British English literature was fromthe United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Channel Islands and also includesliterature from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. British Englishliterature has been written in the English language. It is developing into aglobal phenomenon because of its use in the former colonies of Britain.I. Old English LiteratureThe Old English literary or Anglo-Saxon was from mid-7th century.
This period was the earliesthistorical form of the English which spoken in England and also in Scotland. Thisperiod have come down to us in late copies which were made three hundred yearsafter the composition of the poems themselves. Actually the Old English wasdeveloped from a set of Anglo Frisian or Ingvaeonic dialects that originallyspoken by Germanic.
The most famous king of Old Englishperiod was King Alfred and he was called ‘Alfred the Great’. He was alsoconcerned with the reform of monastic life and had a number of translationsmade which are important monuments of (early West-Saxon) Old English. II. The Early Middle English LiteratureThe Early Middle Englishliterature was began in 1006-1485. This period has developments in the historyof England such as the formation of Norman and Angevin dynasties, the internalstruggles between king, nobles, clergy, and also people and the numerous warsboth at home and abroad.
The literary more important than definite events werethe general movements of the times such as the rise of the religious orders’,their early enthusiasm, and their subsequent decline. The blossoming ofchivalry and the spirit of romance, bringing new sympathy especially for women.The Crusades and the widening of the European outlook which was gradually toexpand into the reborn of the intellect known as the Renaissance. The famous writer in this period was William Caxton.He was a writer who set up the first printing press, a translator and importerof book in England. He established his base at Westminster. He prepared sometranslations of works in Latin and French. He was also the translator of manyof the books he published by using his knowledge of French, Latin and Dutch.
III. The Later Middle English Literature The later Middle English Literaturewas started from 1350-1450. This period was considered a serious literarymedium. From the later Middle Englishliterary point, the greater were the social and intellectual movements of theperiod. For more remarkable was the literary and linguisticrevolution which took place in England.The famous writer in this period was Geoffrey Chaucer.
The outstanding English poet before Shakespeare and “the first finder of ourlanguage.” One of his greatest poetic works in English was “TheCanterbury Tales”. Healso contributed in the second half of the 14th century to the management ofpublic affairs as courtier, diplomat, and civil servant.
IV. The Renaissance Literature Therenaissance period was a cultural movement that started in Italy but actually spreadall over in Europe. This period considered to be the division between themiddle Ages and the Modern Era. This period also began to investigate fieldssuch as astronomy, anatomy, science and many others.
In this period tough tookmost years for the “Modern” England to arise, even when it had establisheditself, many aspects of the medieval culture still remained side by side to thenew order. Thefamous writer in this period was Thomas More. His work was 1516 book Utopia andfor his untimely death in 1535 after refusing to acknowledge King Henry VIIIthe head of the Church of England. He also was canonized by the Catholic Churchas a saint in 1935. V.
The ElizabethanThe Elizabeth period wasbegan when the Elizabeth I. Some countries experienced religious, political and socialchanges.Most of the political leaders elected during this time misused their powers andthis led to oppression of the poor in the society. The social political issuesresulted from land problems in the country. The social differences between thepoor and the rich in the country led to social problems as the poor wanted topossess land like the rich.
The famous writer in this period and also inthe world’s pre-eminent dramatist was William Shakespeare. He was an actor,English poet and also playwright. His produced his works between 1589 and 1613which consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poemsand also a few other verse. He wrote especially tragedies consist of some ofthe finest work and in his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, known asromances and collaborated with other playwrights.
VI. Literature The Seventeenth Literature: Puritan TheSeventeenth Century up to 1660 was dominated by Puritanism and it called thePuritan Age or the Age of Milton. The Puritan movement in literature mightconsidered as the second and greater Renaissance. The movement of this period stoodfor the people from the shackles of despotic ruler as great as the introductionof morality and high ideals in politics. The name Puritan was at first given tothose who advocated certain changes in the form of worship of the reformed EnglishChurch under Elizabeth. The medieval standards of chivalry, the impossibleloves and romances which we find in Spenser and Sidney, have completelydisappeared. John Milton was a one of famous literaryin this period and literarypersonality of the 17th century.
His great learning and poeticability found expression in his work “ParadiseLost”. After studying at St. Paul’s, he entered Cambridge wherehe first began to develop his literary talents writing poetry on sacred themesin Latin, Italian and English. His literary ambitions were interrupted by theevents of the Puritan revolution, of which he was an ardent supporter.