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Timeline of British History and Literature

Anglo-Saxon Period 450

(450 A.D. – 1066)
This was the first period in British literary
history. It was filled with fighting due to the
Old English
invasions by Germanic people. There was (450 A.D. – 1066)
no written language, so literature was During the entire Anglo-Saxon Period, Old
passed down through storytellers. English, also called Anglo-Saxon, was the
spoken language.

1066 Conquest of England

Medieval Period (1066)
This conquest started the Medieval Period.
(1066 – 1485)
William of Normandy, a French Duke,
Social life was defined by the feudal
invaded England and took the crown.
system where everyone had a certain role
and job-related task. Middle English was
the spoken and written language.

The Printing Press

1485 Johannes Gutenberg of Germany created
Renaissance Period the printing press with movable type that
(1485 – 1660) allowed for the mass production and
This period was known as the rebirth. Books
distribution of books.
became readily available to everyone
and people began embracing new ideas.
Many ideas were rooted in the values of
ancient Greece and Rome. During this
period, William Shakespeare created his
famous works.

Restoration Period and
1660 King Charles II
Neoclassical Period
King Charles II was finally restored to the
English throne after years of living in exile.
The Restoration Period was the first part of
the Neoclassical Period, lasting only from
1660 to 1714. During this period, England,
Scotland, and Wales united to become
Great Britain.

During the Neoclassical Period, writers
drew on the “new classical” style of
Roman and Greek models. Journalism
became a real profession and they saw The Age of Enlightenment
themselves as reformers. England became (1685 – 1815)
industrialized and people moved to the The Enlightenment was when scientists,
city where they lived in poor conditions. artists, and philosophers created ideas and
works based on logic and reason rather
than religion.

Romantic Period
(1798 – 1832)
This period was a reaction to the
industrialization of the economy and the
Age of Enlightenment. This period
celebrated the experience of artists. Artists
mainly focused on expressing social
change, imagination, nature, personal
experience, and emotion in their work.

Victorian Period 1832
(1832 – 1901)
Named after Queen Victoria, this period
observed many social rules and valued
decorum. The shift in morality and change
in society was based around reforms for
women and workers.

Modern Period
(1901 – Present)
This period lasted until after WWII. People
shifted away from conservatism and
accepted and embraced new ideas.
Fashion became less formal and new
forms of music, such as jazz, became more
popular. Post-Modern Period
(1945 – Present)
After WWII, Great Britain was transitioning.
The two World Wars and rise of
communism shifted the accepted political
and social ideas. Writers did not associate
with a specific school or ideology and
used experimental literary techniques.