The term English literature refers to literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; Joseph Conrad was Polish, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, Salman Rushdie is Indian, V.S. Naipaul is Trinidadian. In other words, English literature is as diverse as the varieties and dialects of English spoken around the world.

The first works in English, written in the Anglo-Saxon dialect now called Old English, appeared in the early Middle Ages. In the late medieval period (1200-1500), the ideals of courtly love entered England and authors began to write romances, either in verse or prose. Especially popular were tales of King Arthur and his court. England's first great author, Geoffrey Chaucer (1340 -1400), wrote in Middle English. His most famous work is The Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories in a variety of genres.

The poetry, drama, and prose produced under both Queen Elizabeth I and King James I constitute what is today labelled as Early modern (or Renaissance). Th'e Elizabethan era saw a great flourishing of literature, especially in the field of drama. The Italian Renaissance had rediscovered the ancient Greek and Roman theatre, which was then beginning to evolve apart from the old mystery and miracle plays of the Middle Ages.

Th'e Elizabethan era saw a great flourishing of literature, especially in the field of drama. The Italian Renaissance had rediscovered the ancient Greek and Roman theatre, which was then beginning to evolve apart from the old mystery and miracle plays of the Middle Ages. William Shakespeare stands out in this period as a poet and playwright as yet unsurpassed. The sonnet was introduced into English by Thomas Wyatt in the early 16th century. Poems intended to be set to music as songs, such as by Thomas Campion, became popular as printed literature was disseminated more widely in households.

After Shakespeare's death, the poet and dramatist Ben Jonson was the leading literary figure of the Jacobean era. Others who followed Jonson's style include Beaumont and Fletcher, who wrote the brilliant comedy, The Knight of the Burning Pestle. Another popular style of theatre during Jacobean times was the revenge play, popularized by John Webster and Thomas Kyd.

Restoration literature includes both Paradise Lost and the Earl of Rochester's Sodom, the high spirited sexual comedy of The Country Wife and the moral wisdom of Pilgrim's Progress. The largest and most important poetic form of the era was satire. In general, publication of satire was done anonymously.

In Romanticism, poets rediscover the beauty and value of nature. Mother earth is seen as the only source of wisdom, the only solution to the ugliness caused by machines of industrialism. The Romantic poets includes Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley and John Keats. The most popular novelist of the era was Sir Walter Scott, whose grand historical romances inspired a generation of painters, composers, and writers throughout Europe. By contrast, Jane Austen wrote novels about the life of the landed gentry, seen from a woman's point of view, and wryly focused on practical social issues, especially marriage and money.

The movement known as English literary modernism grew out of a general sense of disillusionment with Victorian era attitudes of certainty, conservatism, and objective truth. Although literary modernism reached its peak between the First and Second World Wars, the earliest examples of the movement's attitudes appeared in the mid to late nineteenth century. Important novelists between the World Wars included Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Evelyn Waugh, P.G. Wodehouse, D. H. Lawrence and T. S. Eliot. Perhaps the most contentiously important figure in the development of the modernist movement was the American poet Ezra Pound. Other notable writers of the period included W. H. Auden, Vladimir Nabokov, William Carlos Williams, Ralph Ellison, Dylan Thomas, R.S. Thomas and Graham Greene.

The history of English poetry dating from the early 7th century, where were writing some of the most famous and beautiful poems, to the present day. Due to its importance, English poetry has contributed greatly to the spread of the English language in the world. An interesting aspect of English poetry is that, this not only includes poetry written in England, but also it includes poetry composed in English language by writers not necessary from England.

Literature of England

William Shakespeare
The most representative poet and playwright in the English literature; here you can learn a lot about him.
William Shakespeare Lord Byron
George Gordon Byron was a British poet of Romanticism; he also was regarded as one of the greatest European writers.
Lord Byron
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish writer; people admit him as one of the most important writers of 20th century.
James Joyces Emily Dickinson
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was one of the most important American poets of the 18th century; learn all about her here.
Emily Dickinson
Robert Frost
This American writer was one of the most important in the literature world; here you can read his biography and one of his works.
Robert Frost Langston Hughes
Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes was a famous poet and a social activist; learn all about him in this page.
Langston Hughes
Walt Whitman
Learn all about Walter Whitman that is considered as the father of the free verse; and read O Captain! My Captain!
Walt Whitman Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was one of the most representative writers of America; learn his biography in this page.
Edgar Allan Poe
William Wordsworth
Learn all the biography about William Wordsworth. This England writer was an enthusiastic republican.
William Wordsworth Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath was one of the most important writers in the American literature; learn her biography here.
Sylvia Plath
E. E. Cummings
Edward Estlin Cummings was a great poet of the American literature world; here you can read all about him.
E. E. Cummings

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