Literary History Timeline

(adapted from A Handbook to Literature, 6th ed., C. Hugh Holman and William Harmon (NY: Macmillan, 1992), pp. 506-566)

* Historical or non-English / American item

? B.C. — A. D. 428: Celtic and Roman Britain

428 — 1100: Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Period

c. 700 — Beowulf composed in present form

*1066 — Battle of Hastings (Norman Conquest)

*1215 — Signing of Magna Carta

*c. 1307 — 1321 — Dante's Divina Commedia

1350 — 1500: Middle English Period

c. 1387 — Chaucer, "Prologue" to Canterbury Tales

*1492 — Columbus lands in America

1500 — 1660: The Renaissance (in England; 1607 - 1780 is considered the "Colonial" period in America)

*1517 —Martin Luther posts his theses in Wittenberg, leading to Protestant Reformation

*1532 — Machiavelli, The Prince

1539 — English Bible (the "Great Bible") published

*1558 — 1603 — Reign of Queen Elizabeth I

1564 — 1616 — Life of William Shakespeare

1601 — Shakespeare's Hamlet

*1605 — Cervantes, Don Quixote, Part I

*1607 — Settlement at Jamestown, Virginia

1611 — King James translation of the Bible

*1620 — Pilgrims land at Plymouth

*1640 — Bay Psalm Book: first book printed in America

*1649 — Execution of Charles I

*1649 — 1660 — Commonwealth Period–England ruled by Parliament

1660 — 1798: Neoclassical Period (also known as "The Long 18th Century")

*1660 — Charles II restored to the throne ("The Restoration")

1667 — John Milton, Paradise Lost

*1687 — Sir Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica

*1692 — Salem witchcraft executions

1719 — Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

1726 — Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels

1740 — Samuel Richardson, Pamela

1740-5 — The Great Awakening (religious revival)

1749 — Henry Fielding, Tom Jones

*1751 — Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"

1755 - Ben Johnson, Dictionary

1760-67 — Lawrence Stern, Tristram Shandy

1765-1830 — Revolutionary and Early National Period

*1770 — Oliver Goldsmith, "The Deserted Village"

1771 — Ben Franklin, Autobiography

1775-1783 — Revolutionary War

1776 —Declaration of Independence

1783-85 — Noah Webster, Grammatical Institute of the English Language (speller, grammar, reader)

*1789 — French Revolution begins

1798-1832: Romantic Period

1798 — William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads

1811 — Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

1817 — Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

1819 — Lord Byron, Don Juan I and II

*1820 — The Missouri Compromise

1820 — Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe

1830 — Edgar Allan Poe, Poems

1832-1870: Early Victorian Age (English Literature)

1836 — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

1836 — Charles Dickens, Pickwick Papers

1837 — Nathaniel Hawthorne, Twice-Told Tales

1842 — Robert Browning, Dramatic Lyrics; Lord Tennyson, Poems

1845 — Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven

1847 — Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights; Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

1847-8 — Thackeray, Vanity Fair

1849 — Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

1850 — Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese

1850 — Nathaniel Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter

1851 — Herman Melville, Moby Dick

1852 — Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

1854 — Henry David Thoreau, Walden

1855 — Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

1859 — Charles Darwin, Origin of the Species

1860 — George Eliot, Mill on the Floss

*1860-5 — American Civil War

1865-1914: Realistic Period (American Literature)

1867 — Karl Marx, Das Kapital

1868 — Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

1872 — George Eliot, Middlemarch

1874 — Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd

1876 — Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer

1879 — Henry James, Daisy Miller; * Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House

1883 — Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

1884 — Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

1891 — Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

1893 — George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Warren’s Profession

1895 — Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

1900-1930: Naturalistic and Symbolistic Period (American Only)

1900 — Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie

1901-1910: Edwardian Period

1903 — Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Jack London, The Call of the Wild

1905 — Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth

1907 — John Millington Synge, Playboy of the Western World

1913 — D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers; Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

1914-1918: First World War

1917 — T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

1921- Aldous Huxley, Chrome Yellow

1922 - James Joyce, Ulysses; T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land

1924 - E.M. Forster, A Passage to India

1925 — Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

1926 — T.E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom; Earnest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

1929 — William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

1933 — W.B. Yeats, Collected Poems

1937 — John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men; The Red Pony

1939-1945: The Second World War

1939 — James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake

1940 — Richard Wright, Native Son

1946 — George Orwell, Animal Farm

1949 — Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

1951 — J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

1952 — Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

1955 — Vladmir Nabokov, Lolita

1957 — Jack Kerouac, On the Road

1958 — Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

1961 — Iris Murdock, A Severed Head

1964 — Theodore Roethke, The Far Field

1965 - ? Postmodernist Period

1966 — Sylvia Plath, Ariel

1969 — Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

1973 — Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

1981 — Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

1983 — Alice Walker, The Color Purple

1985 — Raymond Carver, Cathedral

1987 — Toni Morrison, Beloved

1988- Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

1989 — Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club; Thoman Pynchon, Vineland