History of English Literature All Ages – Summary & Notes

English literature has a rich and diverse history, spanning centuries of creative expression and cultural evolution. From the earliest recorded works in Old English to the experimental narratives of the post-modern era, each period of English literature reflects the unique perspectives and artistic achievements of its time.

This tabular list provides a brief overview of key periods, their approximate time frames, and notable characteristics. Exploring these periods allows us to appreciate the evolution of literary styles, themes, and societal influences that have shaped English literature into what it is today.

PeriodTime FrameCharacteristics
Old English450-1066Beowulf, Anglo-Saxon literature, oral tradition
Middle English1066-1500Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, rise of English vernacular
Renaissance1500-1660Shakespeare, sonnets, humanism, revival of classical themes
Restoration1660-1700John Dryden, Restoration comedy, social and political satire
Augustan Age1700-1745Alexander Pope, satire, neoclassical ideals
Romanticism1780-1830William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, nature, emotion
Victorian Age1837-1901Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, social issues, realism
Edwardian Period1901-1914Joseph Conrad, E.M. Forster, criticism of social norms
Modernism1900-1950T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, experimental forms, disillusionment
Post-Modernism1950-presentSalman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, self-reflexivity, intertextuality

Introduction to

Medieval Age

Elizabethan Age

Jacobean & Caroline Age

Restoration Age

Renaissance Age

Neoclassical Age

Romantic Age

Victorian Age

Modern Age