Timeline Description: The list below highlights a number of prominent British authors, from the early Middle Ages through today. They were responsible for some of the best poems, plays and novels in British history, from the beginning of British literature through today.
|7||Beowulf Poet(7th to 11th centuries)
The unknown Beowulf Poet produced one of the greatest surviving works of the early Middle Ages. This poem tells the story of the hero, Beowulf, and his fight with the monster, Grendel.
Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales between 1387 and his death in 1400. This is one of the first works written in Middle English, rather than Latin.
Shakespeare is the best known poet and playwright of the Elizabethan era. Some 37 plays survive. His works remain popular in both theatrical productions and films today.
Wordsworth is closely connected to the development of romanticism. Romanticism is a poetic movement that connected their work to nature and emotion. Wordsworth was Poet Laureate of Britain from 1843 to his death in 1850.
Jane Austen was an unmarried woman in early 19th century Britain when she began writing her novels. She did not achieve fame in her lifetime, but is today one of the most famous British authors.
The Victorian novelist is responsible for many of the stories and characters closely linked to 19th century Britain, including A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens vividly described the impoverished conditions of 19th century Britain.
Writing as George Eliot, Mary Ann Evans became quite famous as the author of a number of novels, including Middlemarch. Her works are noted for their social commentary.
|1816||The Bronte Sisters(1816 to 1820)
The three Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, all produced works of noted passion and excitement, including Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. They, like George Eliot, published under male pseudonyms.
Thomas Hardy was a younger contemporary of Dickens, producing novels set in the Victorian countryside, rather than the city. Hardy's novels brought romance to the countryside.
E.M. Forster's work focused on the English middle class, particularly their relationships with other countries, including Italy and India. Forster's novels move out of the Victorian era and into the Edwardian, bringing up some of the questions of life in the 20th century.
Agatha Christie wrote some 66 mystery novels, and created two of the best-known detectives in literature, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Televised adaptations of her work remain popular today.
|1892||J. R. R. Tolkein
J. R. R. Tolkein is perhaps the best-known fantasy author in British history, responsible for the Lord of the Rings series. Tolkein's work has been voted the best of the millennium by readers.
While short-lived, Wilfred Owen produced some of the most moving poems of World War I, expressing the horror and devastation of war. Owen died a week before the end of the war.
Waugh's novels reflect his Oxford education, particularly Brideshead Revisited. He was also a noted book reviewer and journalist during his career.
J.K. Rowling changed the face of children and young adult literature with her Harry Potter series. She is the most famous British author alive today.