Literary Periods

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Periods of British Literature:
450-1066: Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) Period
1066-1500: Middle English Period
1500-1660: The Renaissance
1558-1603: Elizabethan Age
1603-1625: Jacobean Age
1625-1649: Caroline Age
1649-1660: Commonwealth Period (or Puritan Interregnum)
1660-1785: The Neoclassical Period
1660-1700: The Restoration
1700-1745: The Augustan Age (or Age of Pope)
1745-1785: The Age of Sensibility (or Age of Johnson)
1785-1830: The Romantic Period
1832-1901: The Victorian Period
1848-1860: The Pre-Raphaelites
1880-1901: Aestheticism and Decadence
1901-1914: The Edwardian Period
1910-1936: The Georgian Period
1914-1945: The Modern Period
1945-present: Postmodern Period
The Old English Period or the Anglo-Saxon Period refers to the literature produced from the invasion of Celtic England by Germanic tribes in the first half of the fifth century to the conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror. During the Old English Period, written literature began to develop from oral tradition, and in the eighth century poetry written in the vernacular Anglo-Saxon (also known as Old English) appeared. One of the most well-known eighth century Old English pieces of literature is Beowulf, a great Germanic epic poem. Two poets of the Old English Period who wrote on biblical and religious themes were Caedmon and Cynewulf. The Middle English Period consists of the literature produced in the four and a half centuries between the Norman Conquest of 1066 and about 1500, when the standard literary language, derived from the dialect of the London area, became recognizable as "modern English." Prior to the second half of the fourteenth century, vernacular literature consisted primarily of religious writings. The second half of the fourteenth century produced the first great age of secular literature. The most widely known of these writings are Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur. While the English Renaissnace began with the ascent of the House of Tudor to the English throne in 1485, the English Literary Renaissance began with English humanists such as Sir Thomas More and Sir Thomas Wyatt. In addition, the English Literary Renaissance consists of four subsets: The Elizabethan Age, the Jacobean Age, the Caroline Age, and the Commonwealth Period (which is also known as the Puritan Interregnum). The Elizabethan Age of English Literature coincides with the reign of Elizabeth I, 1558 - 1603. During this time, medieval tradition was blended with Renaissance optimism. Lyric poetry, prose, and drama were the major styles of literature that flowered during the Elizabethan Age. Some important writers of the Elizabethan Age include William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Ben Jonson. The Jacobean Age of English Literature coincides with the reign of James I, 1603 - 1625. During this time the literature became sophisticated, sombre, and conscious of social abuse and rivalry. The Jacobean Age produced rich prose and drama as well as the King James translation of the Bible. Shakespeare and Jonson wrote during the Jacobean Age, as well as John Donne, Francis Bacon, and Thomas Middleton. The Caroline Age of English Literature coincides with the reign of Charles I, 1625 - 1649. The writers of this age wrote with refinement and elegance. This era produced a circle of poets known as the "Cavalier Poets" and the dramatists of this age were the last to write in the Elizabethan tradition. The Commonwealth Period, also known as the Puritan Interregnum, of English Literature includes the literature produced during the time of Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell. This period produced the political writings of John Milton, Thomas Hobbes' political treatise Leviathan, and the prose of Andrew Marvell. In September of 1642, the Puritans closed theatres on moral and religious grounds. For the next eighteen years...
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