote many other poems, including a sonnet series called Amoretti (1595). The Faerie Queene (1589–96), Spenser's masterpiece, was left unfinished, but the 6 books written, out of 12 planned, are of great length. The Faerie Queene is an elaborate allegory built on the story of a 12-day feast honoring the Queen of Fairyland (Elizabeth I). Spenser worked out a poetic stanza well adapted to telling a story, a special form that is now known as the Spenserian stanza. ( See also Spenser, Edmund.) Christopher Marlowe promised more greatness than he achieved. He died at 29,

witty Rosalind. Many people once thought him to be a greater playwright than Shakespeare because his plays ( Every Man in His Humor. Ben. Jonson's comedy Volpone (1606?) is a comical and sarcastic portrait of a wealthy but selfish old man who keeps his greedy would-be heirs hanging on his wishes. the English drama declined in excellence. Noble and disturbed Hamlet. ambitious Macbeth. A taste for melodrama and sensationalism hurt much of the excellent . or the sentence that strikes straight to the heart of the truth.” from Hamlet. He wrote more than 35 plays as well as 154 sonnets and 2 narrative poems ( Venus and Adonis. Shakespeare had a genius for telling a story. such as Tamburlaine (1587?) and Doctor Faustus (1588?). The Alchemist. No one in all history has had a greater command of the right word. the unforgettable phrase. 1598.” from As You Like It. his adaptations of these narratives made them into something new and wonderful. Only later did critics begin to prefer the deeper genius of Shakespeare and to realize that mechanical “correctness” is not the highest aim of a play or poem.) After the greatest days of Shakespeare and Jonson. however.) Jonson and His Volpone Contemporary with Shakespeare was Ben Jonson. In addition to his ability to tell a story and to create character. bring passion and tragedy onto the stage in lines of great force. “the milk of human kindness” or “the play's the thing. they are more carefully patterned after the drama scheme of the ancient Greek and Roman writers. The Rape of Lucrece. (See also Jonson.) Thomas Kyd is known for his very successful play The Spanish Tragedy (1587?). Some critics believe that Kyd also wrote a tragedy of Hamlet which became the source for Shakespeare's great play. dainty Ariel—these are a few of the characters Shakespeare made immortal.” His plays. Shakespeare surpassed even Chaucer in creating character. wise Portia. 1593. pathetic Ophelia. ( See also Kyd. Like Chaucer.) Shakespeare—Genius of Drama The great genius of the Elizabethan Age was William Shakespeare. 1594). Christopher. 1610) are more “correct”—that is. each thinking that he will inherit Volpone's wealth. (See also Shakespeare. Phrases and whole lines from his works have become part of daily speech—for example. It is exciting drama. “All the world's a stage. Thomas.” from The Merchant of Venice. “The quality of mercy is not strained.” Entire speeches are universally familiar—“To be or not to be. William. Shakespeare was able to use words brilliantly. A line from his own Doctor Faustus is his best epitaph: “Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight. Although he generally took over stories already told by others. villainous Iago.stabbed in a tavern brawl. To a modern audience it is an overwhelming story of carnage. (See also Marlowe.

scientists would stake out much smaller and more workable claims. These playwrights took such liberties with their subjects and with the language that in 1642 the Puritan reformers controlling London ordered that the theaters be closed. The national pride of Englishmen lessened as the Crown lost dignity through the behavior of James I. It was both. It is rightly regarded as the most influential book in the history of English civilization. Then a new sort of drama arose. They did not reopen officially until the Restoration of 1660. Miles Coverdale made the first complete translation of the Bible into English using Tyndale's version (1535).writing done by such dramatists as John Webster. Changing Mood in the 17th Century The 17th century has sometimes been called an age of transition. and John Ford. There had also been other translations. This translation was ordered by James I and made by 47 scholars working in cooperation. “History”). A new middle class began to show its power. to a spirit that studied small details rather than large generalizations and looked to the world of fact more than to that of the imagination. Later. scientific attitude. though much of the revolution of thought had actually been accomplished by the end of the 16th century. one much influenced by French dramatic styles and methods. Exploration on the grand scale gave way to exploitation of the discoveries and to colonization and trade. 17th-Century Prose The 17th century was an age of prose. and Charles II. dignified phrases into a style of great richness and loveliness. The King James Bible One of the supreme achievements of the English Renaissance came at its close. William Tyndale first translated the New Testament from the Greek into English (1525). This new writing style emphasized . The old unity of Elizabethan life was gone. It has been a model of writing for generations of English-speaking people. but the King James Version combined homely. sometimes an age of revolution. in the King James Bible. It was published in 1611 and is known as the Authorized Version. Interest in scientific detail and leisurely observation marked the prose of the time. Thomas Middleton. The difficulties that brought about such fierce political and social struggles as resulted in the civil war and the government under Oliver Cromwell are mirrored in the writings of the 17th century (see England. Late in the 16th century Sir Francis Bacon had taken “all knowledge for his province”—a typical Renaissance ambition. Charles I. There had been translations of the Bible before 1611. activities that helped the mercantile class to wealth and power late in the century. The glowing enthusiasm of such men as Marlowe and Spenser gave way to a cool.

Pepys was a career man. such as the Great Plague (1664–65) and the Great Fire (1666). the best known being L'Allegro (1645) and Il Penseroso (1645).” ( See also Bacon. scientific spirit of the 17th century did not destroy poetry. Samuel. and the second. The first tells of the day's activities of a cheerful man. directness. This rambling and much-revised book is a storehouse of medical lore and fact.) Robert Burton was one of the “originals” of his age.clarity. The Compleat Angler delights readers whether they are fishermen themselves or are only slightly interested in what Walton called the “contemplative man's recreation. The former began when he was asked to write a brief life of John Donne. Thomas. ( See also Bunyan. The Pilgrim's Progress was. with music composed by Henry Lawes. John. . a record both of trivial matters. he wrote a study of a Christian's journey through life and the difficulties that beset him as he tries to reach the Celestial City. such as the behavior at court. His Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) is important not only as a document of 17th-century thought but also as one of the first attempts to explain human behavior in materialistic terms. The great poet of the first half of the century was John Milton. wrote Holy Living (1650) and Holy Dying (1651). of the night's activities of a thoughtful scholar. and anecdote. moral observation. A music-play (or masque) known as Comus was produced in 1634. It first appeared just before 1600 in the Essays of Bacon. Robert. and of major events. Izaak Walton is famous for his biographies and The Compleat Angler (1653).) Bunyan and Pepys The prose masterpiece of the century was The Pilgrim's Progress (1678). (See also Pepys. a lament on the death of a college friend. Pepys's Diary is a window on the last part of the 17th century in England. Browne.) Milton—Puritan Poet The sober. Even today it is much read for its vigorous scenes of English country life. He was one of the great prose writers of the period.” ( See also Walton. for more than 200 years. second only to the Bible in popularity. He loved London and its life. Francis. Izaak. (See also Burton. and he recorded his daily experiences in shorthand and cipher in a diary (published in 1825).) Jeremy Taylor. with it as a style model. The physician Sir Thomas Browne wrote with dry precision in Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646). In recent times scholars have recognized that Burton's observations were deeply perceptive. a brilliant student and preacher. He first wrote some short poems. as he amusingly and gravely discussed such beliefs as “an elephant hath no joints” or “hares are both male and female.) The religious zeal of Bunyan contrasts with the cavalier spirit of Samuel Pepys. John Bunyan had studied the King James Version of the Bible. a Puritan who served Cromwell as Latin secretary. It is a splendid book of gossip. Milton's greatest early poem is Lycidas (1638). and economy of expression. As secretary to the Admiralty.

was published posthumously (he probably did not intend his poetry to be published). (See also Donne. and Henry Vaughan were other metaphysical poets of merit. of farfetched similes and metaphors intended to startle the reader into an awareness of the relationships among things ordinarily not associated. John. He dictated his masterpiece. but nothing can match the mastery of such poetry as his Hymne to God My God. (See also Milton. His poems deal with familiar subjects. but his ministerial duties did not prevent him from admiring a pretty face or the loveliness of the English landscape. Herrick. Chief among the Cavalier group were Thomas Carew. Herrick was a clergyman in the Church of England. Richard Lovelace. Marvell. (See also Carew. but most readers have not agreed with him. Andrew Marvell. Such . Milton's last work is a blank-verse tragedy in the ancient Greek manner. ”). His chief subject was love as it perfects humankind. George. This is an epic poem telling of the fall of the angels and of the creation of Adam and Eve and their temptation by Satan in the Garden of Eden (“Of Man's first disobedience. His poem The Extasy is a celebration of sacramental love. He never treated the subject profanely. Some of Herbert's most effective poetry deals with humankind's thirst for God and with God's abounding love. is Marvell. Thomas. Herbert. Richard. John. to his daughters. Richard.) George Herbert. Metaphysical poetry makes use of conceits—that is. perhaps. Lovelace. and the fruit/ Of that forbidden tree . John Donne was the greatest of the metaphysical poets.) The Metaphysical and the Cavalier Poets An important group of 17th-century writers were the metaphysical poets. They wrote with a sense of elegance and in a style that emphasized wit and charm and the delicate play of words and ideas. Herbert's collection. Robert. The Temple (1633). He considered the later work his masterpiece. (See also Crashaw. Richard Crashaw. It deals with the story of Samson and Delilah. like Donne. John. and Robert Herrick. Paradise Lost (1667).Milton's service under Cromwell brought on blindness. .) Dryden—Giant of the Late 1600s The major literary figure of the last quarter of the century was John Dryden. . the followers of King Charles II.) The Cavalier poets were followers and supporters of Charles I. He was occasionally earthy. It is written in blank verse of great solemnity. Most easily understood. but this did not stop his writing poetry. His prose is as rich as his poetry. in My Sicknesse . Sir John Suckling. was both a metaphysical poet and an Anglican priest. Paradise Regained (1671) is Milton's sequel to Paradise Lost. but only because he recognized that humans are creatures who must love in a natural way. at least in the well-loved lyric To His Coy Mistress. Suckling. Samson Agonistes (1671) is in many ways Milton's allegorical description of himself as a Samson bound in chains by his enemies. Andrew.

Many important inventions—for example. Defoe was first of all a journalist. Richard. the power loom. with an eye for a news story. ( See also Dryden. The Tatler (1709–11). In addition. was “ . The kindly and witty essays by these men appealed to the middle class in the coffeehouses rather than to the nobility in their palaces. It was a time that celebrated the excellence of the human mind. In addition to a comfortable life. informal writing. 1673. writing both comedy (Marriage-à-la-Mode. Merchants and tradesmen achieved tremendous economic power at this time. to enliven morality with wit. is so closely connected with political and social events of his day that to read it requires a scholar's knowledge of the period. . good sense. The list of Defoe's writings runs to . By the time Defoe wrote that novel. Joseph.) Most people think of Daniel Defoe only as the author of Robinson Crusoe (1719). The Kind Keeper. Cities grew in size. The Review (1704–13). Steele. 1680) and tragedy (Aureng-Zebe. however. John.poems as Absalom and Achitophel (1681–82) and Alexander's Feast (1697) establish his superiority in both satire and lyric. Much of what Dryden wrote. His translation of Virgil's Aeneid is still widely read for its poetry alone. For this reason the name “Augustan” was given to the early 18th century. he was the leading critic of his time. Addison. Hence the period in literature is often described as neoclassic. (See also Addison. Addison said. Steele. and Defoe The modern essay began in two periodicals. and to temper wit with morality. and London began to assume its present position as a great industrial and commercial center. Even the descriptive historical titles of the period express the spirit of improvement and progress. Many people of the time thought they were passing through a golden period similar to that of the Roman emperor Augustus. Single-handedly he produced a newspaper. The century has also been called the Age of Enlightenment. All creation was believed open to scrutiny. founded by Steele and Joseph Addison. he had already lived a life full enough for three ordinary mortals. Many writers of the era used ancient Greek and Roman authors as models of style. The aim of The Spectator. which was an important ancestor of modern newspapers. Scientific discoveries were encouraged. The virtues of his best writing—clarity. and intellectual vigor—became the dominant virtues of the writing of the 18th century. founded by Sir Richard Steele. the members of the middle class demanded a respectable.” Steele and Addison's essays are still models of clear. and The Spectator (1711–12). however. and the steam engine—brought about an industrial society. moralistic art that was controlled by common sense. They reacted in protest to the aristocratic immoralities in much of the Restoration literature. 1676) of great popularity. . He was also the leading dramatist.) The 18th Century—Age of Reason The most striking quality of the 18th century was its optimism. the spinning jenny.

was whole-hearted. (See also Swift. however. It is a satire on human folly and stupidity. since the English were eating the Irish people anyhow.) New Voices in Poetry James Thomson was another major poet of the period. In his simplicity and love of nature he foreshadowed Romanticism. Death. is the kind of writing that Defoe recommended to others—a “plain and homely style. Such lines as “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” and “damn with faint praise” illustrate why Pope is the most quoted poet in English literature except for Shakespeare. Daniel. Pope wrote in heroic couplets. however. he ironically suggested that the Irish babies be specially fattened for profitable sale as meat. These “dunces” proceeded to attack Pope in kind. Although born in Ireland. Alexander. though still satirical. which advanced the “graveyard school” of poetry. One of his lighter. a technique in which he has been unsurpassed. by heavy taxation. (See also Pope. A Modest Proposal (1729). Swift's masterpiece is Gulliver's Travels (1726). Jonathan. read like a modern reporter's account of events. are so delightfully entertained by the tiny Lilliputians and by the huge Brobdingnagians that they do not bother much with Swift's bitter satire on human pettiness or crudity. Night Thoughts on Life. His defense of the Irish people against the tyranny of the English government. poems is The Rape of the Lock (1712)./ And catch the manners living as they rise. (See also Defoe. Edward Young wrote The Complaint: or. Swift always said that he was an Englishman. The Grave (1743). which put in practice his ideas about the personal quality of poetry.” Even the great novels of his last years. Pope excelled in his ability to coin unforgettable phrases. His literary style has all the 18th-century virtues at their best. As much as he may have disliked Ireland. he disliked injustice and tyranny more. Swift said that he wrote it to vex the world rather than to divert it. No one has ever written English prose with greater sharpness and economy than Swift.) Satire in Pope's Poetry The genius of Alexander Pope lay in satirical poetry.) Swift—Scornful Prose Genius Jonathan Swift is one of the great prose writers of all time.more than 400 titles. articles and books. William Collins . Moll Flanders (1722) and Robinson Crusoe. Robert Blair wrote one important poem. In thought and form he carried 18th-century reason and order to its highest peak. In all of them. He said that he wanted to “shoot folly as it flies. In a bitter pamphlet. and Immortality (1742–45). Most people.” The Dunciad (1728) lists the stupid writers and men of England by name as dunces. It mockingly describes a furious fight between two families when a young man snips off a lock of the beautiful Belinda's hair.

Thomas. The eccentric characters have many comic experiences. (See also Sterne. but the book ends happily. which purports to be the story of Pamela's brother.) Henry Fielding was amused by Pamela and parodied it in Joseph Andrews (1742). Although it is a striking collection of adventures. from Bath to London. Tobias.) Laurence Sterne wrote A Sentimental Journey (1768) partly in answer to a travel book written in ill temper by Smollett. These useful virtues were personified by Dr. a letter writer. ( See also Gray. This important novel. in 1788) clearly marked a turn to the wild and irregular as proper subjects for poetry. wanders to London. ( See also Richardson. (See also Smollett. He was a scholar of ancient languages. Crabbe. The humor of the book is delightful. Samuel.) Start of the Modern Novel The 20th century can be grateful to the 18th for developing the novel ( see novel).was not a popular success in his lifetime. He was given to extreme. the story of a trip by the Bramble family across England.) The first novel by Tobias Smollett was Roderick Random (1748). Samuel . it also made much of honesty and common sense. wins his lady. ( See also Cowper. by means of letters. a topsy-turvy collection of episodes with little organization but a wealth of 18th-century humor. Seven years later he wrote Tom Jones (1749). but his Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland (published posthumously. Samuel Richardson wrote the first modern novel—that is. one of the greatest novels in English literature.) George Crabbe was the last poet of the century who used the couplet in didactic poetry. Laurence. and up into Scotland. William. is made up of letters from Pamela Andrews. both in the country and in the city. and with some attempt to understand the minds and hearts of the characters. Sterne's greatest book is Tristram Shandy (1760–67). morbid sensibilities. Pamela (1740). with suspense and climax. His political and social satire The Village (1783) is a realistic appraisal of country life in his times. George. It tells. for all his suffering. His Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751) is a collection of 18th-century commonplaces expressing concern for lowly folk. William Cowper exemplifies the strange decay of the spirit in the 18th century. and eventually. it lacks the good plot of Tom Jones. She tells of her unhappy attempts to get a husband. Henry. The picture of English life. It tells the story of a young foundling who is driven from his adopted home. The Task (1785) is a falsely cheerful poem of a man who feels himself to be condemned. one with a fairly wellplanned plot. Smollett's best work is Humphry Clinker (1771). ( See also Collins. and a critic as well as a poet.) Johnson and His Circle If the 18th century made much of elegance and good manners.) Thomas Gray was probably the most typical man of letters of the period. ( See also Fielding. William. is brilliantly drawn.

the leading literary figure of the century. features malicious gossips with such revealing names as Sir Benjamin Backbite. Candour. Romanticism had its roots in a changed attitude toward humankind. The Romanticists believed that all people are kin and deserve the treatment to which human beings are by nature entitled. and it opposed most of the ideas held earlier in the century. 1749). Sheridan invented the unforgettable Mrs.” Johnson is immortal not only for what he wrote but also for his forceful personality and his wonderful conversation.D. If the social world could be changed. Madam. 1770). He wrote some sensible but uninspired poetry ( The Vanity of Human Wishes. liberty. He made some mistakes. The Rivals (1775). Johnson. his horrible table manners. The club gathered together the most celebrated artists of the time. Oliver. In one memorable speech she says. Boswell had a keen eye for significant detail and a proper reverence for his subject. is equally sensible and equally dull. all men might be happier. Another member was Oliver Goldsmith. The forerunners of the Romanticists argued that humans are naturally good. Many reforms were suggested: better treatment of people in prisons and almshouses. society makes them bad. Malaprop. Rasselas (1759). His novel.” Johnson answered. his rudeness to stupid people—but he also saw his subject's sturdy common sense and his honesty. fewer death penalties for minor crimes. however.) Johnson and others organized the Literary Club in 1764. . (1791).” (See also Sheridan. “Ignorance. orator and political figure. Every person has a right to life. He wrote one of the best plays ( She Stoops to Conquer.) The Romantic Movement in England At the end of the 18th century a new literature arose in England.” ( See also Goldsmith. The School for Scandal (1777). and Mrs. Johnson said of his versatile friend: “[He] touched nothing that he did not adorn. He noted all of Johnson's peculiarities—his rolling walk. the greatest of English biographies. LL.Johnson. This has been recorded by James Boswell in The Life of Samuel Johnson. Richard Brinsley. His masterpiece. 1766) of the latter half of the 18th century. his twitching face. A woman asked him why he defined “pastern” as “the knee of a horse. pure ignorance. Lady Sneerwell. was also a writer of comedies of manners that lampooned social affectations and pretentiousness. It was called Romanticism. and one of the best novels (The Vicar of Wakefield. “if I reprehend anything in this world. (See also Boswell. and an increase in charitable institutions. Johnson's common sense is shown in the clear definitions of words. His masterpiece is A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). one of the best poems (The Deserted Village. whose name remains to this day the designation for a person who misuses words. The great orator Edmund Burke and the great historian Edward Gibbon were members. James. it is the use of my oracular tongue and a nice derangement of epitaphs. 1773). For another of his clever plays.) Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Samuel.

Some of them are great names in English literature. Thomas Percy collected old English songs and ballads. Many writers started to give more play to their senses and to their imaginations. folk ballads. His nature lyrics are tenderly beautiful (To a Mountain Daisy). Another was that people should live close to nature. but each believed enough of them to set him apart from earlier writers. Thus the Romantic movement was inherently antiprogress. antiquities.”). and mad folk. majestic mountains. and the possibility of achieving a better world. Their pictures of nature became livelier and more realistic. Coleridge. he had translated from the work of the ancient Gaelic bard called Ossian. Robert Burns. or experimenters. One of these ideas was that the simple. Mary Godwin's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) was one of the first feminist books in all literature. Many Englishmen hoped that the new democracies—France and the United States—would show the way for the rest of the world to follow. Robert. It was a group of ideas. The movement cannot be precisely defined. They loved to describe rural scenes. They believed in democracy. Thus Romanticism grew. were also intense social critics. composed an elaborate epic poem which. Godwin's An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) had a great influence on the Romantic poets Wordsworth. ruins. graveyards. (See also Burns. scorned the false pretensions of wealth and birth (“A man's a man for a' that. if progress meant industrialization. His rich humor can still be felt in Tam o' Shanter. They also liked to write poems and stories of such eerie or supernatural things as ghosts. In France a revolution of the common people began in 1789. His Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765) is the best source for the ballads of medieval England. a Scotsman.and equal opportunity. authors began to take an interest in old legends. fairies. To a Louse. These ideas had been well stated in the American Declaration of Independence.) Cowper had cried out against the inhumanity of slavery and political oppression. his sentimental songs are sung wherever young or old folks gather (Auld Lang Syne. and Shelley. he claimed. Pre-Romantic Writers Before the Romantic movement burst into full expression there were beginners. Another group of forerunners of Romanticism included the writers of stories of terror and imagination—the Gothic school of “spine chillers. a web of beliefs. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. and roaring waterfalls. humble life is best. James Macpherson. “noble savages. Because of this concern for nature and simple folk. haunted castles.” and rustic characters. a Scot whose love of nature and of freedom has seldom been surpassed. and The Cotter's Saturday Night. humanity. William Godwin and his wife. They acted through inspiration and intuition.” Representative novels are . Flow Gently Sweet Afton). No one Romantic writer expressed all these ideas. The Romanticists were emotional and imaginative. Along with democracy and individualism came other ideas.

Wordsworth found it in the realities of nature. ( See also Lamb. William. Ann. by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. by Horace Walpole. Chief among these “insane” ideas was his devotion to freedom and universal love. And everything else is still. by Ann Radcliffe. who was poet laureate of .) Among the lesser Romantic figures was Robert Southey. Pride and Prejudice (1813) is her best-known work. A city man. he showed how a person could live happily among his books by his own fireside. Between 1814 and 1832 Scott wrote 32 novels.) Charles Lamb.) Jane Austen. And laughing is heard on the hill. haunting supernaturalism of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) and Christabel (1816) have universal and irresistible appeal.) Interest in the past and in people and a love of rugged scenery are found in the works of Sir Walter Scott. He was interested in children and animals—the most innocent of God's creatures. They include Guy Mannering (1815) and Ivanhoe (1819). The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794). by Matthew Gregory Lewis.The Castle of Otranto (1764). a gifted writer of realistic novels. and The Monk (1796). a schoolmate of Coleridge's. (See also Wordsworth. Mary Wollstonecraft. for the most part had little of the serious quality that one sees in the authors of Lyrical Ballads. In Tales from Shakespear (1807). William). Certainly no one has put more wonder and mystery into beautiful melodic verse than did Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge found beauty in the unreal. Walpole family. (See also Scott. Lyrical Ballads (1798). Matthew Gregory. All these novels are filled with the machinery of sensationalism—unreal characters. (See also Lewis. Jane. which sounded the new note in poetry. As he wrote in Songs of Innocence (1789): When the voices of children are heard on the green. Many of his conservative contemporaries thought him insane because his ideas were so unusual. From nature Wordsworth learned that life may be a continuous development toward goodness. but he also illustrated and printed them. Charles. He believed that if people heed the lessons of nature they will grow in character and moral worth. Walter. He not only wrote books. Samuel Taylor. supernatural events. This book really signalled the beginning of English Romanticism. The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) and The Lady of the Lake (1810) are representative of Scott's poems.) The First Great Romanticists William Blake was both poet and artist (see Blake. nor was he an ardent lover of nature. he and his sister Mary rewrote many of Shakespeare's plays into stories for children. His best-known essay is the playful Dissertation on Roast Pig (1822).) A close friend of Coleridge's for many years was William Wordsworth. These qualities reached a fever pitch in Frankenstein (1818). (See also Coleridge. The strange. had difficulty finding a publisher for her skillfully drawn portraits of English middle-class people. and overripe imagination. My heart is at rest within my breast. Together they brought out a volume of verse. Shelley. (See also Austen. Radcliffe.

George Gordon Byron was an outspoken critic of the evils of his time. conservative family. Many great changes took place in the first half of the 19th century. however. Other Romanticists who deserve mention are Leigh Hunt. .” ( See also De Quincey.) John Keats was a greater poet than either Byron or Shelley ( see Keats. Thomas. earned his way by lecturing and by writing for critical magazines. Much of his work is satire. 1819). 1814. 1819. ( See also Byron. however. Others are exquisitely lyrical and beautiful ( The Cloud. and Thomas De Quincey. bitterly contemptuous of human foibles (Don Juan. ought to be better known for his useful distinction between the “literature of knowledge” and the “literature of power. however. (See also Shelley.) English Literature of the Victorian Age The literature written during Queen Victoria's reign (1837–1901) has been given the name Victorian. Ode to the West Wind). and poetic dramas flowed from his pen in the last four years of his life. He believed that true happiness was to be found in art and natural beauty ( Ode on a Grecian Urn. Moore. His verses are lively testimony to the truth of his words in Endymion (1818): A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases. ranks among the greatest elegies. about wild and impetuous persons. He hoped for human perfection. Ode to a Nightingale. 1817. on the other hand. brought him success. songs. His narrative poems (The Corsair. Sonnets. 1820). De Quincey. An industrious writer.) Percy Bysshe Shelley was the black sheep of a well-to-do. If All Those Endearing Young Charms is still a favorite of vocal groups. quickly and noisily took up the cry for liberty and justice. Hunt. 1819–24). Intellectual rebellions. Thomas Moore. he earned his living solely by his pen. his tribute to Keats. Adonais (1821).England and author of The Story of the Three Bears and The Battle of Blenheim. (See also Hazlitt. Byron influenced the youth of his day more than any other Romanticist. Leigh. William Hazlitt. would have been the same with or without Queen Victoria. it will never Pass into nothingness. such as The Edinburgh Review. known best for his Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1822). 1819). Many of these works are profound and meditative ( Prometheus Unbound. To a Skylark. such as those of Byron and Shelley. Thomas. Percy Bysshe. The basic characteristics of the period. He was a skilled versifier with a remarkable ear for rhythms. They no longer supported radical causes or championed the oppressed. Robert. Lord. 1821). but his recognition of man's faults led him frequently to despair and disillusionment (Manfred. whose Believe Me. The younger Romantic writers. Southey. whose Abou Ben Adhem continues to be a favorite. “Byronism” was a mood adopted by thousands of young men. John). Cain. William.) The Younger Romanticists By 1812 the older generation of Romanticists had grown conservative. Mazeppa.

) For those who have seen Rudolph Besier's modern play The Barretts of Wimpole Street. Literature. would bring freedom from despair. each of the Arthurian tales in Idylls of the King brings the reader a wealth of beauty and experience. Often individuals had to choose between ideals and material gain. Freedom had to be guarded zealously. His narrative skill makes many of his poems interesting just as stories. Much of Tennyson's poetry. however. would not come by itself—it had to be earned. was first to find what one could do. Alfred.gave place to balance and adjustment.) Major Victorian Poets Poets shifted from the extremely personal expression (or subjectivism) of the Romantic writers to an objective surveying of the problems of human life. then to give all one's energies to it. His life spanned the years of Romantic excitement and Victorian achievement. Much Victorian poetry was put to the service of society. In Memoriam (1850). and Maud (1855) deal with conflicting scientific and social ideas. and Arnold especially reflect this change. said some. Thomas. but science also created doubts. Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote the most exquisite love poems of her time in Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850). More and more people were gaining comfort and prosperity. Carlyle thoroughly repudiated the Romanticists. Great Britain changed from a provincial nation to a worldwide empire. (See also Tennyson. The theory of evolution gave new insight into the biological sciences. undernourished. Progress. Science made rapid strides in the 19th century. There was a reemphasis—oftentimes stuffy and pompous—of moral and religious beliefs. Individualism began to be replaced by social and governmental restraints. Alfred Tennyson attempted to give direction to his readers. can be read without worrying about such problems. The effort of the moral will.” In Sartor Resartus (1833–34) he counseled that the way out of the “Everlasting Nay. Technical progress transformed Britain into a land of mechanical and industrial activity. and sick. The poems of Tennyson. For example. Lord. Locksley Hall (1842).” or negative denial. should show people how to be good. Would the spirit of man be destroyed by the machine? Would people become slaves to industry and the pursuit of wealth? Would art be replaced by skills and crafts? These were the questions that troubled England in the age of Queen Victoria. ( See also Carlyle. obviously. These lyrics were written secretly while she was being courted . Idylls of the King (1859) is a disguised study of current ethical and social conditions. To him the universe seemed the “living garment of God. many people in England were still poor—badly housed. Browning. Elizabeth and Robert Browning need no introduction. The Lady of Shalott and The Death of Oenone are pleasing tales to young readers. he said. Nevertheless. Old ideas of faith and religion were put to serious tests by the new attitudes brought about by scientific progress. This progress brought its problems. The transition from the late Romantic to the Victorian period is best understood in the figure of Thomas Carlyle.

) The poetry of Matthew Arnold is marked by an intense seriousness and classic restraint. Fra Lippo Lippi (1855). The poem was originally written by Omar. by his sister Christina Georgina Rossetti. and he dedicated the rest of his life to the attempt to bring a love of workmanship back into the English workingman's life. My Last Duchess (1842). rebelled against the sentimental and the commonplace. (See also Arnold. Morris dealt with one of the leaders of the 14th-century revolt of Wat Tyler.) The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood The Pre-Raphaelites. and Andrea del Sarto (1855) are excellent examples. Their poems are full of mystery and pictorial language. Prospice. Matthew. William.) Arnold's somber and disillusioned poem Empedocles on Etna (1852) was characteristic of the poetry dealing with the conflict between religion and science. Goblin Market (1862). (See also Browning. (See also Morris. 1867) are profound and moving. Elizabeth Barrett. A much more popular poem on the same theme was the free translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (1859). by Edward FitzGerald. Edward. In The Dream of John Ball (1888). This activity took two forms: the promotion of the crafts through such organizations as the Kelmscott Press and the promotion of the worker's happiness through guild socialism. Sohrab and Rustum (1853) is a fine blank-verse narrative. The stirring rhythm of How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix (1845) and the simple wonder of The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1842) endear Browning to readers. His Blessed Damozel (1850) and Sister Helen (1870) are typical of this highly sensuous verse. FitzGerald claimed that the only course of action left to the man whose religious ideals had been destroyed by science was self-indulgence. The Earthly Paradise (1868–70) is a series of tales linked by the same device used in The Canterbury Tales.) William Morris also was interested in both painting and poetry. His expressions of personal faith have inspired thousands of readers (Epilogue to Asolando. Swinburne wrote many verse dramas on classical and historical subjects . (See also Rossetti family. His interest in handicrafts grew into a philosophy of art.) Another poet closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites was Algernon Charles Swinburne. Rabbi Ben Ezra. His elegiac poems on the death of his father.) Robert Browning is best remembered for his dramatic monologues. he drove his ideas home with clarity and force. Dr. a Persian astronomer. a prose romance. and of his friend Arthur Hugh Clough (Thyrsis. They wished to revive the artistic standards of the time before the Italian High Renaissance painter Raphael. 1864). 1864. (See also Browning. One member was Dante Gabriel Rossetti. As a critic. (See also FitzGerald. Robert. His interest in the problem of making people aware of higher values of life caused him to quit writing poetry and turn to critical prose. a group of painters and poets. The poetic drama Pippa Passes (1841) is one of his finest efforts. Thomas Arnold ( Rugby Chapel.by Robert Browning. 1889. 1867). is one of the most fanciful poems in the language.

however. (See also Dickens. as in The Pickwick Papers (1836– 37). written between 1876 and 1889. authors began to experiment with serialized fiction. Such was the beginning of Dickens' Sketches by Boz (1836) and of Thackeray's The Yellowplush Correspondence (1837–38). He was not a reformer. With the rise of the popular magazine. Charles. Instead. . 1881). Dowson. he attempted to see the whole of life. Soon they were writing novels. as Dickens was. Ernest. Many of his lyrics were criticized for their eroticism. Literature would be the poorer without Vanity Fair (1847–48) and its heroine. Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Emily's Wuthering Heights (both 1847). Francis. Even Sir Walter Scott. are powerful and intensely personal stories of the private lives of characters isolated from the rest of the world. ( See also Hopkins. a Jesuit priest.) There were other notable poets writing at the end of the century.) Victorian Novelists The English novel came of age in the Victorian period. The result was satire on manners. detached and critically. but in characterization and in the creation of moods he was outstanding. false optimism. (See also Davidson.) Later English novelists turned to the logical plot and the concept of a central theme. All his poetry is filled with rich. considered the craft of the novelist degrading and kept his authorship a secret. Anthony Trollope dealt with middle. especially. Ernest Dowson. By 1850 Dickens had become England's best-loved novelist. Gerard Manley. these attitudes toward the novel were to change. melodic effects.) The talents of William Makepeace Thackeray produced a different type of novel.) The direct opposite of Swinburne was Gerard Manley Hopkins. His poems. Algernon Charles. were appreciated by his close friends but were not published until 1918 because their unusual rhythm and metaphors were considered too strange to be accepted earlier. author of Fleet Street Eclogues (1893). partly because fiction had turned to horror and crude emotionalism and partly because of religious and moral objections to the reading of novels. and the pessimist John Davidson. author of The Hound of Heaven (1893). ( See also Thackeray. He disliked sham.) The novels of the Brontë sisters—Charlotte. In the Victorian period. naturally. and selfseeking. Emily. Becky Sharp. and Anne—have very little to do with the condition of society or the world in general.(Mary Stuart. and he was not moved to tearful sentiments by the world's unfortunates. There had been a decline in novel writing at the beginning of the century. Charles Dickens became a master of local color. John.and upper-class people interestingly. His imagery and metrical technique are quite modern. They included Francis Thompson. William Makepeace. (See also Brontë family. at first. hypocrisy. Few of his novels have convincing plots. and his subject matter is intensely religious.” (See also Swinburne. Some critics have said that his verse is all “sound and fury signifying nothing. Thompson. stupidity. who wrote Cynara (1896).

(See also Butler. and his essay on comedy and the comic spirit is a masterly interpretation of the function of comedy in literature. Anthony. The Moonstone (1868) is his best. For the average reader the brilliance of such novels as The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859) and The Egoist (1879) is obscured by the absence of plot and the subtleties of the language. from The Return of the Native (1878) to Jude the Obscure (1895). and witchcraft. it is based on the birth and boyhood of the Dutch scholar Erasmus. Charles. His hatred of the degrading effects of poverty is reflected in many of his novels. made with irony. and biological heritage. In Silas Marner (1861) and Middlemarch (1871–72) she used the novel to interpret life.) George Gissing was greatly influenced by Dickens. Meredith was also a poet of merit.and wittily (Orley Farm. intrigue. (See also Gissing. (See also Collins. the imaginary journal of a retired writer who lives in happy solitude in the country amid his beloved books (as Gissing always wished that he could do). The point of the story. an ardent critic of the social abuses of his day. Samuel.) Charles Reade was. is that the family restrains the free development of the child. however. George Eliot was one of England's greatest women novelists. is a historical romance with a 15th-century setting. George. Thomas Hardy brought to fiction a philosophical attitude that resulted from the new science. 1862). Trollope. social convention. Butler wrote a novel about the relations of parents to children— The Way of All Flesh (1903). George. The Cloister and the Hearth (1861).) Birth of the Psychological Novel As biology and psychology advanced. ( See also Hardy. He believed that the more science studies the universe the less evidence is found for an intelligent guiding force behind it. The study of human character demanded the examination of motives and causes rather than the making of moral judgments.) Wilkie Collins was one of the earliest writers to build a novel wholly around an ingenious plot—the formula that is used in the modern mystery story. Filled with exciting incidents. ( See also Reade.) . To find the cause of action meant probing into the secrets of individual psychology.) Samuel Butler entered into the scientific controversies of his day. like Dickens. it became clear that human beings could no longer be shown simply as heroes and villains. Wilkie. George Meredith was one of the first to apply psychological methods to the analysis of his characters. His most famous novel. Thomas. what hope is there for humankind? In a series of great novels. Gissing's most successful book was The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (1903). Hardy sought to show how futile and senseless is humankind's struggle against the forces of natural environment. If there is just chance—meaningless blind force—in the universe. (See also Eliot. Holding that evolution is the result of the creative will rather than of chance selection.

was primarily interested in low melodrama and sentimental farce-comedy. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote stories in a light mood. Rudyard.Romance and Adventure Not all fiction of the late 19th century falls into the intellectual or scientific classification. Pinero. Kidnapped (1886). He glamorized the foreign service and satirized the English military and administrative classes in India. Jekyll and Mr. Shaw began to write drama as a protest against existing conditions—slums. however. Robert Louis. however. Henry Arthur. sex . however. These were closet dramas. also a poet and novelist. Many successful collaborations by these two followed. They were ready for satire. The first English dramatists to attempt the “new drama” were Henry Arthur Jones and Sir Arthur Wing Pinero. neither a cheap versifier nor a vulgar imperialist. Wilde. The stage. intellectual. Musical comedy achieved respectability when librettist William Gilbert teamed up with composer Arthur Sullivan in Trial by Jury (1875). Kipling also wrote delightful children's tales. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) combines fantasy and satire in an inimitable way to the immense satisfaction of old and young. could compare in wit and brilliance with two young contemporaries—Wilde and Shaw. They are important for their prefaces. Oscar. Arthur Wing. Several of Tennyson's plays were produced. The Jungle Books (1894. wrote several fine plays. Hyde (1886) are quite suited to adult tastes.) As was the case among readers of fiction. Lewis. ( See also Jones. As a short-story writer Stevenson ranks high. and for drama that was well constructed. some theatergoers matured. ( See also Gilbert and Sullivan. The Master of Ballantrae (1889). (See also Kipling. Soldiers Three (1888). and Captains Courageous (1897) has a treat in store. and socially significant works. for serious treatment of social problems.) 19th-Century Drama Drama did not flourish early in the 19th century. ( See also Carroll.) One of England's most popular writers was Rudyard Kipling. ( See also Stevenson. Whoever has not read Barrack Room Ballads (1892). David Balfour (1893) and The Strange Case of Dr. sizzling attacks on Victorian prejudices and attitudes. In light verse and in the informal essay Stevenson was unusually successful. intended for reading rather than for staging.) The plays of George Bernard Shaw read even better than they act. His Importance of Being Earnest (1895) is brittle in its humor and clever in its dialogue and is probably the best of his dramas. Oscar Wilde. From the Continent came realistic. Neither. His novels of adventure are exciting and delightful: Treasure Island (1883).) Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) belongs in a category by himself. 1895). and Shelley and Byron both wrote verse dramas. He was. Romantic poetry had its dramatic phases. He stirred the emotions of the empire lovers. Stevenson also wrote for adults.

war. however. Although it is often inaccurate. Psychologists explored the mind and advanced varied and conflicting theories about it.) Modern English Literature The growth of science and technology in the 19th century had held forth the promise of a new and richer life. in Marius the Epicurean (1885). It held that art could have no ethical content. there were changes in literary taste and forms.) Of those who wrote about aesthetic matters. ( See also Mill. Thomas Babington Macaulay is known for his History of England (1848–61). (See also Newman. Walter. Literature became pessimistic . Religious controls and social conventions again were challenged. Controversial ideas and Shaw productions came to be synonymous. Ruskin and Pater are best remembered. Shaw had the longest career of any writer who ever lived. He studied architecture and wrote The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849). and educational criticism was the field of John Henry Cardinal Newman. ( See also Ruskin. George Bernard.) John Stuart Mill dealt with political and economic problems. He began in the Victorian Age and wrote until 1950. He became a reformer. Thomas. Not until after 1900 did the Shavian wit achieve acceptance on the stage. His essay On Liberty (1859) was the most important discussion of that subject since Milton's time.hypocrisy. ( See also Macaulay. religious. (See also Pater. and his Apologia pro Vita Sua (1864) is a fine autobiography. censorship. People began to talk of the “machine age” and to ask whether it was wholly good.) Walter Pater. John Henry.) Social. John Stuart. and pictorial. John. it represented a new concept of historical writing: history must be detailed. Human behavior was no longer easily explainable. it became increasingly difficult to find order or pattern in life. chiefly in criticism and history. Naturally. Ruskin's ideas on art were at odds with social conditions. devoting his writing to social and economic problems. His essays on liberal education are especially important. With new inventions upsetting old ways.) Essayists and Historians There are other great names in Victorian literature. developed a theory of beauty that ignored the social situation. Shaw wrote their now-famous prefaces. ( See also Shaw. that what people did with their discoveries and their newly found mechanical power would depend upon their ability to master themselves. John Ruskin made his first bid for fame in Modern Painters (1843–60). Old values were replaced by new values or were lost. It became clear. Because his plays were not well received (often they were not even allowed to be presented). Could humankind trust science to bring about a better life? Other developments began to influence thought. The new sciences of anthropology and sociology contributed to the upheaval of ideas. vivid. that it must be a matter of personal ecstasy.

a satire on commercial advertising.M. is probably the most entertaining. who served as governor-general of Canada. John. egoism.) Arnold Bennett was a literary experimenter who was drawn chiefly to realism. the slice-of-life approach to fiction. Tono-Bungay (1909). The scenes. Moreau (1896). Hudson will long be remembered for Green Mansions (1904). He employed the usual subjects of the poet but brought strange rhythms and unusual music to his verse. psychological. A Passage to India (1924) is a splendid novel of Englishmen in India. The Old Wives' Tale (1908) and Clayhanger (1910) are novels of people in drab surroundings. Housman . 1901–10. The Island of Dr. are exotic and exciting. surpassed his skill as a novelist.) The naturalist W. John Galsworthy turned to the social life of an upper-class English family in The Forsyte Saga (1922). Early 20th-Century Prose Before 1914 the post-Victorian writers were in the unhappy position of looking back at a well-marked literary road and looking ahead at a pathless jungle. ( See also Wells. or vanity. Arnold. Wells were science fiction— The Time Machine (1895).H.G.M. ( See also Hudson. Of his many books criticizing the middle-class life of England. John.) John Buchan. wrote exciting novels of adventure and mystery. ( See also Bennett. (See also Buchan. They had to grapple with new forces—sociological. Galsworthy also wrote serious social plays. E. Joseph. The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) is perhaps his best-known work. The characters are strange people beset by obsessions of cowardice. Then he turned to social and political subj ects. (See also Forster. William Henry. chiefly of a wild and turbulent sea. ( See also Conrad. and scientific—because these forces were a part of their lives.) A master of the traditional plot was E. They were writers in transition.E.) The first works of H.G. Forster. Robert Bridges experimented in verse forms.) Out of his years as a merchant-marine officer Joseph Conrad wrote such remarkable novels as The Nigger of the Narcissus (1898) and Lord Jim (1900). a series of novels that records the changing values of such a family. Hudson's skill as a nature writer. however.) Early 20th-Century Poetry The poetry of the Edwardian and Georgian periods (Edward VII. George V. His characters are ordinary persons out of middle-class life. (See also Galsworthy. The War of the Worlds (1898). They are moved by accident because they do not know how to choose a course of action. a fanciful romance of the South American jungles. The poet A.and experimental. H. including Strife (1909) and Justice (1910). 1910–36) showed many new and unusual characteristics.

Peacock Pie (1913) is representative of his verse. Somerset. His descriptions of sea and land and of brutal people are powerfully realistic. As a novelist and teller of tales. Siegfried. ( See also Barrie. John. Rupert Brooke. both survivors of the carnage. continues the examination of the character without roots. Rupert. and continuing through Peter Pan (1904) and Dear Brutus (1917). The Moon and Sixpence (1919). who died during the war. and are untrue. contorted development of a single character or a group of related characters. (See also Bridges. It brought discontent and disillusionment. left violent accounts of the horrors and terror of war. the story of a painter among unsympathetic seamen. people struggle without hope or purpose. boys and girls laugh. World War I left its record in literature.) . Robert. William Butler. love. the Irish writers were looking to their own country for literary inspiration. John Millington Synge. Siegfried Sassoon and Edmund Blunden.) Impact of World War I World War I cut forever the ties with the past. was far more realistic about the heroism and idealism of the soldier. Walter. In his Shropshire Lad (1896) nature is unkind. (See also Yeats. All were dramatists and all helped found the famous Abbey Theatre. Wilfred Owen. and Dauber (1912). W. in which a butler becomes a Swiss Family Robinson character. ( See also Maugham. Cakes and Ale (1930) shows how the real self is lost between the two masks—public and private—that every person wears. Irish Literature.) Sir James M. has been idealized for what is actually a rather thin performance in poetry. Of Human Bondage (1915) portrays a character who drifts. and Lord Dunsany worked vigorously for the Irish cause. for an audience that was tired of adult viewpoints. Humankind was plunged into gloom at the knowledge that “progress” had not saved the world from war.) A different sort of poet from his contemporaries was Walter de la Mare. will please the most masculine mind.) John Masefield stressed the bold and the violent in his poetry. Housman. Fiction ceased to be concerned with a plot or a forward-moving narrative. The Everlasting Mercy (1911). A.) In fiction there was a shift from novels of the human comedy to novels of characters. ( See also Brooke. containing a Homeric prizefight. based on the life of the artist Paul Gauguin. Barrie was probably the greatest master of the romantic-fantasy drama of the period.E. Of these writers William Somerset Maugham achieved the greatest popular success.was an anti-Victorian who echoed the pessimism found in Hardy.) Intensely nationalistic. De la Mare was a supernaturalist who believed in the reality of evil as well as of good. ( See also Masefield. Beginning with The Admirable Crichton (1903). Barrie wrote of life as seen by children. Sassoon. William Butler Yeats. (See also De la Mare. James M. The wonder and fancy of the child's world and the fantasy of the world of the supernatural were his to command. also a war casualty. Instead it followed the twisted.

They were. He found it false. language. To him language was the means by which the inner. Dorothy M. Aldous. Whereas “civilized” people try to control their spoken language. D. a technique that has been employed in much contemporary literature. rhythm. Of this group Stephen Spender. Woolf. for both reader and characters. or consciousness. Katherine Mansfield.) British Poetry After World War I Poetry.H.) Joyce's stream-of-consciousness technique was refined by Virginia Woolf. he would have the secret of humankind's nature. was banned in some countries but has nevertheless greatly influenced modern fiction. This tragic. Each of them experimented with rhyme. Life. their earliest literary influences came to them in the countries of their birth. heroic search is reflected in his curious novels about the secret sources of human life. If one could capture this free flow of language in writing. like fiction. reality. and After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1939).S. Thus was born stream of consciousness.) James Joyce was searching for the secret places in which the real self is hidden. Aldous Huxley worked with the external world. Hence Auden is usually considered an English poet and Eliot an American.H. Elizabeth. feelings gained expression.H. in Carlyle's phrase. W. “yea-sayers” rather than cursers and complainers of life. C. The records of his search and torment are his great novels Sons and Lovers (1913) and Women in Love (1920). In Point Counter Point (1928). (See also Auden. is a stream. James.. ( See also Joyce. and inhuman. Although Eliot was an American who became a British citizen and Auden an Englishman who became an American. rambling account of 24 hours in the lives of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. and W. T. Dorothy M. Louis MacNeice. or subconscious. Virginia. Day-Lewis. Mansfield. He believed he had found the way to it through human vocal language. ( See also Huxley..The writer D. The leader of the new school was T. his cynicism reached its peak.S. In the 1930s one group of young poets arose who viewed the world with clearer eyes. Brave New World (1932). The result was an uneven poetry that more nearly represented the unevenness of life. symbolism. They had hope but little optimism. Katherine. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927) are among her best works. Ulysses (1922). shifted from traditional forms and moral pronouncements to experimental verse and new techniques. is immersion in the flow of that stream. like the stream-of-consciousness novelists. Lawrence was a man trying to find himself.H. and Elizabeth Bowen also wrote fiction of this type. brutal. William Empson and Dylan Thomas. an American who became a British citizen ( see Eliot. “natural” people let their language flow freely. (See also Lawrence.) While these writers were concerned with the realities of the mind. Eliot. ( See also Bowen. Richardson. American Literature). imagery.) Another group of poets. Mrs. sought to escape from the world of ideas and problems. and allusion. For her. Richardson. he believed. Auden were the most effective. a vast. . trying to be reborn.

C. As a novelist he will be best remembered for his series entitled collectively Strangers and Brothers.. A Burnt-Out Case (1961). His best-known nonfiction work is The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959) in which he argues that people working in the arts and the sciences know very little of each other's work. William. came after the war.S. Evelyn.for example. turned many of the already established writers toward traditional values. Sitwell. and The Paper Men (1983). Robert. with the powerful anti-Communist satire Animal Farm (1945). This story tells of a group of schoolboys isolated on an island who revert to savagery. (See also Eliot. and Monsignor Quixote (1982).P. ( See also Graves. (See also Golding.S. therefore. and Graham Greene turned increasingly to Christianity. Greene. ending in World War II. T. William Golding was one of the most significant postwar novelists. however. The postwar threat of the spread of Communism brought to attention the dangers to individual freedoms in a totalitarian state.) George Orwell published several books before the war. another of the older generation of writers. Of these. Thomas. only Greene lived to have a career that endured into the 1980s. It is an imaginative interpretation of the religious theme of original sin. Among his better-known later novels are The Quiet American (1955). Among Golding's later books are Pincher Martin (1956). Under the Volcano. Graham. Dylan. The terrible fact of the atom bomb's existence shook their sense of stability.) Malcolm Lowry. (See also Snow. Edith. Edith Sitwell. Published from 1940 to 1970. was Lord of the Flies (1954). (See also Orwell. He is perhaps better known for his novels and studies of myths. William. T. Theirs was a literature filled with vivid imagery.) C. To them. including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) and Homage to Catalonia (1938).P. Eliot. (See also Empson. in 1947. His greatest renown. the irrelevant. published his finest work. and the one for which he will probably be best remembered. communication between them is almost impossible.) Literature After World War II World War II had an even more profound impact than World War I on people's ideas about themselves and their place in the universe.) The turbulent 1930s. Our Man in Havana (1958). the novels are about the public and private life of a man named Lewis Eliot. Robert Graves advocated “pure” impersonal poetry.) As poet and critic. Evelyn Waugh. Golding was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1983. This was followed in 1949 with his attack on totalitarianism entitled Nineteen EightyFour. Now considered one of the major modern English . Waugh. precision represented a departed world and today's chaos is better portrayed through the confused. His first novel. George. found their inner chaos best expressed in ambiguity. and the inexact. The books are noted for their careful analysis of bureaucracy and the corrupting influences of power. The Human Factor (1978). Snow was both a scientist and a novelist. Rites of Passage (1980).

attempting to put the writer's talent in the service of society. ( See also Powell. Earthly Powers (1980). but much of it was made notable by the appearance of a new breed of writers called the Angry Young Men. These novels are a satiric survey of British society from the 1920s through the 1960s as portrayed in the lives of a group of young men. and the drabness of working-class life. Anthony. Anthony. author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958). moral earnestness. and in Lucky Jim (1953) by Kingsley Amis. and touches of the bizarre. who rises from a lower-class background only to find all the positions at the top of the social ladder filled. (See also Lowry. His first novel. Anthony Burgess. Other novelists in this tradition are Iris Murdoch. Angus Wilson. The trend of the period was crystallized in John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger (1956). Her books include Under the Net (1954). author of Room at the Top (1957). and Muriel Spark. A Dance to the Music of Time (1951–75). Osborne. and Girl. Although not all personally known to one another. A Clockwork Orange (1962) was both comic and violent. the Sea (1978). Take a Girl Like You (1960). The Red and the Green (1965). They strongly disapproved of the elitist universities.novels. Doris Lessing. His collection of short stories The Wrong Set (1949) portrays the emotional crisis of World War II.) While Amis was a realist. begins with Martha Quest (1952) and ends with a vision of the world after nuclear disaster in The Four-Gated . His other novels include Enderby Outside (1968). (See also Amis.) Doris Lessing wrote novels dealing with people caught up in social and political turmoil. Wilson took as his subject the crisis of the educated British middle class after World War I. John. 20 (1971).) Amis is considered by many to be the best of the writers to emerge from the 1950s. Burgess was a novelist whose fictional exploration of modern dilemmas combines wit. The social discontent he expressed made Lucky Jim a household name in England.) Anthony Powell published five novels prior to the war. a series of five novels. It is the story of Jim Dixon. Most of these were of lower middle-class or working-class backgrounds. Alan. and Nuns and Soldiers (1980). His The Old Devils (1986) won the Booker Prize. (See also Burgess. (See also Braine. the story depicts the nightmarish world of an alcoholic Englishman living in Mexico. he was also a humanist.) The literature of the 1950s was as varied as at any time. but none was as interesting or well done as his 12-novel series. and the playwrights Bernard Kops and Arnold Wesker. The Sea. His 1984 novel Stanley and the Women was virulently antifeminist. Kingsley. John. The End of the World News (1983). is considered among his best. and The Kingdom of the Wicked (1985). Hemlock and After (1952). Later novels include That Uncertain Feeling (1955). Malcolm. Her Children of Violence. but it had been evident earlier in the writings of John Wain. the Church of England. they had in common an outspoken irreverence for the British class system and the pretensions of the aristocracy. Alan Sillitoe. Sillitoe. author of Hurry on Down (1953). Other writers of the generation included John Braine. By the late 1950s Murdoch had gained recognition as one of the foremost novelists of the generation.

1450 by the inhabitants of the British Isles. Thomas and Midnight's Children (1981) by Salman Rushdie. and R. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters (1989). Philip. Elaine Feinstein.M. it was during the 15th cent.) After 1975 there were several intentionally experimental novels such as The White Hotel (1981) by D. Ted Hughes. London Fields (1989). Julian Barnes wrote Flaubert's Parrot (1984). Doris. Elizabeth Jennings. Other significant poets to emerge after World War II included Jon Silkin. Anglo-Saxon literature . Ted. ( See also Hughes. literature written in English since c.) The Nobel-prizewinning Irish poet Seamus Heaney. For the literature of previous linguistic periods. The poets who made the greatest impression were those firmly rooted in Western values who preferred clarity to clever obscurity. Anita Brookner wrote carefully crafted and unpretentious fiction in A Start in Life (1981) and Hotel du Lac (1984). His novels included The Rachel Papers (1973). (See also Spark. English Literature English literature. Donald Davie. Her later books were of a sinister nature.City (1969). and The Porcupine (1992). the son of Kingsley Amis. were characterized by a humorous fantasy.S. that the English language acquired much of its modern form. Seamus). Charles Tomlinson. Muriel. British poetry was as diverse as the rest of the literature in the postwar era. Rushdie's later novel The Satanic Verses (1988) prompted Iran's AyatollahKhomeini to issue a death threat against the author. and The Information (1995). including The Mandelbaum Gate (1965). who spent his formative years amid the murderous divisiveness of Northern Ireland.) Muriel Spark's early novels. including The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960) and The Girls of Slender Means (1963). because the book was considered blasphemous by Muslims. But the more traditional literature persisted in popularity. She was also acclaimed for her mastery of the short story. Larkin. The novelist Kingsley Amis also belongs to the group of better poets. The Driver's Seat (1970). The outstanding ones were Thom Gunn. A later generation of satirical writers included Martin Amis. and Philip Larkin. ( See also Lessing. wrote poetry particularly distinguished by its bringing together of opposites ( see Heaney. Her best-known works are Memento Mori (1959) and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961). and Not to Disturb (1971). Money (1984). Thomas. She blended religious thought and sexual comedy in The Only Problem (1984). Geoffrey Hill.

the repeated use of the phrases whale-road for sea and twilight-spoiler . although affecting in themselves. mainly celebrate great heroism in the face of overwhelming odds. and other poems. The Battle of Maldon. The Seafarer. It is thus the nearest we can come to the oral pagan literature of Germanic culture. Cynewulf. However. The epic celebrates the hero's fearless and bloody struggles against monsters and extols courage. there is no lyric poetry in Old English. In these works. The elegiac theme. the most dramatic of which is probably Genesis B. who also records a few lines of his poetry—is the earliest known English poet. gnomic poetry. which are all based on historical episodes.Anglo-Saxon literature. The version of Beowulf that is extant was composed by a Christian poet. a complete epic..g. court poets known as scops were the bearers of tribal history and tradition. and other Christian and heroic verse. Poetry There are two types of Old English poetry: the heroic. and The Battle of Brunanburh . the names of two authors are known. and thus is of particular historic and linguistic interest.650 and c. Lines are conventionally end-stopped and unrhymed. and The Fates of the Apostles. intermittent Christian themes found in the epic.1100. often a metaphorical compound. Beowulf. is the oldest surviving Germanic epic as well as the longest and most important poem in Old English. e. used as a synonym for a simple noun. history. Juliana. the sources of which are pre-Christian Germanic myth. the first known example of the dream vision. and is also of inestimable value as a source of knowledge about many aspects of Germanic society. Moreover. The Finnsburgh fragment. is central to Deor. a strong undercurrent in Beowulf. a later poet. The form lends itself to narrative. all of which is anonymous. Although the body of his work has been lost. Much of the Old English Christian poetry is marked by the simple belief of a relatively unsophisticated Christianity. In this heroic poetry. The 7th-century work known as Widsith is one of the earliest Old English poems. the school of Cædmon is responsible for poetic narrative versions of biblical stories. honor. The verse form for Old English poetry is an alliterative line of four stressed syllables and an unfixed number of unstressed syllables broken by a caesura and arranged in one of several patterns. Cædmon—whose story is charmingly told by the Venerable Bede. A stylistic feature in this heroic poetry is the kenning. signed the poems Elene. and custom. greatness is measured less by victory than by perfect loyalty and courage in extremity. pagan in origin). a figurative phrase. probably early in the 8th cent. The Wanderer. charms (magic cures. The finest poem of the school of Cynewulf is The Dream of the Rood. Old English heroic poetry is the earliest extant in all of Germanic literature. no more is known of him. a genre later popular in Middle English literature. Other Old English poems include various riddles. composed between c. Although nearly all Old English poetry is preserved in only four manuscripts—indicating that what has survived is not necessarily the best or most representative—much of it is of high literary quality. are not integrated into the essentially pagan tale. and the Christian. saints' lives. and loyalty as the chief virtues in a world of brutal force. a happy past is contrasted with a precarious and desolate present. the literary writings in Old English . It originated as a pagan saga transmitted orally from one generation to the next.

By the mid-14th cent. is unquestionably English. and his contemporary Wulfstan. Anglo-Saxon fragmented into several dialects and gradually evolved into Middle English. A great deal of Latin prose and poetry was written during the Anglo-Saxon period. He also encouraged writing in the vernacular. But the native tradition survived. The Orrmulum (c. strictly monastic and didactic. Two preeminent Old English prose writers were Ælfric.. the owl.) set a standard for homiletics.1500. is of linguistic and prosodic rather than literary interest. was general in Europe at this time. vernacular literature is extant. Didactic. moreover. in the poem. and informative prose was written. Abbot of Eynsham. probably begun in Alfred's time as an historical record. Alfred translated or had translated the most important Latin texts. Background The Norman conquest of England in 1066 traditionally signifies the beginning of 200 years of the domination of French in English letters. which. Archbishop of York. despite an admixture of French. and the nightingale. Prose was written in Latin before the reign of King Alfred (reigned 871–99). As hardly anyone could read Latin. . a verse translation of parts of the Gospels.for dragon Prose Old English literary prose dates from the latter part of the Anglo-Saxon period. and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. charmingly debate the virtues of their respective ways of life. devotional. The Owl and the Nightingale (see separate article) is the first example in English of the débat. English literature of the medieval period.1100 to c. who worked to revitalize English culture after the devastating Danish invasions ended. it provides an excellent record of the founding and early development of the church in England and reflects the introduction and early influence there of Latin-European culture. French language and culture replaced English in polite court society and had lasting effects on English culture. Their sermons (written in the late 10th or early 11th cent. a free and amorous secular spirit. French cultural dominance. since most of it was transmitted orally. Middle English had become the literary as well as the spoken language of England.1200). and even less 12th-century. The Early Period Several poems in early Middle English are extant. c. continued for over three centuries. a popular continental form. Of historic as well as literary interest. Of approximately the same date. Middle English literature Middle English literature. although little 13th-century.

The Ancren Riwle (c. together with its elaborate manners and rituals. it was very popular. includes some of the best poetry in Middle English. Original English romances based upon indigenous material include King Horn and Havelok the Dane.. retells human history (i. marks the first appearance of Arthurian matter in English. A 15. Layamon's Brut. and it greatly influenced the prose of the 13th and 14th cent. is also of high literary sophistication. The Fourteenth Century The poetry of the alliterative revival . the legends of ancient Greece and Rome. among them the fabliau. an important continental narrative verse form. adventure and feats of courage were pursued for the sake of the knight's lady rather than for the sake of the hero's honor or the glory of his tribal king. and the cursor mundi. Lyrics continued popular in the 15th cent. The fact that there was no French prose tradition was very important to the preservation of the English prose tradition. A number of 13th-century secular and religious Middle English lyrics are extant. was introduced in England. which had a strong impact on English literature. vividness. the unexplained reemergence of the Anglo-Saxon verse form in the 14th cent. Continental verse forms based on metrics and rhyme replaced the Anglo-Saxon alliterative line in Middle English poetry (with the important exception of the 14th-century alliterative revival). In the 13th cent.. such as the ubi sunt. which derived from classical literature. is exemplified by the Roman de la Rose. the exemplum.The Thirteenth Century Middle English prose of the 13th cent. Ideals of courtly love. is typical. or moral tale. Medieval works of literature often center on a popular rhetorical figure.. the lyric reached its fullest flower during the second half of the 14th cent. which remarks on the inevitability—and sadness—of change. and the British legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.000-line 13th-century English poem. didactic. In England French romances popularized ideas of adventure and heroism quite contrary to those of Anglo-Saxon heroic literature and were representative of wholly different values and tastes. from which time the ballad also dates. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. but like Middle English literature in general. Many French literary forms also became popular. However. replaced those of the heroic code. The Christian allegory The Pearl is a poem of great intricacy and sensibility that is meaningful on several symbolic levels. The “Katherine Group” (c. the romance. The continental allegorical tradition. Other important alliterative poems . and death. the medieval version—biblical plus classical story) from the point of view its title implies. and directed toward ordinary people rather than polite society. both 13th-century works that retain elements of the AngloSaxon heroic tradition.1200) is a manual for prospective anchoresses. a late 13th-century metrical romance (a translation from the French). were far more influential than their English counterparts.1200).e. the animal fable. and the dream vision. including the exuberant Sumer Is Icumen In. comprising three saints' lives. and its intelligence. the Cursor Mundi. notably the Arthurian romances of Chrétien de Troyes. which harps on the vanity of human grandeur. loss. continued in the tradition of Anglo-Saxon prose— homiletic. and symbolic interest render it possibly the finest Arthurian poem in English. French romances. It drew from three rich sources of character and adventure: the legends of Charlemagne. by the same anonymous author.

a long cycle of short plays based upon biblical episodes. and the alliterative Morte Arthur. Of the many 15th-century imitators of Chaucer the best-known are John Lydgate and Thomas Hoccleve. and Sir Walter Raleigh were eagerly read. The energy of England's writers matched that of its mariners and merchants. This prose work. The early Tudor period. casts the Arthurian tales into coherent form and views them with an awareness that they represent a vanishing way of life. was anonymous. and Gawin Douglas. William Caxton introduced printing to England in 1475 and in 1485 printed Sir Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur. in addition to the otherworldly. Stronger political relationships with the Continent were also developed. Caxton's achievement encouraged writing of all kinds and also influenced the standardization of the English language. Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales are stories told each other by pilgrims—who comprise a very colorful cross section of 14th-century English society—on their way to the shrine at Canterbury. The Tudors and the Elizabethan Age The beginning of the Tudor dynasty coincided with the first dissemination of printed matter. The tales are cast into many different verse forms and genres and collectively explore virtually every significant medieval theme. concerns of people. originated in the 15th cent. was marked by a break with the Roman Catholic Church and a weakening of feudal ties. Other poets of the time include Stephen Hawes and Alexander Barclay and the Scots poets William Dunbar. combines medieval and Renaissance elements. attributed to William Langland. Overshadowed by Chaucer but of some note are the works of John Gower. due in part to the social dislocation caused by the prolonged Wars of the Roses. only nine years before the beginning of Henry VII's reign. Chaucer's wise and humane work also illuminates the full scope of medieval thought. The Fifteenth Century The 15th cent. . like nearly all English poetry until the mid-14th cent. which. Accounts by men such as Richard Hakluyt. Robert Henryson. Raphael Holinshed. The poetry of John Skelton. Humanism became the most important force in English literary and intellectual life. which is mostly satiric. The finest of the genre is Everyman. increasing England's exposure to Renaissance culture. The miracle play. is not distinguished in English letters. and others). The activities and literature of the Elizabethans reflected a new nationalism. The works of Geoffrey Chaucer mark the brilliant culmination of Middle English literature. William Caxton's press was established in 1476. was popular throughout the Middle Ages in England. both in its narrow sense—the study and imitation of the Latin classics—and in its broad sense—the affirmation of the secular. particularly the reign of Henry VIII. which expressed itself also in the works of chroniclers (John Stow.. which brought about a vast increase in the power of the monarchy. Samuel Purchas.are the moral allegory Piers Plowman. written in the twilight of chivalry. These forces produced during the reign (1558–1603) of Elizabeth I one of the most fruitful eras in literary history. an allegorical drama centering on the struggle for man's soul. The morality play.

Many others in a historical era when poetic talents were highly valued. all presented in a variety of literary styles. became models for English poets. diplomat. comedies. with Henry Howard. The ideal English Renaissance man was Sir Philip Sidney—scholar. and was. historian. famed for the highly artificial and much imitated prose work Euphues (1578). A myriad of new genres. During the late 16th and early 17th cent. fulfilled the promise of the Elizabethan age. courtier. Important late Tudor sonneteers include Spenser and Shakespeare. His unfinished epic poem The Faerie Queen (1596) is a treasure house of romance. explorer. courtier. and Protestant morality. the greatest dramatist of the group.1545) by Nicholas Udall and Gammer Gurton's Needle (c. Ralph Roister Doister (c. a seminal influence. Early Tudor drama owed much to both medieval morality plays and classical models. Neoplatonic ideas. A common goal of these poets was to make English as flexible a poetic instrument as Italian. critic. His best poetry is contained in the sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella (1591) and his Defence of Poesie is among the most important works of literary criticism in the tradition.historians. the first to write romantic comedy. spare poetry. who popularized neo-Senecan tragedy. and translators and even in political and religious tracts. Italian poetic forms. themes. poet. combining elements of classical Roman comedy with native burlesque. were skilled poets. Samuel Daniel. The poet who best synthesized the ideas and tendencies of the English Renaissance was Edmund Spenser. whose sophisticated plays set the course of Renaissance drama and paved the way for Shakespeare. especially the sonnet. George Gascoigne. and ideas were incorporated into English literature. and the Restoration Elizabethan literature generally reflects the exuberant self-confidence of a nation expanding its powers. the versatile Thomas Lodge and Thomas Nashe. hands. and Fulke Greville. adventure. William Shakespeare. allegory.. An ambitious and influential work was A Mirror for Magistrates (1559). Marlowe wrote in blank verse with a rhetorical brilliance and eloquence superbly equal to the demands of high drama. and he is universally regarded as the greatest dramatist and one of the greatest poets of all time. Michael Drayton. The Wits included John Lyly. Sir Thomas Wyatt was the most successful sonneteer among early Tudor poets. Cromwell. and Christopher Marlowe. often anonymous. and thus keeping at bay its serious social and religious . and soldier—who died in battle at the age of 32. increasing its wealth. Thomas Kyd. Robert Greene. drama flourished in England as never before or since. Focusing on heroes whose very greatness leads to their downfall.1552) are considered the first English comedies. earl of Surrey. and Edward de Vere. a historical verse narrative by several poets that updated the medieval view of history and the morals to be drawn from it. and soldier—who wrote strong. His history plays. earl of Oxford. Among the more prominent of this group were Thomas Churchyard. patriotism. More versatile even than Sidney was Sir Walter Raleigh— poet. It came of age with the work of the University Wits. of course. Tottel's Miscellany (1557) was the first and most popular of many collections of experimental poetry by different. The Jacobean Era. and tragedies set a standard never again equaled.

Among the leading prose writers of the Jacobean period were the translators who produced the classic King James Version of the Bible (1611) and the divines Lancelot Andrewes. and Richard Lovelace were lyricists in the elegant Jonsonian tradition. Still. the meditative religious poets Henry Vaughan and Thomas Traherne were also influenced by Donne. are regarded as the originators of two diverse poetic traditions—the Cavalier and the metaphysical (see Cavalier poets and metaphysical poets). The foremost poets of the Jacobean era. whose varied and dramatic works followed classical models and were enriched by his worldly. Jonson's for its classicism and urbane guidance of passion. The greatest of the Cavalier poets was the sensuously lyrical Robert Herrick. Like Burton. and. author of The Compleat Angler (1653). and darkest. the masters of comedy Thomas Dekker and Philip Massinger. The 17th cent. His satiric dramas. Cyril Tourneur. Although George Herbert and Donne were the principal metaphysical poets. including some of Shakespeare's greatest. and the moneyed interests. Ben Jonson and John Donne. virtually encyclopedic view of the moral and intellectual preoccupations of the 17th cent. The work of Francis Bacon helped shape philosophical and scientific method. Such other Cavaliers as Thomas Carew. and John Webster (the best poet of this grim genre). Thomas Hobbes wrote the most influential political treatise of the age. Thomas Middleton. of which he was a member) was also one of the greatest of all English poets. during the unstable reign of James I (1603–25). Sir Thomas Browne sought to reconcile the mysteries of religion with the newer mysteries of science. notably the great Volpone (1606). Jonson and Donne shared not only a common fund of literary resources. and the team of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. The dominant literary figure of James's reign was Ben Jonson. all take a cynical view of human nature. Also cynical were the horrific revenge tragedies of John Ford. as were Abraham Cowley and Richard Crashaw. plays. Drama continued to flourish until the closing of the theaters at the onset of the English Revolution in 1642.problems. was to be a time of great upheaval—revolution and regicide. Jacobean literature begins with the drama. the highly individual Andrew Marvell partook of the traditions of both Donne and Jonson. In Milton the literary and philosophical heritage of the Renaissance merged with . many excellent plays were written by men such as George Chapman. Novelty was in great demand. finally. and the possibilities of plot and genre were exploited almost to exhaustion. however. Although ranked with the metaphysical poets. landed Protestantism. and John Donne. Leviathan (1651). produced a number of graceful biographies of prominent writers. though their lyricism turned political during the English Revolution. Donne's poetry is distinctive for its passionate intellection. The Jacobean era's most fiery and eloquent author of political tracts (many in defense of Cromwell's government. John Milton. Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) offers a varied. Sir John Suckling. restoration of the monarchy. Jeremy Taylor. the victory of Parliament. peculiarly English wit. Izaak Walton. Disillusion and pessimism followed. His Paradise Lost (1667) is a Christian epic of encompassing scope. but also a dryness of wit and precision of expression.

Swift. is guided by a rational order. Another satiric poet of the period was Samuel Butler. remained vital. and Sir John Vanbrugh. reinforced the belief that everything. Lively and illuminating glimpses of Restoration manners and mores are provided by the diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. It generously fed the public's appetite for broad satire. Such dramatists as Sir George Etherege. The novels of Daniel Defoe. The 18th cent. and A Modest Proposal (1729). was the age of town life with its coffeehouses and clubs. both moral and stylistic. including human conduct. and a licentiousness that justified the worst Puritan imaginings. The most important Dissenting literary work was John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (1675). Moderation and common sense became intellectual values as well as standards of behavior. Thomas Shadwell. The brilliant prose satirist Jonathan Swift was not so sanguine. His greatest works are satirical narrative poems. John Dryden began as a playwright but became the foremost poet and critic of his time. With the restoration of the English monarchy in the person of Charles II. and William Congreve created superbly polished high comedy. an allegorical prose narrative that is considered a forerunner of the novel. One of the most famous of the latter was the Scriblerus Club. whose members included Pope. Middle-class tastes were reflected in the growth of periodicals and newspapers. His “savage indignation” resulted in devastating attacks on his age in A Tale of a Tub (1704). high style.Protestant political and moral conviction. Gulliver's Travels (1726). Its purpose was to defend and uphold high literary standards against the rising tide of middle-class values and tastes. the first modern novels in English. whose Hudibras (1663) satirizes Puritanism together with all the intellectual pretensions of the time. The lifting of Puritan restrictions and the reassembling of the court led to a relaxation of restraints. more generally. and master of the heroic couplet—was critical of human foibles but generally confident that order and happiness in human affairs were attainable if excesses were eschewed and rational dictates heeded. wit. Sparkling but not quite so brilliant were the plays of George Farquhar. the novel was to become the literary form most responsive to middle-class needs and interests. The new science of the time. the best of which were the Tatler and the Spectator produced by Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele. The Eighteenth Century The Glorious Revolution of 1688 firmly established a Protestant monarchy together with effective rule by Parliament. Restoration comedy reveals both the influence of French farce (the English court spent its exile in France) and of Jacobean comedy. in which prominent contemporary figures are unmistakably and devastatingly portrayed. literary tastes widened. Indeed. These values achieved their highest literary expression in the poetry of Alexander Pope. notably Absalom and Achitophel (1681). William Wycherley. Letters were a . Pope—neoclassicist. owe much to the techniques of journalism. Newtonian physics. During the Restoration Puritanism or. embodied in such figures as the Earl of Rochester. They also illustrate the virtues of merchant adventure vital to the rising middle class. the Dissenting tradition. and John Gay (author of The Beggar's Opera).

both typified and helped to form mid-18th-century views of life. a watershed in literary history. Swift. Tobias Smollett. began late in the 18th cent. fired by ideas of personal and political liberty and of the energy and sublimity of the natural world. Anticipations of romanticism can be seen in the odes of William Collins. the French Revolution and its aftermath had the strongest impact of all.popular form of polite literature. and letters make up the chief literary output of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Lord Chesterfield. whose Night Thoughts (1742) combined melancholy and Christian apologetics. Fanny Burney. folklore. chivalry. But Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan rose above the prevalent “weeping comedy”—whose sentimentalism infected every literary genre of the period—to achieve polished comedy in the Restoration tradition. Edmund Burke. northern antiquities. “Monk” Lewis. and these developed apace. and when the French failed to live up to expectations. David Garrick. in genuine language. the romantic vision had taken forms other than political. With the work of Richardson. These works catered to a growing interest in medievalism. The novels of Samuel Richardson. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge presented and illustrated a liberating aesthetic: poetry should express. Blake is unique: poet. Horace Walpole. and the Scots lyrics of Robert Burns. Probably the most celebrated literary circle in history was the one dominated by Samuel Johnson. and conduct. Charles Maturin. In prose fiction. It included Joshua Reynolds. Johnson. ballads. and James Boswell. In Lyrical Ballads (1798 and 1800). artist. literature. In England initial support for the Revolution was primarily utopian and idealist. and Thomas Gray were masters of the form. Among the prominent poets of the 18th cent. including the influential Clarissa (1747). also exploited in two masterpieces of forgery—the Ossian poems of James Macpherson and the “medieval” Rowley poems of Thomas Chatterton. Dr. Although the works of Jean Jacques Rousseau and William Godwin had great influence. The concept of the Sublime strengthened this turn to nature. Pope. and others. because in wild countrysides the power of the sublime could be felt most immediately. revolutionist. Henry Fielding. Oliver Goldsmith. artists and intellectuals sought to break the bonds of 18th-century convention. the first great romantic poet. the truest experience was to be found in nature. experience as filtered through personal emotion and imagination. However. The drama of the 18th cent. Anne Radcliffe. failed to match that of the Restoration. The work of William Blake. were James Thomson. and Edward Young. whose biography of Johnson is a classic of the genre. Wordsworth's romanticism is probably most fully realized in . who wrote in The Seasons (1726) of nature as it reflected the Newtonian concept of order and beauty. the poems of Thomas Gray. and Laurence Sterne the English novel flourished. most English intellectuals renounced the Revolution. departures from social realism are evident in the Gothic romances of Horace Walpole. artisan. The Romantic Period At the turn of the century. Other great master prose writers of the period were the historian Edward Gibbon and the philosopher David Hume. were written in epistolary form. and romance. who carried the arts of criticism and conversation to new heights. and visionary prophet.

Industry and commerce burgeoned. Coleridge proposed an influential theory of literature in his Biographia Literaria (1817). In Keats's great odes. Mary Wollstonecraft. irreverent. made the genre of the historical novel widely popular. particularly the rebellious. romantic poets wrote about the marvelous and supernatural. who never forsook political radicalism. and George Gordon. He has been continually identified with his own characters. her work defies classification. The romantic era was also rich in literary criticism and other nonfictional prose. Sir Walter Scott. wrote ground–breaking books on human. rights. wrote the greatest of the Gothic romances. The periodicals Edinburgh Review and Blackwood's Magazine. and the medieval. the exotic. an emphasis on public rectitude and moral propriety. But they also found beauty in the lives of simple rural people and aspects of the everyday world. were major forums of controversy. Shelley. Although the great novelist Jane Austen wrote during the romantic era. The intellectuals and artists of the age had to deal in some way with the upheavals in society. Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The social changes were so swift and brutal that Godwinian utopianism rapidly gave way to attempts either to justify the new economic and urban conditions. With insight. While the affluence of the middle class increased. the obvious inequities of abundance for a few and squalor for many. who combined soaring lyricism with an apocalyptic political vision. Lord Byron was the prototypical romantic hero. the envy and scandal of the age. Other novelists of the period were Maria Edgeworth. Byron invested the romantic lyric with a rationalist irony. lived ever more wretchedly. Minor romantic poets include Robert Southey—best-remembered today for his story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”—Leigh Hunt. Scottish nationalist and romantic. thrown off their land and into the cities to form the great urban working class. and Walter Savage Landor. His wife. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. William Godwin and his wife. grace. Lord Byron. wrote brilliant and astute literary criticism. Thomas Moore. and women's.his great autobiographical poem. whereas Thomas De Quincey was master of the personal confession. “The Prelude” (1805–50). the latter noted for his eccentric novels satirizing the romantics. erotically inclined Don Juan. In search of sublime moments. political as well as literary. The second generation of romantic poets included John Keats. emanating from the throne of Queen Victoria (1837–1901). The master of the personal essay was Charles Lamb. Frankenstein (1818). . and Thomas Love Peacock. sought more extreme effects and occasionally achieved them. and. in which leading writers were published throughout the century. or to change them. the lower classes. The Victorian Age The Reform Bill of 1832 gave the middle class the political power it needed to consolidate— and to hold—the economic position it had already achieved. and irony she delineated human relationships within the context of English country life. William Hazlitt. as in his great drama Prometheus Unbound (1820). intellectual and emotional sensibility merge in language of great power and beauty. Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Lord Tennyson. Lesser novelists of considerable merit include Benjamin Disraeli. full to overflowing with drama. The novels of George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) appeared during the 1860s and 70s. thickly plotted. Poetry The preeminent poet of the Victorian age was Alfred. It was the ideal form to describe contemporary life and to entertain the middle class. Wuthering Heights (1847). punishing midland county he called Wessex. and his poetry is also notable. nonetheless spare nothing in their portrayal of what urban life was like for all classes. George Gissing. Thomas Henry Huxley. is a unique masterpiece propelled by a vision of elemental passions but controlled by an uncompromising artistic sense. Although romantic in subject matter. produced the complex and sophisticated children's classics Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1871). the novel was considered not only the premier form of entertainment but also a primary means of analyzing and offering solutions to social and political problems. William Makepeace Thackeray is best known for Vanity Fair (1848). By the end of the period. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. his poetry was tempered by personal melancholy. especially Jane Eyre (1847) and Villette (1853). ecclesiastical. The great art historian and critic John Ruskin also concerned himself with social and economic problems. Cardinal Newman. and Robert Louis Stevenson.The Novel The Victorian era was the great age of the English novel—realistic. a master of his craft. which wickedly satirizes hypocrisy and greed. and long. a scientist and popularizer of Darwinian theory. writing under the name Lewis Carroll. the great liberal scholar and philosopher. The fine novels of Emily's sister Charlotte Brontë. and prophet whose rhetoric thundered through the age. The founders of Communism. philosophy. social critic. George Meredith produced comic novels noted for their psychological perception. humor. Matthew Arnold's theories of literature and culture laid the foundations for modern literary criticism. the historian. Nonfiction Among the Victorian masters of nonfiction were the great Whig historian Thomas Macaulay and Thomas Carlyle. Thomas Hardy's profoundly pessimistic novels are all set in the harsh. and an endless variety of vivid characters and plot complications. The novels of Charles Dickens. and Wilkie Collins. Emily Brontë's single novel. and education. Elizabeth Gaskell. are more rooted in convention. Influential thinkers included John Stuart Mill. in its mixture of social . and political life in England. researched and wrote their books in the free environment of England. famous for sequences of related novels that explore social. The mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. and John Henry. wrote arresting adventure fiction and children's verse. Eliot was concerned with ethical conflicts and social problems. crowded with characters. who wrote earnestly of religion. was the prolific Anthony Trollope. A woman of great erudition and moral fervor. Another novelist of the late 19th cent. Samuel Butler produced novels satirizing the Victorian ethos. but daring in their own ways.

largely under the aegis of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Dylan Thomas was Welsh.. Housman and Thomas Hardy. the so-called Pre-Raphaelites. George Bernard Shaw wrote biting dramas that reflect all aspects of British society. Yeats. inventor. first among them in both notoriety and talent. Ernest Dowson. Oscar Wilde. Alice Meynell. was typified by the conventional romanticism of such poets as John Masefield. Algernon Charles Swinburne began as a Pre-Raphaelite but soon developed his own classically influenced. new writers like Henry James. The poetry of Robert Browning and his wife. however. The great innovator among the late Victorian poets was the Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins. In the middle of the 19th cent. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan were perhaps the brightest achievements of 19th-century British drama. from the mainstream. but Housman's well-constructed verse is rather more superficial. political in O'Casey's realistic plays. as well as his jolting meter (“sprung rhythm”). Christina Rossetti. poet. Their quest for a rich symbolic art led them away. witty comedies of Oscar Wilde and the comic operettas of W. S. Browning is best remembered for his superb dramatic monologues. and. T. D. During the 1890s the most conspicuous figures on the English literary scene were the decadents. However limited their accomplishments. Eliot was born an American. Joyce. The principal figures in the group were Arthur Symons. whose poetry fused romantic vision with contemporary political and aesthetic concerns. Some fine religious poetry was produced by Francis Thompson. The sparkling. S. E. William Henry Hudson. Richard Aldington. many of the towering figures of 20th-century English literature were not English. Wells. John Millington Synge. The Early Twentieth Century Irish drama flowered in the early 20th cent. William Morris—designer. The finest poet of the period was Yeats. and Lionel Johnson. Though the 19th-century tradition of the novel lived on in the work of Arnold Bennett. H. and D. had a profound effect on 20th-century poetry. Lawrence. and John Galsworthy. and Sean O'Casey all wrote on Irish themes—mythical in Yeats's poetic drama. Alfred Noyes. led by the painter-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Rudyard Kipling..). William Butler Yeats. In fact. notably Hilda Doolittle (H. and social philosopher—was the most versatile of the group. H. Victorian figures who lived on into the 20th cent. Shaw. Also Irish. though Elizabeth's was more venerated during their lifetimes. was immensely popular. and Joseph Conrad expressed the skepticism and alienation that . which included the poets Christina Rossetti and Coventry Patmore. and Conrad was Polish. O'Casey. they pointed out the hypocrisies in Victorian values and institutions. The concentration and originality of his imagery. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. captured the quality of the life of the soldiers of British expansion. printer. The Decadents' disgust with bourgeois complacency led them to extremes of behavior and expression. share a pessimistic view in their poetry. A.certitude and religious doubt it reflected the age. the poet of the empire triumphant. and Walter de la Mare and by the experiments of the imagists. natural values and techniques of medieval life and art. Herbert Read. Poetry in the early 20th cent. sought to revive what they judged to be the simple. G. sometimes florid style. and Beckett were Irish.

who. and of T. also called the Celtic renaissance. is perhaps the finest depiction of the war and its effects. Aldous Huxley and Evelyn Waugh satirized the group and the period. many writers and intellectuals sought solutions in the politics of the left—or the right. The experience left him profoundly disillusioned with Communism. typified by the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins. The revival produced some of the best plays of the 20th cent. in the dramas of J. Christopher Isherwood. late 19th. M. Irish literary renaissance Irish literary renaissance. Stephen Spender. the latter killed in the war (as were Rupert Brooke and Isaac Rosenberg). Synge and Sean O'Casey and some of the greatest poetry in the works of W. experimented with the interior forms of narration. The new era called for new forms. H. As social mores were shaken. like Dorothy Richardson. so too were artistic conventions. and C. and many important English intellectuals of the early 20th cent. James Joyce was a caustic sometime participant in the movement. One of the movement's most impressive achievements was the establishment of the Abbey Theatre. Auden. Russell (pseud. Eliot. also published in 1922.were to become features of post-Victorian sensibility. Sensitivity and psychological subtlety mark the superb novels of Virginia Woolf. Lawrence were equally challenging to convention. Ford Madox Ford's landmark tetralogy. The poets W. The work of war poets like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Its difficulty. the treatment of time. S. The movement. and nearly all other techniques of the novel made him a master to be studied. H. a feeling he eloquently expressed in such works as Animal Farm (1946) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949). he was the first to champion both the primitive and the supercivilized urges of men and women. Joyce's revolutions in narrative form. Other important writers of the revival were Lady Gregory. Forster. Moved by the Great Depression.and early 20th-century movement that aimed at reviving ancient Irish folklore. whose long poem The Waste Land (1922) was a watershed in both American and English literary history. first published in 1918. Though more conventional in form. Parade's End. legends. E. Although his books were controversial because of their freedom of language and content. W. George Orwell fought with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. B. Day Lewis all proclaimed their leftist respective political commitments. but the pressing demands of World War II superseded these long-term ideals. the biographer Lytton Strachey. and traditions in new literary works. M. . Woolf was the center of the brilliant Bloomsbury group. was particularly influential. but only intermittently copied. the rise of fascism. formal invention. which included the novelist E. Wyndham Lewis satirized what he thought was the total dissolution of culture in Apes of Gods (1930). G.). and English policies of appeasement. World War I shook England to the core. the novels of D. was in part the cultural aspect of a political movement that was concerned with self-government for Ireland and discovering a literary past that would be relevant to the struggle for independence. and James Stephens. while Katharine Mansfield and Elizabeth Bowen captured their flavor in fiction. Yeats. by the expatriate Irishman James Joyce. Equally important was the novel Ulysses. and bleak antiromanticism were to influence poets for decades. A.

The period was also marked by a number of highly individual novelists. Leavis. William Wordsworth. Anthony Powell and Richard Hughes continued to work in the expansive 19th-century tradition. David Lodge stands out. Harold Pinter. combined with despair that anything could be done about it. Novelists generally have found as little in the Thatcher and Major eras as in the previous period to inspire them. and Edith Sitwell tended to cultivate their own distinctive voices. Edwin Muir. Anthony Burgess. Frank Kermode. difficult plays (and novels) depict the lonely. Louis MacNeice. Tom Stoppard. an Irish poet who is hailed for his exquisite style. Quote: Ref : The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. While the postwar era was not a great period of English literature. English poet. Beckett. b. R. Some of the most exciting work of the period came in the theater. C. and F. whose harsh. who wrote many of his works in French and translated them into English. alienated human condition with compassion and humor. Other novelists and playwrights of the 1950s. postapocalyptic poetry celebrates simple survival. the leading figure of the Scottish literary renaissance. William. notably the plays of John Osborne. David Storey. P. Doris Lessing. Copyright © 2007. While in France he fell in love . and the Scottish writer James Kelman stands out. Thomas's lyricism and rich imagery reaffirmed the romantic spirit. including William Empson. Cockermouth. Columbia University Press. including Kingsley Amis. 6th ed. expressed a deep dissatisfaction with British society. One of the great English poets. William Golding. and Seamus Heaney. Among the best postwar British authors were the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and the Irish expatriate novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett. and Lawrence Durrell. he was a leader of the romantic movement in England. Ted Hughes. and Muriel Spark. Ivy Compton-Burnett. and he was eventually appreciated for his technical mastery as well. and the poets Robert Graves. but the work of Margaret Drabble. John Fowles. Life and Works In 1791 he graduated from Cambridge and traveled abroad. Cumberland.The Postwar Era to the Present After the war most English writers chose to focus on aesthetic or social rather than political problems. Other outstanding contemporary poets include Hugh MacDiarmid. Snow was perhaps the notable exception. is considered the greatest exponent of the theater of the absurd. often called the angry young men. His uncompromisingly bleak. it produced a variety of excellent critics. Joyce Cary. Wordsworth. and Arnold Wesker. 1770–1850. producing a series of realistic novels chronicling life in England during the 20th cent. The novelists Henry Green. Iris Murdoch.

he settled with his sister Dorothy in Dorsetshire. Throughout his life she was his constant and devoted companion. in 1792. and after receiving several small legacies. which included a critical essay outlining Wordsworth's poetic principles. a student of David Hartley's empiricist philosophy. was unmercifully attacked by critics. sharing his poetic vision and helping him with his work.” “The Rainbow. some notable poems were produced after this date. Although he did not marry her.” . having long since put aside radical sympathies. 1820 (1822).” and the sonnet “The World Is Too Much with Us. finally settling a sum of money on them in 1835. Memorials of a Tour of the Continent. where they lived the remainder of their lives. Thereafter. Caroline. The Prelude. including The Excursion (1814).” The work introduced romanticism into England and became a manifesto for romantic poets.” His use of the language of ordinary speech was heavily criticized. Throughout his life he supported Annette and Caroline as best he could. but it helped to rid English poetry of the more artificial conventions of 18th-century diction. an old school friend. In 1799 he and his sister moved to the Lake District of England. he displayed a high seriousness comparable. he was named poet laureate. Assessment Wordsworth's personality and poetry were deeply influenced by his love of nature. it included Wordsworth's poem “Tintern Abbey. his long autobiographical poem. The outbreak of the Reign of Terror prevented Wordsworth's return to France. Poems in Two Volumes (1807). probably under his influence. at times.” “Michael. and “Yarrow Revisited” (1835). in which he spent most of his mature life. who bore him a daughter. in which they sought to use the language of ordinary people in poetry.” “Daffodils.” the “Ode: Intimations of Immortality. Wordsworth was extraordinarily close to his sister. Nonetheless. In 1793 were published An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches. Wordsworth's creative powers diminished. though it was not published until after his death. the union was evidently a happy one. In 1802 Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson.” and a number of famous sonnets. and the couple had four children. Wordsworth's earlier work shows the poetic beauty of commonplace things and people as in “Margaret. His next collection.with Annette Vallon. and he returned (1792) to England imbued with the principles of Rousseau and republicanism. In 1842 Wordsworth was given a civil list pension. Together the two poets wrote Lyrical Ballads (1798).” and “The Idiot Boy. included the well-known “Ode to Duty. in particular his ideas about poetic diction and meter.” “Peter Bell. was completed in 1805. to Milton's but tempered with tenderness and a love of simplicity. A second edition of the Lyrical Ballads (1800). The spirit of the French Revolution had strongly influenced Wordsworth. written in the stylized idiom and vocabulary of the 18th cent. In Dorsetshire Wordsworth became the intimate friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and. and the following year. “Laodamia” (1815). A profoundly earnest and sincere thinker. “White Doe of Rylstone” (1815). “The Solitary Reaper. it seems to have been circumstance rather than lack of affection that separated them.” “Resolution and Independence. Among his other well-known poems are “Lucy” (“She dwelt among the untrodden ways”). especially by the sights and scenes of the Lake Country.

studies by M. G. R.. J. He was criticized for the unevenness of his poetry. by W. original thinker who created a new poetic tradition. is known principally for her poems and for her journals. by E. McMaster. E. his prose works. the headmaster's son. and K. In recent years. Johnston (1999). Rehder (1981). F. K. de Selincourt and H. Wordsworth has again been recognized as a great English poet—a profound.. 1965). Keats attended school at Enfield. and in 1816 he gave up surgery to write poetry.. friends. Smyser (3 vol. John. Darbishire (5 vol. R. describing the Wordsworth household. William Wordsworth: A Critical Anthology (1973). 1795–1821. Owen and J. For the last 20 years of her life Dorothy Wordsworth was an invalid. J. however. Bromwich (1999).Although Wordsworth was venerated in the 19th cent. ed. S. Reed (1967). The son of a livery stable keeper.. Gill (1984). suffering from an obscure illness that made her prematurely senile. W. Halliday (1970). P. Keats came to know Leigh Hunt and his literary circle. 1771–1855. Dorothy Wordsworth Wordsworth's sister. ed. are written in delicate. Bewell (1989). 1940–49). He is considered one of the greatest of English poets. and travels. the first of which was started in 1798. J. Changler (1984). London.” . ed. Bibliography See his poetical works. de Selincourt (6 vol. which have proved invaluable for later biographies and studies of the poet.” “Sleep and Poetry. by the early 20th cent.. where he became the friend of Charles Cowden Clarke. His first volume of poems appeared in 1817.” and the famous sonnet “On First Looking into Chapman's Homer. and D. for his rather marked capacity for bathos. by E. These journals. 1974). and for his transformation from an open-minded liberal to a cramped conservative. Apprenticed to a surgeon (1811). Keats. exquisite diction. Dorothy Wordsworth. b. English poet. Moorman (2 vol. Hamilton (1986). 1967–82). It included “I stood tip-toe upon a little hill. correspondence with his sister. John Keats. A. B. his reputation had declined. biographies by M. who encouraged his early learning.

” and “Bards of Passion and of Mirth” are delightful short poems. and sympathetic. W. Motion (1998). it is nevertheless full of rich imagery and color. by H. J.” Bibliography Keats's letters (ed. With his friend. He is also among the most personally appealing. J. E. studies by W. and of his last days by J. The critical assaults of 1818 mark a turning point in Keats's life. steadfast friendship. Keats sailed for Italy shortly after the publication of Lamia. Fanny's letters to Keats's sister show that her critics' contention that she was a cruel flirt was not true.” “Fancy. Agnes. biographies by A. and richness of sensuous imagery. Dickstein (1971). Noble. which involves not abstract thought but rather absolute receptivity to experience. Walsh (2000). Garrod (2d ed. these attacks did not contribute to Keats's decline in health and his early death.Endymion. Keats is one of the most important English poets.” in its way as great an evocation of romantic medievalism as “The Eve of St. at the age of 25. melody. Bate (1963. by E. and Other Poems (1820).” Among his sonnets. familiar ones are “When I have fears that I may cease to be” and “Bright star! would I were as steadfast as thou art. was published in 1818. which contains most of his important work and is probably the greatest single volume of poetry published in England in the 19th cent. Although faulty in structure. and feelings.. See his poetical works. In spite of his tragically brief career. ed. He had contracted tuberculosis. probably from nursing his brother Tom. This attitude is indicated in his celebrated term “negative capability”—“to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thought. Keats is ranked. who died in 1818. Bate (1945). by H. as Shelley maintained in his elegy “Adonais. He died in Rome in Feb.” “Lines on the Mermaid Tavern. The Eve of St. a long poem. Keats's posthumous pieces include “La Belle Dame sans Merci. he was forced to examine his work more carefully. 1821.” Keats's passionate love for Fanny Brawne seems to have begun in 1818. All of his poetry is filled with a mysterious and elevating sense of beauty and joy. Some of Keats's finest work is in the unfinished epic “Hyperion. Agnes. his autobiography. Keats returned from a walking tour in the Highlands to find himself attacked in Blackwood's Magazine—an article berated him for belonging to Leigh Hunt's “Cockney school” of poetry—and in the Quarterly Review. Gittings (1968). Such poems as “Ode to a Nightingale. with Shelley and Byron. A. he was capable not only of passionate love but also of warm.” “To Autumn. and as a result the influence of Hunt was diminished. 1958).” In recent years critical attention has focused on Keats's philosophy.” and “Ode on Melancholy” are unequaled for dignity. van Ghent (1983). generous. the artist Joseph Severn. as one of the three great Romantic poets. 1979). 1958) vividly reveal his character. Ward (1963). Isabella. R. and D. Only Keats's failing health prevented their marriage. opinions. Rollins. ed. E. . However. Weller (1933). W. repr. M. V.” “Ode on a Grecian Urn.

D. which were collected in 1823 and 1833. Riehl (1980). and after 1799 they lived together. 1933. by P. fantasy. Charles Lamb. Monsman (1984 and 2003). Charles. Alfred Tennyson Tennyson. Marrs. However. He went to school at Christ's Hospital. ed. Specimens of English Dramatic Poets (1808). Lamb was a gifted conversationalist and was friendly with most of the major literary figures of his time. and G. 1809–92. Ainger (1901. Lamb had himself declared her guardian to save her from permanent commitment to an asylum. where his lifelong friendship with Coleridge began. 1971). 1970). London.. and his humor. Letters and Writings. Lamb wrote four plays. Fitzgerald (1895. 1967). 1775–1834.. Lamb was a clerk at the India House from 1792 to 1825. Bibliography See his Life. From 1800 on he wrote intermittently for periodicals. biography of Mary Anne Lamb by S. Mary was an intelligent and affectionate companion. The essays cover a variety of subjects and maintain throughout an intimate and familiar tone. repr. English poet. Cecil (1984). but the shadow of her madness continued to plague their lives. his dramatic essays. Alfred Tennyson. repr. W. They collaborated on several books for children. studies by E. repr. the major contribution being the famous Essays of Elia (London Magazine. ed.. E. b. Lucas (1968). Jr. His close-knit. Hitchcock (2004). and pathos combine to make him one of the great masters of the English essay.Lamb. E. The most famous poet of the Victorian age. E. V. biographies by A. 1975–78). 1820–25). Early Life and Works . Lamb's style is peculiarly his own. he was a profound spokesman for the ideas and values of his times. Blunden (1954. subtle organization. The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb (3 vol. his self-revealing observations on life. Cornwall (2003). none of which were successful. T. 1st Baron . In 1796 his sister Mary Ann Lamb (1764–1847) in a fit of temporary insanity attacked and wounded their father and stabbed and killed their mother. J. publishing in 1807 their famous Tales from Shakespeare. established his reputation as a critic and did much in reviving the popularity of Elizabethan drama. English essayist. and B.

and in addition. composed at 14. Upon the death of his father in 1831. In his three years at Cambridge. he was granted an annual government pension of £200 in 1845. notable for his mastery of technique. and Demeter and Other Poems (1889). several poetic dramas. The Devil and the Lady. The first group of Idylls of the King appeared in 1859. were part of his duties as laureate. and Poems. Poems (1842). His early literary attempts included a play. whom he had courted since 1836 but had been unable to marry because of his precarious financial position. The same year saw his appointment as poet laureate and his marriage to Emily Sellwood. Timbuctoo (1829).” Tennyson passed his last years in comfort. most notably Becket (1879. it was expanded in 1869 and 1872. Tennyson has since been recognized as a great poet. Tennyson became responsible for the family and its precarious finances. Enoch Arden (1864)..” With this book he was acclaimed a great poet. Throughout much of his life he was a popular as well as critical success and was venerated by the general public. Occasional poems.” “Morte d'Arthur. He arranged the 12 poems chronologically in 1888 to constitute a somber ethical epic of the glory and the downfall of King Arthur. Chiefly Lyrical (1830) and began his close friendship with Arthur Henry Hallam. expressed his philosophic doubts in a materialistic. and in 1885 Tennyson added the final poem. The Princess (1847) was followed in 1850 by the masterful In Memoriam.” “A Dream of Fair Women. Included among his other works are Maud (1855).” and “Break. Break. His volume Poems (1832) included some of his most famous pieces. his superb use of sensuous language.” In 1833 he was overwhelmed by the sudden death of Hallam. Unappreciated early in the 20th cent. The new poems included “Locksley Hall. Tennyson wrote a prizewinning poem. son of the historian Henry Hallam. increasingly scientific age and his longing for a sustaining faith. Break. such as “The Lotus-Eaters. In 1883 he was created a peer and occupied a seat in the House of Lords. In the Arthurian legend.” and “The Lady of Shalott. such as the “Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington” (1852) and “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1855). a “monodrama”. Charles .Tennyson was the son of an intelligent but unstable clergyman in Lincolnshire. Tennyson projected his vision of the hollowness of his own civilization. and poems written with his brothers Frederick and Charles but entitled Poems by Two Brothers (1827). Mature Works and Later Life Tennyson's next published work.” “Ulysses. Dickens. Ballads and Other Poems (1880). and his profundity of thought. produced 1893). an elegy sequence that records Tennyson's years of doubt and despair after Hallam's death and culminates in an affirmation of immortality. which contained “Crossing the Bar.

Dombey and Son (1848) was the first in a string of triumphant novels including David Copperfield (1850). one of the world's most popular. Dickens spent his early childhood in London and in Chatham. The first of his Christmas books was the well-loved A Christmas Carol (1843). his wife ended their marriage by formal separation. and Our Mutual Friend (1865). In later years other short novels and stories written for the season followed.Dickens. When he visited America in 1842. and later he was an expert parliamentary reporter for the Morning Chronicle. who died young. he was received with ovations but awakened some displeasure by his remarks on copyright protection and his approval of the abolition of slavery. however. the result was The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836–37). began appearing in periodicals in 1833. A Tale of Two Cities (1859). Dickens wrote rapidly. 1838) was followed by Nicholas Nickleby (1839) and by two works originally intended to start a series called Master Humphrey's Clock: The Old Curiosity Shop (1841) and Barnaby Rudge (1841). Charles. He never forgot this double humiliation. and the collection Sketches by Boz (1836) was a success. Her sister Georgina remained with Dickens to care for his household and the younger children. which promptly made Dickens and his characters. His readers were eager and ever more numerous. 1812–70. Portsmouth. Bleak House (1853). At 17 he was a court stenographer. Oliver Twist (in book form. Pickwick. Ellen Ternan. His sketches. his own favorite novel. editing and contributing to the magazines Household Words . and usually finished an installment just when it was due. and a lifelong friendship with another sister. notably The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth. famous. which was partly autobiographical. because of Dickens's attentions to a young actress. Georgina Hogarth. prolific. Maturity The early-won fame never deserted Dickens. producing novels that appeared first in monthly installments and then were made into books. and skilled novelists. and Dickens worked vigorously for them. Two years later. the marriage. Early Life and Works The son of a naval clerk. and Charles was compelled to work in a blacking warehouse. English author. who was to bear him 10 children. Little Dorrit (1857). mostly of London life (signed Boz). When he was 12 his father was imprisoned for debt. Soon Dickens was commissioned to write burlesque sporting sketches. Hard Times (1854). He replied with sharp criticism of America in American Notes (1842) and the novel Martin Chuzzlewit (1843). In 1856 he bought his long-desired country home at Gadshill. especially Sam Weller and Mr. Dickens lived in Italy in 1844 and in Switzerland in 1846. b. Dickens was working furiously. was never happy. In 1836 he married Catherine Hogarth. Dickens had a tender regard for Catherine's sister Mary Hogarth. sometimes working on more than one novel at a time. Great Expectations (1861). Haste did not prevent his loosely strung and intricately plotted books from being the most popular novels of his day.

unfinished. Although not especially successful. Robert. Browning. a London bank clerk of independent means. sounds. In 1834 he visited Italy. which eventually became his second homeland. His enormous warmth of feeling sometimes spilled into sentimental pathos. and the customs of his day. Micawber in David Copperfield.(1850–59) and All the Year Round (1858–70) and managing amateur theatricals. after a romantic courtship. but after many of the ills he pictured had been cured he gained still more readers. Browning secretly married the poet Elizabeth Barrett and took her to Italy. Sharp depiction of the eccentricities and characteristic traits of people was stretched into caricature. it and subsequent poems were later published collectively as Bells and Pomegranates (1846). Although he was expert at journalistic reporting.” and “The Bishop Orders His Tomb.” In 1846. and his father was at least partially the model for Mr. his first poem. He won some recognition with Paracelsus (1835) and Sordello (1840). and smells of London. His remarkably broad and sound education was primarily the work of his artistic and scholarly parents—in particular his father. Miss Havisham. Uriah Heep.” both dramatic monologues. 1866–67) were followed by one in America (1867–68). he wrote nothing that was not transformed from actuality by his imagination. this form proved to be the ideal medium for Browning's poetic genius. When he undertook another English tour of readings (1869–70). Pauline. 1812–89. his health broke. leaving his last novel. sometimes flowed as pure tragedy. he wrote eight verse plays during the next nine years. Robert Browning. Ebenezer Scrooge—have been household words.” “Andrea del Sarto. three tours in the British Isles (1858. Included were “My Last Duchess” and “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister. and he died soon afterward. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. the Shakespearean actor. Pickwick. The narrative poem Pippa Passes appeared in 1841. two of which were produced—Strafford in 1837 and A Blot in the 'Scutcheon in 1843. Dickens's Genius Charles Dickens is one of the giants of English literature. English poet. He attacked the injustices of the law and social hypocrisy and evils. His grave is in Westminster Abbey. In 1837. Browning began writing for the stage. but none has attempted to deny his genius at revealing the very pulse of life. Other notable poems of this kind are “Fra Lippo Lippi. 1861–65. Dickens was particularly successful at evoking the sights. To these labors he added platform readings from his own works. was published anonymously in 1833. urged by William Macready. and for generations of readers the names of his characters—Mr. He wrote from his own experience a great deal—the Marshalsea prison dominates Little Dorrit. Some critics complain of his disorderliness in structure and of his sentimentality. where they lived .

He believed in commitment to life. .for 15 happy years. to study the Greek and Latin classics. through a series of dramatic dialogues. by R. B. he returned to England. where he wrote Dramatis Personae (1864). a local church architect. repr. where he worked for Hicks and his successor until 1874. Miller (1952. ironic and indirect in presentation. His psychological portraits in verse. Browning's thought is persistently optimistic. a London architect. From 1862 to 1867 he served as assistant to Arthur Blomfield. T. His major works are The Return of the Native (1878).. Hardy. A. he derived a love of music from his father and a devotion to literature from his mother. After the appearance of Far From the Madding Crowd (1874). Hardy could not afford to pursue a scholarly career as he wished and was apprenticed to John Hicks. Blackburn (1967. 1840–1928. Despite his employment. ill health forced him to return to Dorset. near Dorchester. the latter two considered masterpieces. 1967–69). the murder story The Ring and the Book (4 vol. 1967–82). English novelist and poet. Gridley (1972). how a single event—a murder—is perceived by different people. complete works. Honan (1974).. and J. the poem reveals. His later works include Dramatic Idyls (2 vol. Browning gained recognition slowly. 1973). Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891). King (5 vol. and W. The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886).. but after the publication of this work he was acclaimed a great poet. Thomas. In 1861. Thomas Hardy. biographies by M. ed. however. R. 1868–69). He was buried in Westminster Abbey. E. He continued. Societies were instituted for the study of his work in England and America. There he wrote Christmas Eve and Easter Day (1850) and Men and Women (1855). and in 1874 he married Emma Lavinia Gifford.. after the death of his wife. Langbaum (1963). including those he referred to as “romances and fantasies”—most of which were first serialized in popular magazines. Woolford (1988). Irvine and P. Set in 17th-century Italy. studies by R. b. 1973). 1879–80) and Asolando (1889). Such early novels as Desperate Remedies (1871) and A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) met with small success and may be considered formative works. Ward (2 vol. popular as well as critical acclaim enabled him to devote himself exclusively to writing. The son of a stonemason. His success also made marriage feasible. repr. Drew (1966 and 1970). and Jude the Obscure (1896). Over the next 22 years Hardy wrote many novels. Bibliography See variously published volumes of his letters. Hardy was writing continually during this period of his life. This was followed by what is considered his masterpiece. and his experiments in diction and rhythm have made him an important influence on 20th-century poetry. one of the great English writers of the 19th cent. P.

Seymour-Smith (1994). He spent the latter half of his life at Max Gate.. Their lives are ruled not only by nature but also by rigid Victorian social conventions. studies of his poetry by E. Satires of Circumstance (1914). Brennecke (1924. sometimes awkward. and M. but always commanding and intense. expressing the view that history. Weber (2d ed. who are for the most part of the poorer rural classes. but his heart is buried separately. Hardy's style is accordingly roughhewn. M. including Wessex Poems (1898). J. His poetry is spare. J. 1971). Hardy's wife died in 1912. and its pervasive theme is man's futile struggle against cosmic forces. Pinion. B. Southerington (1971). Zietlow (1974). universe. M. Moments of Vision (1917). a children's book writer.. Hardy and F. C. and unromantic. P. C. M. Hardy had always written poetry and regarded the novel as an inferior genre. After Jude the Obscure was attacked on grounds of supposed immorality (it dealt sympathetically with open sexual relations between men and women). biographies by his wife F. are sympathetically and often humorously portrayed. 1965). His verse drama The Dynasts (written 1903–8) is a historical epic of the Napoleonic era. J. O. F. is guided by forces far more powerful than individual will. E. The author's characters. The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy (1978–1988). M. Eliot. whose physical harshness echoes that of an indifferent. M. unadorned. Millgate (1971). too. E. a house built after his own designs in his native Dorset. I. ed. However.Hardy's novels are all set against the bleak and forbidding Dorset landscape (referred to as Wessex in the novels). Hardy (1928 repr. if not malevolent. Williams (1972). Pite (2007). Hardy's vision reflects a world in which Victorian complacencies were dying but its moralism was not. and I. studies by R. Beginning at the age of 58. Howe (1967). and R. with a certain dark propriety. 1973). near the Egdon Heath made famous by his novels. ed. repr. I. he abandoned fiction. and died there. repr. Gittings (1975 and 1978). Millgate (rev. his letters to Florence Henniker (1972). George . One Rare Fair Woman. ed. Bailey (1971). Hardy published many volumes of poetry. His ashes are interred in Westminster Abbey. the compelling reason was probably that his thought had become too abstract to be adequately expressed in novels. Stewart (1971). Tomalin (2006). R. and in 1914 he married Florence Emily Dugdale. and in which science had eliminated the comforting certainties of religion. Bibliography See E. Hardy (1953. Millgate. 2004). 1973). R. some 40 years his junior. Gregor (1974). and Winter Words (1928). C. Carpenter (1964).

English novelist. R. George Eliot was primarily concerned with the responsibility that people assume for their lives and with the moral choices they must inevitably make. Dublin. brilliantly witty plays. by T. and G. a political novel. G.1819–80. Although not a popular success. Wilde. and K. and E. Warwickshire. He is most famous for his sophisticated. Pinney. contributed articles. D. Haight (1968). T. Influenced by the aesthetic teachings of Walter Pater and John Ruskin. her collected essays (ed. Irish author and wit. by G. studies by E. Felix Holt (1866). 1964). The Mill on the Floss (1860). Pearce (1973). Oscar Wilde. which she regarded as marriage. she was reared in a strict atmosphere of evangelical Protestantism but eventually rebelled and renounced organized religion totally.Eliot. Life of Jesus (1846). Cross. would not have written a word. Hughes (1999). S. Strauss. George Eliot. Oxford. John W. Oscar . S. a portrait of life in a provincial town. a series of realistic sketches first appearing in Blackwood's Magazine under the pseudonym Lewes chose for her. indeed. Wilde became the center of a group . (1971). She visited Italy in 1860 and again in 1861 before she brought out in the Cornhill Magazine (1862–63) her historical romance Romola. H. a story of Savonarola. Three novels of provincial life followed—Adam Bede (1859). One of the great English novelists.. Arbury.. Bibliography See her letters (ed. b. 1885–86). Karl (1995). 1954–56). and in 1880 she married a close friend of both Lewes and herself. 7 vol. Haldane (1927). F. who later edited George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals (3 vol. particularly Dickens and Thackeray. Hanson (1952). though it involved social ostracism and could have no legal sanction because Lewes's estranged wife was living. pseud. biographies by L. Lewes died in 1878. B. tastes. it is possible that without him Evans. and also for his elegant eccentricity in dress. is considered her masterpiece. subject to periods of depression and in constant need of reassurance. ed. S. R. and at Magdalen College. Daniel Deronda (1876). Lewes. Beer (1983). Haight. and verse. She wrote one more novel. Her early schooling was supplemented by assiduous reading. Middlemarch (1871–72). a dramatic poem. J. Hardy (1967). the satirical Impressions of Theophrastus Such (1879). and came to know many of the literary people of the day. Throughout his life Lewes encouraged Evans in her literary career. the work was well received by literary critics. Writing about life in small rural towns. Although highly serious. Carroll. After her father's death she became subeditor (1851) of the Westminster Review. b. In 1854 she began a long and happy union with G. and manners. and Silas Marner (1861). In 1856. Mary Ann began Scenes of Clerical Life. Ashton (1997). George. her novels are marked by compassion and a subtle humor. S. 1854–1900. where he distinguished himself for his scholarship and wit. was followed by The Spanish Gypsy (1868). which were the first since the comedies of Sheridan and Goldsmith to have both dramatic and literary merit. and the study of languages led to her first literary work. a translation from the German of D. F. Thale (1959). which was never popular and is now seldom read. Dublin. of Mary Ann or Marian Evans. He studied at Trinity College.

handsome. was well received. Foolishly. The Happy Prince (1888) and The House of Pomegranates (1892). Wilde met and quite soon became intimate with the considerably younger. Wilde's stories and essays were well received. but his active literary career began with the publication of Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories (1891) and two collections of fairy tales. John. notebooks. N. The next year he lectured to great acclaim in the United States. plagued by ill health and bankruptcy.glorifying beauty for itself alone. Ruskin. Ross (1969). Kohl (1989). An Ideal Husband (1895). and he was famously satirized (with other exponents of “art for art's sake”) in Punch and in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta Patience. which were all extremely clever and filled with pithy epigrams and paradoxes. where his drama Vera (1883) was produced. . Cyril and Vyvyan. He also wrote two historical tragedies. reflecting his degeneration. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). letters. A Woman of No Importance (1893). His first published work. by R. The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898). ed. studies by M. During the mid-19th cent. found guilty. it depicts the corruption of a beautiful young man pursuing an ideal of sensual indulgence and moral indifference. ed. The Duchess of Padua (1892) and Salomé (1893). Ellman (1988) and P. and his masterpiece. Wilde brought action for libel against the marquess and was himself charged with homosexual offenses under the Criminal Law Amendment. Wilde found himself a complete social outcast in England and. biographies by R. by M. John Ruskin. his portrait becomes ugly. and dissolute Lord Alfred Douglas (nicknamed “Bosie”). Douglas's father. by R. Bibliography See his collected works. His experiences in jail inspired his most famous poem. Wilde explained away their lack of depth by saying that he put his genius into his life and only his talent into his books. Raby (1988). Woodcock (1989). Fido (1974). Released from prison in 1897. by P. began railing against Wilde and later wrote him a note accusing him of homosexual practices. Holland and R. but his creative genius found its highest expression in his plays—Lady Windermere's Fan (1892). In 1891. Hart-Davis (2000). E. Hart-Davis (1962). 1819–1900. English critic and social theorist. and sentenced (1895) to prison for two years. Helfant (1989). In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd. lived in France under an assumed name until his death. S. although he himself remains young and handsome. and they had two sons. ed. Later he began writing for and editing periodicals. complete letters. Poems (1881). In 1891 his novel Picture of Dorian Gray appeared. and the apology published by his literary executor as De Profundis (1905). A tale of horror. Smith 2d and M. Soon the marquess of Queensberry. and G. ed.

Many of his suggested programs—old age pensions. Time and Tide (1867). and Mrs. it is equally true that he revolutionized art criticism and wrote some of the most superb prose in the English language. About 1857. organization of labor—have become accepted doctrine. 1871–84). 1870) and his lectures were well attended. M. Although it is undeniable that he was an extravagant and inconsistent thinker (a reflection of his lifelong mental and emotional instability). 1862–63). Ruskin's positive program for social reform appeared in Sesame and Lilies (1865). though some of his . Early Life Educated by his wealthy. and until 1836 he spent his mornings with his domineering mother. The Stones of Venice (1851–53). His stay (1836–40) at Oxford resulted in his winning the Newdigate Prize for poetry and in his determining not to enter the ministry. His third great volume of criticism. A breakdown of health in 1840 forced him to travel.” He finished the five volumes in 1860. This work started as a defense of the painter J. and in 1878 he suffered his first period of insanity. Critic and Reformer The first volume of Ruskin's Modern Painters appeared in 1843. In 1833 the family went on the first of its many tours of Europe.. while Venetian Renaissance architecture mirrored corruption. the union. Ruskin married Euphemia Gray. and he has been treated harshly by 20th-century critics. Ruskin subsequently married the painter John Everett Millais. The Crown of Wild Olive (1866). In 1848. but Ruskin's reputation declined after his death. Ruskin was prepared for the ministry. however. and Fors Clavigera (8 vol. maintained that the Gothic architecture of Venice reflected national and domestic virtue. The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) applied these same theories to architecture. was annulled in 1854. reading and memorizing the Bible. which apparently was never consummated. He wrote Unto This Last (in Cornhill Magazine.Ruskin was the virtual dictator of artistic opinion in England. Oxford. Turner and developed into a treatise elaborating the principles that art is based on national and individual integrity and morality and also that art is a “universal language. Ruskin's art criticism became more broadly social and political. He was made the first professor of art in England (Slade professor. These works attacked bourgeois England and charged that modern art reflected the ugliness and waste of modern industry. Recurrences of unbalance became more frequent. evangelical parents. Ruskin in 1851 defended the work of the Pre-Raphaelite group. His multifarious activities broke down his health. 1860) and Munera Pulveris (in Fraser's Magazine. a beautiful young woman with social ambitions. W. nationalization of education. and the boy ardently studied nature and painting. From his position as the foremost English art critic.

the autobiography Praeterita (1885–89).greatest prose. was written in the lucid intervals. .

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