Historians have divided English literature into periods for convenience. The numbers, dates or the names of the periods sometimes vary. The following list follows the prevalent practice of listing:
450-1066 Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Period
(From the invasion of the Celtic England by Germanic tribes to the conquest of England in 1066 by the Norman French)
Poetry was written in the vernacular – Anglo Saxon – called Old English
Beowulf – the greatest of Germanic epics
Caedmon and Cynewulf wrote on religious and biblical themes
Alfred the Great translated several books of Latin prose into Old English, and also recorded the important events in England.
1066-1500 Middle English Period
About 1500 – the standard literary language took the form of “modern English”
1100-1350 – the non-Latin literature was produced in the French dialect (by the invades who were then the ruling class of England)
The important work of this period was Guillaume de Lorris’ and Jean de Meun’s Roman de la Rose
Later on, the narrative vernacular – middle English – became the literary language especially for religious writings
The secular literature became more popular in the second half of the 14th century. This was the age of Chaucer and John Gower. Remarkable works of this time were William Langland’s great religious and satirical poem Piers Plowmen, and Thomas Malory’s the famous prose romance called Morte d’ Arthur.
The 15th century poets: “Scottish Chaucerians”
King James I and Robert Henryson occupied chief position.
15th century was remarkable for popular literature addressed to the upper class. It was the age of excellent songs and of folk ballads, and was the time of the miracle and morality plays.
1500-1600 The Renaissance (Early Modern) Period
1558-1603 Elizabethan Age
1603-1625 Jacobean Age
1625-1649 Caroline Age
1649-1660 Commonwealth Period
1600-1785 The Neo-classical Period
1660-1700 Restoration Period
1700-1745 The Augustan Age
1745-1783 The Age Of Sensibility
1785-1830 The Romantic Period
1832-1901 The Victorian Period
1848-1860 The Pre-Raphaelites
1880-1901 Aestheticism and Decadence
1901-1910 The Edwardian Period
1910-1914 The Georgian Period
1914- The Modern Period
1945- Post Modernism