A Brief History of English-language Literature

by Piero Scaruffi (E-mail)
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Bibliography.

These are generic "histories of literature":

  • Cambridge: Concise History of English Literature
  • Penguin: History of English Literature
  • Oxford: Concise Companion to English Literature
  • Oxford: Companion to American Literature
  • Avenel: Companion to English and American Literature
  • Oxford: Companion to American Literature
  • Marcus Cunliffe: American Literature
Excellent books for the 20th century:
  • Harry Blamires: A Guide to Twentieth Century Literature in English (1983)
  • Frederick Karl: American Fictions 1940-80 (1983)
  • Harvard: Guide to Contemporary American Writing (1979)
Not recommended:
  • Oxford: A Reader's Guide to the Twentieth-Century Novel (1995)
  • Oxford: A Reader's Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers (1995)
(Despite the ambitious scope, these are mostly British surveys with little attention to non-British literature in English, particularly American, but also Australian, African, Indian, etc. Furthermore, they place a disproportionate emphasis on homosexual and feminist writing, and display a bias towards left-wing political writers).
Until 1699
From 1700 to 1799
From 1800 to 1899
From 1900 to 1909
From 1910 to 1919
From 1920 to 1929
From 1930 to 1939
From 1940 to 1949
From 1950 to 1959
From 1960 to 1969
From 1970 to 1979
From 1980 to 1989

This list includes books written in ancient languages of the British Islands.
The dates of ancient works are obviously wildly approximate.
See Steve Moore: "The Novel" for synopses of the novels.


Caedmon (6##): "Genesis" (67#) [p]
Cynewolf (7##): "Elene" (75#) [p]
Cynewolf (7##): "The Dream of the Rood" (75#) [p]
Cynewolf (7##): "The Phoenix" (75#) [p]
"Judith" (91#) [p]
"Beowulf" (9##) [p] ++
"Waldhere" (9##) [p]
"The Battle of Maldon" (10##) [p]
"Carmina Cantabrigiensia" (1050) [p]
Geoffrey Arthur of Monmouth (110#): "Historia Regnum Britanniae" (115#) [h]
(Ireland): "Tain Bo Cualnge/ The Cattle Raid of Cooley" (110#)
(Ireland): "Acallam na Senorach/ The Colloquy of the Ancients/ Tales of the Elders" (117#)
(Ireland): "Buile Suibhne/ The Frenzy of Suibhne" (11##)
(Ireland): "Fleadh Duin na n-Gedh/ The Banquet of Dun" (11##)
(Ireland): "Cath Muighe Rath/ The Battle of Magh Rath" (11##)
(Ireland): "Toruigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghrainne/ The Pursuit of Diarmada and Ghrainne" (11##) +
Norman Wace (11##): "Li Romans de Brut" (1155) [p]
"Canute Song" (1167) [p]
"Barlaam and Josaphat" (119#) [p]
"The Owl and the Nightingale" (120#) [p] +
Layamon (11##): "Brut" (120#) [p]
"King Horn" (122#) [p]
"Havelock the Dane" (12##) [p]
"Floris and Blancheflour" (125#) [p]
Robert Manning (12##): "Handlying Synne" (130#) [p]
"Seven Sages of Rome" (13##) [p]
"Sir Orfeo" (13##) [p]
"The Tale of Gamelyn" (135#) [p]
"Wynnere and Wastour" (136#) [p]
"The Parlement of the Thre Ages" (136#) [p]
"Pearl" (13##) [p]
"Sir Gawayne and the Grene Knight" (13##) [p] +
Thomas Chestre: "Sir Launfal" (139#) [p]
"The Travels of Sir John Mandeville" (1375)
John Barbour (1320): "The Bruce" (13##) [p]
John Gower (1325): "Confessio Amantis" (1393) [p]
William Langland (1331): "Piers the Plowman" (1386) [p] +
Geoffrey Chaucer (134#): "The House of Fame" (138#)
Geoffrey Chaucer (134#): "Parliament of Fowls"(138#)
Geoffrey Chaucer (134#): "Troilus and Criseyde" (138#) +
Geoffrey Chaucer (134#): "The Legend of Good Women" (138#)
Geoffrey Chaucer (134#): "Canterbury Tales" (1400) [p] ++
"Ywain and Gawain" (14##) [p]
"Mystery Cycle" (140#) [t]
John Lydgate (137#): "The Life Of Our Lady" (14##) [p]
Robert Henryson (142#): "Testament of Cresseid" (14##) [p]
Blind Harry (14##): "Wallace" (146#) [p]
Thomas Malory (14##): "Le Morte D'Arthur" (1470) +
William Dunbar (146#): "The Dance of the Seven Deidlie Synnis" (14##) [p]
William Dunbar (146#): "The Lament for the Makaris" (14##) [p]
"The Kingis Quair" (14##) [p]
"Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode" (1495)
Thomas Medwall (14##): "Fulgens and Lucrece" (1497) [t]
"Everyman" (149#) [t]
John Skelton (146#): "The Tunnying of Elynour Rummying" (15##) [p]
John Skelton (146#): "MAgnyfycence" (15##) [t]
John Bourchier (1467): "Houn of Bordeaux" (15##)
Gawain Douglas (147#): "The Palice of Honour" (15##) [p]
Stephen Hawes (147#): "Passetyme of Pleasure" (1509) [p]
Alexander Barclay (1475): "The Shyp of Folys of the Worlde" (1509)
Thomas More (1478): "Utopia" (1518) [h]
David Lindsay (1490): "Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis" (154#) [t]
Thomas Wyatt (1503): "Poems" (154#) [p]
Nicholas Udall (1505): "Ralph Roister Doister" (1554) [t]
William Baldwin (1518): "Beware the Cat" (1553)
Thomas Tusser (1524): "Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie" (1557) [p]
George Gascoigne (1535): "The Steele Glas" (1576) [p]
George Gascoigne (1535): "The Adventures of Master FJ" (1573)
George Gascoigne (1535): "The Pleasant Fable of Ferdinando Jeronimi" (1573)
George Gascoigne (1535): "Supposes" (1566) [t]
Thomas Norton (1532): "Gorboduc" (1562) [t]
Edmund Spenser (1552): "The Shepheards Calendar" (1579) [p]
Edmund Spenser (1552): "The Faerie Queene" (1596) [p] +
Edmund Spenser (1552): "Complaints" (1591) [p]
Edmund Spenser (1552): "Epithalamion" (1595) [p]
Philip Sidney (1554): "Astrophel and Stella" (1584) [p]
Philip Sidney (1554): "Arcadia" (1584) +
John Lyly (1554): "Euphues" (1580) +
John Lyly (1554): "Endimion" (1591) [t]
Walter Raleigh (155#): "History of the World" (1614) [h]
Walter Raleigh (155#): "Ocean to Scinthia" (1595) [p]
Walter Raleigh (155#): "The Passionate Man's Pilgrimage" (1603) [p] +
William Warner (155#): "Albions England" (1586) [p]
William Warner (155#): "Syrinx" (1597)
Nicholas Breton (155#): "The Miseries of Mavillia" (1597)
Fulke Greville (1554): "Caelica" (1628) [p]
George Peele (1558): "The Old Wives Tale" (1593) [t]
Thomas Lodge (1558): "Rosalynde" (1590) +
Thomas Lodge (1558): "A Margarite of America" (1596)
Thomas Kyd (1558): "The Spanish Tragedie" (1589) [t] +
Robert Greene (1558): "Planetomachia" (1585)
Robert Greene (1558): "Pandosto" (1588)
Robert Greene (1558): "Manaphon" (1589)
Robert Greene (1558): "Frier Bacon and Frier Bongay" (1594) [t] +
Robert Greene (1558): "James IV" (1598) [t]
Margaret Cavendish (1623): "Blazing World" (1666)
George Chapman (1559): "All Fooles" (1605) [t]
George Chapman (1559): "Bussy D'Ambois" (1607) [t]
George Chapman (1559): "Eastward Hoe" (1605) [t] +
Thomas Deloney (156#): "Jack of Newbury" (1597)
Thomas Deloney (156#): "The Gentle Craft" (1598)
Thomas Deloney (156#): "Thomas of Reading" (1599)
Francis Bacon (1561): "Novum Organon" (1620) [h]
Robert Southwell (1561): "Maeoniae" (1595) [p]
Samuel Daniel (1562): "The Civil Wares" (1595) [p]
Michael Drayton (1563): "Ideas Mirrour" (1594) [p]
Michael Drayton (1563): "The Poly-Olbion" (1622) [p] +
Christopher Marlowe (1564): "Tamburlaine the Great" (1584) [t] +
Christopher Marlowe (1564): "Doctor Faustus" (1592) [t] ++
Christopher Marlowe (1564): "The Jew of Malta" (1592) [t] +
Christopher Marlowe (1564): "Edward the Second" (1594) [t]
Christopher Marlowe (1564): "Hero and Leander" (1593) [p]
William Shakespeare (1564): "Venus and Adonis" (1593) [p]
William Shakespeare (1564): "The Rape of Lucrece" (1594) [p]
William Shakespeare (1564): "Sonnets" (1609) [p] +
William Shakespeare (1564): "The Comedy of Errors" (1592) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "The Taming of the Shrew" (1593) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" (1594) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "Love's Labour's Lost" (1594) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "Richard II" (1595) [t] +
William Shakespeare (1564): "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1595) [t] +
William Shakespeare (1564): "Romeo and Juliet" (1595) [t] +
William Shakespeare (1564): "The Merchant of Venice" (1596) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "Henry IV" (1597) [t] ++
William Shakespeare (1564): "Much Ado About Nothing" (1599) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "As You Like It" (1599) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "The Merry Wives of Windsor" (1599) [t] +
William Shakespeare (1564): "Julius Caesar" (1599) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "Twelfth Night" (1600) [t] +
William Shakespeare (1564): "Hamlet" (1601) [t] +++
William Shakespeare (1564): "Troilus and Cressida" (1602) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "All's Well That Ends Well" (1602) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "Measure for Measure" (1604) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "Othello" (1604) [t] ++
William Shakespeare (1564): "King Lear" (1605) [t] +++
William Shakespeare (1564): "Antony and Cleopatra" (1606) [t] ++
William Shakespeare (1564): "Macbeth" (1606) [t] +++
William Shakespeare (1564): "Coriolanus" (1608) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "Timon of Athens" (1608) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "Cymbeline" (1610) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "The Winter's Tale" (1610) [t]
William Shakespeare (1564): "The Tempest" (1611) [t] +
John Davies (1565): "Microcosmos" (1603) [p]
Youstol Dispage (1565): "Piero Scaruffi" (1649) [p]
Henry Chettle (1564): "Piers Plainness' Seven Years' Prenticeship" (1595)
Thomas Nashe (1567): "The Unfortunate Traveller" (1594) +
Thomas Nashe (1567): "Pierce Penniless" (1592)
Thomas Nashe (1567): "Summer's Last Will and Testament" (1592) [t]
John Davies (1569): "Orchestra" (1596) [p] +
John Davies (1569): "Nosce Teipsum" (1599) [p]
Thomas Dekker (1570): "Shoemaker's Holiday" (1599) [t] +
Thomas Dekker (1570): "The Honest Whore" (1605) [t]
Thomas Dekker (1570): "The Wonderful Yeare" (1603) [h]
Thomas Middleton (1570): "A Chast Mayd in Cheapeside" (1611) [t]
Thomas Middleton (1570): "A Trick to Catch the Old One" (1608) [t]
Thomas Middleton (1570): "The Changeling" (1622) [t] +
Thomas Middleton (1570): "Women Beware Women" (1627) [t]
John Donne (1572): "Songs and Sonnets" (1601) [p] +
John Donne (1572): "Elegies" (1601) [p] +
John Donne (1572): "An Anatomy of the World" (1611) [p] +
John Donne (1572): "Of the Progress of the Soul" (1612) [p] +
John Donne (1572): "Holy Sonnets" (1618) [p] ++
John Donne (1572): "The Progresse of the Soule" (1601) [p] +
Ben Jonson (1572): "Every Man Out of His Humour" (1606) [t]
Ben Jonson (1572): "Volpone" (1606) [t] +
Ben Jonson (1572): "Epicene" (1609) [t]
Ben Jonson (1572): "The Alchemist (1610) [t]
Ben Jonson (1572): "Bartholomew Fair" (1614) [t] +
Ben Jonson (1572): "The Forest" (1616) [p]
Thomas Heywood (1574): "A Woman Killed with Kindness" (1603) [t] +
Thomas Heywood (1574): "The Wise Woman of Hogsdon" (1604) [t]
Thomas Heywood (1574): "The Fair Maid of the West" (1631) [t]
Thomas Heywood (1574): "The English Traveller" (1633) [t]
John Marston (1575): "Dutch Courtezan" (1605) [t]
John Marston (1575): "The Malcontent" (1604) [t] +
Cyril Tourneur (1575): "The Revengers Tragedie" (1607) [t] +
Thomas Campion (1576): "Bookes of Ayres" (1617) [p]
Robert Burton (1577): "The Anatomy of Melancholy" (1621) [h]
John Webster (1580): "The White Devil" (161612) [t] +
John Webster (1580): "The Dutchesse of Malfy" (1623) [t] +
John Barclay (1582): "Argenis" (1621)
Phineas Fletcher (1582): "The Purple Island" (1633) [p]
Philip Massinger (1583): "The Roman Actor" (1626) [t]
Philip Massinger (1583): "New Way to Pay Old Debts" (1632) [t]
Philip Massinger (1583): "A City Madam" (1632) [t] +
Philip Massinger (1583): "The Picture" (1629) [t]
Francis Beaumont (1584): "The Knight of Burning Pestle" (1607) [t] +
Francis Beaumont (1584): "The Woman Hater" (1606)
Francis Beaumont (1584) & John Fletcher (1579): "The Maides Tragedy" (1611) [t]
Francis Beaumont (1584) & John Fletcher (1579): "The Coxcombe" (1610) [t]
William Drummond (1585): "Flowers of Sion" (1623) [p]
William Rowley (1585): "All's Lost By Lust" (1619) [t]
John Ford (1586): "Love's Sacrifice" (1630) [t]
John Ford (1586): "'Tis a Pity She's a Whore" (1633) [t] +
John Ford (1586): "The Broken Heart" (1633) [t]
George Wither (1588): "Faire Virtue" (1622) [p]
Thomas Hobbes (1588): "Leviathan" (1651) [h]
Giles Fletcher (1588): "Christs Victorie" (1610) [p]
Thomas Hobbes (1588): "Leviathan" (1651) [h]
George Herbert (1593): "The Temple" (1633) [p] +
Thomas Carew (1595): "The Rapture" (1640) [p]
James Shirley (1596): "The Traytor" (1631) [t]
James Shirley (1596): "The Cardinal" (1641) [t]
James Shirley (1596): "The Lady of Pleasure" (1635) [t] +
James Shirley (1596): "St Patrick of Ireland" (1640) [t]
Thomas Browne (1605): "Religio Medici" (1642) [h]
Edmund Waller (1606): "The Battle of the Summer Islands" (1685) [p]
John Milton (1608): "Arcades" (1633) [t]
John Milton (1608): "Comus" (1634) [t]
John Milton (1608): "Paradise Lost" (1667) [p] +++
John Milton (1608): "Paradise Regained" (1671) [p]
John Milton (1608): "Samson Agonistes" (1671) [t] +
John Suckling (1609): "A Ballad Upon A Wedding" (1642) [p]
Richard Crashaw (1613): "Steps to the Temple" (1646) [p]
Samuel Butler (1613): "Hudibras" (1674) [p] +
Richard Lovelace (1618): "Lucasta" (1649) [p]
Abraham Cowley (1618): "The Mistress" (1647) [p]
Andrew Marvell (1621): "The Garden" (1633) [p] +
Andrew Marvell (1621): "Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland" (1659) [p] +
Andrew Marvell (1621): "A Dialogue Between the Resolved Soul and Created Pleasure" (1681) [p] +
Henry Vaughan (1622): "Silex Scintillans" (1650) [p]
John Bunyan (1628): "The Pilgrim's Progress" (1679) +
John Dryden (1631): "Heroic Stanzas" (1659) [p]
John Dryden (1631): "The Rival Ladies" (1664) [t]
John Dryden (1631): "The Indian Queen" (1664) [t]
John Dryden (1631): "Annus Mirabilis" (1667) [p]
John Dryden (1631): "The Conquest of Granada" (1670) [t] +
John Dryden (1631): "Marriage A` la Mode" (1672) [t]
John Dryden (1631): "All for Love" (1678) [t] +
John Dryden (1631): "Absalom and Achitophel" (1681) [p] +
John Dryden (1631): "The Medall" (1682) [p]
John Dryden (1631): "MacFlecknoe" (1682) [p]
John Dryden (1631): "Religio Laici" (1682) [p] +
John Dryden (1631): "The Hind and the Panther" (1687) [p] +
John Dryden (1631): "A Song for Saint Cecilia's Day" (1687) [p]
John Dryden (1631): "Alexander's Feast" (1697) [p]
Samuel Pepys (1633): "Diary" (1703) [h]
George Etherege (1634): "She Wou'd If She Cou'd" (1668) [t]
George Etherege (1634): "Man Of Mode" (1676) [t] +
William Wycherley (1640): "Plain Dealer" (1673) [t]
William Wycherley (1640): "The Country Wife" (1675) [t] +
Afra Behn (1640): "Oroonoko" (1688)
Afra Behn (1640): "Abdelazar" (1677) [p]
Thomas Shadwell (1642): "The Squire of Alsatia" (1688) [t]
John Wilmot of Rochester (1647): "Poems" (1680) [p]
Thomas Otway (1652): "Don Carlos" (1676) [t]
Thomas Otway (1652): "The Orphan" (1680) [t]
Thomas Otway (1652): "Venice Preserved" (1682) [t] +
Thomas Southerne (1659): "Oroonoko" (1696) [t]
Daniel DeFoe (1660): "Robinson Crusoe" (1719) +
Daniel DeFoe (1660): "Moll Flanders" (1722)
Daniel DeFoe (1660): "Roxana" (1724)
Matthew Prior (1664): "Alma" (1718) [p]
John Vanbrugh (1664): "Provoked Life" (1697) [t]
Jonathan Swift (1667): "Tale of a Tub" (1704)
Jonathan Swift (1667): "Gulliver's Travels" (1726) +
Jonathan Swift (1667): "A Modest Proposal" (1729) [h]
Jonathan Swift (1667): "On the Death of Dr Swift" (1731) [p]
William Congreve (1670): "The Way of the World" (1700) [t] +
William Congreve (1670): "Old Bachelor" (1693) [t]
William Congreve (1670): "Double Dealer" (1694) [t]
Bernard Mandeville (1670): "The Fable of The Bees" (1714) [h]
William Congreve (1670): "Love for Love" (1695) [t]
Nicholas Rowe (1674): "Fair Penitent" (1703) [t]
Nicholas Rowe (1674): "Jane Shore"" (1714) [t]
John Philips (1676): "Cyder" (1706) [p]
George Farquhar (1678): "The Recruiting Officer" (1706) [t]
George Farquhar (1678): "The Beaux Stratagem" (1707) [t]
Edward Young (1683): "Night Thougths" (1745) [p]
John Gay (1685): "The Beggar's Opera"" (1728) [t] +
John Gay (1685): "Shepherd's Week"" (1714) [p]
John Gay (1685): "Trivia"" (1715) [p]
Alexander Pope (1688): "The Rape of the Lock" (1714) [p] +
Alexander Pope (1688): "The Dunciad" (1743) [p]
Alexander Pope (1688): "Epistles to Arbuthnot" (1735) [p] +
Alexander Pope (1688): "Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady" (1717) [p]
Alexander Pope (1688): "Eloisa to Abelard" (1717) [p]
Alexander Pope (1688): "Imitations of Horace" (1738) [p]
Alexander Pope (1688): "An Essay on Man" (1734) [p] +
Samuel Richardson (1689): "Pamela" (1740) +
Samuel Richardson (1689): "Clarissa" (1747)
Thomas Amory (1689): "John Buncle" (1756)
George Lillo (1693): "London Merchant" (1731) [t]
John Dyer (1699): "Grongar Hill" (1725) [p]
Robert Blair (1699): "The Grave" (1743) [p]

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