The HyperTexts

English Poetry Timeline and Chronology
English Literature Timeline and Chronology
World Literature Timeline and Chronology

This is a timeline of English poetry and literature, from the earliest Celtic works to the present day. All dates are AD or CE (current era) unless otherwise specified. Some dates are approximations or "educated guesses." Considerable information was extracted from wiki and other public web pages (we do not claim everything here to be stunningly original).

"The Phases of English Poetry" is our most compressed outline; it quickly covers the evolution of English poetry from Prehistoric, to Celtic, to Anglo-Roman, to Anglo-Saxon, to Anglo-Norman, and so forth. The following sections go into more detail, covering each major period from the Prehistoric to Modernism and Postmodernism.

Related pages: Free Verse Timeline

The Phases of English Poetry or a Brief History of English Poetry (the main periods are underlined; the major poets' names are bolded)

For worldwide events, some much earlier, please refer to the next timeline.

9200 BC — The end of the last glacial period in England, which may have been unpopulated or very lightly populated at the time.
8000 BC — England's climate warms and birch woodlands spread rapidly. Mesolithic humans occupy the island, but sparsely.
5600 BC — Rising seas separate England from the European mainland; thus the natives' language and culture will evolve separately.
4500 BC — There is evidence of farming in England, along with the development of large earthwork barrows for burials and rituals.
3838 BC — Earth's oldest known causeway, a timber trackway known as the Post Track, is created from ash planks in the Somerset Levels.
3700 BC — A causewayed enclosure called the Neath Barrow is created 2 1/2 miles northwest of Stonehenge.
3000 BC — The first smaller henges are dug out at Stonehenge but native Britons remain prehistoric, lacking any writing.
2500 BC — The larger henges—sarsens and bluestones—are erected at Stonehenge.
2200 BC — England enters the Bronze Age; by 1600 BC there will be a lively trade in exported English tin.
1268 BC — This is Robert Graves' date for the Celtic Song of Amergin, but dating oral works of the Prehistoric Period seems iffy to us.
750 BC — England enters the Iron Age. Around this time most natives speak Brythonic, a Celtic tongue, as reflected in place names of the era.
325 BC — Pytheas of Massalia, a Greek explorer, is the first writer to mention Britain, where people lived in thatched cottages and ate plain fare.
57 BC — Refugees from Gaul (France) called the Belgae (Belgians) arrive, fleeing the Romans, who are also on their way to England ....
55 BC — Julius Caesar invades England; the Anglo-Roman Period (55 BC-410 AD) will make Latin the language of rulers, clergy and scholars.
51 BC — Julius Caesar in his Gallic War mentions that Celtic Druids studied poetry and committed a "great number of verses" to memory.
43 AD — The Roman Emperor Claudius invades and conquers England; Londinium (London) is founded; native poetry remains oral.
122 — Hadrian visits England; construction of Hadrian's Wall begins; elites study Latin, the language of church, state and commerce.
350 — The earliest Irish writings are anonymous Ogham inscriptions on stone memorials dating to the fourth century.
410 — Visigoths sack Rome; the Roman legions depart England, leading to the Anglo-Saxon or Old English Period (410-1066).
449 — Anglo-Saxons invade England, which will take its name from the Angles as the lingo becomes more Germanic.
450 — The Undley bracteate contains the most ancient Old English runic inscription, possibly about a "reward to a relative."
500 — Birth of Gildas, the first native writer we know by name (although he was born in Scotland and wrote in Latin).
530 — Birth of Dallαn Forgaill, a blind Irish poet who wrote Amhra Coluim Cille in archaic Old Irish.
597 — Sent by Pope Gregory with 40 missionaries, Augustine founds the English Church, then becomes Archbishop of Canterbury in 601.
658 — Caedmon's Hymn, the oldest known English poem, marks the beginning of English poetry (although it was still quite Germanic).
680 — Possible early date for the composition of the epic poem Beowulf, a masterpiece of Old English (Anglo-Saxon) poetry.
731 — A scholar known as the Venerable Bede writes The Ecclesiastical History of the English People in Latin.
735 — Bede's Death Song may have been written on his deathbed by Bede.
792 — Viking raids on England begin, led primarily by the Danes.
871 — King Alfred the Great defeats the Danes and becomes the first king of a united England. He was also a scholar, writer and translator.
890 — The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is "the single most important source for the history" of Anglo-Saxon England.
900 — Deor, an Anglo-Saxon scop, composes Deor's Lament.
950 — The Exeter Book has two feminist poems, Wulf and Eadwacer and The Wife's Lament, the first rhymed poem, and Anglo-Saxon kennings.
1000 — Now skruketh rose and lylie flour is an early English love poem; also a possible date for the Nowell Codex.
1066 — William the Conqueror invades and rules; the Norman Conquest begins the Anglo-Norman or Middle English Period (1066-1340).
1086 — King William commissions the Domesday Book, written in Latin, to catalog his English holdings.
1096 — Teaching begins at Oxford. French and Latin remain the primary languages of rulers, clergy, scholars and fashionable poets.
1200 — How Long the Night ("Myrie it is while sumer ylast") is a stellar rhyming poem of the Middle English period; also the first Ballads.
1215 — The Magna Carta, drafted in French, forces King John to grant liberties and rights to Englishmen in return for taxation.
1260 — Early rhyming poems: Sumer is icumen in, Fowles in the Frith, Ich am of Irlaunde, Now Goeth Sun Under Wood and Pity Mary.
1340 — Birth of Geoffrey Chaucer, the first major vernacular English poet; thus begins the Late Middle English Period (1340-1503).
1350 — An Alliterative Revival is led by the Gawain poet with Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Patience, Cleanness.
1362 — The Statute of Pleading replaces French with English as the language of law; English is used in Parliament for the first time.
1370 — William Langland writes Piers Plowman.
1384 — John Wycliffe publishes his English translation of the Bible.
1385 — English replaces Latin as the main language in schools (except at Oxford and Cambridge universities).
1399 — Henry IV is the first English-speaking monarch since before the Norman Conquest!
1430 — A "haunting riddle-chant" is I Have a Yong Suster, an anonymous Medieval English poem.
1455 — The Guttenberg Bible is the first book printed with moveable type. Printed books will lead to an explosion of knowledge.
1476 — William Caxton prints Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the first book published in England with moveable type.
1485 — The Tudor Period (1457-1603) ends the Middle Ages; English finally rules in Henry VII's court!
1503 — Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard introduce the sonnet, iambic pentameter and blank verse to England, beginning the English Renaissance (1503-1558).
1517 — Martin Luther publishes his 95 theses against the Roman Catholic Church, kick-starting the Protestant Reformation.
1532 — The English Reformation (1532-1649) has poets at war: John Milton spoke for reform while Cavalier poets supported the crown.
1533 — Birth of Michel de Montaigne, a French nobleman who would establish the essay as an important and influential literary genre.
1534 — Around this time, Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard introduce the English sonnet, modeled after Italy's Petrarchan sonnet.
1547 — Birth of Miguel Cervantes, the writer of the first modern novel, Don Quixote.
1552 — Birth of Edmund Spenser, the creator of the modern English style of poetry: "fluid, limpid, translucent and graceful."
1558 — The Elizabethan Period (1558-1603) saw major works by Spenser, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Philip Sidney, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare.
1564 — Births of Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare; the latter is generally considered to be the greatest English writer.
1572 — Birth of John Donne, the major poet of the Metaphysical Period (1572-1695); others were George Herbert, Henry Vaughn, Andrew Marvell, Richard Crashaw.
1579 — Edmund Spenser's Shepheardes Calender has been called "the first work of the English literary Renaissance."
1591 — Birth of Robert Herrick, first poet of the Cavalier Period (1591-1674); others included Richard Lovelace, Sir John Suckling, Thomas Carew.
1603 — The Jacobean/Caroline/Interregnum/Restoration Period (1603-1690) sees the King James Bible, Shakespeare's later plays, Milton's major works.
1608 — John Milton is born; John Donne writes his Holy Sonnets; Shakespeare's sonnets and plays Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, etc.
1611 — The King James Bible is published in still-readable English with early English free verse such as the poetic Song of Solomon.
1620 — The Pilgrims set sail for America in the Mayflower. Harold Bloom has called Tom O'Bedlam's Song "all but High Romantic vision."
1622 — Publication of the first English-language newspaper, the Courante or Weekly News
1623 — Publication of Shakespeare's First Folio. Ben Jonson and his "tribe" are on the rise: Herrick, Lovelace, Suckling, Carew, Edmund Waller, et al.
1649 — King Charles I is found guilty of treason, then executed. Oliver Cromwell becomes England's Lord Protector and Regent in 1653. Milton lauds Cromwell.
1658 — Cromwell's death throws England into chaos; Milton works on his masterpiece Paradise Lost.
1690 — The Augustan Period (1690-1756) is marked by the sophisticated work of Alexander Pope, John Dryden and Samuel Johnson.
1750 — Edward Young's melancholic Night-Thoughts would become a major influence on Romantics such as William Blake and Goethe.
1742 — Thomas Gray begins writing his masterpiece, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, a major work of early English Romanticism.
1752 — Birth of Thomas Chatterton, called the "marvellous boy" by William Wordsworth and also praised by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
1757 — William Blake heads the English Romantic Period (1757-1837) along with Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats.
1759 — Birth of the Romantic poet Robert Burns, generally considered to be the greatest Scottish poet.
1776 — Americans declare independence with words written in ringing iambic pentameter by Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..."
1789 — The French Revolution influences the great Romantics: Blake, Burns, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats.
1798 — Lyrical Ballads, written by Wordsworth with contributions by Coleridge, becomes the foundational text of the English Romantic Movement.
1819 — Keats publishes Ode to a Grecian Urn and Ode to a Nightingale. Byron publishes Don Juan. Birth of the American Romantic poet Walt Whitman.
1830 — Alfred Tennyson publishes his Poems, Chiefly Lyrical. Emily Dickinson, widely considered to be the greatest female American poet, is born.
1836 — Ralph Waldo Emerson is a founder of the Transcendental Club, which includes Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott.
1837 — The Victorian Period (1837-1901) is led by Tennyson, Matthew Arnold, Gerard Manley Hopkins, John Clare, Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
1846 — Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning get married: they become poetry's first "super couple" a century before Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
1848 — The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (1848-1882) is founded by Dante Gabriel Rossetti; aligned poets include Christina Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne.
1855 — Walt Whitman publishes Leaves of Grass, a landmark work of Early Modernism (1855-1901) that rocks the Victorians to their whalebone corsets!
1865 — The Civil War ends. Slavery is abolished. Abraham Lincoln is assassinated. Whitman publishes his elegy for Lincoln, When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd.
1867 — Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach has been called a masterpiece of Early Modernism.
1871 — Birth of Stephen Crane. He would write poems and prose in a minimalist or "spare" style that would influence modernist writers like Ernest Hemingway and Carl Sandburg.
1888 — T. S. Eliot, a major Modernist poet and critic, is born. Columbia Records, the first major American record label, is founded. The first classical music recording by Handel.
1890 — Fin-de-siθcle (1890-1900) poets influenced by the French symbolists include W. B. Yeats, Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson, Arthur Symons, Oscar Wilde and Swinburne.
1895 — Scott Joplin publishes ragtime. Buddy Bolden creates the countermelody of jazz. The world will soon be awash in poems set to music: pop, rock, country, blues, etc.
1901 — The Edwardian/Georgian Period (1901-1936) is brief but fecund with Thomas Hardy, A. E. Housman, Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke and Edward Thomas.
1909 — Two T. E. Hulme poems begin the modernist movement called Imagism (1909-1919); its leading poets and critics would be Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot.
1914 — Pound becomes dissatisfied with the work of other Imagists and founds a new movement called Vorticism (1913-1918); it did not take off with the public.
1919 — The Harlem Renaissance (1919-1940) was led by Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay and James Weldon Jones. Paul Dunbar was a major influence.
1920 — The Neo-Romantics (1920-Present) include Hart Crane, Dylan Thomas, Kevin N. Roberts, Michael Pendragon, Carmen Willcox, Mary Rae and Michael R. Burch.
1922 — The Fugitives (1922-1925) aka Agrarians were led by John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, Merrill Moore, Donald Davidson and Randall Jarrell.
1943 — The Beats (1940-Present) include Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Gregory Corso, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Thomas Raine Crowe and Jack Foley.
1950 — The San Francisco Renaissance Poets (1950-Present) include Kenneth Rexroth, Madeline Gleason, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer and Robin Blaser.
1950 — The Confessionals (1950-1977) included Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, John Berryman, W. D. Snodgrass, Sharon Olds and Richard Moore.
1950 — The New York School (1950-Present) includes John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, Barbara Guest and James Schuyler.
1950 — Charles Olson calls Pound and other Imagists "inferior predecessors" and creates a new school of poetry, Projectivism (1950-1960).
1985 — The New Formalists (1985-Present) include Richard Wilbur, Anthony Hecht, Dana Gioia, X. J. Kennedy, Richard Moore, Rhina Espaillat, R. S. Gwynn, A. E. Stallings, Jared Carter.
1901 — Other leading voices of Modernism and Postmodernism (1901-Present) include Conrad Aiken, Maya Angelou, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Louise Bogan, e. e. cummings, Robert Frost, Robinson Jeffers, Seamus Heaney, Philip Larkin, D. H. Lawrence, Robert Lowell, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Wallace Stevens, Richard Wilbur and William Carlos Williams. We would also include outstanding singer-songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan, Eminem, Woody Guthrie, Michael Jackson, Carole King, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Prince, Smokey Robinson, Pete Seeger, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Hank Williams Sr. There are many other very worthy names, so anyone who says that poetry is "dead" or "dying" is obviously just not listening! Other labels applied to poets and/or poetry in modern times include: Language Poets, Deep Image, Cubism, Surrealism, Futurism, Expressionism, Orphism, Purism, Dadism, Constructivism, Objectivism and other -isms too numerous (and obscure) to name!

Now begins a more comprehensive history of human art, with a focus on the origins and development of English poetry ...

Prehistoric or Pre-History Art (all dates are BCE)
2,500,000 BC — Homo Habilis ("Handy Man") may be the first human ancestor to create stone tools; thus begins the Early Stone Age and the Lower Paleolithic Era.
1,700,000 BC — Oldowan obsidian artifacts discovered at Melka Kunture (Ethiopia) suggest "tool kits" were being used and pre-planning was involved.
1,500,000 — Homo Erectus is the first human ancestor to control fire.
500,000 — The first wooden huts were discovered at sites near Chichibu, Japan.
400,000 — Four wooden spears with tapered points were discovered at Schφningen, Germany by Hartmut Thieme.
300,000 — The first fossil evidence of Homo Sapiens coincides with ochre works at Olorgesailie, Kenya, where ochre is still used by natives for burials, adornment and art.
168,000 — Humans begin to wear clothing, but nothing too stylish yet ... the emergence of clothing, intentional burials and possible concepts of an afterlife mark the Middle Paleolithic Era.
133,000 — Neanderthals had fashion sense, as jewelry made from eagle talons has been discovered at a Neanderthal cave at Krapina, Croatia.
108,000 — Beads made from shells of Nassarius sea snails, found at the Skhul cave in Israel, are the first known jewelry made by humans, who are finally catching up to Neanderthals!
71,000 — The earliest known drawing, made with a red ocher "crayon," is found at Blombos, South Africa. The drawing looks like a #hashtag!
68,000 — Stones with crosshatch markings found at Blombos, South Africa, may be the first abstract or symbolic art. The Middle Paleolithic Era concludes with modern human behavior.
50,000 — The "great leap forward" includes abstract and symbolic thinking, long-term planning, cooperative labor, trade, music, hearths, elaborate graves, fishing and blade technology.
40,000 — Paleolithic flutes made from bones and mammoth ivory appear to be the oldest musical instruments. Increasing organization and advancing art mark the Upper Paleolithic Era.
39,000 — The Altamira Cave cave paintings, near El Castillo, Spain, may be the earth's oldest paintings and the earliest carbon-dated examples of human figurative art.
38,000 — The Lφwenmensch figurine, aka the Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel, and the Venus of Hohle Fels may be the earth's oldest statues. Cave paintings in distant Borneo.
29,000 — The earliest evidence of a human settlement at the Mladec caves (in the modern-day Czech Republic).
26,000 — The earliest known pottery was used not as crockery, but for art: the Venus of Dolnν Věstonice, Moravia (in the modern-day Czech Republic).
21,000 — Evidence of the seeding, cultivation and grinding of grains at the Ohalo II settlement in Israel mark the dawn of human agriculture.
21,000 — Stone, bone, and wood artifacts found in the Meadowcroft Rockshelter (Pennsylvania) are the earliest evidence of human activity in North America.
10,000 — The first non-cave permanent human settlements evolve into ancient cities like Jericho and Byblos; the emergence of full-scale agriculture and domesticated animals pave the way for more advanced art forms to come ...

If we think of history as "man and his story," it requires words to know what our ancestors were thinking and saying. Before writing appears, we can only speculate about human beliefs and thoughts. But with the first extant work of literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 2100 BCE), we know much about the people of that time. We know, for instance, their beliefs about death, the possibility of an afterlife, virtue, morality, etc.

Pre-English Art from the Dawn of History (all dates are BCE)
5600 — Previously, one could walk to England because it was a peninsula of Europe! But rising sea levels due to massive ice melts create an island with around 5,000 stranded hunter-gatherers.
5000 — The inventions of the wheel, kiln, smelting (tin, lead and copper) and proto-writing set the stage for the coming Bronze Age with poetry and other forms of literature.
4600 — Predynastic Egyptians create dirt mounds to cover their dead; these would evolve into mastabas ("benches of mud") and eventually into pyramids.
3800 — Symbols on Gerzean (Egyptian) pottery have been compared to later hieroglyphics, although the connection is disputed.
3500 — The Stone Age winds down; the Bronze Age revs up with metal tools and weapons; nations form; proto-cuneiform writing develops in Sumer (Iraq); thus begins what we call "history."
3300 — Egyptians create double-reed musical instruments, lyres, cosmetics, glazed ceramic beads, linen, sails, iron works, masonry, the first board game (Senet).
3250 — The Kish Tablet may be the oldest extant example of Sumerian proto-cuneiform (i.e., pictographic) writing. The oldest Egyptian hieroglyphics date to around this time.
3200 — The first Pharaoh of a unified Upper and Lower Egypt is Menes (perhaps also known as Narmer). Egyptians mass-produce mud bricks to build their cities.
3000 — Sumerian temple hymns and laments; Egyptian pyramid and coffin texts (early epigrams); invention of paper (papyrus); the first smaller henges are dug out locally at Stonehenge.
2880 — This is Will Durant's date for the work of the first known philosopher, the Egyptian vizier Ptahhotep, author of The Maxims of Ptah-Hotep.
2780 — The Egyptian polymath Imhotep has been called the original architect, engineer and physician; he designed the first pyramid, got promoted to a god, and was worshipped by a cult!
2700 — The Egyptian physician Merit-Ptah appears to be the first woman named in the fields of medicine and science. Her portrait appears in a Valley of Kings tomb.
2690 — A Seth-Peribsen tomb seal has the first known complete sentence: "The golden one of Ombos has unified the two realms for his son, the king of Lower and Upper Egypt, Peribsen."
2500 — Lyres were discovered in the tombs of the royal family of Ur (a lyric was originally a poem sung or chanted to the strumming of a lyre). The Sumerian Kesh Temple Hymn and Instructions of Šuruppak may be the earth's oldest surviving literature. Thus we may consider 2500 BC as the approximate beginning point of literature and songwriting. Major work takes place on Stonehenge and the Great Sphinx of Giza.
2285 — Enheduanna, daughter of King Saragon the Great, may be the first named poet in human history for prayers and hymns such as The Exaltation of Inanna.
2100 — The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh appears to be the earth's oldest extant major poem and the first great work of literature.
2000 — The earth's oldest love poem may be the Sumerian Love Song of Shu-Sin. Early Minoan culture on Crete. The first libraries in Egypt. Abraham of Ur becomes a monotheist.
1800 — The Babylonian/Akkadian Enuma ElisAtra-Hasis and Eridu Genesis
1600 — The Egyptian Book of the Dead. The Rigveda, a collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, may be the oldest religious text still in use today.
1400 — A Hurrian Cult Song from Ancient Ugarit (aka Hurrian Hymn 6) has the first musical score and the oldest playable melody. The first written legal codes are those of Hammurabi.
1200 — The Bronze Age evolves into the Iron Age. Iron artifacts dating to this time have been found in Anatolia (Turkey), Egypt, Jordan, Sumer (Iraq) and Greece.
1100 — The Tale of Two Brothers and The Story of Wenamun (Egypt); Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda (Sanskrit/Indian); Avesta of Zoroastrianism (Avestan/Persian).
1021 — Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese noblewoman and lady-in-waiting, writes the first known novel, Tale of Genji.
1000 — Early Native American poetry such as Mayan and Aztec; early Oriental poetry; possible birth date for Homer, author of the epic poems Odyssey and Iliad; the Iron Age begins.
900 — I Ching manual of divination (China); the Brahmanas and early Upanishads (Sanskrit/Indian).
750 — Birth of Hesiod; Celts reach England; Hebrew proverbs; oldest Chinese poems in the Shi Jing; Lycurgus of Sparta; first Olympic games; Rome is founded; Nineveh's library has 22,000 clay tablets.
668 — One of the most ancient extant poems was found in the oldest surviving royal library, that of Ashurbanipal (668-630). The poem is a still viable Neo-Assyrian spell to make a colicky baby sleep: "Belch like a drunkard, snort like a baby gazelle, until your mother comes, strokes you, and picks you up." 
600 — Possible date for the Bible's poetic book of Job. The births of Archilochus (680), Solon (640), Sappho of Lesbos (630) from whom we derive our terms "lesbian" and "sapphic," Aesop (620), Lao-tse (604), Anacreon (582), Buddha (563), Confucius (551), Aeschylus (525), Pindar (522). The pinnacle of ancient Greek poetry was reached between the 7th and 4th centuries B.C. This "poetic movement was part of the greatest cultural and intellectual community in world history. The Greeks developed nearly all of the classic forms that formed the underpinnings of later literature, drama, music and poetry, including the ode, epic, lyric, tragedy, and comedy. As Greek works became disseminated through the Western world, they created the basis for modern literature."
500 — Possible date for the Bible's Song of Solomon and the Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The births of Pericles (500), Sophocles (497), Euripides (484), Socrates (470), Plato (428), Aristotle (384).
484 — Aeschylus wins first prize for tragedy at the City Dionysia in Athens. Sophocles wins in 468, Euripides in 441, Aristophanes in 425. Talk about tough competition!
354 — The birth of Saint Augustine of Hippo, the first known writer of an autobiography.
100 — The births of Julius Caesar (100), Lucretius (99), Cato the Younger (95), Catullus (84), Virgil (70), Horace (65), Plutarch (47), Ovid (43), Martial (43), Lucan (39), Paul of Tarsus (5), Seneca the Younger (4).
37 — Virgil's reputation is established by his Eclogues.
23 — The first three books of Horace's Odes are published.
16 — A collection of witty erotic love poems, Amores, brings Ovid success while still in his twenties. He is best known today for his poetic collection of around 250 myths, Metamorphoses. His characters include Orpheus, Proserpina, Philomela, Pygmalion, Medea, Heracles, Daedelus and Achilles. Ovid would be an important influence on major early English poets like Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower, and through them, on other English language poets to follow. For instance, several of Shakespeare's plays, including Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Titus Andronicus, The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors were influenced by Ovid. Other writers influenced by Ovid include Dante, Petrarch, Alexander Pushkin, James Joyce, Bob Dylan and Anne Rice.

The Celtic Period (?-1 BC)
The Celtic period begins in the distant past and extends to the Roman invasions of Britain that began under Julius Caesar in 55 BC. The most famous poem of this period is the "Song of Amergin" although it is not at all certain when or where the poem was composed, or who composed it. This poem has been ascribed to Amergin, a Milesian Druid who allegedly settled in Ireland, perhaps centuries before the birth of Christ. The "Song of Amergin" appears in the Leabhar Gabhala ("Book of Invasions"). As Douglas Hyde notes in The Story of Early Gaelic Literature: "The three short pieces of verse ascribed to Amergin are certainly very ancient and very strange. But as the whole story of the Milesian Invasion is shrouded in mystery and is quite possibly a rationalized account of early Irish mythology, no faith can be placed in the alleged date or genuineness of Amergin's verses."

The ancient Druids of Britain did not have a written language, but they were prodigious scholars. Julius Caesar left the following description of the Druids in Book VI of his Gallic Wars: "A large number of young men flock to them for training and hold them in high honour ... It is said that they commit to memory immense amounts of poetry. And so some of them continue their studies for twenty years. They consider it improper to entrust their studies to writing ... "

1268 — The Song of Amergin remains a mystery. It was written by an unknown poet at an unknown time at an unknown location. The date given here was furnished by Robert Graves, who translated the Song of Amergin in his influential book The White Goddess (1948). Graves remarked that “English poetic education should, really, begin not with Canterbury Tales, not with the Odyssey, not even with Genesis, but with the Song of Amergin.” The first native language of the Celtic Britons has given us relatively few English words, such as: beak, brat, bog, clan, clout, crock, dad, dam, doe, knob, nook, etc. (with some Celtic words being passed along later, via Scottish, Irish and Welsh influences).

60 — The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the first comprehensive history of the Anglo-Saxons, which was initially composed during the reign of King Alfred the Great, has the year 60 BC as its first dated entry, and describes what happened quite accurately, saying that Gaius Julius crushed the Britons but was unable to establish any empire there. And the date was correct to within five years.

55 — Julius Caesar invades England, creating a Roman beachhead on the coast of Kent. At this time the primary language of the native Britons is a Celtic dialect known as Brittonic. The Britons had no form of writing, so in that sense they remained prehistoric and their poetry was oral. The following year, 54 BC, Julius Caesar invades again, this time using diplomacy to bring England within the Roman sphere of influence, but conquering no territory and leaving no Roman troops behind. However, Latin would become the language of business, commerce and politics. English words of Latin origin include: antenna, capitulate, criminal, decimal, embrace, equestrian, etc. According to research done by AskOxford, around 33% of English words have Latin/Greeks roots, so the Roman influence has been far-reaching.

51 — Julius Caesar in his Gallic War mentions that Celtic Druids studied poetry and committed a "great number of verses" to memory.

34 — Caesar Augustus plans invasions of England in 34 BC, 27 BC and 25 BC, but apparently finds more important things to do. Diplomacy and trade continue, but Rome has its eye set on conquest ...

Romano-British Period (1 AD-449 AD)
The Roman conquest of Britain began in AD 43, during the reign of Claudius. Following the subjugation of native Britons, a distinctive Romano-British culture emerged under a provincial government, which, despite steadily extended territorial control northwards, was never able to control Caledonia (Scotland). The Romans demarcated the northern border of Britannia with Hadrian's Wall, completed around the year 128. Rome eventually divided Britannia into two provinces, Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior. Some time after 305, Britannia was further divided and made an imperial diocese. During the later period of the Roman occupation, Britannia was subject to barbarian invasions. By the end of the Romano-British period, Roman rule was seen as more of a liability than a bonus by the natives.

9 — The "invincible" Roman legions suffer their bloodiest defeat in the Battle of Teutoburg Forest and suddenly don't seem so invincible, after all.

26 — Pontius Pilate is appointed Prefect of Judea, where another revolution is percolating.

28 — John the Baptist is executed by Herod Antipas in Judaea.

32 — Jesus Christ is crucified in Jerusalem. The Christian religion will have tremendous implications for England and its natives.

43 — Claudius invades England and Roman rule is established. The Roman city of Londinium (London) is established. Battles continue in Wales and other outposts. The Scottish Picts are never fully conquered, eventually requiring Hadrian's Wall (see the entry for 122). Romanization is greatest in the southeast, including London, where many people speak both Brittonic and vulgar Latin. In the highlands, there is less Romanization. In the Midlands, things are more in the middle, language-wise. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the invasion quite accurately, saying it took place in 46 AD.

56 — Birth of Tacitus (c.56 - c.120), whose Latin histories would be a primary source of info about the early Britons. Tacitus favorably contrasted the liberty of Britons with the tyranny and corruption of the Roman Empire.

60 — ABCs written on a wood-and-wax tablet found in London suggest that a school may have existed there soon after the Roman conquest. Approximate date for the death of King Prasutagus of the Celtic Iceni tribe. His widow, Queen Boudicca, is flogged and their daughters raped. This leads to the Iceni revolting under the leadership of Boudicca. She raises 100,000 troops, then defeats and destroys most of Legio IX so that the Roman procurator Catus Decianus flees to Gaul. She then marches on and destroys Londinium, Colchester and St. Albans. The crisis causes Roman emperor Nero to consider withdrawing Roman legions from England. However, Suetonius manages to win the Battle of Watling Street despite being outnumbered, after which Boudicca either kills herself or dies. Her name appears to derive from the feminine adjective boudīkā ("victorious"), which is in turn is derived from the Celtic noun boudā ("victory"). Queen Victoria identified with Boudicca because their names had similar meanings. Boudicca has appeared in poems, plays, songs and novels by notable artists like Alfred Tennyson, William Cowper, Enya, John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont. She also inspired the DC Comics superhero Boodikka.

70 — The destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman legions of Titus. This will eventually result in the diaspora of the Jews.

122 — The Roman Emperor Hadrian visits England. Construction of Hadrian's Wall begins.

127 — Juvenal writes his Satires, which will influence English writers like Samuel Johnson.

181 — The stoic Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are published posthumously. He would influence English writers like John Stuart Mill and Matthew Arnold.

208 — Emperor Septimius Severus and his son Caracalla lead an expedition against the Caledonii (Scottish Picts). Severus dies at York; Caracalla, now emperor, abandons lands north of Hadrian's Wall and returns to Rome.

350 — The earliest Irish writings are anonymous Ogham inscriptions on stone memorials dating to the fourth century.

368 — Attacks by Picts and Saxons force the Romans to abandon Hadrian's Wall.

383 — Magnus Maximus launches a bid for imperial power. He rules Gaul and Britain as Augustus. This is the last date for evidence of a major Roman military presence in Britain.

400 — Saint Augustine writes his Confessions.

405 — Saint Jerome finishes his translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible. Some of Jerome's translation errors would end up in English translations such as the King James Bible.

407 — Constantine rallies the remaining Roman troops in Britain, leads them across the Channel into Gaul, and establishes himself as Emperor. Romano-Britons, having suffered early Saxon raids, soon expel Constantine's magistrates.

410 — Rome is sacked by the Visigoths under King Alaric. The vaunted Roman Empire is falling apart. Honorius replies to a request by Romano-Britons for assistance with the Rescript of Honorius, which instructs them to see to their own defense.

430 — The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says "This year Patricius [Saint Patrick] was sent ... to preach baptism to the Scots." Patrick's Confessio (Confession), written in Latin, survives.

444 — The Huns unite under Attila who sets his sights on Rome. Eight years later, in 452, Attila invades Italy; he meets with Roman envoys who include Bishop Leo I; they persuade him not to attack the city. Attila dies the following year. In 455 the Vandals sack Rome, capturing Sicily and Sardinia. The year 476 is generally considered to be the official end of the Western Roman Empire, and the beginning of the Early Medieval Period or "Dark Ages." However the idea that things became "dark" after the fall of Rome may have originally been literary criticism! Centuries after the fact, Petrarch would opine that post-fall literature was "dark" compared to the "light" of classical literature. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, when Rome declined to protect Britons from the Picts, they appealed to the Angles for assistance. So the Roman withdrawal from England may have led directly to the Anglo-Saxon takeover of the island.

Our top ten early medieval era poets: Amergin, Caedmon, Bede, Cynewulf, King Alfred the Great, Deor, Ono no Komachi, Omar Khayyαm, the authors of Beowulf and Wulf and Eadwacer (the latter in all likelihood a female poet)

Anglo-Saxon or Old English Period (449-1066)
Only four Anglo-Saxon poets are known by name with any degree of certainty: Caedmon, Bede, Cynewulf and King Alfred the Great. The Anglo-Saxon era begins with the withdrawal of Roman troops from England, and ends with the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. The defining Anglo-Saxon poems include Caedmon's Hymn, Bede's Death Song and anonymous poems like Wulf and Eadwacer and Beowulf. All extant Old English poems are, to some degree, alliterative, and usually accentual, having four strong stresses per line with any number of weaker stresses. Meter and rhyme in English poetry developed later. Anglo-Saxon poets were known as scops, from the Old English scop, cognate with Old High German scoph "poetry, sport, jest" and Old Norse skop "railing, mockery" as in "scoff." It has been said that Celtic kings feared the satires of poets, so the ability of the ancient scops to scoff must have been formidable indeed!

449 — Around this time Anglo-Saxons are invading England with considerable success. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the brothers Hengist and Horsa―described as descendents of Woden (Odin)―were invited by Vortigern to assist him in fighting the Picts. The brothers were victorious and sent a message back to Germany that there were easy pickings to be had. They raised an army of Angles, Saxons and Jutes that won battles and claimed land, with Hengist eventually becoming the King of Kent. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle say that the people of Essex, Sussex and Wessex descend from the Old Saxons; that the people of East Anglia and Mercia descend from the Angles; and that the people of Kent and the Isle of Wight descend from the Jutes. English words of Anglo-Saxon origin include: abide, babble, care, dare, ear, etc. They represent around 25% of English words. Around this time native, Greco-Roman and Germanic-Scandinavian words and grammar began to merge into what we call the English language.

450 — The Undley bracteate contains the most ancient Old English runic inscription, possibly about a "reward to a relative."

477 — The birth of Boethius (477-524) in Rome. His Consolation of Philosophy, called a "golden volume" by Edward Gibbon, would greatly influence early English poets like John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer.

500 — The birth of Gildas (c.500-570), perhaps the first notable English writer we know by name (although he was born in Scotland and wrote in Latin).

521 — The birth of Saint Columba (521–597), who founded the important abbey on Iona and has been credited with three medieval Latin hymns.

530 — Birth of Dallαn Forgaill, a blind Irish poet who wrote Amhra Coluim Cille in archaic Old Irish.

537 — The Battle of Camlan has been suggested as the one where King Arthur fought Mordred.

570 — The birth of Mohammed.

597 — Pope Gregory makes Saint Augustine a missionary to England, where he founds the English Church, baptizes Ethelbert, the first English king to convert to Christianity, then becomes the first Archbishop of Canterbury (in 601).

600 — Possible date for early Irish saga literature.

601 — Saint Augustine becomes the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

620 — Vikings begin invasions of Ireland and will eventually take it over.

627 — The birth of Adomnαn (c.627–704), whose Vita Columbae ("Life of Columba") is the first biography written in Britain.

634 — The monastery at Lindisfarne is founded by Saint Aidan. Also the birth of Cuthbert, who would become Bishop of Lindisfarne (see the entry for 685).

639 — The birth of Aldhelm (c.639-709), an Anglo-Saxon aristocrat, scholar, abbot and bishop who composed "enigmas" or riddles in Latin. If he wrote poems in English, they have been lost.

657 — Hilda founds the first English monastery, Whitby Abbey. Hilda is considered to be a patron saint of learning and culture due to her patronage of Cζdmon (see the entry for 658).

658 — Caedmon's Hymn, the first extant English poem, marks the beginning of English poetry. According to the Venerable Bede, Caedmon was an illiterate herdsman of the Whitby monastery who was given the gift of poetic composition by an angel.

664 — During the Synod of Whitby, the Whitby Abbey aligns with the Roman Catholic Church. This heralds a decline of the Celtic Church in England. Because the church was a center of education and literacy, this would have a major impact on the evolution of English literature and poetry.

673 — The birth of Bede (c.672-735), the great English scholar who came to be known as the Venerable Bede and the "Father of English History."

680 — Possible date for the composition of the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf and the shorter poem Widsith, the "Far Traveler."

685 — Cuthbert becomes Bishop of Lindisfarne. An anonymous life of Cuthbert written at Lindisfarne may be the oldest extant English historical writing. Written just after or possibly contemporarily with Adomnαn's Vita Columbae, the Vita Sancti Cuthberti (c. 699–705) is the earliest English-Latin hagiography.

700 — Cynewulf pens and signs four Anglo-Saxon poems: Christ II, Elene, The Fates of the Apostles and Juliana. Runic extracts from The Dream of the Rood, the first dream poem in the English language, are carved on the Ruthwell Cross, establishing the poem's antiquity. Tochmarc Ιtaνne ("The Wooing of Ιtaνn/Ιadaoin") is an early text of the Irish Mythological Cycle featuring characters from the Ulster Cycle of Kings that is preserved in the Lebor na hUidre (c. 1106) and Yellow Book of Lecan (c. 1401). It has been cited as a possible source for the Middle English Sir Orfeo. Anglo-Saxon biblical paraphrases such as Genesis, Exodus, Daniel and the poem Judith.

709 — Stephen of Ripon authors Vita Sancti Wilfrithi ("Life of Saint Wilfrid").

731 — The Venerable Bede writes The Ecclesiastical History of the English People in Latin.

735 — Bede's death and his Death Song. The birth of Alcuin of York (735-804), aka Ealhwine, Alcuinus, Albinus and/or Flaccus. At the invitation of Charlemagne, he became a leading scholar and teacher at the Carolingian court. He was made Abbot of Tours in 796. "The most learned man anywhere to be found", according to Einhard's Life of Charlemagne (ca. 817-833), he is considered to be among the most important architects of the Carolingian Renaissance.

757 — Offa becomes King of Mercia. During his reign he extends Mercian supremacy over most of southern England. Many historians consider Offa to have been the most powerful Anglo-Saxon king before Alfred the Great. However, apparently unable to conquer Wales, Offa constructed a gigantic defensive earthwork between Mercia and Wales. Offa's Dyke has been described as "the largest and most recent great construction of the preliterate inhabitants of Britain," comparable in scope to Stonehenge.

770 — Approximate date for the composition of Waldere, an epic Anglo-Saxon poem about Walther (Walter of Aquitaine) and Hildegund fleeing from Attila the Hun.

771 — The birth of Egbert of Wessex (c. 771-839), who may have been the first king of a somewhat united England. The birth of Nennius, the suggested author of the Historia Brittonum, which presents King Arthur as a historical figure. Charlemagne inherits the Frankish crown.

778 — An attack on Charlemagne's army at the pass of Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees inspires the Chanson de Roland ("Song of Roland").

787 — The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions the first Viking attacks, which began against the northeast English seacoast.

789 — Egbert is forced into exile in France by King Offa of Mercia and King Beorhtric of Wessex.

792 — Viking raids on England begin, led primarily by the Danes.

793 — Vikings attack Lindisfarne. The Vikings would add many words to the English vocabulary.

796 — The death of King Offa ends Mercian domination of England.

800 — Pope Leo III crowns Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor of the West.

802 — Death of King Beorhtric of Wessex. Egbert returns from exile and takes the throne of Wessex.

825 — King Ebert of Wessex wins a major victory over Beornwulf of Mercia at the Battle of Ellendun. His son Ζthelwulf then "drove Baldred, the king of Kent, north over the Thames." As a result "the men of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex" all submitted to Wessex.

826 — Beornwulf of Mercia attacks East Anglia, but loses the battle and his life. The West Saxons now have the upper hand.

829 — King Egbert of Wessex invades and defeats Mercia, driving its king Wiglaf into exile. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle described Egbert as a bretwalda, meaning "wide-ruler" or "Britain-ruler." Thus Egbert may have been the first king of a united Anglo-Saxon England. However, his reign was brief, as Wiglaf would re-take the throne of Mercia in 830.

830 — Ono no Komachi wrote tanka (also known as waka), a traditional form of Japanese lyric poetry that, along with haiku, would influence English modernists like Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot.

842 — Vikings raid London, Rochester, and Southampton.

850 — Vikings overwinter in England for the first time, on the island of Thanet, Kent.

853 — Viking invaders take over Ireland.

849 — The birth of King Alfred the Great (c. 849-899), a writer and translator of note, as well as one of England's greatest kings (as his appellation suggests). Alfred was one of the first known writers of English prose.

861 — Vikings discover Iceland.

865 — A coalition of Vikings called "The Great Heathen Army" invades England and conquers large parts of the island.

871 — Alfred defeats the Danes at the Battle of Ashdown. Later in the year his brother King Ethelred dies and Alfred becomes King Alfred of Wessex.

874 — Iceland is settled by Norsemen.

875 — Norsemen attack Paris, are awarded Normandy and become known as the Normans (who would later invade and conquer England under William the Conqueror).

878 — King Alfred the Great defeats the Vikings at the Battle of Edington.

886 — King Alfred the Great reoccupies London and begins to restore it.

890 — The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is the first comprehensive attempt at an English history. It has been called "the single most important source for the history of England in Anglo-Saxon times."

895 — King Alfred the Great defeats and captures a Danish fleet. Around this time, a Welsh monk named Asser writes the Life of King Alfred. This biography provides far more information about Alfred than is known about any other early English ruler.

899 — Death of Alfred the Great. Edward the Elder takes the title, "King of Angles and Saxons."

900 — Deor, an Anglo-Saxon scop, composes Deor's Lament.

924 — King Athelstan the Glorious reigns; he takes the title "King of all Britain" after defeating an alliance of Scots, Celts, Danes and Vikings.

937 — King Athelstan's victory at Brunanburh is celebrated by a poem in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

950 — Four early Anglo-Saxon poetry manuscripts: Junius, the Vercelli Book, the Exeter Book and Beowulf. A possible first extant English poem written by a woman is Wulf and Eadwacer; another contender is The Wife's Lament. Other notable poems include The Seafarer, The Wanderer, The Husband's Message, The Phoenix, Widsith and The Ruin. In addition to longer poems, the Exeter Book contains Advent Lyrics and Anglo-Saxon riddles and kennings. Kennings were metaphorical expressions such as "whale-path" for the sea. Also, the Icelandic Eddas. There is a monastic revival under Dunstan, Aethelwold and Aelfric.

955 — The birth of Ζlfric of Eynsham (c. 955-1010), an English abbot and writer of hagiography, homilies and biblical commentaries who is known as Ζlfric the Grammarian (Alfricus Grammaticus), Ζlfric of Cerne, and Ζlfric the Homilist. Aelfric has been described as "the most humane of men" and "full of religious doubt." His writing has been described as "rhythmical prose" that was similar to alliterative poetry, but looser.

971 — The Blickling Homilies are Anglo-Saxon prose texts.

975 — St. Aethelwold's Regularis Concordia is the earliest evidence of dramatic activity in England.

978 — King Ethelred the Unready reigns; he loses battles with the Danes, pays Danegeld (tribute) and eventually flees to Normandy.

985 — Eric the Red begins the Scandinavian colonization of Greenland. His son Leif Ericsson would discover North America and winter in Canada around the year 1000, almost 500 years before Columbus.

991 — The Battle of Maldon, a poem about a battle in which the Danes win and the English pay Danegeld. Losing is getting expensive!

1000 — Now skruketh rose and lylie flour is an early English love poem. Also a possible date for the Nowell Codex. The first known limerick ("The lion is wondrous strong") appears in France. Possible date for the first Easter and Christmas plays. The Anglo-Saxon Gospels and Aelfric's Sermons.

1013 — The English continue to lose battles to the Danes. On Christmas Day, Sweyn Forkbeard becomes King of England. He dies five months after assuming the throne, which is claimed by his son Cnut.

1028 — The birth of William of Normandy, also known as the Bastard and the Conqueror. He was of Norse stock, the descendant of Vikings. King Cnut (Canute the Great) rules Denmark, Norway, England and parts of Sweden.

1031 — The Book of Life was an earthly prequel to the heavenly Day of Judgment.

1035 — The death of King Cnut leads to the the loss of Danish influence when his son Harthacnut, reigning as Cnut III, is "forsaken [by the English] because he was too long in Denmark." Harold Harefoot becomes regent, then assumes the throne of England in 1037. When Harefoot dies in 1040, Cnut III reclaims the English throne, but dies in 1042.

1040 — Macbeth kills Duncan at the battle at Elgin and rules as King of Scots. Shakespeare would write one of his most famous plays about the goings-on.

1042 — King Edward the Confessor reigns as king of all England; he allegedly promises the throne of England to William of Normandy, his first cousin, but later reneges. He was the last king of the House of Wessex and the only English king to be canonized (made a saint). A dispute over the English crown after his death led to the Norman Conquest of England (see the entry for 1066).

1048 — The birth of Omar Khayyαm, a Persian polymath, scholar, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet who is widely considered to be one of the most influential thinkers of the Middle Ages. Eight centuries later, Edward FitzGerald (1809–83) would make Khayyαm famous in the West through his translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

1054 — The Great Schism of the Roman Catholic Church.

1060 — The Arundel Psalter was an Anglo-Saxon prayer book.

1065 — The birth of Saint Godric, a hermit said to have written poems and songs. Reginald of Durham (?-1190) recorded four songs of St. Godric's: the oldest English songs for which the music survives.

1066 — Edward the Confessor dies and Harold Godwinson inherits his throne. William the Conqueror defeats him at the Battle of Hastings, becoming King William I of England; this Norman Conquest of England marks the end of the Anglo-Saxon or Old English era. French and Latin now rule over lowly English! At this time the Norman conquerors of England speak Old Norman or Old French. English words of Norman/French origin include: attorney, case, court, judge, justice, parliament, etc. They represent around 28% of English words. Thus the three major invasions of England provided around 87% of the evolving language's words. The Norse/Norman/French influence on the English language will be profound as it prepares for a comeback with Chaucer in the 1300s.

1067 — Construction of the Tower of London begins. It would unfortunately house some of England's leading poets and see some of them lose their heads.

Our top ten poets of the Middle English Period: Wace, Layamon, Walter Map, Thomas of Britain, Guillaume de Lorris, John Gower, William Langland, the Archpoet, Francesco Petrarch, Dante Alighieri

The Anglo-Norman or Early Middle English Period (1066-1332)
During the Anglo-Norman era the English people and their language were subjugated to their conquerors, who favored Latin and French. But the conquerors were overcome linguistically by Geoffrey Chaucer, who by 1362 was writing poetry in a rough-but-mostly-understandable version of English. We will call this version of the language Early Middle English. It had a largely Anglo-Saxon vocabulary, with Norse borrowings. Chaucer wrote in what might be called the London dialect of this evolving language. We have glimpses of the language of this period in surviving poems and songs like How Long the Night ("Myrie it is while sumer ylast") and Sumer is icumen in.

1068 — The chansons de geste ("songs of heroic deeds"), performed by professional minstrels in castles and manors, celebrate the exploits of Charlemagne―the greatest of French kings―and his paladins. The earliest works in this genre appear to be the Chanson de Guillaume ("The Song of William"), Chanson de Roland ("The Song of Roland") and Gormont et Isembart. The first half of the Chanson de Guillaume may date from the eleventh century; Gormont et Isembart may date from as early as 1068; while The Song of Roland probably dates from after 1086. Here is a brief take on how the Provencal Troubadours emerged and evolved: "Like a giant iron cloud, the popes of the Holy Roman Empire – the purveyors of the Middle Ages – clamped down and extinguished creative and artistic expression. However, as the 11th century reached its midpoint, a group of troubadour musicians in southern France began to sing and write striking lyrics. They were influenced by the Arabic civilization and its leading denizens, Omar Khayyam and Rumi, inspired by Latin and Greek poets, and guided by Christian precepts. Three concepts stood above all others: the spiritualization of passion, imagery, and secret love. With a gift for rhythm, meter, and form, the musicians and poets created a masterful style by the 13th century. The Provencal troubadours began as court singer-poets, among them William X, Duke of Aquitaine, Eleanor Aquitaine, and King Richard I of England. They practiced the art, but its undisputed masters were Bertrand de Born, Arnaud Daniel, Guillame de Machant, Christine di Pisan, and Marie de France. During their heyday, these and other poets routinely traveled to communities to deliver poems, news, songs, and dramatic sketches in their masterful lyrical styles. Among those deeply influenced were Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarch, and Geoffrey Chaucer. Forms like the sestina, rondeau, triolet, canso, and ballata originated with the Provencal poets."

1085 — The birth of Orderic Vitalis (1075–c. 1142), an English historian and Benedictine monk who wrote a chronicle of 11th- and 12th-century Anglo-Norman England. He called himself Angligena ("English-born"). Thus we see the "Angle" in England!

1086 — William I orders extensive surveys of his English holdings, recorded in the Domesday Book (written in Latin), and notifies the Pope that England owes no allegiance to Rome, the first of many British rifts with the Vatican. Possible date for The Song of Roland.

1095 — The First Crusade. The birth of William of Malmesbury, who has been called "the foremost historian of the 12th century." Wolstan, the Bishop of Worchester, is deposed with the complaint that he is an "English idiot" who "cannot speak French."

1096 — There is evidence of teaching at Oxford, which would become home to the first English university (see the entry at 1117).  French and Latin remain the primary languages of rulers, clergy, scholars and fashionable poets.

1100 — Henry I reigns. Layamon writes Brut, a 32,000-line poem composed in Middle English that shows a strong Anglo-Saxon influence and contains the first known reference to King Arthur in English. Here is an example of Layamon's gift for imagery: "Now he stands on a hill overlooking the Avon, seeing steel fishes girded with swords in the stream, their swimming days done, their scales a-gleam like gold-plated shields, their fish-spines floating like wooden spears." (Loose translation by Michael R. Burch.) Thus nearly a thousand years ago, an English poet was dabbling in surrealism, describing dead warriors who were both men and fish. Also, in an interesting synchronicity, the birth of Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1100-1155), a Welsh cleric and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography and tales of King Arthur. Geoffrey is best known for his Latin chronicle De gestis Britonum or Historia regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain). Earlier tales in the Welsh Mabinogion survive (but are probably oral tales older than the manuscripts). The Play of Saint Catherine is the first known English miracle play. Icelandic sagas such as Grettirsaga and Volsungsaga. Possible date for the older books of the Nowell Codex, which is actually comprised of two codices. The first codex contains Alfred the Great's translations of Aristotle's Soliloquies, a translation of the Gospel of Nicodemus, the prose manuscript Solomon and Saturn, and a fragment of The Life of Saint Quentin. The second codex contains a unique copy of Beowulf, along with a translation of the biblical book of Judith plus The Life of Saint ChristopherWonders of the East and Letters of Alexander to Aristotle.

1110 — The birth of Wace, perhaps Robert of Wace, a Norman poet and author of Roman de Brut and Roman de Rou.

1117 — The first English university, Oxford, is founded. It has a "growth spurt" when King Henry II bans English students from attending the University of Paris (see the entry at 1167).

1120 — The birth of John of Salisbury (c. 1120-1180) aka as Johannes Parvus ("John the Little"), an English author, diplomat and bishop of Chartres. He was born of Anglo-Saxon stock but has been described as "one of the best Latinists of his age" and an "ornament of his age." Around this time the troubadours of Provence introduce the art of courtly love and chivalry. Eadmer writes The Life of Anselm.

1130 — Possible date for the birth of the Archpoet. Besides having the coolest pen name ever, not much is known definitively about the Archpoet. Based on the poem "His Confession," this heretical medieval Latin poet may be responsible, to some degree, for our modern conception of the wandering vagabond poet and rogue scholar.

1133 — The birth of Henry II. He was highly literate: it was said that his hands always contained either a bow or a book. However, he remained a Norman with large landholdings in France, and it is doubtful that he spoke English.

1140 — The birth of Bertran de Born, one of the major Occitan troubadours.

1146 — Gerald of Wales (c. 1146-c. 1223) was a Welsh-Norman deacon and historian who wrote in Latin. As a royal clerk to the king and two archbishops, he travelled widely and wrote extensively. He admired the poetry of his Welsh people and made an early reference to alliteration: "In their rhymed songs and set speeches they are so subtle and ingenious that they produce, in their native tongue, ornaments of wonderful and exquisite invention both in the words and the sentences … They make use of alliteration in preference to all other ornaments of rhetoric, and that particular kind which joins by consonancy the first letters or syllables of words."

1150 — The first extant text written in Middle English may be a sermon given by Ralph d’Escures, Archbishop of Canterbury. The homily begins Se godspellere Lucas sζgπ on ώyssen godspelle ("The evangelist Luke says in this gospel"). Word order is identical to present-day English, and remains so across much of the text. Around this time a monk named Orm or Ormin ("Worm") introduces a revolutionary new meter to English poetry, or at least provides the first extant example. Orm produces the Ormulum, a long religious poem written in Middle English that is one of the first to employ ballad meter (also known as common meter or common measure). The only other poem from this era to employ such meter is the Poema Morale, written by an unknown author.

1154 — Henry II is the first Plantagenet king. The Plantagenets were Normans with large land holdings in France, including Normandy, Anjou, Gascony and Aquitaine. Henry II spent more time in Europe than England during his reign.

1155 — Wace's Anglo-Norman Roman de Brut is presented by Wace to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the queen of Henry II.

1160 — Walter Map, an Anglo-Latin poet, is writing poems. Thomas of Britain's Anglo-Norman Tristan. Chrιtien de Troyes and other French authors turn the stories of Arthur and his knights into romances of courtly love.

1167 — Henry II bans English students from attending the University of Paris (apparently due to his dispute with Thomas Beckett). The ban leads to a "growth spurt" at Oxford, when English scholars head home.

1170 — Henry II has Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury, assassinated. Approximate birth of the English poet Thomas d'Angleterre (1170-?), author of Tristram.

1172 — Wace's Anglo-Norman Roman de Rou.

1180 — Joseph Iscan, also known as Joseph of Exeter, was a twelfth-century Latin poet from Exeter who has been called an "ornament of his age."

1188 — Gerald of Wales is the first known foreign lecturer at Oxford University.

1189 — Richard I, aka Richard Cœur de Lion ("Richard the Lionheart") reigns; he joins the Third Crusade while his brother John acts as regent. Like his father Henry II, the young Richard I will be more absent than present in England.

1193 — The first Anglo-French war, from 1193 to 1199. England's series of wars with France may have contributed to the rise of English and the decline of French in England's halls of power, but whatever the cause(s), it would take time.

1199 — King John reigns after Richard I dies in France.

1200 — How Long the Night ("Myrie it is while sumer ylast") is one of the great early rhyming poems of the Middle English period; it remains largely understandable to modern readers. The oldest known English ballad is Judas, probably composed sometime in the 13th century. The terms "ballad" and "ballet" have the same root: dance or "the cadence of consenting feet." Ballads were originally written to accompany dances: think of two-stepping to a reel at a hoe-down. At this point English poetry is becoming more song-like, with meter and rhyme. Its primary purpose is entertainment. Many of the poets―if not most―are minstrels who perform for money or food and drink. English folk music has existed at least since the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons. The Venerable Bede's story of the cowherd-turned-ecclesiastical-musician Cζdmon indicates that it was normal at feasts to pass around the harp and sing "vain and idle songs." Ballads composed between 1200 and 1700 include: Sir Patrick Spens, Edward, Lord Randal, Bonny Barbara Allan, The Wife of Usher's Well, The Unquiet Grave, The Three Ravens, The Douglas Tragedy, Mary Hamilton, The Bitter Withy, Lamkin, The Twa Sisters, Thomas The Rhymer, Chevy Chase, The Cherry-tree Carol, and various Robin Hood ballads.

1207 — Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (1207–1273), was a Persian Sunni Muslim poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi has been described as the "most popular poet" and the "best-selling poet" in the United States.

1208 — The University of Cambridge is founded when violence between Oxford townspeople and students makes another campus seem like a good idea.

1215 — The Magna Carta forces King John to grant liberties and rights to English nobles in return for taxation (although the document was drafted in French).

1216 — Henry III reigns.

1219 — The birth of Roger Bacon (c. 1219–1292), the Doctor Mirabilis ("wondrous doctor"). He was an English philosopher and Franciscan friar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through empirical methods or the modern scientific method. Bacon's linguistic work has been heralded for its early exposition of a universal grammar. He became a master at Oxford, lecturing on Aristotle, then taught at the University of Paris. Bacon's major work, the Opus Majus ("Greater Work"), was written in Medieval Latin and sent to Pope Clement IV in Rome in 1267 at the pope's request.

1225 — The birth of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

1230 — Guillaume de Lorris writes Roman de la Rose. The Sicilian School of poetry emerges: "Emboldened by the passionate poetics of the Provencal troubadours, a small group of Sicilian poets in the court of Frederick II turned verses of heartfelt love into the first spiritual heartbeat of the Renaissance – and the ancestral work that would explode in England during the Elizabethan and Shakespearean eras ... As the 14th century dawned, the Sicilian poets’ canzones, balladas and sonnets came to the attention of Dante and Petrarch, who spread them throughout Bologna, Florence, and other emerging literary centers."

1250 — Nicholas of Guildford writes The Owl and the Nightingale, one of the first comic poems in the English language and a form of the "verse contest" or conflictus that was popular with medieval Latin poets. Bevis of Hampton and King Horn are early English romances about "the Matter of England."

1258 — Henry III uses English with French in governmental proclamations; the English language is making a comeback but it will be a gradual process.

1260 — Sumer is icumen in came with a musical score and instructions for singing it in rounds, although the instructions were written in Latin! Considered a rondel because it is "round" or cyclical in form, it is one of the oldest lyrics that can still be sung to its original melody. Other early rhyming poems that may predate the first major English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, include Fowles in the Frith, Ich am of Irlaunde ("I am of Ireland"), Now Goeth Sun Under Wood, Pity Mary, Ubi Sunt Qui Ante Nos Fuerunt? ("Where are now those who lived before us?") and Alison. While Germanic, French and Latin influences remain, the robust English language is coming into its own and is about to claim primacy. Meanwhile, a new form of poetry is being written in northern Italy: the dolce stil nuovo ("sweet new style").

1263 — Balliol College is founded at Oxford.

1265 — The birth of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). Dante is generally considered to be one of the world's greatest poets, comparable to Homer and Shakespeare. Simon de Montfort summons the first directly-elected English Parliament.

1272 — Edward I ("Longshanks") reigns, and is crowned upon his return from the Ninth Crusade (the last major crusade).

1275 — Jean de Meun extends Roman de la Rose. The approximate birth of Robert Mannying (Manning), aka Robert de Brunne, who would write Middle English poetry in rhymed tetrameter couplets fifty years before Chaucer and Gower. Dante claims to have met Beatrice Portinari at age nine, and to have immediately fallen in love with her. She would become the focal point of his poetry. It was in her honor that Dante created the "sweet new style" of courtly love poetry. Marco Polo enters the service of Kublai Khan.

1277 — Roger Bacon is exiled for heresy.

1287 — The birth of Richard de Bury (1287-1345), also known as Richard Aungerville or Aungervyle, near Bury St. Edmunds; he was an English priest, bishop, teacher, writer and bibliophile. A patron of learning and one of the first English collectors of books, he is chiefly remembered for his Philobiblon, one of the earliest books to discuss librarianship. A descendent of Normans, he wrote in Latin.

1290 — The birth of Robert Holcot, an important contributor to English semantics. His Book of Wisdom has been proposed as a prime literary source for Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale. The love of Dante's life, Beatrice, dies at age 24.

1292 — Dante's Vita Nuova ("New Life") explores his love for Beatrice, which appears to have been unrequited.

1295 — The "Model Parliament" is England's first representative parliament (i.e., giving ordinary citizens a voice in their government).

1296 — Edward I defeats the Scots, seizes the throne, and removes the Stone of Scone to Westminster.

1300 — Dame Sirith is the earliest English fabliau. Guy of Warwick and Bevis of Hampton are early English romances. Also Cursor Mundi (Latin for "Runner of the World"), an anonymous Middle-English historical and religious poem of nearly 30,000 lines, is written around this time. The poem summarizes the history of the world as described in the Christian Bible and other sources. It will be extremely popular in its time. Dante is made Prior of Florence, a position of extreme power. Also, the approximate birth of the English poet, anchorite/hermit and mystic Richard Rolle de Hampole. Rolle began writing poetry in Latin but progressed to English rhymed iambics and thus may have been a transitional poet, since traditional Old English poetry had been alliterative and unrhymed. Rolle was also an early translator of the Bible into English, particularly seven penitential psalms. He also left a paraphrase of the Book of Job, a Lord's Prayer, The Fire of Love, The Melody of Love, The Form of Living and (possibly) The Pricke of Conscience. A "flourishing cult" would center around Rolle after his death and during the 14th and 15th centuries his writings would be read more than Chaucer's. These lines from Rolle's poem "What Is Heaven?" remain understandable 700 years later: "And ther is bright somer ever to se, / And there is nevere wynter in that countrie." ("And there is bright summer ever to see / And there is never winter in that country.") However, it is not certain that everything attributed to Rolle was written by him andhas passed down to us without alterations.

1302 — Dante falls out of favor and is banished from Florence. He ironically writes an essay in Latin about the need for vernacular Italian!

1304 — The birth of Francesco Petrarch, the creator of the sonnet ("little song"). Petrarch would be a major influence on early modern English poets like Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard. They, in turn, would influence other poets, including William Shakespeare.

1305 — William Wallace is executed for treason.

1306 — Robert Bruce is crowned King of Scotland; Edward I dies on his way north to invade Scotland.

1307 — Edward II reigns. Dante begins his Divina Commedia ("Divine Comedy").

1314 — Robert Bruce defeats Edward II; the lyrics Alysoun and Lenten ys come with love to toune ("Let us come with love to town").

1317 — Dante's Inferno.

1320 — The Birth of John Wyclif or Wycliffe aka Doctor Evangelicus. He would be an important translator of the Bible into English. Wycliffe has been called "England's first European mind." Around this time Richard Rolle returns home from Oxford, "intending to become a hermit."

1321 — Death of Dante.

1325 — The Luttrell Psalter. Approximate births of the English poets John Gower and William Langland. Gower was one of the first poets to create an "English style." The great Persian poet Hafez/Hafiz is born around this time in Shiraz, Iran.

1327 — Edward III reigns. Robert Holcot complains that there is no place in England where children can study the English language!

1328 — The Scots win independence from England.

1330 — Sir Orfeo is an anonymous Middle English narrative poem. The story mixes the Greek myth of Orpheus with Celtic folklore.

1332 — English replaces French in the British Parliament and courts, heralding the end of the Anglo-Norman era. From this point forward the most important English poets―Chaucer, Gower, Langland, Skelton, Dunbar, et al―will write in some form of native English, or in multiple languages. For instance, Gower wrote in English, French and Latin.

1337 — The beginning of the Hundred Years War between England and France.

1338 — Robert Manning's Chronicle of England.

Our top ten poets of the Late Medieval Period: Robert Henryson, Thomas Hoccleve, John Lydgate, William Langland, the Gawain/Pearl poet, John Gower, John Skelton, Charles D'Orleans, William Dunbar, Geoffrey Chaucer

Late Medieval or Chaucerian Period (1340-1486)
Chaucer made the English vernacular popular in much the same way that Dante and Martin Luther made the Italian and German vernaculars popular. But English poetry was to shape-shift yet again with the appearance of Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, both born in the first decade of the sixteenth century.

1340 — The birth of Geoffrey Chaucer (approximate). Long before Shakespeare, Chaucer would create unforgettable characters like the Wife of Bath, the Miller and the Pardoner. These are the first "developed" literary characters in English literature. John Dryden called Chaucer the "father of English poetry."

1341 — Petrarch is crowned Poet Laureate in Rome.

1342 — The birth of Julian of Norwich (1342-1416), an English anchorite, mystic and writer whose visions would influence T. S. Eliot's masterpiece "Four Quartets." She would become the English language's first published writer (see the entry for 1395). Around this time the mystical book The Cloud of Unknowing is written by an unknown author.

1348 — The Black Death kills one-third of the population of England; the Chronicle of the Black Death records the horror.

1349 — Richard Rolle dies on Michaelmas, a victim of the Black Death.

1350 — Boccaccio's Decameron. Around this time there is an "Alliterative Revival" in England, with the Gawain/Pearl poet and others employing the methods of the Anglo-Saxon scops, perhaps in a deliberate "turning away" from the French/Latin verses favored by Norman kings and lords. Alliterative Revival poems include Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Patience, Cleanness.

1356 — Edward III's eldest son, the Black Prince, is victorious in France; England now controls most of southwest France.

1357 — Geoffrey Chaucer becomes a page to Elizabeth de Burgh, the Countess of Ulster. Chaucer's future wife, Philippa Pan, is also a member of the household.

1359 — Chaucer fights in the Hundred Years' War against France, serving with Prince Lionel, the Count of Ulster. Chaucer attends the wedding of John of Gaunt to Blanche of Lancaster; thus he appears to have been well connected.

1360 — Chaucer is captured, held hostage, then ransomed for sixteen pounds (a handsome sum in those days). King Edward III contributes to his ransom. John Wycliffe is described as a "master of Balliol" at Oxford.

1362 — Chaucer is writing poems in English; Parliament is opened with a speech in English for the first time; The Statute of Pleading replaces French with English as the language of law. The first known version (or "A-text") of William Langland's The Vision of Piers Plowman, "the first major literary work to be written in the English language since the Norman conquest." It is an alliterative, allegorical dream poem unlike other English poem to date. For a time, Langland―known as "Long Will" because of his height―lives within a few hundred yards of Chaucer, in London. Langland has been called England's first reformer poet. Piers Plowman was one of the most popular poems of its time.

1367 — Chaucer becomes a member of the royal court, as a valet to King Edward III. The birth of Richard II, who would encourage the poet John Gower to write in English.

1368 — Chaucer's The Book of the Duchess memorializes the death of John of Gaunt's wife, Blanche of Lancaster. Chaucer's first major poem was written in the then-new English style of rhyming octosyllabic couplets. Chaucer would go on to employ iambic pentameter, the preferred meter of Shakespeare, in other poems, including his Canterbury Tales.

1369 — The birth of the English poet Thomas Hoccleve, an early confessional poet and one of the first English poets to leave manuscripts written in his own hand. He is the first English poet to speak of himself as himself in his poems.

1370 — The birth of the English poet John Lydgate, a penner of devotional poems; he was one of the earliest English poets known to have worn spectacles.

1372 — John Barbour, a Scottish poet, begins writing The Bruce, a verse chronicle of 13,000 lines in rhymed couplets. Barbour is considered to be the father of Scottish poetry, holding a position similar to Chaucer's in English poetry. Meanwhile, Chaucer is commissioned to establish a seaport for Genoese trade and travels to Italy.

1373 — Julian of Norwich is very near death on May 8, 1373. The local curate comes to administer last rites. Julian then has sixteen visions, which she later records in the first book by an Englishwoman (see the entry for 1395). Julian's visions convince her that God's love is unconditional and that God does not condemn human beings. In one of her visions she hears God tell her that "All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well."

1374 — The death of Petrarch. Chaucer completes The Book of the Duchess. John of Gaunt returns from France and takes control of the British government when Edward III shows signs of senility. Chaucer and his wife are given annuities by John of Gaunt.

1376 — The first record of the York mystery plays; these were English verse plays acted out on pageant wagons with moveable stages. The suspected but unknown author of a number of the plays has been dubbed "The York Realist" and is believed to have been an influence on John Wycliffe (who mentioned them) and William Shakespeare, among others. Edward III and the Black Prince die within a year of each other. John Gower's Mirour de l'Omme or Speculum Meditantis, written in French. John Wycliffe's Civil Dominion calls for church reforms.

1377 — Richard II reigns at age eleven. Chaucer travels to Flanders and France on king's business; he is also involved in negotiations for Richard's marriage. John Wycliffe is brought before William Courtenay, the Bishop of London, on charges of heresy on February 19, 1377. Street riots on Wycliffe's behalf end the trial. That May a bull is sent by Pope Gregory XI in which he claims Wycliffe's theses are dangerous to Church and State. Like Martin Luther but a century earlier, Wycliffe claimed the Bible is the only authority for Christians and he accused the Roman Catholic Church of theological errors and corruption.

1378 — The "Western Schism" results in three different popes being elected simultaneously.

1379 — Chaucer begins The House of Fame, written in rhyming octosyllabic couplets.

1380 — The Pope charges John Wycliffe with heresy.

1381 — Watt Tyler and the poet John Ball lead the Peasants' Revolt in response to a poll tax and march on London. John Gower would write a long poem in Latin, Vox Clamantis, about the revolt. John Wycliffe adds to his heresies by publicly denying transubstantiation.

1382 — Richard II promises to repeal the poll taxes, but returning rebels are executed; John Wycliffe translates the Bible into English, introducing over 1,000 new words into the language. Chaucer composes the Parlement of Foules.

1384 — John Wycliffe publishes his English translation of the Bible. Wycliffe suffers a stroke during mass and dies; his writings would help establish the basis of Puritanism.

1385 — Chaucer completes Troilus and Criseyde, his long poem about ancient Troy; it has been called "the first modern novel" although it was written in rhyming verse. It appears to be the first major English poem to be written in iambic pentameter. Chaucer dedicated the poem to "moral Gower." According to John Trevisa, by 1385 English schoolchildren are being taught English grammar thanks to the efforts of John Cornwall (or John of Cornwall) and his protιgι Richard Pencriche. English replaces Latin as the main language in schools (except Oxford and Cambridge universities).

1386 — Chaucer becomes a Member of Parliament. He also begins work on The Legend of Good Women, a poem completed between 1386 and 1388. St. Erkenwald is an alliterative poem that has been ascribed to the Gawain/Pearl poet. John Gower, well into his fifties or early sixties, begins to write his first poem in English around this time, the Confessio Amantis ("Lover's Confession"), after Richard II, the boy king, asked him to write "some newe thing." Gower wrote the poem in rhyming iambic tetrameter couplets, as Chaucer had done previously. Gower has been described as Poet Laureate to Richard II and Henry IV although there was no such official position at the time. 

1387 — Chaucer begins work on his masterpiece The Canterbury Tales, the first major work of still-largely-readable English literature. The meter is primarily iambic pentameter, with variations. The predominate rhyme scheme is "rhyme royal" or rhymed couplets: AA BB CC etc.

1388 — Scots defeat Henry Hotspur at the Battle of Otterburn. John Purvey completes the Bible translation he worked on with John Wycliffe. Juliana Berners (1388-?) is the first English woman verse writer whose name and work we know today. She was a prioress who wrote about hawking, hunting and fishing.

1389 — John of Gaunt returns from a campaign in Spain and Chaucer is appointed Clerk of the King's Works. He is responsible for construction at Westminster, the Tower of London, and various castles and manors.

1390 — The first English cookbook, the Forme of Cury ("Form of Cookery"). John Gower completes his Confessio Amantis. It would be the first English language poem to be translated into continental languages.

1391 — Chaucer is appointed deputy forester of the Royal Forest at North Petherton, Somerset.

1394 — Charles D'Orleans (1394-1465), a grandson of Charles V of France, is born; a master of the ballade and rondeau, he would write poetry in French and English.

1395 — Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love is the first book in the English language by a female author.

1399 — John of Gaunt dies. Richard II is deposed by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke, the son of John of Gaunt. Bolingbroke becomes King Henry IV. Richard II dies in captivity. Henry's mother was Blanche of Lancaster, to whose memory Chaucer had written The Book of the Duchess. Henry IV increases Chaucer's annuity to a hefty forty pounds. Henry IV was the first British monarch since the Norman Conquest whose mother tongue was English rather than French. John Gower writes his second English language poem, "In Praise of Peace," for Henry IV. William Langland writes "Richard the Redeles" (i.e, "Richard without Counsel") then vanishes forever. Or did another poet, whose name remains unknown, imitate Langland's alliterative style?

1400 — A more standardized version of English called Chancery English is used by scribes for documentary purposes; it evolved over time from the London dialect and this is an approximate date for it becoming more widespread. The alliterative Morte Arthure ("Death of Arthur"). The Castle of Perseverance has been dated to the early 15th century. Chaucer's death leaves his Canterbury Tales unfinished. Chaucer is the first poet to be buried in the "Poet's Corner" of Westminster Abbey.

1401 — Owain Glyndwr leads a Welsh revolt against English rule. John Purvey is accused of heresy and recants.

1403 — Sir Henry Percy, aka Sir Harry Hotspur, is slain at the Battle of Shrewsbury. Hotspur would become one of Shakespeare's best-known characters. 

1406 — James I of Scotland possibly writes The Kingis Quair.

1408 — The death of Sir John Gower, one of England's first three great poets, along with Langland and Chaucer. Chaucer and Gower were the first two major English poets who wrote in the new "sweet style," employing iambic meter and rhyme. Langland continued to rely on the older Anglo-Saxon poetry techniques. Today Chaucer is considered the greatest poet of the three, while Langland and Gower are not read nearly as much.

1409 — The Pope orders John Wycliffe's books to be burned.

1412 — John Lydgate's Troy Book.

1413 — King Henry V reigns. A Lancastrian monarch, Henry V favors language standardization and promotes the use of English in public, at official gatherings, and in official documentation. "After the reign of Henry V, the status of the French language in England drastically diminished (Corrie 2006: 111-118)." This may be due—largely or in part—to the fact that England and France were are war during this period of time.

1415 — Henry V attacks France in order to win back English territories previously lost there; he captures Harfleur and wins the major battle of Agincourt. One reason for the victory is the English longbow. Jan Hus, a Wycliffe supporter, refuses to recant and is burned at the stake. Charles D'Orleans is found under a stack of corpses at Agincourt and is held for ransom by the English. D'Orleans and his brother would learn the English language as prisoners by reading Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

1420 — John Lydgate's The Siege of Thebes.

1422 — Henry VI reigns as King of England and France, but is only eight months old, so regents are appointed. The birth of the English writer, translator and book printer William Caxton (1422-1491).

1425 — The birth of the Scottish poet Robert Henryson (1425-1508). Henryson has been called the greatest of the Scottish makars (poets) and was lauded by William Dunbar in his poem Lament for the Makaris. He has also been called "among the few great fabulists" in English literature.

1426 — John Lydgate's The Pilgrimage of the Life of Man, a translation of Guillaume de Deguileville's Pθleringe.

1428 — The Council of Constance orders Wycliffe's bones to be dug up, burned, then "chucked into the river Swift."

1429 — Joan of Arc, a French peasant girl, begins her campaign to drive the English from France, with considerable success.

1430 — A "haunting riddle-chant" from this era is I Have a Yong Suster. A similar haunting poem is the Corpus Christi Carol. Also, The Ballad of Chevy Chase may have been composed around this time. Sir Philip Sidney said it moved his heart "more than with a trumpet."

1431 — Joan of Arc is burned at the stake as a witch; Henry VI is crowned King of France in Paris.

1440 — Eton College is founded. Duke Humphrey donates a library of 600 books to Oxford. The birth of Henry the Minstrel, aka Blind Harry, a Scottish poet. Charles D'Orleans is finally freed at age 46. After his return to France, he would focus on the rondel. He marries Mary of Cleves, age 14.

1450 — Robin Hood and the Monk is one of the earliest popular ballads. It has been dated to around 1450. A similar ballad is Robin Hood and the Potter. Both poems are called "Child ballads" because they appeared in a book of ballads published by Francis James Child in 1882. The birth of Bernard Andrι of Toulouse (1450-1522), a blind French poet who would be appointed Poet Laureate by Henry VII. French remains the language of the elites.

1453 — England loses all its French possession except Calais and the Channel Islands, ending the Hundred Years' War; the Wars of the Roses begin almost immediately, with the houses of York and Lancaster pitted violently against each other.

1455 — The Guttenberg Bible is the first book printed with moveable type. Printed books will lead to an explosion of knowledge.

1460 — Henry VI is captured by Yorkists but is freed by an army raised by his wife Margaret. Francois Villon, a guest of Charles D'Orleans at Blois, writes a poem to celebrate the birth of his daughter Marie, named after her mother Marie of Cleves. The approximate births of the poets John Skelton (1463?-1529) and William Dunbar (1460?-1520?). Dunbar would become the first great Scottish poet. Sir Walter Scott called Dunbar "unrivalled" by any other Scottish poet. Skelton has been called the major Tudor poet and the first modern English poet: the first one we can read without a glossary. Erasmus called Skelton "the one light and glory of British letters." But some critics accused Skelton of being a "rude rhymer" who lacked "decorum" and spoke with the "most familiar phraseology" of the "common people." On the other hand, Skelton may have been way ahead of his time, since that's what the great Romantic poets to come would do. Robert Graves opined that Skelton enriched the vocabulary of the English language more than any other poet, "even Chaucer." Skelton has been described as a "renegade humanist" who sometimes sounded like another poetic renegade, William Blake.

1461 — Henry VI and Margaret are defeated and flee to Scotland. Edward, the son of Richard of York, declares himself King Edward IV. Francois Villon, recently released from prison, writes his Ballad of the Ladies of Times Past.

1462 — Robert Henryson earns a degree in canon law from the University of Glasgow. His collection of animal fables has been called a masterpiece of medieval literature. Marie of Cleves bears Charles D'Orleans a son, the future Louis XII of France.

1464 — Henry VI is captured and brought to the Tower of London.

1465 — Charles D'Orleans dies at age 70.

1469 — Edward IV is defeated and flees to Flanders; Henry VI is restored to the throne; Thomas Mallory's Le Morte D'Arthur ("The Death of Arthur").

1471 — Edward IV returns to England and defeats Margaret's army. Henry VI is stabbed to death in the Tower of London. William Caxton visits Cologne, sees a printing press at work, and the prosperous merchant decides to become a book printer.

1473 — While in Bruges or Ghent, William Caxton prints the first typeset English book, his own translation of the History of Troy. Caxton would also publish the first book by an Englishwoman, The Moral Proverbs of Christine de Pisan. The birth of Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543).

1474 — The birth of Gavin Douglas (1474?-1522), a Scottish poet.

1475 — The birth of Stephen Hawes (1475?-1530?), an English scholar and poet.

1476 — William Caxton sets up a press in almonry of the Westminster Abbey Church and prints the first book produced in England with moveable type: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Prior to the publication of Caxton's books, reading and writing had been largely confined to monastic centers and elites who could afford expensive hand-produced manuscripts. Thanks to Caxton and other book publishers, reading and writing were about to spread, resulting in an explosion of knowledge that would be an important factor in the later rise of democracies around the world.

1477 — William Caxton publishes Sayings of the Philosophers in a translation by Earl Rivers. The oldest surviving Valentine's letter in the English language was written by Margery Brews to her fiancι John Paston in February 1477.

1478 — The birth of Sir Thomas More, author of Utopia.

1480 — Robert Henryson's Fables of Aesop. William Caxton translates Ovid's Metamorphoses but only a single original manuscript survives.

1481 — William Caxton publishes his translation of Reynard the Fox.

1483 — Edward IV dies; his son Edward V reigns briefly but is declared illegitimate and is probably murdered in the Tower of London; Richard III declares himself king; William Caxton prints John Gower's Confessio Amantis ("Lover's Confession") and Caxton's translation of Jacobus da Varagine's Golden Legend, which may contain the oldest Bible verses printed in English.

1484 — William Caxton prints Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and House of Fame, plus his own translation of Aesop's Fables. In all, nearly a third of the 90+ books published by Caxton were his own translations. The success of his translations has been credited with helping promote the Chancery English he employed to the status of a standard dialect throughout England.

1485 — William Caxton publishes Thomas Mallory's Le Morte D'Arthur ("The Death of Arthur"). Henry Tudor lands in Wales, where he defeats and kills Richard III in the last major battle of the Wars of the Roses; Henry Tudor becomes King Henry VII. Thus begins the Tudor Period, which marks the end of the Middle Ages in England. English finally rules in Henry VII's court!

1486 — Henry VII marries Elizabeth of York, uniting the houses of Lancaster and York and cementing the Tudor dynasty. It is believed that Juliana Berners may have contributed "advice literature" to The Book of St. Albans.

Our top ten Tudor/Elizabethan poets: George Chapman, Sir Walter Ralegh, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, Henry Howard, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Thomas Wyatt, John Donne, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare

Early Modern English: the English Renaissance and the Tudor and Elizabethan Periods (1486-1618)
The Tudor era saw the introduction of the sonnet and blank verse, both based on iambic pentameter. Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard mark the beginning of modern English poetry and the lyric poet. This era ended with the deaths of Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare in the first decade of the seventeenth century. Here's a brief recap of what happened during the Elizabethan Period: "By the time the Italian Renaissance waned, its greatest poetic exports – the ballad and the sonnet – found their way to England through Sir Thomas Wyatt. He introduced the forms to a countryside attuned to lyrical and narrative poetry by the great Geoffrey Chaucer, whose experiences with latter Provencal poets influenced the style credited with modernizing English literature. Sonnets swept through late 16th and early 17th century England, primarily through the works of Wyatt, Sir Philip Sydney, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare. Spenser and Shakespeare took the Petrarchan form that Wyatt introduced to the literary landscape and added their individual touches, forming the three principal sonnet styles: Petrarchan, Spenserian, and Shakespearean."

1491 — The birth of Henry Tudor (Henry VIII). John Skelton would tutor the young Duke of York. The death of William Caxton, whom Skelton had assisted with his translation of Virgil. Caxton's publishing work would be carried on by his foreman Wynkyn de Worde, who would go on to publish at least 640 books. There is a plaque at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey that reads: "Near this place William Caxton set up the first printing press in England." Yes, and the first book he published in England was by the first major English poet to write in English and to be buried at Poet's Corner: Geoffrey Chaucer.

1492 — Columbus discovers the Americas. William Dunbar accompanies an embassy to Denmark and France.

1493 — John Skelton is Poet Laureate of Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Louvain. His was the only laureateship awarded by Cambridge.

1494 — The birth of William Tyndale.

1497 — John Cabot discovers Newfoundland.

1498 — John Skelton's satire of court life, The Bowge of Courte, is published by Wynkyn de Worde. Skelton is successively ordained sub-deacon, deacon and priest, but he apparently had a mistress and would confess on his deathbed to having a wife and "several children." Skelton's The Boke of Phyllyp Sparowe (better known today as Phillip Sparrow) may have been written around this time, or at least some time before 1508, when it was disparaged by Alexander Barclay in The Ship of Fools.

1500 — Everyman is an allegorical drama, translated from the Dutch.

1503 — The birth of Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542), a courtier/soldier/gentleman and perhaps the first modern English poet, the first major English lyric poet, and the primary leader of the English Renaissance. Patricia Thomson called Wyatt the "Father of English Poetry." Wyatt employed more than seventy different stanza forms, many of his own invention. He also "imported" terza rima and ottava rima from Italy. We agree with the non-consensus estimation that Wyatt was a greater poet than his peers Henry Howard and Sir Philip Sidney. Wyatt avoided the "aureate style" of lesser poets who followed (or simply imitated) Petrarch. Wyatt remains more vital and more "native" in his best poems. We can still hear the older accentual verse in his meter. He resists being read to the tick-tock of a metronome. The birth of the English poet John Leland/Layland (1503-1552); Leland would write a book of elegies to Wyatt. William Dunbar's The Thrissill and the Rois and Sweet Rose of Virtue. By this time Dunbar is attached to the court of King James IV of Scotland. Richard Arnold's Chronicle includes the ballad "The Nut Brown Maid."

1504 — Leonardo Da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa. Michelangelo finishes his masterpiece David.

1506 — The birth of the English poet Thomas Vaux (1506-1556), better known as Lord Vaux and Baron Vaux. He was a Knight of the Bath and a member of the House of Lords.

1508 — Michelangelo begins to paint the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. William Dunbar's The Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis, The Goldyn Targe, Lament for the Makaris and The Tretis of the Tua Mariit Wemen. Several of Dunbar's poems were included in the first books to be printed in Scotland, now known as the the Chepman and Myllar Prints. Poems by John Lydgate and Robert Henryson were also included.

1509 — Henry Tudor marries Catherine of Aragon and reigns as King Henry VIII.

1510 — William Dunbar's pension was a handsome eighty pounds, so he was evidently held in high regard by King James IV.

1513 — The birth of James V of Scotland, a poet credited with writing The Gaberlunzie Man and The Jolly Beggar.

1513 — John Skelton is appointed Poet Laureate to Henry VIII. Gavin Douglas, a Scottish poet, in his Eneados translates Virgil's Aeneid into vernacular Scots. Douglas's translation is almost twice as long as Virgil's original poem!

1515 — William Tyndale, despite being a student of theology, a subdeacon and possessing a Master of Arts, is not allowed to read the Bible! He will risk his life to change that. Thomas Wyatt attends St. John's College, Cambridge.

1516 — Sir Thomas More's Utopia is published by Erasmus. The birth of Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey and first cousin of Anne Boleyn. Howard has been called the first English poet "thoroughly in the humanist tradition." He would be the first poet to employ blank verse and along with Thomas Wyatt he would introduce the sonnet to England. It was Howard who invented the Shakespearean sonnet, not the Bard of Avon! Thomas Wyatt is presented at court at age thirteen. John Skelton writes his play Magnificence.

1517 — Martin Luther, a professor of moral theology at Wittenberg, publishes his 95 theses against the Roman Catholic Church, kick-starting the Protestant Reformation, which would have tremendous implications for England.

1518 — Henry VIII, although better known today for beheading his wives, is a musician and composer who creates a royal songbook.

1519 — John Skelton, the "renegade humanist," attacks the powerful Cardinal Wolsey in Collyn Clout. Wolsey would send Skelton to prison for his impertinence.

1521 — Lutheran writings are circulating in England. Pope Leo X declares King Henry VIII the Fidei Defensor or Defender of the Faith, in honor of Henry's book Defense of the Seven Sacraments, which attacked Luther's theology and was dedicated to Leo X. But another heretic is about to follow in Luther's footsteps; William Tyndale tells a clergyman: ""I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!" John Skelton composes his masterpiece, Speke Parrot ("Speak Parrot").

1522 — John Skelton's A Ballade of the Scottysshe Kynge may be the first printed English ballad.

1524 — The birth of the English poet Thomas Tusser (1524-1528). A farmer, he wrote instructional poems on farming, housekeeping and gardening.

1525 — William Tyndale is working on his English translation of the New Testament, possibly in Wittenberg (where Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation).

1526 — Lord Chancellor Cardinal Thomas Wolsey orders the burning of Protestant books. Thomas Wyatt travels to Italy on an embassy to the Pope, and returns with a passion for the sonnets of Petrarch; he begins to translate Petrarch and Horace into English. Captured by Spanish troops, Wyatt manages to escape.

1527 — Henry VIII seeks the Pope's permission to divorce Catherine of Aragon but is refused, leading to Henry's subsequent "divorce" from the Roman Catholic Church.

1528 — Thomas Wyatt is appointed marshal of Calais.

1529 — Henry VIII declares himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. The "Reformation Parliament" passes legislation that will lead to the English Reformation. The death of John Skelton, who was buried at Westminster. Robert Graves opined that Skelton enriched the English vocabulary more than any poet before (Chaucer) or since (Shakespeare). Skelton is remembered for his humanism, his "Skeltonics" (rhymed poems written in irregular meter), his "flytings" (exchanges of poetic insults), and his parodies and jests.

1530 — The short lyric Westron Wynde ("Western Wind") appears in a partbook. The birth of the English poet, soldier and courtier George Gascoigne (1530-1577). Gascoigne's Supposes may be the first English prose comedy; he has been called "the best-known writer of his day" and was known for his plain style of writing.

1532 — Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, marries the Earl of Oxford's daughter. The English Reformation (1532-1649) has poets at war: John Milton spoke for reform while Cavalier poets supported the crown.

1533 — Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn in defiance of Rome and Thomas More, his former Chancellor; Pope Clement VII excommunicates Henry. Thomas Wyatt is chief ewer at the new queen's coronation. But are Wyatt and Boleyn lovers? Wyatt's famous sonnet Whoso List to Hunt may have been written with Boleyn in mind. And in Wyatt's love poems he called his mistress Anna. Queen Elizabeth I is born; she would write and translate poems. The birth of Michel de Montaigne, a French nobleman who would establish the essay as an important and influential literary genre.

1534 — Around this time, Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard introduce the English sonnet, modeled after the Petrarchan sonnet. Howard creates the form known as the Shakespearean sonnet. Wyatt introduces terza rima, ottava rima and poulter's measure to English poetry.

1535 — Sir Thomas More is executed after refusing to recognize Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Thomas Cromwell is made Vicar-General and begins to seize the Roman Catholic Church's assets. The first complete English translation of the Bible is created by Miles Coverdale.

1536 — Anne Boleyn is beheaded; Henry VIII marries his third wife, Jane Seymour. Thomas Wyatt, imprisoned in the Tower of London for his alleged affair with Boleyn, may have written Whoso List to Hunt and They Flee from Me around this time. William Tyndale is convicted of heresy, strangled to death, then burned at the stake in Antwerp. The birth of the English poet, dramatist and statesman Thomas Sackville (1536-1608), the Earl of Dorset.

1537 — Jane Seymour dies giving birth to Prince Edward, later Edward VI. Thomas Wyatt, back in favor with the crown, is appointed ambassador to Spain. Henry Howard develops blank verse in his translation of the Aeneid. Half a century later, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare would employ blank verse in their most famous plays.

1539 — The Prayer Book Rebellion occurs when Catholics object to the imposition of teachings of the Protestant Reformation. Thomas Wyatt returns from Spain when his father dies, then resumes his former post at Calais.

1540 — Henry VIII marries his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, but the marriage is annulled and Henry marries his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Thomas Cromwell is executed for treason.

1542 — Catherine Howard is executed for treason. James V of Scotland dies and is succeeded by his six-day-old daughter Mary (later, Mary Queen of Scots). Sir Thomas Wyatt dies. 

1543 — Henry VIII marries Catherine Parr, his sixth and last wife.

1545 — The approximate birth of Isabella Whitney (1545?-1573?), the first Englishwoman to publish her verses. The future queen Elizabeth I completes her translations of Psalm 13 and the meditations of Margaret of Navarre. Henry Howard is given command of Boulogne.

1546 — Henry Howard is arrested and charged with high treason for conspiring against the succession of Edward VI.

1547 — Henry Howard is beheaded on the order of Henry VIII, who dies the same year. Thomas Nashe would fictionalize Howard in The Unfortunate Traveller. Thomas Warton called Howard the first classical English poet. King Edward VI reigns at age nine, but is sickly. The birth in Castile of Miguel Cervantes, the writer of the first modern novel, Don Quixote; it remains one of the very best works of popular fiction.

1548 — Elizabeth I publishes her translation of Margaret of Navarre, A Godly Meditation of the Christian Soul. She also translates the second chorus of Seneca's Hercules Oetaeus, sections of Boethius's De Consolatione philosophiae (The Consolation of Philosophy), lines 1-178 of Horace's Ars Poetica, and Plutarch's On Curiosity. The translations from Boethius and Horace survive in her own hand.

1550 — John Skelton's poem Hereafter foloweth the Boke of Phyllyp Sparowe, better known today as Philip Sparrow. Skelton's poem Hereafter foloweth a title boke called Colyn Cloute, better known as Colin Clout. Pierre de Ronsard publishes the first four books of his Odes. The birth of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604), who has been suggested as the "real" Shakespeare by a number of "Oxfordians."

1552 — The births of Walter Ralegh (1552?-1618) and Edmund Spenser (1552?-1599). Sir Walter Ralegh (often spelled "Raleigh") was an English poet, historian, courtier, soldier, admiral, politician, governor, explorer and adventurer who has been credited (perhaps incorrectly) with introducing tobacco to the Old World. Edmund Spenser was (perhaps) the first great English Romantic poet and the creator of a Spenserian tradition that includes Milton, Blake, Burns, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Swinburne, Tennyson, Longfellow, Hardy, et al. Spenser has been called the creator of the modern English style of poetry: "fluid, limpid, translucent and graceful." He was considered to be the "Prince of Poets" in his day and has been called the "poets' poet" in ours. Ralegh and Spenser would meet, become friends and join poetic forces around 1580. 

1553 — Edward VI dies; his will appoints Lady Jane Grey as his successor; his sister Mary deposes her and reigns as Mary I.

1554 — Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger leads a revolt to depose Mary I, who was Catholic and considering a marriage to the Catholic Philip of Spain; the revolt is crushed and Wyatt and Lady Jane Grey are executed. Mary's sister Elizabeth is sent to the Tower of London where she writes the poem On Fortune and Injustice. Mary marries Philip of Spain. The births of the English poets Philip Sidney (1554-1586), John Lyly (1554?-1606) and Fulke Greville (1554-1628).

1555 — "Bloody Mary" begins her brutal persecution of Protestants; she has 283 religious dissenters killed, most of them burned at the stake, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. The birth of Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626), who would be the chief editor of the King James Bible.

1557 — Henry Howard's translation of the Aeneid is published. Tottel's Miscellany, perhaps the first modern English poetry anthology, includes poems by Howard and the elder Wyatt. The Elizabethans preferred Howard's sweeter strains to Wyatt's "dark words and broken meters." A good indication of this preference is the original title of Tottel's anthology: Songes and sonettes, written by the ryght honorable Lorde Henry Haward late Earle of Surrey, and others. But today Wyatt is generally considered to be the greater and more original poet. The birth of the English poet George Peele.

1558 — Mary I dies childless; Queen Elizabeth I reigns; thus begins the Elizabethan Period. Protestant reforms are reinstituted, but Elizabeth is not as bloody as her sister Mary. The birth of the English playwright Thomas Kyd, author of The Spanish Tragedie and perhaps the most influential English playwright before Marlowe and Shakespeare. Kyd may have written an ur-Hamlet that preceded Shakespeare's famous play.

1559 — The birth of the English poet George Chapman, who would author more than twenty plays and translate Homer. Chapman has been suggested as the "rival poet" mentioned by Shakespeare in his work.

1560 — The birth of Sir John Harington (1560-1612), an English poet and inventor of the flush toilet!

1561 — The birth of the English poet Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke (1561-1621), translator of the Psalms, the first notable female English poet, and the sister of Philip Sidney. The birth of the English poet Robert Southwell, best known for his poem The Burning Babe. The birth of Francis Bacon, whose extensive writings covered philosophy, science, ethics, history, law and politics. Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville author the first English play written in blank verse, Gorboduc.

1562 — The birth of the English poet Samuel Daniel. George Gascoigne marries Elizabeth Breton, the mother of the poet Nicholas Breton.

1563 — John Foxe’s The Book of Martyrs is published. The births of the English poets John Dowland and Michael Drayton.

1564 — The births of the English poets and playwrights Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. The birth of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). Philip Sidney and Fulke Greville enter Shrewsbury School on the same day.

1565 — Sir Walter Raleigh brings potatoes and tobacco back from the New World.

1566 — Isabella Whitney's Sweet Nosegay is the first volume of verses published by an Englishwoman. It would be followed by her The Copy of a Letter. George Gascoigne's Supposes may be the first English prose comedy; it was used by Shakespeare as a source for The Taming of the Shrew.

1567 — The births of the English poets Thomas Nashe and Thomas Campion, the latter a lutanist remembered for melodious poems like When to Her Lute Corinna Sings and There Is a Garden in Her Face. The first purpose-built London playhouse is the Red Lion. The owner of the Red Lion, John Brayne, would later collaborate with John Burbage on a more successful theater (see the entry for 1576).

1568 — Mary, Queen of Scots, flees to England and is imprisoned by Elizabeth.

1569 — At age sixteen, Edmund Spenser has two translations of French poems published at the beginning of an anti-Catholic prose tract, A Theatre for Voluptuous Worldlings. Spenser enrolls at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Walter Ralegh enlists with the Huguenots in France. The birth of the English poet Emilia Lanyer (1569-1645), who has been proposed as Shakespeare's mistress.

1572 — The births of the major English poets John Donne and Ben Jonson. Donne may have been the best English writer of erotic poetry in his youth, and the best writer of religious poetry in his maturity. Jonson has been called "the most versatile writer in the history of English poetry" because he wrote poems, song lyrics, plays, sonnets, odes, masques, epistles, elegies and satires. He has been called the first poet laureate and was also one of the first important English literary critics. His epitaph in Westminster Abbey reads "O rare Benn Johnson." Like Shakespeare, Jonson was the son of a commoner; his father died before he was born and his stepfather was a bricklayer. Walter Ralegh is an undergraduate at Oxford, but does not get a degree there.

1573 — George Gascoigne's A Discourse of the Adventures of Master FJ is an account of courtly sexual intrigue and one of the earliest English prose fictions

1575 — George Gascoigne's Certayne Notes of Instruction concerning the making of verse or ryme in English is the first essay on the composition of English metrical poetry.

1576 — The "Wakefield Master" writes mystery plays with biblical and pastoral themes. The first major English playhouse is built in Shoreditch, just outside London, by the actor James Burbage. It is such an original concept at the time that the building is called The Theatre! Richard Burbage, the son of James Burbage, will be the leading actor in Shakespeare's plays.

1577 — The birth of the English poet Robert Burton (1577-1640). The death of George Gascoigne, the best-known writer of his day.

1578 — The birth of the English playwright John Webster. Philip Sidney writes a masque in Elizabeth's honor and begins work on his Old Arcadia, the most popular English prose narrative of its period. Sidney and Fulke Greville both attend Elizabeth's court.

1579 — Edmund Spenser's Shepheardes Calender has been called "the first work of the English literary Renaissance." It helped establish the new style of English poetry and was dedicated to Philip Sidney, who around the same time published his Defence of Poetry or An Apologie for Poetrie. Sidney was thus one of the first major English literary critics. Sidney and Spenser formed a literary club, the Areopagus, which may have been England's first poetry society. The birth of the English playwright John Fletcher, who would collaborate with Shakespeare on his last two plays, then succeed him as the playwright for the King's Men.

1580 — Edmund Spenser moves to Ireland, where he will meet and become friends with Walter Ralegh. The birth of the English playwright Thomas Middleton.

1582 — William Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway who is three months pregnant. Philip Sidney is knighted. Around this time Queen Elizabeth I writes the poem "On Monsieur's Departure."

1583 — Sir Philip Sidney marries the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham.

1584 — Walter Ralegh founds the first American colony, names it Virginia after Elizabeth I (the "Virgin Queen"), and is knighted. However, Ralegh did not visit the colony himself, preferring to search for El Dorado (the fabled city of gold) in South America. Christopher Marlowe completes his play Tamburlaine. With a BA and MA from Cambridge, Marlowe is the first of the "university wits" to employ blank verse.

1585 — James VI of Scotland writes Essays of a Prentice in the Arte of Poesie, citing the poems of Alexander Montgomerie.

1586 — Chidiock Tichborne is hanged, castrated, and disemboweled for treason; the elegy he wrote himself while awaiting death in the Tower of London is known as Tichborne's Elegy. The birth of the English playwright John Ford. The Star Chamber attempts to end the printing of subversive ballads. Edmund Spenser is awarded an estate of 3,000 acres in Ireland and the ruined castle of Kilcolman; there he writes Astrophel as an elegy for Sir Philip Sidney, who died at age 32 of wounds received at Zatuphen in the Netherlands. Thomas Campion leaves Cambridge without a degree and enters Gray's Inn, London, to study law.

1587 — Mary, Queen of Scots, is executed at Fotheringhay Castle on charges of treason. Sir Walter Ralegh is appointed captain of the Queen's guard. The birth of the English poet Lady Mary Wroth; she was born Mary Sidney and was the niece of Sir Philip Sidney and Mary Sidney Herbert. Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine and perhaps Dido, Queen of Carthage are first performed. According to Harold Bloom, thus begins the "richest eighty years of poetry in English" with Marlowe, Shakespeare, Spenser, Ralegh, Donne, Jonson, Herrick, Carew, Lovelace, Marvell, Herbert, Crashaw, Vaughan and Milton all writing and/or being published within that period. (We, however, would suggest 1880-1960 with Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow, Tennyson, both Brownings, Hardy, Hopkins, Housman, Yeats, Dowson, both Cranes, Frost, Sandburg, Stevens, Lawrence, Pound, Wylie, Jeffers, Eliot, Aiken, MacLeish, Millay, Owen, cummings, Bogan, Hughes, Auden, Bishop, Lowell, Larkin, Plath, et al!)

1588 — A Spanish Armada of 130 ships is defeated by bad weather and the English fleet; the resulting English dominance of the seas greatly enhances the prospects of the British Empire. Christopher Marlowe writes Doctor Faustus. The birth of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), author of Leviathan. Hobbes would advance the ideas of natural equality of all men and representative government based on the consent of the governed. Thomas Campion appears as "Melancholy" in a masque. Ben Jonson leaves school to become a bricklayer, apprenticed to his stepfather. He had studied under William Camden at Westminster School and possibly at Cambridge. Jonson later volunteered to fight under Francis Vere in Flanders. He would return from military duty to work as an actor and playwright, but the dates of these events are not known precisely. We do know that he married in 1594.

1589 — William Shakespeare's first play may have been The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Sir Walter Ralegh visits Edmund Spenser, takes an interest in his poetry, and helps him publish the first three books of The Faerie Queene the following year in London, where Spenser meets Elizabeth I with Ralegh's help. At the same time Ralegh presents Elizabeth with his own Ocean's Love to Cynthia. Samuel Taylor Coleridge opined that "The whole of the Faerie Queene is an almost continued instance of beauty."

1590 — Shakespeare's plays The Taming of the Shrew, Henry VI, Titus Andronicus, Richard III, Edward III, The Comedy of Errors, Love's Labor Lost, and Romeo and Juliet may have been written around 1590-1594. Edmund Spenser's Mother Hubberd's Tale is a forerunner of Mother Goose publications to come, but it's also a political satire that gets him in hot water. However, Elizabeth I grants Spenser a pension of 50 pounds, more than she granted any other poet. Elizabeth has a starring role in The Faerie Queene as Gloriana.

1591 — Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella, published six years after his death, is the first major sonnet sequence in the English language; Thomas Campion has his first poems published anonymously as "Content" in an appendage. John Donne is writing satires, elegies, songs and sonnets. The birth of the English Cavalier poet Robert Herrick, whom Swinburne would call "the greatest song writer ever born of English race." Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Kyd share lodgings in London.

1592 — Shakespeare is called an "upstart crow" by Robert Greene. Sir Walter Ralegh gets Elizabeth Throckmorton, the queen's maid of honor, pregnant. He marries her secretly and earns the queen's displeasure, spending time in the Tower of London. Christopher Marlowe's play The Jew of Malta is performed. Francis Bacon's poem "The World" is circulated among friends, John Donne among them. Donne kept a copy of the poem until he died.

1593 — Christopher Marlowe is murdered at age 29. The birth of the English metaphysical poet George Herbert, known primarily for his religious poetry. Sir Walter Ralegh is released from the Tower of London and becomes a member of Parliament.

1594 — Richard Burbage assembles a group of actors called the Lord Chamberlain's Men: members of the troupe include his son Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare. Edmund Spenser writes Epithalamion and the Amoretti sonnets for his bride-to-be, Elizabeth Boyle. Thomas Nashe's prose romance novel The Unfortunate Traveller. Spenser creates the Spenserian sonnet. Ben Jonson marries; his first two children die young and he writes them poignant elegies. George Chapman's poem The Shadow of Night and a companion piece are his first publications.

1595 — Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. George Chapman's poem Ovid's Banquet of Sense. Chapman also begins to publish plays. Thomas Campion has his first poems published under his own name, in Latin. Campion has been called second only to Thomas More as a Latin epigrammatist. Robert Southwell, a Jesuit priest and missionary, is convicted of treason, hanged, drawn and quartered.

1596 — Shakespeare's plays King John and The Merchant of Venice. The birth of the English poet James Shirley, best known for his poem Dirge ("The glories of our blood and state / Are shadows, not substantial things ..."). The birth of the English Cavalier poet Thomas Carew, a writer of sensuous love poems. Sir Walter Ralegh serves the crown as a rear admiral. Edmund Spenser publishes Prothalamion, a nuptial song he wrote for the double marriage of the daughters of the Earl of Worchester. Samuel Taylor Coleridge praised "the swanlike movements of his exquisite Prothalamion."

1597 — Shakespeare's plays Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Francis Bacon's Essays; John Dowland's The First Booke of Songes or Ayres; George Chapman's translation of Homer's Illiad; Edmund Spenser publishes another installment of The Faerie Queen. Ben Jonson becomes a performer and playwright at the Rose Theater and is imprisoned for his part in The Isle of Dogs, a seditious play.

1598 — Shakespeare's plays Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing. The Lord Chamberlain's Men dismantle the Theatre and use its beams to construct the Globe. Edmund Shakespeare is a partner in the Globe along with his famous brother. The Globe had the best theater, the best actors, the best plays and the best playwright. William Shakespeare owns 12.5% of the action. Shakespeare acts in Ben Jonson's play Every Man In His Humor at the Globe. It is Jonson's first great success. Shakespeare's "sugared sonnets" are mentioned by Francis Meres. Edmund Spenser's castle at Kilcolman is burned by Irish forces opposed to English dominance; according to Jonson, one of Spenser's children perished in the blaze. During a duel, Jonson kills a fellow actor with a rapier and narrowly escapes the gallows. He was branded on the thumb as a murderer. George Chapman publishes his translation of Homer's Iliad and writes a continuation of Christopher Marlowe's unfinished poem Hero and Leander.

1599 — Shakespeare's plays Julius Caesar, As You Like It and Twelfth Night. Two of Shakespeare's sonnets are published by William Jaggard. Christopher Marlowe's The Passionate Shepherd to his Love is answered by Sir Walter Ralegh's The Nymph's Reply. Marlowe's translations of Ovid are burned publicly as "immoral." Edmund Spenser dies and is buried next to Chaucer at Westminster Abbey. At the time of his death Spenser was "widely recognized as the most important living English poet." George Herbert studies under Lancelot Andrewes, then dean of Westminster and a translator of the King James Bible. Ben Jonson follows up his successful play Every Man In His Humor with a sequel, Every Man Out of His Humor.

1600 — The East India Company is founded; Thomas Nashe's best-known poem Litany in Time of Plague has the moving refrain "Lord, have mercy on us!" George Chapman is arrested for debt, a serious charge in those days. Sir Walter Ralegh serves as governor of the English Channel island of Jersey and shores up its defenses.

1601 — The first performance of Shakespeare's play Hamlet. Thomas Campion's first Book of Ayres (airs, or songs). Thomas Nashe dies of the Plague in London.

1602 — Thomas Campion's Observations in the Art of English Poesie.

1603 — Shakespeare's play Measure for Measure. The death of Queen Elizabeth I; James VI of Scotland becomes King James I of England, Scotland, and Ireland; thus begins the Jacobean Period. Ben Jonson writes a masque, The Satyr, for the Stuart royal court. Jonson's play Sejanus His Fall is performed at court, but is later accused of "popery and treason." Jonson is questioned but not jailed (although he would be on other occasions). Sir Walter Ralegh is sent to the Tower of London again, this time on charges of treason. He would spend thirteen years in the Tower, only to be beheaded. Samuel Daniel's Defense of Rhyme.

1604 — Shakespeare is granted a coat of arms; Othello is first performed and includes one of the earliest English limericks; James I becomes a patron of Shakespeare's acting company. King James I marries Mary Sidney to Sir Robert Wroth, making her Lady Mary Wroth.

1605 — Shakespeare's plays King Lear and Macbeth. The birth of the English poet Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682). Thomas Campion earns a degree from the University of Caen and works as a doctor. Ben Jonson is back in jail again, this time with George Chapman, after they expressed ant-Scottish sentiments in the play they co-authored, Eastward Ho.

1606 — Ben Jonson's comedy Volpone is a success and will become his best-known play. The birth of the English poet William Davenant (1606-1668). John Donne contemplates suicide and writes Biathanotos, a justification of suicide.

1607 — John Donne's Song, The Sunne Rising and The Cannonization are written around this time. The birth of the English poet Edmund Waller. Robert Herrick is apprenticed as a goldsmith to a rich uncle. The birth of John Harvard (1607-1638), who would found Harvard University.

1608 — The birth of the English poet John Milton (1608-1674). John Donne begins to write his Holy Sonnets. His poems are ill-received by Ben Jonson and others.

1609 — Shakespeare publishes his Sonnets. The birth of the English Cavalier poet Sir John Suckling.

1610 — Galileo claims the earth moves around the sun. Shakespeare employs limerick meter in Stephano’s drinking song in The Tempest. Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale is one of his last major plays. Ben Jonson has another successful play, The Alchemist. Thomas Campion's A New Way of Making Four Parts in Counterpoint.

1611 — The King James Bible is published in still-readable English; it contains some of the oldest and best free verse in the English language, such as the Song of Solomon. Emilia Lanyer's words attributed to Eve have been called "the first clear glimmer of English feminism in verse."

1612 — Heretics are burned at the stake in England for the last time. Anne Bradstreet, perhaps the first notable American poet, is born in Northampton, England into a Puritan family with a well-stocked library. Ben Jonson complete his first book of Epigrams. John Webster's play The Duchess of Malfi.

1613 — The Globe Theatre burns during a performance of Shakespeare's late play Henry VIII, which may have been co-written with John Fletcher. Shakespeare may have also collaborated with Fletcher on The Two Noble Kinsmen. The birth of the English metaphysical poet Richard Crashaw (c. 1613-1649). Thomas Campion's Songs of Mourning lament the death of Prince Henry. Robert Herrick enters St. John's College to study law. George Herbert writes two elegies for Prince Henry.

1614 — Sir Walter Ralegh's History of the World was composed while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London on charges of treason.

1616 — The death of William Shakespeare. Ben Jonson's "first folio" or Works includes On My First Son and Song: To Celia ("Drink to me only with thin eyes"). Jonson receives a substantial royal pension, for which he has been called the first Poet Laureate. Jonson travels to Scotland on foot to meet William Drummond (and allegedly drinks his wine cellar dry!). George Chapman's complete translations of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey are published. Chapman "made Homer integral to English literature."

Our top ten poets of the Cavalier Period: George Herbert, James Shirley, Sir John Suckling, Richard Lovelace, Thomas Carew, Edmund Waller, Robert Herrick, Ben Jonson, John Donne, John Milton

Poets at War with Each Other: The Cavaliers, the Reformation and the Restoration (1617-1675)
The Cavalier Period is marked by poets who praised the virtues of war, honor, chivalry, duty, monarchs, God, church and faith. The Cavalier poets are sometimes called the "tribe of Ben" or the "sons of Ben" because of their admiration for Ben Jonson. Cavaliers like Richard Lovelace and Reformers like Milton were often at war with each other―not only with their pens, but by casting their lots with opposing armies. Milton stands out as the first great Romantic anti-establishment poet: a powerful voice of dissent against the status quo. While he claimed to "justify the ways of God to man," as William Blake pointed out later, Milton actually spoke for the rebellious angels, and made Romantic heroes of Satan, Adam and Eve. Many of the great poets to come would also be dissenters: William Blake, Robert Burns, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, et al.

1617 — The birth of the English Cavalier poet Richard Lovelace. Sir Walter Ralegh is released from the Tower of London and sets sail in search of El Dorado again.

1618 — Sir Walter Ralegh fails in his last expedition to find El Dorado and upon his return to England is executed on trumped-up charges of treason. He may have written his great poem The Lie while incarcerated in the Tower of London, awaiting death after all he had done for England and its rulers. The Lie put Ralegh at odds with the Cavalier poets who wrote after him. His severed head was embalmed and given to his wife, Lady Ralegh. Three decades later it would be reunited with his body in its grave. The birth of the English poet Abraham Cowley. At age ten, John Milton is already a poet.

1619 — Michael Drayton publishes his best-known poem, Sonnet LVI from Idea ("Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part ..."). Ben Jonson receives an honorary MA from Christ Church, Oxford.

1620 — The Pilgrims set sail for America in the Mayflower; they land at Cape Cod and found the New Plymouth colony. Thomas Campion dies; his poetry would be largely forgotten until 1889. Robert Herrick earns an MA from Cambridge. Harold Bloom has called Tom O'Bedlam's Song "the most magnificent Anonymous poem in the language."

1621 — Edmund Waller becomes a Member of Parliament. John Donne is dean of St. Paul's. Sir Fulke Greville is made Baron Brooke. The birth of the English metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell (1621-1678), best known today for his famous carpe diem ("seize the day") poem To His Coy Mistress. A scandalous book, The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania by Lady Mary Wroth, is the first extant prose romance by an Englishwoman.

1622 — The birth of the English metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan (c. 1622-1695). He would be influenced by the devotional poems of George Herbert. The first news report publication, Corantos, would deal most with foreign affairs. The first English-language newspaper was also called the Courante or Weekly News

1623 — Shakespeare's First Folio, a collection of his plays, is published by a syndicate. Ben Jonson had a financial stake in the folio and wrote an elegy for Shakespeare (one of poetry's early blurbs?). The birth of the English poet Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), the Duchess of Newcastle. John Donne becomes seriously ill, writes his Devotions anticipating death, but survives another eight years. At age 15 the precocious John Milton is paraphrasing Psalms in English verse.

1625 — Robert Herrick makes his first mark as a poet with verses on the death of James I.

1626 — While studying at Cambridge, John Milton publishes his Epitaph on the admirable Dramatick Poet, W. Shakespeare. Milton has been described as "a beautiful youth with long locks" whose complexion was "exceeding faire." In fact, so fair that he was called "the Lady of Christ's College." At the time, Milton was writing poems in Latin, in "the manner of Ovid and Horace." The birth of John Aubrey, the author of Brief Lives, a collection of sometimes-gossipy biographies of figures such as Francis Bacon, Sir Walter Ralegh, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare.

1627 — Robert Herrick is appointed Dean Prior of Devon. John Donne preaches the funeral sermon for George Herbert's mother.

1628 — Ann Dudley marries, becoming Anne Bradstreet. Ben Jonson is appointed as the City Chronologer of London. The birth of the English poet and writer John Bunyan, best known for his allegorical novel Pilgrim's Progress.

1629 — John Milton composes his first important poem, On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, while still a student at Cambridge. After earning his BA, Milton stays on at Cambridge to work on his MA. Richard Lovelace and Richard Crashaw both attend the Charterhouse school.

1630 — Thomas Carew, a Cavalier poet, is made a "server" or taster-in-ordinary to the King. Sir John Suckling, also a Cavalier poet, is knighted. Around this time, Suckling is credited with inventing cribbage. He was said to have been the most skilled card player and bowler in England. Anne Bradstreet sails to America with her husband and family. George Herbert is ordained a priest at Salisbury Cathedral.

1631 — Richard Lovelace, a Cavalier poet, is sworn in as a Gentleman Wayter Extraordinary to the King. The birth of the English poet John Dryden, who has been called "the father of English criticism." Edmund Waller is brought before the Star Chamber, but being a wealthy man, he is able to pay a large fine and remain free. Michael Drayton dies and is buried at the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey with memorial lines attributed to Ben Jonson. John Milton completes L'Allegro and Il Penseroso.

1632 — The birth of the English poet Katherine Philips (1632-1664); she was called "the matchless Orinda" by John Dryden.

1633 — George Herbert dies of consumption and his poems are published posthumously, including Redemption, Virtue, The Collar, The Pulley and the title poem The Temple. Charles I would read The Temple for consolation while awaiting execution. John Wesley would later set some of Herbert's lyrics to music. Andrew Marvell enters Trinity College, Cambridge at age twelve as a subsizar (quasi-servant). Ben Jonson's comedic play A Tale of a Tub.

1634 — Richard Lovelace enters Oxford. Comus is John Milton's longest poem to date, a masque with over 1,000 lines described as "the last Elizabethan poem." Milton earns his MA. George Chapman dies and Inigo Jones provides his monument.

1637 — John Milton writes Lycidias for a fellow student-poet who died, Edward King. Andrew Marvell's first published poems are Latin and Greek verses on the death of Princess Anne. The birth of the English poet Thomas Traherne (1637-1674), a priest know for his religious poetry. King Charles I authorizes an Anglican Booke of Common Prayer. The prayer book caused riots in Scotland which led to the Bishop's War of 1639 and the Puritan Revolution of 1645. In the end Charles lost his crown, and his head. Ben Jonson dies and is buried at Westminster Abbey; at the time his only English peers are Chaucer and Spenser (Shakespeare not yet being acknowledged as Shakespeare). Jonson's funeral was attended by "all or the greatest part of the nobility then in town."

1638 — Sir John Suckling's poem Song: Why so pale and wan, fond lover? Richard Lovelace's first published poem is an elegy for Princess Katherine. Charles I prepares for war with the Scots but he's strapped for cash. John Milton travels to Italy. Andrew Marvell obtains his BA from Trinity College, Cambridge.

1639 — Charles I raises an army of 20,000 troops and invades Scotland in an attempt to impose his will (and prayer book) on the Scots. John Milton returns from the continent when the Bishops' Wars in Scotland threaten civil war in England. He begins to write prose tracts in praise of "the divine and admirable spirit of Wyclif" and in service of the pro-reformation Puritans and Parliamentarians. Meanwhile, Richard Lovelace is fighting on the opposite side for the king. Sir John Suckling and Thomas Carew also side with Charles I in Scotland.

1640 — Thomas Carew's poems A Song, Rapture and To My Inconstant Mistress are published in his collected Poems. The birth of the English poet Aphra Behn (1640-1689). She would become England's first female professional writer. The Bay Psalm Book is the first book printed in North America. Charles I calls the first Parliament in eleven years, but quickly dismisses the "Short Parliament" when it begins to air grievances and questions his request for funds to fight the Scots. Because he is losing battles and land to the Scots, Charles then calls the "Long Parliament" but it abolishes the King's Star Chamber and imprisons the unpopular Earl of Stafford. Things are heating up. John Milton is appointed Secretary for the Foreign Tongues, an official position in the English government handling diplomatic correspondence. He receives a salary and lodgings at Scotland Yard.

1641 — Richard Lovelace leads a group of men who seize and destroy a petition for the abolition of Episcopal rule, which had been signed by 15,000 people. Lovelace tears up the petition himself, in a meeting at Maidstone, Kent. Sir John Suckling is implicated in the First Army Plot to free the Earl of Stafford from the Tower of London and bring French troops to the King's aid. Suckling flees to France and is found guilty of high treason in his absence. Suckling dies shortly thereafter. Between 1641 and 1660, John Milton "produced at least eighteen major prose works on behalf of the Puritan rebellion, supporting its cause, vilifying its enemies." Andrew Marvell is ejected from Cambridge for non-performance of his college duties. The first domestic news publication is Diurnalls, followed by Weekly Accounts, Mercuries and Intelligencers.

1642 — The birth of the great English scientist, astronomer, physicist, mathematician and philosopher Isaac Newton, on Christmas Day. Galileo Galilei dies under house arrest by the Roman Catholic inquisition for saying the sun is the center of the solar system. Edward Taylor, one of the better early American poets, is born in Sketchley, England. None of his poems are published in his lifetime; they will be discovered in the Yale University library and published in 1939. The English Civil War officially begins when Charles I raises the royal standard against anti-Royalists in Nottingham. Richard Lovelace presents the House of Commons with a pro-Royalist petition which was supposed to have been burned. Lovelace is imprisoned and writes one of his finest lyrics, To Althea, from Prison. English theaters are closed by the Puritans at the outbreak of the Civil War, a mere 66 years after the opening of The Theater in 1576. The Globe would never re-open and would be pulled down in 1644-1645 to make room for tenements. John Milton marries a sixteen-year-old Roman Catholic girl.

1643 — Edmund Waller is arrested in a royalist scheme against Parliament known as "Waller's Plot." To save his life, Waller recants. He is hit with an enormous fine, sent to the Tower of London, then banished. Once again his wealth may have saved him, since two of his fellow conspirators were executed.

1644 — The birth of the great Japanese haiku master, Matsuo Bashō. Haiku would have a tremendous influence on English modernists like Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot; they prized its conciseness, imagery and lack of ornamentation. After the Stationers' Company attempts to censor Milton's Judgment of Martin Bucer, he publishes the impassioned tract Areopagitica in support of a free press.

1645 — Edmund Waller's poems Song: Go, Lovely Rose and On a Girdle are published in his Poems while he is living in exile. John Milton's poems L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, On Shakespeare and How Soon Hath Time are published. Richard Lovelace rejoins the king in Oxford. Under the influence of Puritans like Oliver Cromwell, Parliament bans Christmas celebrations, including caroling.

1646 — Richard Crashaw's On the Baptized Ethiopian is one of the first English language poems to express the idea of racial equality. A collection of Sir John Suckling's poems is published posthumously as Fragmenta aurea.

1647 — Robert Herrick is evicted by the parliamentarians from his vicarage for refusing to sign the "Solemn League and Covenant," a pro-reformation agreement. The birth of the English poet John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680). His father Henry, Viscount Wilmot, was a dashing war hero who was credited with hiding Charles I in an oak tree after the disastrous battle of Worcester, then engineering his escape to the continent. The younger Wilmot, a famous (or infamous) rake, would write censored poems about masturbation, premature ejaculation and other taboo subjects. Andrew Marvell called Wilmot "the best English satirist." Charles I attempts to escape from captivity on the Isle of Wight.

1648 — Robert Herrick's poems Delight in Disorder; To Daffodils; Upon Julia's Clothes and To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time are published in Hesperides with a dedication to the Prince of Wales. Richard Lovelace is imprisoned for the second time, due to his support of the British monarchy; by the following year he has published his first volume of poems, Lucasta, which includes To Lucasta, Going to the Wars; To Althea, from Prison; and To Amaratha, That She Would Dishevel Her Hair. Around this time Andrew Marvell publishes poems addressed to Lord Francis Villiers, Lord Hastings and Richard Lovelace.

1649 — Charles I is found guilty of high treason by the Rump Parliament, is sentenced to death, then executed by beheading. John Milton writes a tract which defends the right of the people to hold their rulers accountable. He then publishes an explicit defense of the regicide, becoming a composer of "official propaganda." Cromwell leads his army to Ireland.

1650 — Anne Bradstreet's The Vanity of All Worldly Things (perhaps the first notable poem by an American poet); her book The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America made her the first female writer published both in England and the New World. Henry Vaughn's poems Regeneration and The Retreat are published. Cromwell returns from Ireland and Andrew Marvell writes an ode to commemorate the occasion. The Commonwealth decides to attack Scotland. Marvell joins the Fairfax household as a tutor to Lord Fairfax's daughter Mary. Henry Vaughan's Silex Scintillans contains some of his best poetry.

1651 — John Milton goes completely blind. One of his secretaries is Andrew Marvell. Milton's daughters also function as his scribes (perhaps the first female scribes in the English record.) Around this time Milton probably writes his famous sonnet On His Blindness ("When I consider how my light is spent ..."). Edmund Waller is allowed to return to England by the Rump Parliament. Cromwell defeats the Scotts, ending the Royalist campaigns.

1652 — John Milton publishes a defense of the English people in Latin. He also publishes a sonnet dedicated to Oliver Cromwell ("Cromwell, our chief of men ..."). It was Milton's only Shakespearean sonnet.

1653 — Oliver Cromwell is made England's Lord Protector and Regent.

1655 — Henry Vaughan's Regeneration and The Retreat. Edmund Waller publishes A Panegyric to my Lord Protector and is made a Commissioner for Trade a month or two later. Andrew Marvell writes another poetic tribute to Cromwell.

1656 — Richard Lovelace composes The Triumph of Philamore and Amoret for the marriage of Charles Cotton the younger; it has been called Lovelace's last outstanding poem.

1657 — Richard Lovelace dies in London. Andrew Marvell takes a government job as Latin Secretary; John Milton had recommended him. John Aubrey wrote of Marvell: "For Latin verses there was no man could come into competition with him."

1658 — Oliver Cromwell's death throws England back into chaos. As the republic begins to disintegrate, Milton continues to write treatises in favor of a non-monarchial government. Milton begins work on his masterpiece, Paradise Lost, perhaps using aspects of the English Civil War and its primary figures for material. John Dryden writes an elegy for Cromwell.

1659 — Andrew Marvell becomes an MP for Hull, Yorkshire. James Shirley's The Glories of Our Blood and State; Sir John Suckling's Out Upon It!

1660 — King Charles II is handed the British crown and throne in the Restoration. John Milton goes into hiding for his life, then is briefly jailed after copies of his books are burned by the Hangman of London (the public executioner). Milton is fined and pardoned in December; Andrew Marvell helps secure his release. Marvell protests in Parliament that Milton's jail fees (£150) are excessive.Marvell would campaign for religious toleration. Edmund Waller writes To the King, upon his Majesty's Happy Return. When Charles asked Waller to explain why this new piece was inferior to Waller's eulogy for Cromwell, the poet smartly replied: "Sir, we poets never succeed so well in writing truth as in fiction!" Samuel Pepys begins his famous diary on January 1, 1660. The birth of the first English novelist, Daniel Defoe (1660-1731). Defoe also wrote satirical verse.

1661 — The birth of the English poet Annie Finch (1661-1720), Countess of Winchilsea. Edmund Waller rejoins the House of Commons as the MP for Hastings. Charles II sends John Wilmot on a three-year grand tour of France and Italy, and gives him a £500 annual pension, in gratitude for the service of his father Henry Wilmot (see the entry for 1647).

1662 — Richard Herrick is restored to his vicarage at Dean Prior. Milton's sonnet to Sir Henry Vane is published; Vane is executed for defending the sovereignty of Parliament. Massachusetts minister Michael Wigglesworth outlines the doctrines of Puritanism in his epic poem "The Day of Doom." Snapped up and memorized by 17th-century colonists, the fiery work is widely considered America's first bestseller.

1663 — John Milton marries for the third and last time. His new wife is 24, less than half his age. (Milton's daughters object, but are overruled.)

1664 — John Milton completes Paradise Lost. Birth of the English poet Matthew Prior. Aphra Behn returns to England after eighteen years abroad; she marries a merchant.

1665 — John Milton and his wife move to a cottage in Buckinghamshire to avoid the plague. While King Charles II is holding court in Oxford to avoid the plague, the first newspaper is published: the Oxford Gazette. When Charles returns to London the following year, he takes the newspaper with him, where it becomes the London Gazette (which is still being published today). But ballads outnumber all other forms of publication. John Wilmot incurs the displeasure of Charles II and spends three weeks in the Tower of London after abducting the lovely heiress Elizabeth Malet against the wishes of her family, who considered him too poor for a marriage. Wilmot attempts to redeem himself by joining the navy; he becomes a war hero like his famous father. Aphra Behn's husband dies, perhaps during the plague of 1665.

1666 — Although John Milton had completed Paradise Lost by 1664, publication was delayed by a paper shortage caused by the Second Anglo-Dutch War, the Great Plague (during which over eighty London printers died), and the Great Fire of London of 1666, which destroyed many of the city's presses. Book and ballad prices skyrocket due to the laws of supply and demand. One of the houses destroyed in the fire is Milton's father's house on Bread Street. Aphra Behn, now a widow, works as a spy for King Charles II in Antwerp but is never properly paid. This is the first well-documented report we have of her activities. Everything about her prior life seems shrouded in mystery: "Her code name is said to have been Astrea, a name under which she later published many of her writings."

1667 — John Milton's masterpiece Paradise Lost is published in ten books. Because Milton had gone blind, he dictated the epic-length poem to his wife and daughters. John Dryden is said to have remarked: "This man cuts us all out, and the ancients too." Milton's agreement with printer Samuel Simmons is the earliest author's contract preserved (Lindenbaum). Dryden's Song ("Ah, fading joy ...") from the play The Indian Emperor is published. Birth of the English poet and satirist Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), in Dublin, but "he insisted on his Englishness." His mother was related to Robert Herrick. John Wilmot again elopes with Elizabeth Malet, this time successfully, and they marry. Back in the favor of Charles II, Wilmot is given special permission to join the House of Lords despite being underage. Wilmot has an affair with the notorious actress Nell Gwyn, who later becomes a paramour of the king.

1668 — Edward Taylor emigrates to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and quickly enrolls at Harvard College to become a minister; he is the only major American poet to have written in the metaphysical style. John Dryden is made British Poet Laureate by Charles II. Aphra Behn is sent to a debtor's prison and vows never to return; she becomes a writer to make money and avoid prison.

1669 — John Milton's Accidence Commenced Grammar is published.

1670 — John Milton's portrait is painted in pastels, then engraved, by William Faithorne. Milton's History of Britain is published, with the Faithorne engraving as a frontispiece. Aphra Behn becomes the first Englishwoman to make a living by writing; her first play The Forc'd Marriage premiers. The birth of the English poet and playwright William Congreve (1670-1729). John Dryden is made historiographer royal.

1671 — After Aphra Behn's third play flops at the box office, she disappears from the public record for three years. It has been suggested that she returned to spying! John Milton's Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes are published. Edward Taylor becomes a pastor and physician in Westfield, Massachusetts, where he remains until his death 58 years later. A. E. Housman, a major poet and critic of the English language, did not think highly of what may be called "the age of Dryden, Pope and the wits." In one of his lectures Housman said: "There is also such a thing as sham poetry, a counterfeit deliberately manufactured and offered as a substitute. In English the great historical example is certain verse produced abundantly and applauded by high and low in what for literary purposes is loosely called the eighteenth century: not a hundred years accidentally begun and ended by chronology, but a longer period which is a unity and a reality; the period lying between Samson Agonistes in 1671 and the Lyrical Ballads in 1798 [i.e., the beginning of the English Romantic period], and including as an integral part and indeed as its most potent influence the mature work of Dryden." The poetry produced during this long dry spell was, according to Housman, "at once pompous and poverty-stricken." And in Housman's estimation "Pope had less of the poetic gift than Dryden." Housman found the fount of true modern poetry in William Blake: "For me the most poetical of all poets is Blake. I find his lyrical note as beautiful as Shakespeare's and more beautiful than anyone else's; and I call him more poetical than Shakespeare, even though Shakespeare has so much more poetry, because poetry in him preponderates more than in Shakespeare over everything else, and instead of being confounded in a great river can be drunk pure from a slender channel of its own. Shakespeare is rich in thought, and his meaning has power of itself to move us, even if the poetry were not there: Blake's meaning is often unimportant or virtually non-existent, so that we can listen with all our hearing to his celestial tune."

1672 — Anne Bradstreet dies. John Milton publishes Art of Logic.

1673 — John Milton's poems Methought I Saw and When I Consider How My Light Is Spent are published.

1674 — Robert Herrick dies at age 83, having written around 2,500 poems. John Milton dies shortly after overseeing the publication of the second edition of Paradise Lost, which includes commendatory poems by "S.B" and Andrew Marvell.

1675 — A Satyr Against Mankind is one of the few poems published by John Wilmot during his life.

Our top ten poets of the Augustan Period: Edward Taylor, Christopher Smart, Aphra Behn, William Collins, Andrew Marvell, John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, Edmund Waller, Thomas Gray

The Augustan or Metaphysical Period (1675-1749)
The Augustan poets may have over-valued wit and extravagant, sometimes strained metaphysical "conceits." As a result, the poems of the era's major poets, John Dryden and Alexander Pope, may strike modern readers as being fanciful, boring and overly didactic. A. E. Housman called it a "dry period" in English poetry. Here's a recap of the Metaphysical Period: "A century after the height of the Elizabethan era, a subtler, provocative lyric poetry movement crept through an English literary countryside that sought greater depth in its verse. The metaphysical poets defined and compared their subjects through nature, philosophy, love, and musings about the hereafter – a great departure from the primarily religious poetry that had immediately followed the wane of the Elizabethan era. Poets shared an interest in metaphysical subjects and practiced similar means of investigating them. Beginning with John Dryden, the metaphysical movement was a loosely woven string of poetic works that continued through the often-bellicose 18th century, and concluded when William Blake bridged the gap between metaphysical and romantic poetry. The poets sought to minimize their place within the poem and to look beyond the obvious – a style that greatly informed American transcendentalism and the Romantics who followed. Among the greatest adherents were Samuel Cowley, John Donne, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, Abraham Cowley, Henry Vaughan, George Chapman, Edward Herbert, and Katherine Philips."(We question whether the metaphysical movement began with John Dryden; we think it more likely began with John Donne, who was born roughly 60 years before Dryden. Even in his early erotic poems, Donne indulged in "conceits" such as comparing the exploration of his lover's body to explorers discovering America! Donne strikes us as the first, best and most prominent of the metaphysical poets.)

1678 — Anne Bradstreet has the first book of verse published in Boston, posthumously. Her widower became governor of Salem during the famous (or infamous) witch trials. John Dryden writes his first major satire, Mac Flecknoe. Andrew Marvell dies.

1679 —John Dryden's Song ("Can life be a blessing ...") from his play Troilus and Cressida is published.

1680 — John Wilmot dies at age 33, possibly from venereal disease after a life of debauchery.

1681 — Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress, his best-known poem, is published in a collection three years after his death. However, his Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return was removed from all but one copy and would not be printed until 1776. John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel: a Poem is published.

1682 — John Dryden's satirical poem Mac Flecknoe is published.

1683 — Birth of the English poet Edward Young, best-remembered for his melancholic Night-Thoughts. Published in 1750 and illustrated by William Blake in 1797, Night Thoughts would become "one of the most frequently-printed poems of the eighteenth century." It has been said that if Young did not invent "melancholy and moonlight" in literature "he did much to spread the fashionable taste for them." As a result, he has been suggested as the first Romantic poet, and as a major influence on Romantics to follow. Some German critics preferred Young's work to Milton's; the young Goethe told his sister in 1766 that he was learning English from Young and Milton; in his autobiography Goethe said that Young's influence had created the atmosphere in which there was such a universal response to his seminal Romantic work The Sorrows of Young Werther. Young's name soon became a battle-cry for the young men of the "Sturm und Drang" movement. Young himself reinforced his reputation as a pioneer of romanticism by precept as well as by example; in 1759, at the age of 76, he published a piece of critical prose titled Conjectures on Original Composition, which put forward the vital doctrine of the superiority of "genius," of innate originality being more valuable than classic indoctrination or imitation, and suggested that modern writers might dare to rival or even surpass the "ancients" of Greece and Rome. The Conjectures was a declaration of independence against the tyranny of classicism and was at once acclaimed as such becoming a milestone in the history of English and European literary criticism. It was immediately translated into German at Leipzig and at Hamburg and was widely and favorably reviewed. The cult of genius exactly suited the ideas of the Sturm und Drang movement and gave a new impetus to the cult of Young. (Excerpted from Harold Forster's "Some uncollected authors XLV: Edward Young in translation I").

1685 — Birth of the English poet John Gay (1685-1732).

1687 — Edmund Waller dies.

1688 — The birth of the English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1784). Pope, described as a "delicate precocious boy," suffered from Pott's disease, which stunted his growth and left him with a severe hunchback and nearly an invalid.

1689 — Aphra Behn dies. During her life she wrote 19 plays and was second only to John Dryden as a playwright in the 1670s and 1680s. The birth of the English poet Mary Wortley (better known as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu). Denied a classical education because of her sex, she was educated at home and taught herself Latin in her father's library.

1694 — Jonathan Swift takes holy orders. The birth of the highly influential French writer and philosopher Voltaire. His name at birth is Francois-Marie Arouet (see the entry for 1717 regarding his name change). He would be a major figure of the Enlightenment, and one of the world's most influential thinkers, writers and troublemakers! He was also hyper-prolific. Voltaire wrote more than 50 plays, dozens of treatises on science, politics and philosophy, and several books of history on everything from the Russian Empire to the French Parliament. Along the way, he also managed to squeeze in heaps of verse and a voluminous correspondence amounting to some 20,000 letters to friends and contemporaries. Voltaire supposedly kept up his prodigious output by spending up to 18 hours per day writing or dictating to secretaries, often while still in bed. He may have also been fueled by epic amounts of caffeine: according to some sources, he drank as many as 40 cups a day!

1695 — The death of Henry Vaughan. Was he the last important English language poet to express certainty about his Christian faith? If so, it seems odd that he did not produce a major poem over the last forty years of his life.

1697 — William Congreve's play The Mourning Bride inspired two now-famous misquotations. "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast" is often misquoted as "Music soothes the savage beast." And the lines "Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, / Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorned" is usually paraphrased as "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

1699 — Jonathan Swift becomes vicar of Laracor and later dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin. He considered life in Ireland to be exile.

1700 — This is a rough beginning time for American negro spirituals. Around the turn of the century, a young Alexander Pope is introduced to John Dryden. Dryden then dies and is buried at the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey. The birth of the English poet James Thomson (1700-1748). At one time Thomson was incredibly popular: his poems "were to be found in every in and cottage," like the Bible. But his fame did not last. His one immortal poem is "Rule Britannia," but people have remembered the lyric and forgotten who wrote it.

1701 — Jonathan Swift writes what has been called his first significant poem, "Mrs Harris's Petition," at age 34.

1704 — Jonathan Swift's A Tale of a Tub satirizes the abuses of Christianity.

1707 — England and Scotland are―finally!―officially united as the Kingdom of Great Britain. At this time Ireland is not included.

1709 — Alexander Pope's long poem An Essay on Criticism. The birth of the English poet, novelist, biographer, editor, critic and creator of the first major English dictionary, Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784). Sir Richard Steele publishes the Tatler, a literary and society journal.

1710 — Around age 20, Mary Wortley translates the Enchiridion of the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus from Latin and sends a copy to Bishop Gilbert Brunet with a long letter defending women's rights to formal education.

1711 — Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele publish the Spectator, a daily publication. John Gay meets Alexander Pope; they become friends.

1712 — Alexander Pope's long mock-heroic poem The Rape of the Lock. Pope, Swift and Gay are now friends. The birth of the French philosopher and early Romantic, Jean Jacques Rousseau, who believed in the value of the individual and his/her capacity for good. Mary Wortley, despite her initial resistance to marriage and after prolonged negotiations with her father and future husband, elopes with Edward Wortley Montagu. One of Lady Montagu's earliest poems describes women's unhappiness in marriage and their potential for adultery: "In part to blame she is, who has been try'd; / Too near he has approach'd, who is deny'd."

1713 — John Gay's first major poem, Rural Sports. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu writes a critique of Joseph Addison's Cato; Addison made several of the changes she recommended; he would publish her the following year.

1714 — The birth of the English poet William Shenstone (1714-1763). Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's first published writing appears in Addison's Spectator, under the pseudonym "Lady President."

1715 — Alexander Pope's The Temple of Fame is modeled on Chaucer's House of Fame. Pope begins work on his translation of Homer's Iliad.

1716 — The birth of the English poet and early Romantic, Thomas Gray (1716-1771). Gray is generally regarded as the foremost English-language poet of the mid-18th century. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu becomes friends with Alexander Pope and John Gay; they write a group of "court eclogues" that describe and mock immorality and upper-class rituals such as card playing in the court of George I. Three of Montagu's eclogues were published in Court Poems. Later in the year Montagu traveled with her husband to Constantinople, where he was to be the English ambassador to Turkey. While traveling, Montagu began writing her best-known work, the Turkish Embassy Letters (published in 1763).

1717 — Franηois-Marie Arouet is sent to the Bastille for writing scandalous poems (not the last time he will land in hot water for speaking his mind). While in prison or soon thereafter he adopts the name "Voltaire." He never explains what the name means. One theory is "volunteer." According to a family tradition among the descendants of his sister, he was known as le petit volontaire ("determined little thing") as a child, and he resurrected a variant of the nickname. The name also has connotations of energy, speed and daring. But it was just one of 178 pen names that Arouet employed during his long, eventful and storied career. Voltaire argued for religious tolerance and freedom of thought. He campaigned to eradicate priestly and aristo-monarchical authority, and he supported a constitutional monarchy that would protect the people's rights. Unfortunately, these views would not prove popular with church and state!

1718 — Alexander Pope makes a handsome living from his translations of Homer and is able to buy a villa with a grotto and gardens in Twickenham.

1719 — Isaac Watts publishes Our God, Our Help (in Ages Past), a hymn still being sung today. Daniel Defoe's The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe has been called the first novel.

1720 — Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote "mine" in her copy of Alexander Pope's Eloisa to Abelard (she thought a couplet of hers had been stolen).

1721 — The birth of the English poet William Collins (1721-59). His lyrical odes would mark a turn away from Augustan poetry towards the Romantic era to follow. The earliest poem attributed to the "graveyard" school of poets is Thomas Parnell's A Night-Piece on Death.

1722 — The births of the English poets Mary Leapor (1722-1746) and Christopher Smart (1722-1771), also know as Kit Smart, Kitty Smart and Jack Smart.

1724 — Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in her "Epistle from Mrs. Y[onge] to Her Husband," lashes out against a the patriarchal legal system and what she sees as women's enslavement in marriage: "Defrauded Servants are from Service free, / A wounded Slave regains his Liberty. / For Wives ill us'd no remedy remains, / To daily Racks condemn'd, and to eternal Chains." Her poem "The Lady's Resolve" appears in Plain Dealer. She writes about a young woman being sexually abused and perhaps murdered by her husband in "Written ex tempore on the Death of Mrs. Bowes" (published in Weekly Journal or Saturday's-Post).

1725 — Edward Taylor retires with a library of 200 books, remarkable in his day. His poetry, however, would remain undiscovered until the 1930s, and still remains unknown to most readers to this day. Alexander Pope publishes his six-volume edition of Shakespeare's works. He was "almost as much of a literary factory" as Dr. Samuel Johnson. Thomas Gray attends Eton College, which later inspires one of his most famous poems. Gray becomes friends with Horace Walpole, the son of England's prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole.

1726 — Christopher Smart writes a poem at age four to a girl three times his age, asking her to have pity on "poor Kitty." James Thomson publishes Winter, the first of his poetry books on the seasons. Voltaire is sent to the Bastille again, this time for planning a duel. He is released when he agrees to leave France for England. Let the English deal with the troublemaker! (But he was just getting warmed up!) While living in exile, Voltaire meets the English poets Alexander Pope, John Gay, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Jonathan Swift. Voltaire is strongly influenced by the work of Isaac Newton and may have attended his funeral. He was one of the sources of the famous story about the falling apple and the concept of gravity. Voltaire's work would be instrumental in bringing about general acceptance of Newton's optical and gravitational theories in France. Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels is published.

1727 — John Gay's popular Fables, later illustrated by William Blake, eventually ran though fifty editions.

1728 — The birth of Thomas Warton (1728-1790), a poet, critic, literary historian and future Poet Laureate of England. A child prodigy, Warton produced a translation of a Martial poem at age nine and wrote his most famous poem, "The Pleasures of Melancholy," at age seventeen. He is one of the "graveyard poets," along with Thomas Gray, Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper, Thomas Parnell, Robert Blair and Edward Young. The "graveyard poets" are often recognized as precursors of the Gothic and Romantic literary movements. John Gay's The Beggar's Opera has been called the most popular play of the 18th century; it was suggested to Gay by Jonathan Swift. The earliest version of Alexander Pope's The Dunciad is published, with the principal "dunce" being Lewis Theobald, who had criticized liberties taken by Pope and errors in his editing of Shakespeare. Theobald would even dare to publish a more correct edition in 1734! But fortunately for Theobald, Pope later became even more irked with Poet Laureate Colly Cibber and made him the main dunce in his 1743 version of The Dunciad!

1729 — The birth of Thomas Percy (1729-1811), a collector and publisher of ballads also known as Bishop Percy. Voltaire returns to France and quickly figures out how to beat the French lottery system by working with mathematician Charles Marie de La Condamine and others. The scheme leaves Voltaire rich, with a windfall of nearly half a million francs, setting him up for life and allowing him to devote himself entirely to his literary career. Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal.

1730 — James Thomson's georgic poems Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall are published together as Seasons. He continued to expand the poems, which in their final version amounted to around 5,500 lines. Thomson replaced his native lowland Scots with the King's English and wrote Miltonic blank verse. In its day, Seasons was comparable in circulation only to The Pilgrim's Progress and Paradise Lost. The birth of the English poet/novelist/playwright Oliver Goldsmith (c. 1730-1774) and the English scholar/critic Thomas Tyrwhitt (1730-1786).

1731 — The birth of the English poet William Cowper (1731-1800). Cowper wrote some of the best-known hymns in the English language. He has been called a forerunner of Romantic poetry with his "hand on the latch." Samuel Johnson leaves Pembroke College, Oxford, without taking a degree. John Gay becomes Handel's librettist for Acis and Galatea and Achilles.

1732 — John Gay dies and is buried in Westminster Abbey. Ben Franklin first publishes Poor Richard's Almanac.

1733 — Alexander Pope's poem An Essay on Man may be too long and too didactic for many modern readers. Pope also publishes his Imitations of Horace. Voltaire publishes Letters Concerning the English Nation, now called Philosophical Letters. It is seen as an attack on the French system of government and is rapidly suppressed. The book is publicly burned and banned. Voltaire flees Paris to the French countryside. He shacks up with Ιmilie du Chβtelet, a married mother of three with whom he was to have an affair for 16 years. To avoid arrest, Voltaire took refuge at her husband's chβteau at Cirey-sur-Blaise, on the borders of Champagne and Lorraine. Voltaire paid for the building's renovation and Ιmilie's husband, the Marquis du Chβtelet, sometimes stayed at the chβteau with his wife and her lover. The unusual relationship had a significant intellectual element. Voltaire and the Marquise collected over 21,000 books, an enormous number for the time. Together, they studied these books and performed experiments in the natural sciences, which included an attempt to determine the nature of fire. Voltaire and the Marquise also analyzed the Bible and concluded that much of its content was dubious. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu joins forces with Lord Hervey to produce VERSES Address'd to the IMITATOR of the FIRST SATIRE of the Second Book of Horace, which "many critics consider the best satire of [Alexander] Pope written at that time." Montagu continues to write poems in which she compares a woman's role in marriage to slavery.

1734 — Alexander Pope's poem Impromptu is dedicated to "Lady Winchelsea" (the poet Annie Finch); it disparages female poets as "Sapphos." Her poem The Answer suggests that he "shock the sex no more" and points out that women "rule the world" because men are "slaves to ev'ry tempting face"! Thomas Gray attends Peterhouse, Cambridge. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu accuses Jonathan Swift of impotence in a satirical poem!

1735 — Samuel Johnson marries and opens a private school; one of his pupils, David Garrick, would become a famous actor.

1736 — The birth of the Scottish poet and early Romantic, James Macpherson (1736-1796). His work would influence major figures of Romanticism like Goethe and Walter Scott. Macpherson was the first Scottish poet to gain an international reputation, but he did so primarily by passing off poems he wrote as "translations" of an ancient poet he invented, "Ossain." Voltaire begins correspondence with Frederick the Great, then Crown Prince of Prussia.

1737 — Samuel Johnson and David Garrick move to London.

1738 — Samuel Johnson's long poem London, a verse satire in imitation of Juvenal.

1739 — Thomas Gray and Horace Walpole tour France and Italy together. Christopher Smart is admitted to Pembroke College, Cambridge as a sizar. A book titled Woman not Inferior to Man is published by an unknown author; it has been attributed to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

1740 — Around this time a teen-aged George Washington pens anguished love poems; one laments: "Ah! Woe's me that I should love and conceal,/ Long have I wish'd, but never dare reveal." The birth of James Boswell, (1740-1795), who would write a famous biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson.

1741 — Thomas Gray and Horace Walpole have a falling-out, and Gray returns to England. They later reconcile. Gray becomes a professor at Cambridge. William Cowper attends Westminster School, where he becomes adept at Latin composition, including verse.

1742 — Thomas Gray completes his first important poem, Ode on the Spring, and begins writing his masterpiece, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. He would not complete it until 1750.

1743 — Voltaire is sent to Frederick the Great's court by the French government as an envoy/spy. On a visit to Paris the same year, Voltaire finds a new love interest—his niece, Marie Louise Mignot. He did live in interesting times, or perhaps he made them interesting!

1744 — The early limerick "Hickory Dickory Dock" appears in Tom Thumb's Pretty Songbook. Alexander Pope dies.

1745 — Voltaire is appointed Royal Historiographer of France. Jonathan Swift dies. Oliver Goldsmith enters Trinity College, Dublin, but neglects his studies and ends up at the bottom of his class.

1746 — Samuel Johnson contracts to produce his landmark Dictionary of the English Language. Christopher Smart earns his Master of Arts.

1747 — Samuel Johnson's poem Prologue Spoken by Mr. Garrick. Thomas Gray's Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College. Christopher Smart, a spendthrift, is arrested for debts to his tailor.

1748 — Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, "after years of her poems being sneaked into print a few at a time, without her knowledge of their publication" was "outraged to discover that they had been sloppily edited and some of them attributed to others when they appeared in Dodsley's Collection of Poems by Several Hands."

1749 — Samuel Johnson's long poem The Vanity of Human Wishes is perhaps the last major work of the Augustans. The birth of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great German poet who "sparked" the coming Romantic Movement. The birth of Charlotte Turner Smith (1749-1806), a neglected English poet who had her foot "firmly in the door" of Romanticism. She has been called the "first substantial" female English poet after Mary Sidney. (Lady Montagu might disagree, however!)

Our top ten poets of the Romantic Era: Thomas Chatterton, Walter Scott, John Clare, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, Robert Burns, William Blake

The Romantic Era (1750-1824)
The Romantic Movement brought a sea change in to the world of art, poetry, literature and other creative endeavors. The writers and artists of the Romantic Movement created work that celebrates nature, individuality and (one might suggest) heresy. Emotion, imagination, and independent thinking are three elements commonly found in Romantic poetry. The Romantics broke away from both the "cultural authority of classical Rome" and the "dominance of the Renaissance tradition." The most popular romantic writers with the English book-buying public were Walter Scot and Lord Byron. Poets like William Blake and John Clare were lightly read in their day; their reputations were established later. Here is a recap of the Romantic Era: "The third of England’s 'big three' movements completed a three-century period during which the British Isles took the Western poetic mantle from Italy and molded the forms, styles, and poems that fill school classrooms to this day. The Romantic period, or Romanticism, is regarded as one of the greatest and most illustrious movements in literary history, which is all the more amazing considering that it primarily consisted of just seven poets and lasted approximately 25 years – from William Blake’s rise in the late 1790s to Lord Byron’s death in 1824. The Romantics felt that the relationships we build with nature and others defines our lives. In between, the group of poets lived as mighty flames of poetic production who were extinguished well before their time. The core group included Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and a magnificent trio of friends: Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats." (We would add the great Scottish poet Robert Burns to the "Big Six," making it a "Big Seven." Thomas Chatterton, John Clare, William Cowper, Thomas Gray, Walter Scott, Charlotte Turner Smith and Robert Southey also deserve consideration.)

1750 — The French Romantic philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau becomes famous for his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences. Rousseau is a deist, a free thinker and a heretic. Another heretic, Voltaire, moves to Prussia and becomes a salaried member of Frederick the Great's court. Samuel Johnson produces the Rambler, a periodical similar to the Spectator and the Tatler. Edward Young's melancholic Night-Thoughts would become a major influence on Romantics such as William Blake and Goethe. Thomas Gray completes his masterpiece, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, one of the most perfect longer poems in the English language, if not the most perfect. The poem validates the value of Everyman, a major Romantic theme, and may be the first great work of English Romanticism. It became the most celebrated and reprinted poem of its era, and rightly so.

1751 — Denis Diderot's Encyclopaedia is published between 1751 and 1772 (in 17 volumes of text and 11 volumes of engravings). Diderot began work on the Encyclopaedia in 1746. It occupied more than twenty years of his life. Many of the contributors were radical thinkers who embodied the ideals of reason and enlightenment that led to the revolution in France. The Encyclopaedia was compiled and written under constant threat of censorship and surveillance. During his editorship Diderot was arrested and imprisoned for three months. Its motivating principles were freedom of thought and criticism of authority, and it was written in a language intended for everyone's understanding. Engels wrote of him, "If ever anybody dedicated his whole life to the enthusiasm for truth and was Diderot." Important contributors included Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu and Louis de Jaucourt. Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is published and becomes a "literary sensation." Christopher Smart publishes as "Mrs. Mary Midnight" in the literary magazine The Midwife.

1752 — Birth of the English poet Thomas Chatterton, called the "marvellous boy" by William Wordsworth in his poem "Resolution and Independence." Wordsworth named Chatterton one of his primary influences even though Chatterton died at age seventeen. John Keats called Chatterton the "purest writer in the English language." Samuel Taylor Coleridge worked on his "Monody on the Death of Chatterton" for over thirty years. Chatterton has been called the first Romantic poet, although Thomas Gray is also a candidate, as are other poets including William Blake and Charlotte Turner Smith. Voltaire has a falling-out with Frederick the Great, leaves his court, then is detained by Frederick's agents for three weeks over the return of a poetry book! Voltaire publishes Micromιgas, perhaps the earliest science fiction short story about space travel. The birth of Philip Freneau; his poetry would express sympathy for Native Americans.

1753 — Phillis Wheatley, the first notable African-American poet, is born somewhere in Africa, perhaps in Senegal.

1754 — Voltaire is banned from France by Louis XV, and he is unwelcome in Germany, so he takes up residence in Geneva, Switzerland. However, he has a falling-out with Calvinists over his plays, and he buys a large estate in Ferney in 1758, where he will spend most of the remaining 20 years of his life (still stirring up trouble for the state- and religious-minded). The birth of the English poet George Crabbe (1754-1832).

1755 — Rousseau has a significant article on political economy published in Diderot's landmark Encyclopιdie. Samuel Johnson publishes A Dictionary of the English Language.

1756 — Oliver Goldsmith begins to practice medicine in London and becomes Dr. Goldsmith. Like Christopher Smart, he seems to have spent more money on clothes than he could afford. But as a writer he earns the friendship, admiration and patronage of Dr. Samuel Johnson. Goldsmith also knew Horace Walpole, who called him an "inspired idiot." Goldsmith was said to have planned to emigrate to America, but failed because he missed his ship!

1757 — The birth of the English romantic poet William Blake, the son of a haberdasher. Blake was perhaps the greatest of the English Romantic poets and one of England's greatest visual artists and engravers to boot. He was one of the first writers to fiercely criticize the dehumanizing influence of the industrial revolution on human cities and societies. Blake was also a mystic who claimed to see angels and saints on a daily basis. Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful. Thomas Gray is offered the position of Poet Laureate; he declines it. Christopher Smart is confined to a mental asylum, St. Luke's Hospital for Lunatics.

1758 — Voltaire completes his most famous work and wickedest satire, Candide, or Optimism. Published in 1759, it lampoons the ideas that "this is the best of all possible worlds," that "things work out for the best" and that "God is in control." Voltaire treated the orthodox Christian faith like a very leaky pail, as would notable Romantic and Modernist poets to come.

1759 — The birth of the Scottish romantic poet Robert Burns, generally considered to be the greatest Scottish poet of all time and notable for his "lucid pathos." The first song known to have been written by a native-born American is "My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free" by Francis Hopkinson (who also designed the first American flag and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence). Birth of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), an English writer, philosopher and early advocate of women's rights. She is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Women.

1760 — The beginning of the Industrial Revolution, a significant influence on the artists and writers of the Romantic Movement. The first publication of Mother Goose's Melodies includes limericks like "Hickory Dickory Dock." Christopher Smart probably writes Jubilate Agno around this time while confined to a mental asylum; it is an early free verse poem about his cat Jeoffry. Smart probably writes his other most-famous poem, A Song to David, around this time. Jupiter Hammon, the "property" of a Long Island aristocrat, manages to print his poem, "An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penetential Cries," which is the first work published by an African-American slave. Oliver Goldsmith's most famous poem, The Deserted Village, is published; it has been called an early work of English Romanticism.

1761 — Rousseau's novel Julie, or the New Heloise is published. It contains rhapsodic descriptions of nature and becomes an immense success. At age four William Blake begins to have visions: he sees God; he sees angels in a tree; he sees the prophet Ezekiel.

1762 — Rousseau's Emile, or on Education is published. Because it denies original sin and divine revelation, both Catholic and Protestant authorities take offense. In The Social Contract, Rousseau writes: "Christianity preaches only servitude and dependence. Its spirit is so favorable to tyranny that it always profits by such a regime. True Christians are made to be slaves, and they know it and do not much mind: this short life counts for too little in their eyes." The Ossian poems of the Scottish poet James Macpherson have been cited as early Romantic work, and influenced Goethe and Walter Scott, and perhaps William Blake as well. The death of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Montagu's daughter, Lady Bute, destroyed Montagu's diaries, but "there is still a considerable amount of primary material relating to her career." Montagu's Letters and Works were published in 1837. Montagu's octogenarian granddaughter Lady Louisa Stuart contributed (anonymously) an introductory essay called "Biographical Anecdotes of Lady M. W. Montagu," in which Stuart was obviously troubled by her grandmother's focus on sexual intrigues and did not see her "Account of the Court of George I at his Accession" as history. However, Montagu's historical observations prove quite accurate when put in context. A. M. Juster has called Montagu "the best female poet in English until the 19th century." Other candidates include the anonymous authors of "Wulf and Eadwacer" and "The Wife's Lament" (both c. 990), Anne Askew (1521-1546), Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), Isabella Whitney (c. 1545-1573), Mary Sidney (1568-1621), Mary Wroth (c. 1587-1651), Anne Bradstreet (c 1612-1672), Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), Katherine Phillips (1632-1664), Aphra Behn (c. 1640-1689), Annie Finch (1661-1720), Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), Mary Leapor (1722-1746), Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825), Hannah Moore (1745-1833), Charlotte Smith (1749-1806), Phyllis Wheatley (1753-1784), Helen Maria Williams (1761-1827), Joanna Baillie (1762-1851), Mary Tighe (1772-1810), Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793-1835), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), Emily Bronte (1818-1848), Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

1763 — Christopher Smart is released from the mental asylum where he had spent more than half a decade. Around this time another important poet of the period, William Cowper, is institutionalized for insanity. James Boswell begins working on his famous biography on the life of Samuel Johnson. Around the tender age of ten, Thomas Chatterton writes his first poem, On the Last Epiphany, or Christ Coming to Judgment. It appeared in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal on Jan. 8, 1763. Another early poem The Churchwarden and the Apparition, A Fable also appears in the Bristol Journal. At age eleven Chatterton writes a hymn of considerable merit. It begins:

Almighty framer of the skies!
O let our pure devotion rise,
Like incense in Thy sight!
Wrapped in impenetrable shade
The texture of our souls was made,
Till Thy command gave light.

1764 — Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto has been called an early Romantic work and the first gothic novel. The birth of Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823), perhaps the most famous of the gothic novelists. Thomas Chatterton, another author with gothic leanings, writes Apostate Will, Sly Dick and I've Let My Yard and Sold My Clay.

1765 — Oliver Goldsmith publishes his Essays and the novel The Vicar of Wakefield. Two important works appear in London printings that galvanize interest in the ancient ballads: James MacPherson’s The Works of Ossian, the Son of Fingal—a combined two-volume edition of his earlier published fragments and epic poetry—and Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. Charlotte Smith's father marries her off at age fifteen; forty years later she will accuse her father of having turned her into a "legal prostitute."

1767 — William Blake's parents send him to Henry Pars Drawing School around age ten; he would go on to become a master engraver. Around the same time, Thomas Chatterton becomes a scrivener (clerk) to a Bristol attorney. By age fifteen, if not earlier, Chatterton was writing poems in an antique style and language, then pretending to have "found" the work of a 15th century monk named Thomas Rowley. But when his employer catches Chatterton writing poetry, he tears it up!

1769 — Most of Thomas Chatterton's so-called Rowley poems are completed by 1769. Now sixteen, Chatterton offers some of his Rowley poems to Horace Walpole, who declines to help the poor and struggling young poet. Chatterton writes a bitter satirical poem in reply, To Horace Walpole. (Walpole would later say of Chatterton: "I do not believe there ever existed so masterly a genius.") Chatterton is fired by the lawyer he works for, and moves to London hoping to earn a living as a writer. Chatterton's Rowley poem Elinoure and Juga is published by Town and Country Magazine (May 1769) pp 273-74. The poem was probably written when Chatterton was around age eleven or twelve, as it is believed to be the first, or among the first, of his Rowley compositions. Despite his youth, over a period of four months Chatterton appears in eleven of the principal publications then in circulation: the Middlesex Journal, the Court and City Journal, the Political Register, the London Museum, Town and Country, the Christian, the Universal, the Gospel, the London, the Lady's, and the Freeholder's magazines. But some of the publishers either don't pay him, or are tardy, and he is slowly starving to death, to proud to accept offers of meals from his landlady.

1770 — Oliver Goldsmith's most famous poem "The Deserted Village" is published. The birth of the English poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850). Thomas Chatterton commits suicide by drinking arsenic in a rented room in Holborn at age seventeen. Of all the Romantic poets who died young, he was the first and the youngest. Chatterton would later be mentioned and/or commemorated by some of the most famous Romantic poets: William Blake, Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Walter Scott. Keats dedicated "Endymion" to his memory. Robert Southey edited Chatterton's posthumous collection of poems. Dante Gabriel Rossetti called him "the absolutely miraculous Chatterton" and declared him to be "as great as any English poet whatever." Thomas Warton said that Chatterton was "a prodigy of genius, and would have proved the first of English poets had he reached a maturer age." Samuel Johnson said of Chatterton, "This is the most extraordinary young man that has encountered my knowledge." Edmond Malone declared him to be "the greatest genius that England has produced since the days of Shakespeare." Samuel Taylor Coleridge said that his friend Wordsworth was only able to determine two "native" or "born" poets: Chatterton and Robert Burns. (It would eventually be determined that many of Chatterton's poems were "reverse forgeries." He wrote the poems himself, in an antique language, then pretended to have "found" the work of an ancient monk named Thomas Rowley. But then Chatterton was not a "forger" because his poems were his own original compositions! It would also be determined that James Macpherson had done the same thing previously, pretending to have "found" poems written by an ancient bard called Ossian. Later, William Henry Ireland would claim to have "found" poems written by Shakespeare.)

1771 — The birth of the Scottish romantic poet and novelist Walter Scott (1771-1832). Thomas Gray dies and will have a monument erected at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey in 1978, close to the monuments of two poets he greatly admired, John Milton and Edmund Spenser. The unlucky Christopher Smart ends up confined again, this time in debtor's prison, where he dies. The birth of Dorothy Woodworth, the sister of William Wordsworth, one year his junior.

1772 — The birth of the English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834). He would also be a major literary critic. Around age sixteen, William Blake engraves “Joseph of Arimathea,” a work that articulates many of the principles and influences from which he would draw inspiration for the rest of his life.

1773 — Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral is the first book of poetry by an Afro-American slave; her poetry was praised by George Washington and John Hancock. Oliver Goldsmith's popular play She Stoops to Conquer is first performed. Robert Burns writes his first poem around age 15, working on his father's farm. He got his start writing love poems to Nelly Kirkpatrick.

1774 — Birth of the English poet Robert Southey. William Cowper's "Lines Written During a Period of Insanity" is written. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe publishes his book The Sorrows of Young Werther, perhaps the first major work of German Romanticism; it has also been called the first "best-seller" and made Goethe a celebrity at age 24. The death of Oliver Goldsmith.

1775 — British troops sing "Yankee Doodle" to mock American colonists; the colonists defiantly adopt the song as their own. The birth of the English novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817), the author of Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. The birth of the English poet Walter Savage Landor. Thomas Tyrwhitt publishes an edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in which he "solves the riddle" of pronouncing the feminine "e" in Chaucer's verse.

1776 — The American colonies defiantly declare independence with words written in ringing iambic pentameter by Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin: "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..."

1777 — Thomas Tyrwhitt presses for the publication of the "Thomas Rowley" poems, but eventually concludes that they were actually the original work of Thomas Chatterton. Samuel Johnson begins work on his Lives of the Poets.

1778 — Rousseau dies. Voltaire returns from exile to receive honor in Paris, in the form of the adoration of the masses, then also dies. The birth of William Hazlitt (1778-1830), the foremost literary critic of his day.

1779 — William Blake is admitted to the Royal Academy Schools and studies art under Sir Joshua Reynolds (although Blake had very little positive to say about Reynolds or his aesthetic theories). Blake meets Thomas Stothard and John Flaxman, forming, in Akroyd’s phrase, “a little club or community of shared interests. They were all sons of London tradesmen, all in love with the gothic past, all reading Chatterton and Ossian with profound interest.” William Cowper has become friends with John Newton, the former slave ship captain who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace." Newton encourages Cowper and he writes hymns published in the Olney Hymns. Two of Cowper's most famous hymns, still being sung today, are the ones that begin "There is a fountain filled with blood" and "Oh! for a closer walk with God."

1781 — At long last, Samuel Johnson is awarded a degree of doctor in civil law by Oxford ... a mere half-century after he left Oxford without a degree!

1782 — Rousseau's Confessions is published posthumously.

1783 — Blake's Poetical Sketches is published with the help of John Flaxman. Walter Scott enters the University of Edinburgh at age twelve, meets the blind poet Thomas Blacklock, and is introduced by the older poet to the Ossian poems of James Macpherson. Charlotte Turner Smith writes Elegiac Sonnets while in debtor's prison with her husband and children. The book's financial success allows her buy back her family's freedom. George Crabbe's first major work, The Village. Dr. Samuel Johnson dies and lies buried at the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

1784 — Phillis Wheatley dies.

1785 — The birth of the English poet Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866).

1786 — Robert Burns has the poems "To a Mouse," "To a Louse," "A Winter Night" and "To a Mountain Daisy" published in Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect. William Cowper begins his translation of Homer's epic poems into blank verse. William Wordsworth writes his first poem around age sixteen.

1787 — William Wordsworth has a sonnet published in The European Magazine. He enters St. John's College, Cambridge, but does not distinguish himself.

1788 — The birth of the English romantic poet George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824), the son of Captain "Mad Jack" Byron and Catherine Gordon. Goethe called Byron "undoubtedly the greatest genius of our century." Byron invented the Byronic hero, patterned after himself. William Blake invents the “stereotype” or “infernal method” of creating illuminated books, which requires him to learn to write backwards. He writes and publishes Poetical Sketches and All Religions are One. Blake can now publish his own illuminated books without bowing to the prejudices of the day. And because he kept all his copper plates, his books have been preserved to this day. William Cowper writes his poem The Negro's Complaint, which will be quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the days of the American Civil Rights Movement. Robert Burns writes "Auld Lang Syne" as a poem, then sets it the music of a traditional Scottish folk tune. It has, of course, become one of the most popular songs in the English language.

1789 — Start of the French Revolution. The upheavals in France greatly influenced the artists and writers of the Romantic Movement. William Blake's Songs of Innocence is published; the poems include "The Lamb," "Holy Thursday" and "The Little Black Boy." Blake illustrates and engraves every page himself. Blake was unique among Christian poets in that he located innocence in the individual's childhood, rather than in the human race's childhood (i.e., Adam and Eve). Blake also publishes The Book of Thel.

1790 — Samuel Taylor Coleridge's first published poem, at age 18, is "Monody on the Death of Thomas Chatterton." Coleridge said that he wrote the initial lines at age thirteen; he worked on the poem over a period of nearly fifty years, revising it at least six times. The final version was published just before his death in 1834.

1791 — Robert Burns publishes Tam O' Shanter. Thomas Paine's Rights of Man. Voltaire's remains are brought to Paris for entombment in the Pantheon; the procession is attended by a million people. William Wordsworth earns a BA from St. John's College, Cambridge. Samuel Taylor Coleridge enters Jesus College, Cambridge; he does not complete his degree. Captain "Mad Jack" Byron dies of consumption (tuberculosis) in France after abandoning his family; in his will he declares his three-year-old son financially responsible for his debts!

1792 — The birth of the English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822); his father was a baronet. Robert Graves described Shelley as a "volatile creature of air and fire." Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women. In an interesting synchronicity, Percy Bysshe Shelley would marry Mary Wollstonecraft's daughter, of the same name, who would become famous as Mary Shelley for writing the gothic horror novel Frankenstein.

1793 — Robert Burns publishes his Select Collection of Scottish Airs. William Wordsworth publishes "An Evening Walk" and "Descriptive Sketches." The births of the English poets John Clare (1793-1864) and Felicia Dorothea Hemans Browne (1793-1835). Clare's biographer called him "the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self." Although Clare was little-known in his day and was perhaps best known for being confined to an insane asylum, since then he has been proposed as a major poet. In any case, there can be no doubt that he wrote a number of remarkable poems. Felicia Hemans was a child prodigy who had a book of poems published at age fourteen. She earned the interest of Percy Bysshe Shelley, who corresponded with her, and poetic tributes from William Wordsworth and Walter Savage Landor. William Blake denounces the subjugation of women in his Visions of the Daughters of Albion. Blake also publishes The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and The Gates of Paradise. Samuel Taylor Coleridge has his first published poems in the Morning Chronicle. The birth of the English poet John Anster (1793–1867), best known for his translations of parts of Goethe's Faust.

1794 — William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), one of the first notable "home-grown" American poets, is born. William Blake's Songs of Experience is published; the poems include "The Sick Rose," "London" and "The Tyger." According to the Chicago Tribune, Blake's "The Tyger" is the most anthologized poem in the English language. Blake also publishes Europe: A Prophecy which may be literally visionary. The most famous of these images, that of an ancient man kneeling down from a red orb, measuring the abyss below him with a compass and called the “Ancient of Days,” was inspired by a vision that allegedly hovered before Blake at the top of his staircase in Lambeth. Samuel Taylor Coleridge meets Robert Southey. Coleridge would marry Southey's sister-in-law. Coleridge begins taking opium for a toothache.

1795 — The births of the English romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) and the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881). William Wordsworth meets Samuel Taylor Coleridge; neighbors in Somerset, they would become friends and collaborators. Walter Savage Landor publishes his first book Poems at age twenty, then suppresses it because of its "simplistic and fashionable political enthusiasms."

1796 — Robert Burns dies; he was honored with a white marble bust at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey, close to Shakespeare's monument. Walter Scott, who had met Burns in person as a boy, begins to publish his poetry and soon becomes famous for it.

1797 — Robert Southey's poem "Winter" is published. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin is born in England; her mother dies shortly after giving birth. Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes his best-known poems: "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "Kubla Khan" and "Christabel." While Coleridge is writing "Kubla Khan," a poem that came to him in a dream, a "person from Porlock" shows up, interrupts the poet, and the poem is never completed. And yet it becomes one of the most famous poems in the English language! The birth of Mary Shelley (1797-1851), the author of the "scientific Gothic" novel Frankenstein, and the future wife of the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

1798 — Lyrical Ballads, written primarily by William Wordsworth with a few poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is published. This book becomes the foundational text of the English Romantic Movement. The longest poem included is Coleridge's dark, gothic poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." It would inspire many poems in a similar vein.

1799 — After touring Europe with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William and Dorothy Wordsworth set up house at the Dove Cottage in England's Lake District. Robert Southey lived nearby, and the poets would collectively be known as the "Lake Poets." William Wordsworth begins work on his important autobiographical poem The Prelude, which has been called his "poem to Coleridge." Byron's uncle, the "Wicked Lord" William Byron, dies. Ten-year-old George Gordon Byron becomes the sixth Baron Byron. The family is instantly elevated from poverty to nobility. The newly-appointed young baron and his mother move from Aberdeen to the Newstead Abbey in England.

1800 — William Cowper dies. William Wordsworth writes "Michael."

1801 — Byron enters Harrow, a boys' boarding school in Middlesex. The birth of William Barnes (1801-1866), an English poet, priest and philologist.

1802 — Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes his last major poem at age thirty: "Dejection: an Ode." William Wordsworth begins writing his ode "Intimations of Immortality" around this time. It has been described as a "tour de force" and may be his best work. Sir Walter Scott publishes a nationalist collection of ballads, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.

1803 — Ralph Waldo Emerson, an influential American poet and philosopher, is born. He would be a mentor of Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. The Napoleonic Wars begin when Great Britain declares war on France. Charlotte Turner Smith becomes so destitute and ill that she can barely hold a pen; she sells her books to pay off her debts, but lives in fear that she will be sent back to debtor's prison for the remaining balance of twenty pounds! While home for the summer holiday, Byron falls in love with his cousin Mary Chaworth. He refuses to return to Harrow and withdraws for a few months to be closer to her. The birth of the English poet Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849), author of Death's Jest Book and called the "prince of the morticians" by Ezra Pound.

1804 — The birth of Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), a future Prime Minister of England and author of socio-political novels. William Blake begins working on Milton and Jerusalem. Blake is accused of high treason after giving a soldier a hard time, but is acquitted.

1805 — Sir Walter Scott's poem "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" made him famous, although he is more famous today as a novelist. Poems written by Lord Byron at age 14 are published in Fugitive Pieces, but the book is recalled and burned because some of the poems are too "hot," especially the poem "To Mary." Byron enters Trinity College, Cambridge. He is instantly popular, spending more time socializing, drinking, gambling and spending money than studying. But he is crushed to learn that his first love, Mary Chaworth, has married someone else.

1806 — The birth of the English poet Elizabeth Barrett (1806-1861), who would marry the poet Robert Browning and become better known as Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The birth of the English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). The death of Charlotte Turner Smith. Stuart Curran, the editor of Smith's poems, called her "the first poet in England whom in retrospect we would call Romantic." She helped shape the "patterns of thought and conventions of style" for the period, and William Wordsworth admired and was influenced by her Romantic poetry. She has also been credited with the revitalization of the English sonnet, with helping to develop "painterly prose," and with influencing the development of the gothic novel and modern blank verse. Byron publishes his first book, Fugitive Pieces, at age eighteen. It is savaged by the Edinburgh Review.

1807 — Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), a notable American poet who would rival Alfred Tennyson in fame and popularity, is born. For Europeans of that era, "American poetry was Longfellow." Charlotte Turner Smith's major poem, Beachy Head, is published posthumously.

1808 — William Blake puts on his own art exhibition but is too far ahead of his time and only sells one painting. People on the street near his home whisper, “There goes the man who talks to spirits and angels!” Byron receives his degree from Cambridge. Shortly after, he fathers his first illegitimate child with one of the maids at Newstead Abbey. He provides an annual stipend for the mother and child.

1809 — Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), an English poet, is born. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), an American writer, editor, literary critic and romantic poet, is born. Poe would be a major influence on later French romantic and modernist poets, such as Charles Baudelaire. Byron responds to his critics with his scathing English Bards and Scots Reviewers.

1810 — Walter Scott publishes his popular book of poems The Lady of the Lake. Franz Shubert and Beethoven would later set Scott's lyrics to music. The birth of the English social novelist Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865). William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge become estranged over Coleridge's opium addiction. Byron leaves England, swims the Hellespont, and begins composing the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Percy Bysshe Shelley enters University College, Oxford.

1811 — The birth of the English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), author of Vanity Fair and Barry Lyndon. The latter was turned into a movie that won four Oscars, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. Byron returns to England depressed and broke. Byron's mother Catherine Gordon dies. He soon receives a letter informing him that a former lover, John Edleston, died of consumption while Byron was traveling in Europe. Byron is grief-stricken.

1812 — Edgar Allan Poe is orphaned at age three. Byron publishes Books I and II of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Byron said that he "awoke one morning and found myself famous," outselling Jane Austen and George Crabbe. Byron also appears before the House of Lords to give his first speech as a member of Parliament. His mistresses include Lady Caroline Lamb and the Countess of Oxford. John Clare's poem "The Mores." (Clare, who spent considerable time in a madhouse, would later claim to be Byron!) The United States and Great Britain fight the War of 1812. The birth of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), the greatest novelist of the Victorian era (and one of the greatest of any era). Dickens was "the first great writer to tackle the essentially modern problem of the discontents of an urban civilization." The birth of the English poet Robert Browning (1812-1889). Browning is best known today for his dramatic monologues. His future wife, Elizabeth Barrett, writes her first poems at age six.

1813 — Walter Scott is offered the position of England's Poet Laureate. He declines and his friend, Robert Southey, becomes Poet Laureate (and will remain so for 30 years until his death in 1843). Percy Bysshe Shelley publishes Queen Mab, a youthful work of political protest. Byron publishes The Giaour, so popular it went into eight issues within a year. Byron's half-sister Augusta Leigh arrives in London to stay with him while her husband and three children holiday elsewhere. She and Byron grow extremely close, beginning what many believe was an incestuous relationship. Byron also publishes The Bride of Abydos. Jane Austen publishes Pride and Prejudice. The Irish poet Thomas Moore writes the popular song "The Last Rose of Summer" which appears in his Irish Melodies.

1814 — Oxford University expels Percy Bysshe Shelley for writing a tract on the necessity of atheism; Lord Byron's poem "She Walks in Beauty (Like the Night)" is published. Byron's half-sister Augusta Leigh gives birth to a daughter named Elizabeth Medora Leigh. It is widely speculated that Byron is the father. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin meets and marries Percy Bysshe Shelley. John Keats writes his first extant poem, "An Imitation of Spenser," at age 19. Walter Scott begins to write novels anonymously, publishing Waverly, and has been called the father of the historical novel. After witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, Maryland attorney Francis Scott Key writes the poem "Defence of Fort M'Henry," which is later set to the melody of an English drinking song, and becomes the U.S. national anthem! Walter Savage Landor leaves England for eighteen years, spending much of his time in Italy. Alfred Tennyson is "moved to verse" at age five. Elizabeth Barrett publishes her first poem at age fourteen, the epic Battle of Marathon.

1815 — Napoleon escapes from Elba and raises an army, but loses at Waterloo and surrenders. This marks the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Byron publishes his poem The Corsair. The semi-autobiographical poem is a bestseller. Byron marries an heiress. The birth of Ada Lovelace, also known as Ada Byron; the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, she is the future Countess of Lovelace. She has been deemed the first computer programmer and software developer because she formulated the first algorithm for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine (which is generally considered to be the first mechanical computer). The computer language Ada was named after her. Ada Lovelance was an advocate of what she called "poetical science." Babbage called her "Lady Fairy" and the "Enchantress of Numbers." The birth of the English novelist Anthony Trollope (1815-1882). Percy Bysshe Shelley begins work on Alastor: or the Spirit of Solitude. Shelley also works on "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty" around this time. William Cullen Bryant writes "To a Waterfowl."

1816 — Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Christabel." Walter Scott heads a team which rediscovers the lost Regalia (Crown Jewels) of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle. The Prince Regent rewards him with a baronetcy and he becomes Sir Walter Scott! Lord Byron publishes Darkness, The Siege of Corinth and Parisina. With his finances a wreck and his reputation shattered following Annabella's accusations of abuse and incest, Byron quits England for good and sails for Europe. He arrives in Geneva to spend the summer with his new lover, an Englishwoman named Claire Clairmont, and her half-sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley and Byron become friends. Samuel Taylor Coleridge finally publishes his poem "Kubla Khan" in its original, unfinished form. Drat that person from Porlock! The birth of the English novelist Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855). John Keats has his first published poem, "O Solitude," and writes "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer."

1817 — William Cullen Bryant's poem "Thanatopsis" is published. Walter Scott publishes the historical novel Rob Roy. New Orleans designates "Congo Square" as an official site for slave music and dance. Was this a step toward the blues and jazz? Claire Clairmont gives birth to Byron's daughter, Clara Allegra. Desperate for cash, Byron sells Newstead Abbey and publishes the poem Manfred. Percy Bysshe Shelley writes The Revolt of Islam. With Shelley's help, John Keats publishes his first book of poems. At age eight, Alfred Tennyson "covered two sided of a slate with Thomsonian blank verse in praise of flowers." The birth of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), an American essayist, poet, philosopher and abolitionist.

1818 — The long poem Endymion by John Keats is published, as is the famous sonnet "Ozymandias" by his friend Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley also publishes his translation of Plato's Symposium and begins work on his Prometheus Unbound. The novel Frankenstein by his wife Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is a landmark Gothic/Romantic work, but also an early work of science fiction, with electricity being harnessed to create life. William Cullen Bryant's poem "To a Waterfowl" is an early work of American Romanticism. The birth of the English novelist Emily Bronte (1818-1848), the second of three Bronte sisters who all became notable writers.

1819 — John Keats publishes his most famous poems including "To Autumn," "Ode to a Grecian Urn," "Ode to Psyche," "Ode on Melancholy" and "Ode to a Nightingale." Most of Keats' best poetry was written in an amazing single year spanning from September 1818 to September 1819. During this period he falls in love with Isabella Jones, then Fanny Brawe, perhaps writing "Bright Star" for the former, then revising it for the latter. Percy Bysshe Shelley writes The Mask of Anarchy, which has been called the first call to nonviolent resistance. Byron begins an affair with the married Countess Teresa Guiccioli and moves in with her in Ravenna. He publishes the first two cantos of his major work, Don Juan. Sir Walter Scott publishes his most famous historical novel, Ivanhoe, and was paid "unprecedented sums" for his writing. William Hazlitt's The English Comic Writers. The birth of Walt Whitman (1819-1892), an American romantic poet and the first great free verse poet of the English language. The birth of the English artist and art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900). The births of the English poet Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861). The birth of the English novelists George Eliot (1819-1880) and Charles Kingsley (1819-1875). Also the birth of Queen Victoria. At age ten, Alfred Tennyson is writing "hundreds and hundreds of lines in regular Popeian metre." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, age thirteen, publishes his first poem in the Portland Gazette, a four-stanza poem called "The Battle of Lovell's Pond." The birth of Herman Melville (1819-1891), an American poet, novelist and short story writer.

1820 — Percy Bysshe Shelley's poems "To a Skylark," "Ode to the West Wind" and the longer Prometheus Unbound are published. Prometheus Unbound is one of the earliest literary works to forward the idea of nonviolent resistance. Victor Hugo is publishing poems, and becomes a major figure of French Romanticism. William Blake moves to No. 3 Fountain Court, his last earthly residence. The young Charles Dickens works a few blocks away and it’s possible they saw one another on the street. They would both be instrumental in bringing the plight of young children forced to work as virtual slaves to the English public's attention. We may be able to attribute child labor laws to their joint influence. In a BBC poll of the hundred greatest Britons of all time, Blake was 38th and Dickens 41st. What a small world! Blake ranks above all English poets other than Shakespeare and above all English painters and other visual artists. That's not bad for an eccentric genius who developed a way to publish his own illuminated books, rather than conform to the silly prejudices of his day. The birth of the English novelist Anne Bronte (1820-1849).

1821 — John Keats dies at age twenty-five; Percy Bysshe Shelley writes the long poem Adonias as a tribute to him. Shelley also writes Hellas and his Defence of Poetry, a "quintessential Romantic document."

1822 — Percy Bysshe Shelley drowns in a boating accident at age thirty, on the Don Juan, with a book of Keats' poems in his pocket. Byron, Leigh Hunt and Edward John Trelawny preside over his cremation on the shore. Allegra Byron dies of fever at the convent in Italy where Lord Byron has placed her. The birth of the English poet and critic Matthew Arnold (1822-1888). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, age fifteen, enters Bowdoin College, where he meets and befriends Nathaniel Hawthorne.

1823 — Edgar Allan Poe is writing love poems to woo girls at age fourteen; when his love poems fail, he writes laments. The poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (aka "T'was the Night Before Christmas") is published anonymously in a small-town New York paper (authorship is widely attributed to Manhattan classics professor Clement Moore), and helps shape our image of Santa Claus as a round-bellied merry fellow who smokes a pipe, descends chimneys, and travels in a reindeer-drawn sleigh. The birth of the English poet Coventry Patmore (1823-1896). After publishing the remaining cantos of Don Juan, Byron travels to Greece to assist the Greeks in their revolution against Turkish rule.

1824 — Edgar Allan Poe, around age fifteen and inspired by the "slenderly graceful figure" of his friend Robert Stannard's mother, writes "To Helen." Lord Byron arrives in Greece, ready to fight for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. Byron spends £4,000 of his own money to refit the Greek fleet, then gives "unruly Souliots" some £6,000 pounds more. Byron sells his Rochdale Manor in Scotland to raise more money for the cause. Wars of independence are expensive! But he dies at age thirty-six, due to complications related to a fever (and perhaps the subsequent bloodletting), before he can attack anyone. Huge crowds in England line up to view his coffin, but he is not allowed to be buried at Westminster Abbey because of his "questionable morality." Never mind the "morals" of the licentious kings and bishops buried there! But all ends well, thanks to English schoolchildren, who, 145 years after the great poet's death, raised enough money for a Poets' Corner memorial, in 1969. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony premieres, receiving five standing ovations. The famous composer had gone deaf and wrote his most famous symphony without being able to hear it. Thomas Carlyle translates Goethe's Wilhelm Meister into English. The birth of Wilkie Collins (1824-1829), an English master of the mystery story or "sensation novel." There is an attempt to publish the poetry of Robert Browning, then age twelve. He would later destroy the manuscript, Incondita.

1825 — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has published around forty poems before graduating from Bowdoin College in 1825. William Hazlitt's book of literary criticism, The Spirit of the Age, is published.

1826 — Edgar Allan Poe drops out of the University of Virginia, where he had battled the demons of drinking and gambling. The birth of Stephen C. Foster, who has been called the "father of American music." Ironically, he had never seen the South at the time he wrote some of his most famous songs about a romanticized South, such as "Old Folks at Home" (also known as "Sewanee River"), and "My Old Kentucky Home." He only visited the South one time, in 1852, and that was on a riverboat cruise on his honeymoon (which may not have left much time for sightseeing!). James Fenimore Cooper writes The Last of the Mohicans.

1827 — Edgar Allan Poe, strapped for money, enlists in the U.S. army. Poe's first poetry collection, Tamerlane and Other Poems, is published at age eighteen. William Blake dies; he was honored with a bronze bust at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. Robert Tatham is reputed to have inherited most of Blake's manuscripts and papers and to have destroyed work that was too erotic or heretical for his tastes. But thankfully Blake kept all his copper plates, so his major works have been preserved and protected from sabotage! Alfred Tennyson has his first poems published, at age 17. Jane Webb (later Jane C. Louden) writes The Mummy. John Clare publishes The Shepherd's Calendar. At age eighteen, Alfred Tennyson has poems published in Poems By Two Brothers with his elder brother Charles Tennyson Turner; the introduction says that the poems were written from age fifteen to eighteen. Alfred Tennyson enters Cambridge and joins a secret society called the Cambridge Apostles. He meets and becomes friends with the poet Arthur Henry Hallam (1811-1833) who would die young and inspire Tennyson's elegy In Memoriam A.H.H.

1828 — The birth of the English poet, painter, illustrator and translator Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), the elder brother of the poet Christina Rossetti. The birth of the English poet George Meredith (1828-1909). The birth of the French writer Jules Verne, who has been called a father of the science fiction novel. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are reconciled and tour the Rhineland together.

1829 — Through essays like "Signs of the Times" in the Edinburgh Review, Thomas Carlyle emerges as "the dominant social thinker of early Victorian England." Carlyle pointed out the "gulf between the rich and poor" and called for a hero capable of "galvanizing society and forcibly moving history forward." Tennyson wins a prize at Cambridge for his long undergraduate prize poem "Timbuctoo." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow becomes a professor at Bowdoin College, where he is also the librarian and writes his own textbooks!

1830 — Alfred Tennyson publishes "The Kraken," "Mariana," "Claribel" and "The Lotus Eaters" in Poems Chiefly Lyrical, which received "hostile attention." However, Leigh Hunt compared Tennyson's verse to that of Keats. Walt Whitman, age eleven, drops out of school but never stops reading. The birth of the American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1866). Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), an English poet, is born; her father, sister and two brothers were all writers, so she came from a very literate family.

1831 — "My Country 'Tis of Thee" (also known as: "America") was first sung at Park Street Church in Boston. The words were written by Samuel Francis Smith and set to the tune of "God Save the King." Edgar Allan Poe's Poems: Second Edition is published at age 22.

1832 — John Clare's poem "Remembrances" is published. Sir Walter Scott dies. The death of George Crabbe. Edgar Allan Poe marries his cousin Virginia and becomes the editor of Southern Literary Messenger.

1833 — Alfred Tennyson publishes Poems. Arthur Henry Hallam dies in Vienna, and Tennyson will publish little for the next nine years. However, one of Tennyson's best and strongest poems, "Ulysses," is composed shortly after Hallam's death. Henry David Thoreau enters Harvard.

1834 — The birth of the English poet, novelist and translator William Morris (1834-1896). The death of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Charles Dickens attacks the 1834 Poor Law with his novel Oliver Twist.

1835 — John Clare publishes The Rural Muse. Edgar Allan Poe's The Unparalled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall is an early example of science fiction about a balloon trip to the moon. Poe may thus be called a father of science fiction and he has been called a "strong influence" on Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback. "Amazing Grace" is published to the tune of "New Britain" in William Walker's The Southern Harmony (this is the version most often sung today).

1836 — Charles Dickens has success with the serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow becomes a professor at Harvard. Emerson publishes his first essay, "Nature," anonymously. In his essay, Emerson declared American literary independence and urged American writers to develop their own independent style, rather than imitating European writers. Emerson would be the first American writer to be "successfully exported." James Russell Lowell, who was a student at Harvard at the time, called it "an event without former parallel on our literary annals." Emerson would eventually "discover" Walt Whitman, who at this time had just taken a job as a schoolteacher, despite having dropped out of school at age eleven! Ralph Waldo Emerson is a founder of the Transcendental Club, whose members included Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Orestes Brownson, William Ellery Channing, Sophia Peabody and her husband, Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Our top ten poets of the Victorian Era: Anne Reeve Aldrich, Oscar Wilde, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Matthew Arnold, Edgar Allan Poe, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman

The Victorian Era and Pre-Modernism (1837-1901)
This is an interesting period because poets like Tennyson and Longfellow were writing in a more traditional style, while poets like Whitman and Dickinson were beginning to "make it new" (to borrow a phrase from Ezra Pound). Whitman, Dickinson and Mark Twain would help free American poetry and literature from what had been largely mimicry of European voices. Popular songs typically consist of rhyming poems set to music; increasingly poetry will be delivered via music.

1837 — Queen Victoria takes the throne of the United Kingdom, leading to what has become known as tame and staid Victorianism. The birth of the English Romantic poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), who has also been described as a "decadent" and "indecent" poet, and as a master of meter and mellifluous rhyme. Charles Dickens publishes Oliver Twist. John Clare enters a mental asylum; one of his delusions is that he is Lord Byron. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow begins his Harvard lectures. Henry David Thoreau quits a public school job to avoid administering corporal punishment; he meets Ralph Waldo Emerson around this time.

1838 — Elizabeth Barrett publishes The Seraphim and Other Poems.

1839 — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's first book of poems, Voices of the Night, is published, as is his first novel, Hyperion: a Romance. The birth of the notable English skeptic and critic Walter Pater (1839-1894). Edgar Allan Poe writes The Fall of the House of Usher.

1840 — The birth of the English poet and novelist Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). Henry David Thoreau's first essay is published in The Dial, with the encouragement of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Herman Melville embarks on his first whaling vessel at age 21. American music as we think of it today probably started in the 1840s with the Hutchison Family Singers, who wrote their own songs and incorporated elements such as falsetto, "mountain melody" and close four-part harmonies into a distinctively American brand of popular music. They were not only the first American pop stars (as in popular music), but with their pro-equality protest songs they paved the way for singer-songwriters to come like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Around the same time, the influence of African American music on popular music would become profound, through composers like Stephen Foster and performers like The Christy Minstrels.

1841 — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes Ballads and Other Poems. Edgar Allan Poe invents the modern detective story with The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Henry David Thoreau moves into the house of Ralph Waldo Emerson, where he serves as a children's tutor, editorial assistant, repairman and gardener. Dante Gabriel Rossetti enters Henry Sass's Drawing Accademy.

1842 — Robert Browning's Dramatic Lyrics include "My Last Duchess." Christina Rossetti begins to record the dates of her poems at age twelve. Alfred Tennyson publishes a revised version of Poems which includes "Ulysses," "Locksley Hall" and "Morte d'Arthur." These poems cement his reputation as the greatest of the Victorian poets. (Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman seem more modern than Victorian.) After meetings with Charles Dickens and other writers, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes a volume of anti-slavery poems, Poems on Slavery. He allowed the poems to be distributed for free by abolitionists. Poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier felt Poems on Slavery had “been an important service to the Liberty movement” and asked whether Longfellow would be a candidate for Congress on the Liberty Party ticket. “Our friends think they could throw for thee one thousand more votes than any other man.” Longfellow declined the proposal. Herman Melville jumps ship and ventures into mountains to avoid capture. Melville then boards the Lucy Ann, participates in a mutiny, and is briefly jailed.

1843 — The birth of the American novelist Henry James (1843-1916). When his friend Robert Southey dies, William Wordsworth becomes England's Poet Laureate. The Christy Minstrels form; they perform in blackface and are very popular. The group pays Stephen C. Foster $15,000 for exclusive rights to his song "Old Folks at Home."

1844 — The birth of the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889). Hopkins is notable for his eclectic style and use of "sprung rhythm." Hopkins would become known to the world only after his poems were published posthumously in 1918 by his friend and British poet laureate Robert Bridges. The birth of Robert Bridges (1844-1930). Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett begin to correspond. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes The Waif.

1845 — Edgar Allan Poe writes and publishes his most famous poem, The Raven. It becomes a "popular sensation" and makes Poe a household name. Henry David Thoreau moves into a small house on the banks of Walden Pond, with the goal of "simple living." Robert Browning begins to court Elizabeth Barrett. Dante Gabriel Rossetti enters the Antique School of the Royal Accademy.

1846 — Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning secretly marry at St. Marylebone Church in London: they would become poetry's first "super couple." Walt Whitman writes a review of the early novels of a young writer named Herman Melville. Melville publishes Typhee, a romanticized account of his life among "cannibal" Polynesians; it becomes an "overnight bestseller." Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte and Anne Bronte publish a joint collection of poems under the pseudonyms "Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell." It sells a whopping two copies the first year. They would do better as novelists. Adolphe Sax invents the saxophone.

1847 — Tennyson publishes The Princess: A Medley containing poems such as "Tears, Idle Tears." Longfellow publishes Evangeline. Emily Bronte publishers her dark gothic masterpiece Wuthering Heights. Her sister Charlotte Bronte publishes Jane Eyre under the pseudonym "Currer Bell." Edgar Allan Poe's wife Virginia dies and he becomes increasingly unstable. Herman Melville publishes Omoo, once again romanticizing adventure and cannibalism. The novel becomes his second bestseller.

1848 — Walt Whitman loses his editing job because he opposes slavery. He returns to New York, where he founds an antislavery newspaper, the Weekly Freeman. The paper's offices are burned after the first issue is published. For the next six years, Whitman works as a freelance journalist. Dante Gabriel Rossetti leaves the Royal Accademy to study under Ford Madox Brown. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood is founded by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais; aligned poets and artists would include William Michael Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, William Morris, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Edward Bourne-Jones and Ford Maddox Brown. The German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto. Edgar Allan Poe's poem Eureka posits a singularity (a "primordial particle") that produces the Big Bang (a theory that didn't achieve mainstream acceptance until more than a century later, in the 1960s). Poe also predicts an expanding universe and black holes. Poe publishes his poem "Ulalume," which has been called a masterpiece. Henry David Thoreau delivers a lecture on civil disobedience, a concept that would appeal to Leo tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Emily Bronte dies prematurely at age 30, shortly after the death of her brother Branwell.

1849 — Edgar Allan Poe is found "delirious" on the streets of Baltimore; he dies shortly thereafter. Poe was a pioneer of the "art for art's sake" movement, the symbolist movement, science fiction, the detective story, and the psychological thriller. But he has his detractors; Ralph Waldo Emerson called him "the jingle man." Anne Bronte dies prematurely at age 29. Stephen Foster publishes "Oh! Susanna."

1850 — The birth of Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). William Wordsworth dies. His widow publishes The Prelude (his "poem to Coleridge") posthumously. Tennyson publishes his masterpiece In Memoriam A.H.H. and is made Poet Laureate, succeeding Wordsworth. T. S. Eliot opined that in Maud and In Memoriam, Tennyson displayed "the greatest lyrical resourcefulness that a poet has ever shown." Dante Gabriel Rossetti publishes his best-known poem, "The Blessed Damozel" in the Germ. Charles Dickens attacks the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood over the painting Christ in the House of His Parents by John Everett Millais; Dickens considers Mary to be ugly and thus the painting blasphemous! Elizabeth Barrett Browning publishes Sonnets from the Portuguese, which she dedicates to her husband Robert Browning.

1851 — Stephen Foster writes "Old Folks at Home" for a minstrel show; it is published in sheet music. Herman Melville publishes Moby Dick, which he dedicates to Nathaniel Hawthorne. But the novel is a flop in its day.

1852 — Alfred Tennyson's son is born and is named Hallam after his friend and fellow poet. Charles Dickens publishes Bleak House.

1853 — The Christy Minstrels perform "Yellow Rose of Texas" and publish it in a songbook.

1854 — Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" is the most famous occasional poem by a Poet Laureate. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow receives so much fan mail he says "all my unanswered letters hang upon me like an evil conscience." Charles Dickens publishes Hard Times, his "baldest and sharpest" work. The birth of Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), an Anglo-Irish poet, playwright, novelist, wit and "quintessential aesthete." Henry David Thoreau publishes his best-known work, Walden. Robert Frost later wrote: "In one book ... he surpasses everything we have had in America."

1855 — Walt Whitman self-publishes his revolutionary book of free verse poems, Leaves of Grass. Ralph Waldo Emerson sends Whitman a letter praising the book and congratulating him on "the beginning of a great career." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes Song of Hiawatha. Charlotte Bronte dies at age 39, the last of the three Bronte sisters.

1856 — Walt Whitman publishes the second edition of Leaves of Grass, with 32 new poems. He also reprints Emerson's congratulatory letter without permission, angering the elder poet. The birth of the Anglo-Irish writer and playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). Dante Gabriel Rossetti begins painting femme fatales, using models such as Elizabeth Siddal, Fanny Cornforth and Jane Morris (the wife of his friend William Morris).

1857 — Herman Melville publishes the longest poem in American literature, Clarel. The verse novel Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning's was called "the greatest poem in the English language" by John Ruskin (an idea that did not seem to catch on with the public or with other critics). The birth of the novelist Joseph Conrad (1857-1924). The Atlantic Monthly, known today as The Atlantic, is founded by  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier and James Russell Lowell. "They did not set out to exclude women from the gathering," but Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, boycotted the dinner when she learned that alcohol would be served! The Atlantic would go on to publish some of America's best-known literary and political names, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Helen Keller, W. E. B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and JFK.

1859 — The popular song "Dixie" was ironically written by Daniel Decatur Emmett, a Northerner from Ohio. Charles Dickens publishes A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection, intensifying what has been called the "Victorian crisis of faith." George Eliot's novel Adam Bede. Alfred Tennyson publishes Idylls of the King. The birth of the English poet A. E. Housman (1859-1936). The Edgar Allan Poe poem "Annabel Lee" is set to music by E. F. Falconnet.

1860 — Charles Dickens publishes Great Expectations. George Eliot publishes The Mill on the Floss. Gerard Manley Hopkins has his first published poem, "The Escorial."

1861 — The Confederates attack Fort Sumter, starting the Civil War. Julia Ward Howe writes the poem "Battle Hymn of the Republic" to the music of "John Brown's Body." Walt Whitman moves to Washington D.C. and works as a nurse in military hospitals. Jules Verne works on his first science fiction novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon.

1862 — Emily Dickinson's "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers" is published; hers is one of the first and most unique voices of modernism. Christina Rossetti's The Goblin Market and Other Poems is published. George Meredith's sonnet sequence Modern Love is published. Henry David Thoreau dies.

1863 — Samuel Langhorne Clemens uses the penname "Mark Twain" for the first time. Although better known as a novelist and humorist, Twain would write more than 120 poems during his storied career. Twain was called the "father of American literature" by William Faulkner. Gerard Manley Hopkins studies the classics at Oxford, where he meets the poet Robert Bridges; they would become lifelong friends.

1864 — Walter Savage Landor dies in Florence. John Clare dies at the asylum where he spent his last 23 years. Jules Verne writes the early science fiction novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.

1865 — The Civil War ends when the Confederate states surrender. Slavery is abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment. Abraham Lincoln is assassinated. Walt Whitman publishes his elegy for Lincoln, "When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd." Whitman's boss at the Department of the Interior fires him because of the supposedly obscene content of Leaves of Grass. Algernon Charles Swinburne achieves his first literary success with Atalanta in Calydon. Gerard Manley Hopkins meets Digby Mackworth Dolben, a "Christian Uranian," at Oxford, and there seems to have been a strong erotic connection on Hopkins' part. Jules Verne writes the first outer space adventure novel, From the Earth to the Moon. The birth of the English journalist, poet, short-story writer and novelist Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) and the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes his translation of Dante, The Divine Comedy, just in time for Dante's 600th birthday! One of the first ten copies is rushed to Italy!

1866 — The birth of the American poet and novelist Anne Reeve Aldrich. Her books include The Rose of Flame (1889), The Feet of Love (1890), Nadine and Other Poems (1893), A Village Ophelia and Other Stories (1899) and Songs about Life, Love, and Death (1892). She has been called an American Sappho. Whitman and his friend William D. O'Connor publish The Good Gray Poet, a defense of Whitman in the wake of his being fired from his government post. Fisk University, a black college, is founded in Nashville, Tennessee. Algernon Charles Swinburne's Poems and Ballads brought him instant notoriety because of his "indecent" themes. Walter Pater tutors Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins writes his most ascetic poem, "The Habit of Perfection," then gives up writing poetry for Lent! John Henry Newman receives Hopkins into the Roman Catholic Church. The birth of H. G. Wells (1866-1946), an English writer called the father of the science fiction novel, along with Jules Verne. Herman Melville, strongly opposed to slavery, publishes a book of poems, Battle Pieces.

1867 — Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach has been called a masterpiece of Early Modernism, employing irregular rhyme and form, skepticism, pessimism, and exhibiting a crisis of faith in both God and mankind. Digby Mackworth Dolben drowns. His death inspires a number of poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins. The birth of Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), who sometimes wrote "potboiling fiction" and became "unusually wealthy for a writer." The birth of Scott Joplin, the African-American pianist and composer known as the "King of Ragtime." Slave Songs of the United States, the earliest collection of African-American spirituals, is published.

1868 — Robert Browning's The Ring and the Book has been called the climax of his poetic career. Gerard Manley Hopkins elects to become a Jesuit, makes a "bonfire" of his poems and gives up poetry for seven years.

1869 — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow receives an honorary degree from Cambridge and visits with Queen Victoria. The birth of the American poet Edward Arlington Robinson (1869-1935), who would win three Pulitzer Prizes and be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times. The birth of the English poet Charlotte Mew (1869-1928). Her poetry would be admired by Thomas Hardy, who called her the best female poet of her day, and by Virginia Woolf, who called her "quite unlike anyone else." Mew never married, cut her hair short, and often dressed like a male dandy. Matthew Arnold's collection of essays Culture and Anarchy.

1870 — Charles Dickens dies with his Mystery of Edwin Drood unfinished, and is buried at the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey. The birth of J. M. Synge (1871-1909), the author of the play The Playboy of the Western World. Jules Verne writes Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, a science fiction novel about a submarine and its pilot, Captain Nemo. The birth of Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), an Anglo-French writer, poet and historian.

1871 — Lewis Carroll's surrealistic Through the Looking Glass. George Eliot's Middlemarch. Stephen Crane, an American poet, is born. The Fisk Jubilee Singers are formed.

1873 — Walter Pater publishes Studies in the History of the Renaissance. Oscar Wilde said the book "has had such a strange influence over my life," while Arthur Symons called it "the most beautiful book of prose in our literature." Robert Bridges publishes his first collection of poems. Jules Verne writes Around the World in Eighty Days.

1874 — Robert Frost and Gertrude Stein, American poets, are born, as is G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), an English journalist, novelist, poet, critic and Christian apologist. Jules Verne writes The Mysterious Island, which brings back the mysterious Captain Nemo.

1875 — Gerard Manley Hopkins resumes writing poetry with his long poem "The Wreck of the Deutschland."

1876 — George Eliot publishes Daniel Deronda. The popular poem and song "Grandfather's Clock" is published by Henry Clay Work. The lyrics to the hymn "Beulah Land" are written by Edgar Page Stites

1877 — Gerard Manley Hopkins writes a collection of sonnets, God's Grandeur. The title poem would become one of his most famous.

1878 — Carl Sandburg, an American poet, is born. Henry James's novel The Europeans.

1879 — Wallace Stevens, an American poet, is born. E. M. Forster, an English novelist, is born. "Uncloudy Day," also known as "Unclouded Day," is a gospel song written by Josiah Kelley Alwood.

1880 — Ten years after the death of Charles Dickens, George Eliot dies. Thus the High Victorian era lapses into the Late Victorian.

1881 — Oscar Wilde's poems are published; he and Whitman were among the first gay poets to "come out of the closet" publicly. Tony Pastor, a former circus ringleader, creates what we now call vaudeville by creating family-friendly acts for his New York theaters. However, vaudeville acts would often be less "polite" than what Pastor had envisioned. Henry James's novel A Portrait of a Lady.

1882 — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow dies, comparable to Tennyson in fame, popularity, influence and book sales. Longfellow was the first American poet to have a bust at Poet's Corner. Francis James Child publishes a book of 305 popular ballads as The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. The ballads included are often called the "Child ballads." Some probably date back to the 13th century. The birth of the English writer Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) and the English painter and writer Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). The death of Ralph Waldo Emerson. William Butler Yeats writes his first known poems around age seventeen.

1883 — Alfred Tennyson accepts a peerage, becoming Lord Alfred Tennyson, as he is known today (or Alfred, Lord Tennyson). He was the first British subject to be made a lord for his writing. William Carlos Williams, an American poet, is born. Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island.

1884 — Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn takes a strong stand against racism and slavery. Huck says he would rather go to hell then turn in his friend Jim, the escaped slave.

1885 — Ezra Pound, an American poet and critic, is born. William Butler Yeats's first poems are published in the Dublin University Review.

1886 — H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), an American poet, is born. Robert Louis Stevenson's novels Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Joseph Conrad applies for British nationality and is accepted.

1888 — T. S. Eliot, an American poet, is born. Columbia Records, the first major American record label, is founded. The first classical music recording by Handel.

1889 — William Butler Yeats publishes The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems. Yeats meets and falls in love with the lovely Irish nationalist and revolutionary Maude Gonne. Robert Browning dies and is buried next to Alfred Tennyson at the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey. Gerard Manley Hopkins dies, unknown as a poet, of typhoid fever. George Bernard Shaw's Fabian Essays. Rudyard Kipling meets Mark Twain.

1890 — Emily Dickinson's poems are published posthumously. Fin-de-siθcle (1890-1900) poets who took notes from the French symbolists include William Butler Yeats, Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson, Arthur Symons, Oscar Wilde and Charles Algernon Swinburne. Yeats co-founds the Rhymer's Club and is admitted into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. William James publishes Principles of Psychology, a book that would influence the Modernists.

1891 — William Butler Yeats proposes to Maude Gonne, but is rejected. Oscar Wilde's novella A Picture of Dorian Gray. William Morris writes the "utopian romance" novel News from Nowhere. Herman Melville dies with Billy Budd completed but unpublished. The novel would be discovered in a breadbox in 1919 and published in 1924.

1892 — Whitman prepares the final edition of Leaves of Grass, known as the "Deathbed Edition." Whitman dies at age 72, one of the greatest and most influential poets of all time. Lord Alfred Tennyson also dies at age 83, the greatest of the Victorian poets and the longest-tenured English Poet Laureate, at 42 years. "Harlem Rag" by the pianist Tommy Turpin is the first known ragtime composition. The birth of the American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1850).

1893 — The birth of the great English war (or anti-war) poet Wilfred Owen (1893-1918). William Butler Yeats publishes The Rose and The Celtic Twilight.

1894 — E. E. Cummings, an American poet, is born. William Butler Yeats has an affair with Olivia Shakespear. Rudyard Kipling writes The Jungle Book. The popular song "I've Been Working on the Railroad" is published.

1895 — "America the Beautiful" is a poem written by Katharine Lee Bates that is later set to music by Samuel A. Ward. Scott Joplin publishes two ragtime compositions. Cornetist Buddy Bolden forms a band; he has been credited with the countermelody of jazz. Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest. H. G. Wells writes the early science fiction novel The Time Machine.

1896 — A. E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad is published. Gay and an atheist, Housman was one of the strongest voices of early modernism. The introduction of radio technology. William Butler Yeats attends his first sιance and is introduced to Lady Gregory, who becomes his patron. Thomas Hardy's last novel, Jude the Obscure, is considered "shocking" and he turns to poetry for the last 30 years of his life. H. G. Wells writes The Island of Dr. Moreau.

1897 — John Philip Sousa composes "Stars and Stripes Forever" and more than 100 popular marches; composers Scott Joplin, James Scott, and Joseph Lamb establish and popularize ragtime, giving birth to America's popular music industry. Jimmie Rogers, known as the "father of country music," is born. H. G. Wells writes the early science fiction novel The Invisible Man.

1898 — Thomas Hardy's Wessex Poems. Oscar Wilde's long poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol. H. G. Wells writes The War of the Worlds.

1899 — Ernest Dowson's Decorations: in Verse and Prose. Dowson would be a major influence on T. S. Eliot, and thus on modernism. Hart Crane, an American poet, is born. Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" is published and becomes the first ragtime hit with over 100,000 copies sold. Duke Ellington is born. William Butler Yeats and his patron Lady Gregory are founders of the Irish Literary Theatre. Rudyard Kipling begins work on Just So Stories. Joseph Conrad writes Heart of Darkness, which will inspire the movie Apocalypse Now.

1900 — William Butler Yeats publishes The Shadowy Waters. Yvor Winters is born. Joseph Conrad writes Lord Jim. Thomas Hardy pens "The Darkling Thrush" and dates it December 31, 1900, which he considers to be the last day of the old century. Queen Victoria died a few days later, marking the end of the Victorian Era. Sigmund Freud publishes Interpretation of Dreams, which became an important influence on the Modernists. "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" is written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson that was set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson in 1905. Charles Albert Tindley pens that lyrics that will eventually become the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."

Our top ten poets of Early Modernism: James Joyce, William Carlos Williams, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Vachel Lindsay, Carl Sandburg, Ernest Dowson, Ezra Pound, Thomas Hardy, A. E. Housman, William Butler Yeats

Early Modernism and the Edwardian Period (1901-1910)

1901 — Approximate beginning time for American country music and jazz. Sears, Roebuck and Co. is selling record players to the public, setting the stage for the coming explosion of record sales. Charles Booth's performance of J. Bodewalt Lange's "Creole Blues" is recorded for the new Victor label. This is the first acoustic recording of ragtime to be made commercially available. Laura Riding is born. King Edward VII assumes the British throne, beginning the Edwardian Period.

1902 — Thomas Hardy publishes Poems of the Past and Present. Alfred Noyes publishes The Loom of Years. Hilda Doolittle, aka H.D., meets and befriends Ezra Pound. Ogden Nash is born, synchronistically, in the same year as the earliest-published American limerick, which appeared in 1902 in the Princeton Tiger: This is the popular limerick that starts "There once was a man from Nantucket." Victor Records issues the first known recording of black music, "Camp Meeting Shouts." Pianist Jelly Roll Morton claims to have invented jazz this year. Buddy Bolden is another candidate, as he creates a fusion of blues and ragtime. Henry James publishes The Wings of the Dove.

1903 — Wilbur and Orville Wright fly the first airplane at Kitty Hawk. William Butler Yeats publishes In the Seven Woods. Countee Cullen, an American poet, is born. W. C. Handy sees a bluesman playing a guitar with a knife (the first "pick"?). A plaque bearing the sonnet "The New Colossus" by Manhattan socialite Emma Lazarus is mounted inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, greeting newcomers with the lines, "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." George Bernard Shaw's play Man and Superman. Henry James publishes The Ambassadors. Samuel Butler's posthumous novel The Way of All Flesh "attacked all the major doctrines of his day."

1904 — Thomas Hardy's The Dynasts. Christina Rossetti's Poetical Works. Algernon Charles Swinburne's A Channel Passage and Other Poems. Carl Sandburg's In Restless Ecstasy. Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, is born. Henry James publishes The Golden Bowl.

1905 — Albert Einstein presents his Special Theory of Relativity. Time and space were no longer infinite or absolute; everything was suddenly relative. Vachel Lindsay peddles his poems on the street, makes 13 cents, and is ecstatic. Ernest Dowson's The Poems of Ernest Dowson. Oscar Wilde's De Profundis (posthumous). Paul Laurence Dunbar's Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow. George Bernard Shaw's play Major Barbara.

1906 — Alfred Noyes's "The Highwayman." Thomas Hardy's The Dynasts II.

1907 — James Joyce's Chamber Music. Sara Teasdale's Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems. Rudyard Kipling, an English poet and novelist, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. W. H. Auden, an English poet, is born. Buddy Bolden is committed to a mental institution without having ever recorded any music. The first wireless broadcast of classical music is produced in New York. Rudyard Kipling becomes the first English language writer to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, and the youngest at age 42. Ezra Pound is forced to leave a teaching position at Wabash College after offering a stranded chorus girl tea and his bed.

1908 — Ezra Pound leaves America for London. Pound's A Lume Spento, a collection of poems he later called "stale cream puffs." Pound, a transplanted American, is considered by many to be the father of English modernism. William Butler Yeats publishes The Collected Works in Verse and Prose. Yeats and Maude Gonne finally consummate their relationship in Paris, but the relationship does not last. Thomas Hardy publishes The Dynasts III. Theodore Roethke, an American poet, is born. Alcohol is banned in North Carolina and Georgia, presaging Prohibition.

1909 — Two poems published by T. E Hulme are considered to be the beginning of the early modernist movement called Imagism. Hulme forms the Secession Club with F. S. Flint and other poets. Ezra Pound soon joins the club. The poets discuss free verse and employing the methods of Oriental verse forms such as haiku and tanka. Pound publishes Personae and Exultations. Pound meets William Butler Yeats; Pound becomes Yeats's secretary. William Carlos Williams publishes Poems. Joseph Conrad completes The Secret Sharer. Robert Peary reaches the North Pole.

1910 — Rudyard Kipling writes his most famous poem, "If." Ford Madox Ford publishes Poems from London. Charles Olson, an American poet, is born. The NAACP is founded. Mark Twain dies. E. M. Forster's novel Howard's End. Marie Curie isolates radium. King George V assumes the British throne, beginning the Georgian Period. Virginia Woolf writes that "in or about December 1910, human character changed." The change became known as "modernism" (one aspect of modernism is that the "complexity of modern urban life must be reflected in literary form.")

Our top ten Modernist poets: E. E. Cummings, Edna St. Vincent Millay, D. H. Lawrence, Louise Bogan, Dylan Thomas, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Hart Crane, Wilfred Owen, Wallace Stevens (#1)

The Georgian Period (1910-1936), World War I and the Modernists

1911 — Georgian poets include Rupert Brooke, W. H. Davies, Robert Graves, D. H. Lawrence, Walter de la Mare, John Masefield, Harold Monro, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Thomas, Vita Sackville-West. Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky, who writes under the pen name "Guillaume Apollinaire," is suspected in the theft of the Mona Lisa from The Louvre museum in Paris and is imprisoned for six days. Ezra Pound's Canzoni is published in London. Irving Berlin completes his first hit, "Alexander's Ragtime Band." The birth of the American playwright Tennessee Williams.

1912 — Harriet Munroe founds the literary journal Poetry, influenced by Ezra Pound as a foreign editor. Pound, H.D. and Richard Aldington work out the principles of Imagist poetry. The first Imagist poems and essays appear in Poetry. Ironically "modernism" involved retreats to the past: Pound looked back to Confucius; T. S. Eliot to Dante; James Joyce to Homer; Lawrence to primitive tribes. The Titanic sinks, inspiring Thomas Hardy's "The Convergence of the Twain." Rudyard Kipling publishes his Collected Poems. Walter de la Mare publishes The Listeners and Other Poems. Robinson Jeffers publishes Flagons and Apples. Edna St. Vincent Millay publishes Renascence. Elinor Wylie publishes Incidental Numbers. Northrop Frye is born. The "father of the blues," pianist W. C. Handy, publishes songs titled "Memphis Blues" and helps inaugurate a new style based on rural black folk music.

1913 — D. H. Lawrence's Love Poems. Ezra Pound's manifesto and anthology Des Imagistes. Notable imagist poets include Pound, Hulme, F. S. Flint, H. D., Aldington and Amy Lowell. Harold Monro founds the Poetry Bookshop in London, where Ezra Pound and Robert Frost will eventually meet. Wallace Stevens and his wife, Elsie, rent a New York City apartment from sculptor Adolph Weinman, who makes a bust of Elsie; her image later is used on the artist's 1916-1945 Mercury dime design. Rabindranath Tagore is awarded the Nobel prize in literature. D. H. Lawrence publishes Love Poems and Others. The word "jazz" first appears in print. Igor Stravinsky's avant-garde musical composition and ballet The Rite of Spring nearly causes a riot! Robert Bridges is appointed British Poet Laureate. Ezra Pound becomes dissatisfied with the work of other Imagists and founds a new movement called Vorticism (1913-1918); it did not take off with the public. "Danny Boy" is a ballad written by English songwriter Frederic Weatherly that was set to the Irish tune of the "Londonderry Air."

1914 — Great Britain enters World War I by declaring war on Germany. Famous war poets would include Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg, Edmund Blunden and Wilfred Owen. The Panama Canal opens to commercial traffic. Ezra Pound marries English artist Dorothy Shakespear at St Mary Abbots church, Kensington, London. T. S. Eliot meets Pound for the first time, in London. Pound is particularly taken with Eliot's poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and writes that Eliot "actually trained and modernized himself on his own." Pound and Eliot would become leading voices of English modernism. Edward Thomas makes the English railway journey which inspires his poem "Adlestrop" en route to meet Robert Frost. BLAST, a short-lived literary magazine of the Vorticist movement, is founded with the publication of the first of its total of two editions, edited by Wyndham Lewis in collaboration with Pound. J. R. R. Tolkien writes a poem about Eδrendil, the first appearance of his mythopoeic Middle-earth legendarium that will, in time, spawn the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Robert Frost publishes North of Boston. Wallace Stevens has his first major publication, "Phases" in Poetry at age 35. Carl Sandburg publishes "Chicago" in Poetry. William Butler Yeats publishes Responsibilities. James Joyce publishes Dubliners, a collection of short stories. Dylan Thomas, Randall Jarrell and John Berryman are born. W.C. Handy writes St. Louis Blues.

1915 — The last issue of Blast includes the first poems of T. S. Eliot to be published in England. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is published with the help of Ezra Pound by Poetry. Pound completes the first section of his Cantos. Virginia Woolf publishes her first novel, The Voyage Out. Herbert Read publishes Songs of Chaos. John McCrea publishes "In Flanders Fields." Edgar Lee Masters publishes Spoon River Anthology. Billie Holliday, an African-American singer, is born. Franz Kafka publishes his surrealist short novel Metamorphosis. Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity.

1916 — Thomas Hardy's Selected Poems. D. H. Lawrence's Amores. Edward Thomas's first published poetry collection, Six Poems, under the pseudonym Edward Eastway. William Butler Yeats's "Easter, 1916." Yeats also writes one of his loveliest poems, "The Wild Swans at Coole" at the Coole Park estate of his patron Lady Gregory. Robert Frost's Mountain Interval, includes his famous poem "The Road Not Taken," written about Edward Thomas. Carl Sandburg publishes Chicago Poems, including his best-known poem, "Chicago." James Joyce publishes his autobiographical modernist novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. W. H. Davies publishes Selected Poems. John Ciardi, an American poet, is born. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia will have worldwide repercussions. George Bernard Shaw's popular play Pygmalion. The very first reported blues show was in 1916, on Ashley Street in Jacksonville; the performer was Ma Rainey

1917 — The U.S. enters World War I and begins to dominate international affairs. More than 200,000 black men will serve in the U.S. armed forces in segregated units; they can fight and die for their country, but are not equal citizens. When William Butler Yeats proposes to Maude Gonne and is rejected yet again, he then proposes to her daughter Iseult Gonne, and is also rejected!

1918 — Wilfred Owen writes his graphic anti-war poem, "Dulce et Decorum Est." He dies just one week before the armistice that ends WWI. Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins tours with blues singer Mamie Smith and begins to develop a unique style of playing. The black singer, actor, and civil rights activist Paul Robeson graduates first in his class from Rutgers University. Robert Bridges publishes the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins posthumously.

1919 — George Gershwin's first and biggest hit is "Swanee." It is introduced by the singer Al Jolson, famous for performing in blackface. The Original Dixieland Jass Band performs in London.  The Harlem Renaissance (1919-1940) was led by Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay and James Weldon Jones. Paul Dunbar was a major influence. Physicist Ernest Rutherford, known as the father of nuclear physics, discovers a way to split atoms.

1920 — Edna St. Vincent Millay's "First Fig." Jazz is made popular by musicians like Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton. The first blues record is recorded on Valentine's Day (February 14, 1920) when Mamie Smith, a black vaudeville performer, cuts "Crazy Blues." The records sells "phenomenally" well and record companies are soon "beating the bushes for any black woman who can sing." Women's suffrage is adopted in the U.S.

1921 — Adolf Hitler is elected leader of the Nazi Party in Germany.

1922 — T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" (perhaps the major poem of English modernism). James Joyce publishes Ulysses (perhaps the major novel of English modernism). Edward Arlington Robinson wins the first Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The jazz pianist William "Count" Basie makes his first recordings. The first commercial recordings of what was considered country music were "Arkansas Traveler" and "Turkey in the Straw" by fiddlers Henry Gilliland & A.C. (Eck) Robertson on June 30, 1922 at the office of Victor Records in New York. They were Confederate veterans playing "hillbilly music." William Butler Yeats becomes a senator of the Irish Free State.

1923 — Wallace Stevens's Harmonium. William Carlos Williams's "The Red Wheelbarrow." William Butler Yeats is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Edna St. Vincent Millay wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, the defining performers of classic blues, make their recording debuts. Ralph Peer of Okeh records the hillbilly music of Fiddlin' John Carson in an empty loft in Atlanta. Hiram King "Hank" Williams is born in Olive, Alabama. He will become country music's greatest icon and most imitated performer.

1924 — The birth of the American writer and social critic James Baldwin (1924-1987). Robert Frost wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Robinson Jeffers' poem "Shine, Perishing Republic." E. M. Forster writes his best-known novel, A Passage to India.

1925 — Amy Lowell wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In Nashville the Grand Ole Opry begins radio broadcasts, bringing country and western music to the masses. Blind Lemon Jefferson is first recorded; he will become the dominant blues figure of the late 1920s and the first star of folk blues. Virginia Woolf publishes Mrs. Dalloway. Franz Kafka publishes The Trial. William Butler Yeats publishes A Vision.

1926 — The birth of the American poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997). Langston Hughes' The Weary Blues. Columbia Records acquires Okeh Records, adding jazz and blues artists like Louis Armstrong and Clarence Williams to a roster that already included Bessie Smith.

1927 — Show Boat becomes the first hugely popular American musical comedy. Jimmie Rogers, the "father of country music," appears on a radio station for the first time. Rogers then records "Blue Yodel," better known as "T for Texas" and is catapulted to stardom. The Carter family, a country music group, makes its first recordings. They would employ a black man to find "black" tunes for them to use. It would be the convergence of black music and country music that would eventually "fuse" into rock and roll in the hands of artists like Elvis Presley. Virginia Woolf publishes her novel To the Lighthouse. Wyndham Lewis's play The Wild Body.

1928 — Edward Arlington Robinson wins his third Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Virginia Woolf publishes her gender-bending novel Orlando. D. H. Lawrence publishes Lady Chatterley's Lover in Italy; the racy book is called obscene. Thomas Hardy dies and is buried at the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

1929 — The Great Depression cripples the American economy, hurting the sales of books, phonographs and records. Virginia Woolf publishes her book-length essay A Room of One's Own. William Faulkner publishes The Sound and the Fury. Ernest Hemingway publishes A Farewell to Arms.

1930 — Hart Crane's The Bridge. Conrad Aiken wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas writes his first poem around age 15. Many of his most famous poems were written as a teenager. T. S. Eliot publishes Ash Wednesday.

1931 — E. E. Cummings writes the great modernist anti-war poem "i sing of Olaf glad and big."

1933 — Archibald MacLeish wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

1934 — Adolf Hitler becomes dictator of Germany.

1936 — Debut of the electric guitar; the dawn of the rock 'n' roll age. Legendary Delta bluesman Robert Johnson begins his short recording career. Rudyard Kipling dies and is buried at the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey. King George V dies, ending the Georgian Period.

World War II, the Cold War, Modernism and Postmodernism (1937-Present)

1937 — Robert Frost wins his third Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Joseph Auslander is appointed the first American Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

1939 — Great Britain enters World War II. During the war, pocket-sized collections of poems by writers including Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are distributed to soldiers for comfort and inspiration. (Wilfred Owen was presumably not included.) William Butler Yeats dies at age 73. W. H. Auden writes his elegy "In Memory of W. B. Yeats."

1941 — T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets." The debut of FM radio stations. Alan Lomax records McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, at Stovall's Farm in Mississippi.

1942 — Wallace Stevens's Of Modern Poetry. The first award of a gold record for a million-selling hit goes to Glenn Miller for "Chatanooga Choo-Choo."

1943 — Robert Frost wins his fourth Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Allen Tate is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Allen Ginsberg graduates from the high school where he fell under the spell of Walt Whitman's poetry.

1944 — Stephen Vincent Benet wins his second Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Robert Penn Warren is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Tennessee Williams has a hit play with The Glass Menagerie.

1945 — The end of World War II. Louise Bogan is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Allen Ginsberg joins the Merchant Marine in order to pay his tuition at pricey Columbia University. At Columbia, Ginsberg meets other writers who will eventually become known as the Beats, including Lucien Carr, Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

1946 — Elizabeth Bishop's "The Fish." Dylan Thomas's "Fern Hill." Herman Hesse, a German poet, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Karl Shapiro is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. The Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun is huge hit. Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup records "That's All Right."

1947 — Robert Lowell wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Bluesman T-Bone Walker plays electric guitar on "Call it Stormy Monday." Muddy Waters makes his first Chicago recordings, beginning his tenure as the dominant figure in the Chicago blues and a key link between the Mississippi Delta and the urban styles. Tennessee Williams has another hit play with A Streetcar Named Desire, which becomes a major motion picture starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh.

1948 — T. S. Eliot wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. W. H. Auden wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Leonie Adams is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Columbia Records introduces the LP ("long playing") vinyl record, or "album." Allen Ginsberg has his "auditory vision" of William Blake; Ginsberg would become the foremost Beat poet.

1949 — Elizabeth Bishop is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Hank Williams Sr. makes his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Jerry Wexler, a Billboard editor, coins the term "rhythm and blues" as a substitute for the older term "race records."

1950 — Nat King Cole hits the charts with "Mona Lisa." Little Richard is an electric star. Conrad Aiken is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

1951 — Carl Sandburg wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed uses the term "rock 'n' roll" to promote R&B to white audiences.

1952 — Dylan Thomas's famous villanelle for his dying father, "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night." William Carlos Williams is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Kitty Wells has the first No. 1 Billboard country hit for a solo female artist. She was also the first female singer to sell a million records. Sam Phillips founds Sun Records. B.B. King has his first R&B hit with "Three O'Clock Blues."

1953 — Archibald MacLeish wins his second Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. John F. Kennedy marries Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and the American Camelot has its royal wedding.

1954 — Bill Haley and the Comets have (perhaps) the first rock smash with "Rock Around the Clock." Elvis Presley records his first commercial record, a cover of the Arthur Crudup song "That's All Right, Mama," at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Theodore Roethke wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Wallace Stevens' Collected Poems.

1955 — Black artists. sometimes employing racy lyrics, begin to hit the pop charts: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, the Platters. Chuck Berry's "Maybellene." Buddy Holley watches Elvis perform in Lubbock, Texas, and begins to perform in a similar rockabilly style. Decca Records soon signs Holley, but misspells his last name "Holly." Later the same year, the renamed Holly opens for Elvis and Bill Haley. Wallace Stevens wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" is a precursor of rap and modern performance poetry. Louise Bogan wins the Bollingen award. Tennessee Williams has another hit play with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which becomes a major motion picture starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor.

1956 — Elizabeth Bishop wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Randall Jarrell is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Elvis tops the pop charts with "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don't Be Cruel," "Hound Dog" and "Love Me Tender." Elvis "the Pelvis" performs "Hound Dog" on the Milton Berle TV show, gyrating his hips and causing girls in the audience to scream and swoon. Black artists have mainstream hits, including Nat King Cole, Fats Domino and Little Richard.

1957 — San Francisco book publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti is arrested for publishing Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl." The landmark obscenity trial will lead to the end of U.S. government censorship. Richard Wilbur wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Elvis is "All Shook Up" and doing the "Jailhouse Rock." Rockabilly star Buddy Holly and the Crickets hit the charts with "That'll Be the Day."

1958 — Robert Penn Warren wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Robert Frost is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Buddy Holly appears on the Ed Sullivan show. Boris Pasternak, a Russian poet, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Ezra Pound's indictment for treason is dismissed. The Bollingen Prize is awarded to e. e. cummings. Billboard magazine introduces its Hot 100 chart. Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool" is the first No. 1 record.

1959 — Stanley Kunitz wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Richard Eberhart is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Berry Gordy Jr. founds the Motown record label; its future stars will include the Miracles, Supremes, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Tennessee Williams has a hit play with Sweet Bird of Youth.

1960 — W. D. Snodgrass wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Sam Cooke scores big with "Chain Gang." Muddy Waters performs at the Newport Jazz Festival.

1961 — Louis Untermeyer is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. The Motown record label has its first number one hit with "Please Mr. Postman" by the girl group The Marvelettes. Roy Orbison has an operatic pop hit with "Cryin'." Ben E. King scores with "Stand By Me" and "Spanish Harlem." Country music singer Patsy Cline becomes a mainstream star.

1962 — Bob Zimmerman changes his name to Bob Dylan, taking his new last name from the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's first. James Brown records "Live At The Apollo." Brown’s drummer Clayton Fillyau introduces a sound now known as the break beat, which would later inspire the b-boy movement, and rap. Ray Charles tops the charts with "I Can't Stop Lovin' You." Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons hit the high notes on "Sherry." Sylvia Plath's tormented poem "Daddy." Robert Hayden's regretful poem "Those Winter Sundays."

1963 — William Carlos Williams wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Howard Nemerov is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Bob Dylan becomes famous for protest songs like "Blowin' in the Wind."

1964 — Reed Whittemore is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. The Beatles top the American charts for the first time with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and Beatlemania has begun. The Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan show with an estimated audience of 73 million. The British invasion also includes the Animals with "House of the Rising Sun" and the Kinks with "You Really Got Me." Other popular British invasion groups include the Rolling Stones, the Who and Herman's Hermits. Ironically, the "invasion" largely consists of white English rockers importing American blues classics and emulations!

1965 — Stephen Spender is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Jim Morrison and The Doors begin to perform, taking their name from poet William Blake's "Doors of Perception." The bad boys of rock'n'roll, the Rolling Stones, score with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Bob Dylan has a major hit with "Like a Rolling Stone" and goes electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival (receiving boos from the audience and producers). Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) recites one of his first rhymes before defeating Sonny Liston for the heavyweight boxing title. Elizabeth Bishop's poem "The Armadillo." James Brown is the "godfather of soul."

1966 — James Dickey is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. The Beatles, Monkees, Beach Boys, Supremes, Rolling Stones, Petula Clark and Frank and Nancy Sinatra somehow manage to coexist on the popular charts.

1967 — Anne Sexton wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Lulu, Englebert Humperdink, the Sinatras, the Doors and the Rolling Stones incongruously top the charts. Dolly Parton begins singing on the Porter Wagoner show. The birth of Kurt Cobain.

1968 — At a campaign stop in Indianapolis it falls to democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy to deliver news of Martin Luther King's assassination to a largely black crowd. In his spontaneous eulogy from the back of a flatbed truck, Kennedy quotes his "favorite poet" Aeschylus. William Jay Smith is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Cream, the Beatles, Bobby Goldsboro, Herb Alpert, Jeanie C. Riley and Richard Harris top the schizophrenic Billboard charts. Jimi Hendrix is becoming a guitar legend and pioneer of psychedelic rock.

1969 — Woodstock features folk and rock poets like Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, John Fogerty, Sly Stone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

1970 — William Stafford is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. The Moody Blues, ELO and Pink Floyd invent "art rock."

1971 — Josephine Jacobsen is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. John Lennon releases his Imagine album with its utopian title song. Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical Jesus Christ, Superstar.

1972 — The earliest "rap" events are held in the Bronx.

1973 — Great Britain joins the European Union. Daniel Hoffman is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. An estimated one billion viewers watch Elvis Presley's Aloha from Hawaii concert on TV. American Graffiti is the first major movie about rock 'n' roll.

1974 — Robert Lowell wins his second Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Stanley Kunitz is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. The debut of disco music.

1975 — Queen releases the single "Bohemian Rhapsody" which features surreal, ultra-modernistic lyrics. Bruce Springsteen is the reigning rock poet with "Born to Run." Patti Smith pioneers punk music with "Horses."

1976 — Robert Hayden is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Elizabeth Bishop's villanelle "One Art." James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover.

1977 — The movie Saturday Night Fever popularizes disco and makes the Bee Gees major stars. Elvis Presley dies.

1978 — William Meredith is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Sony introduces the Walkman. The debut of hip-hop music and Soul Train.

1979 — The Sugarhill Gang’s "Rapper's Delight" is released; it becomes the first rap/hip-hop song/poem to reach the Billboard's Top 40. Robert Penn Warren wins his second Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

1980 — Blondie has the first white rap/hip-hop hit with "Rapture."

1981 — Maxine Kumin is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. MTV debuts with innovative music videos.

1982 — Sylvia Plath wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Anthony Hecht is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Michael Jackson's Thriller becomes the biggest-selling album of all time. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats, based on poems written by T. S. Eliot, becomes the longest-running Broadway musical of all time. Nineteen-year-old Occidental College student Barack Obama publishes his poem, "Pop," in the school's literary magazine.

1983 — Compact discs begin to replace vinyl records. Madonna has her first hits with "Holiday," "Borderline" and "Lucky Star." Michael Jackson wows the MTV world with his first public moonwalk during a live performance of "Billie Jean."

1984 — Reed Whittemore is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress for the second time, on an interim basis. Robert Fitzgerald is later appointed Poet Laureate. Marvin Gaye, who wrote "Father, father, there's no need to escalate" is shot and killed by his father, a preacher. Prince wins an Oscar for the score to "Purple Rain." Madonna becomes a pop star with "Like a Virgin."

1985 — Gwendolyn Brooks is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Freddy Mercury and Queen steal the show at Live Aid.

1986 — President Ronald Reagan borrows lines from the James Magee Jr. poem "High Flight" in his Oval Office address to comfort a grieving nation following the Challenger disaster, saying the crew had "slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God." Robert Penn Warren is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress for the second time.

1987 — Joseph Brodsky wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Richard Wilbur is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

1988 — Howard Nemerov is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress for the second time. Michael Jackson buys a ranch and calls it Neverland.

1989 — Richard Wilbur wins his second Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

1990 — Octavio Paz, a Mexican poet, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Mark Strand is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

1991 — Nirvana's first single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," makes grunge cool. Freddie Mercury dies from complications of AIDS.

1992 — Derek Walcott wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Mona Van Duyn is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

1993 — Maya Angelou, the great-granddaughter of a slave, becomes the second poet to read at a presidential inauguration when she delivers "On the Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton's swearing-in. Rita Dove is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. The Who's rock opera Tommy debuts on Broadway. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana have an epic moment on MTV Unplugged.

1995 — Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature; Philip Levine wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Robert Hass is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

1996 — Rap poet Eminem releases his debut album, Infinite.

1997 — Robert Pinksy is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Elton John sings "Candle In The Wind" with revised lyrics for the funeral of Princess Diana in Westminster Abby; it quickly becomes the all-time global best-selling single.

1999 — Gunter Grass, a German poet, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

2000 — Stanley Kunitz is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress for the second time. The Internet begins to transform music, poetry and art. The movie O Brother, Where Art Thou rekindles an interest in bluegrass music with the hit "Man of Constant Sorrow."

2001 — Following the September 11th attacks, poems are pinned to makeshift memorials and circulate on the internet. "In times of crisis it's interesting that people don't turn to the novel or say, "We should all go out to a movie," Billy Collins told The New York Times after the tragedy. "It's always poetry." Billy Collins is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Apple releases the iPod, a portable MP3 player.

2003 — Louise Gluck is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Apple introduces its iTunes online store.

2004 — Ted Kooser is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Freddie Mercury and Queen steal the show at Live Aid.

2005 — Ted Kooser wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

2006 — Donald Hall is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

2007 — Charles Simic is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

2008 — Kay Ryan is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

2009 — W. S. Merwin wins his second Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Michael Jackson dies in the middle of his comeback tour.

2010 — The Pulitzer Prize for poetry is awarded to Versed by Rae Armantrout. W. S. Merwin is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

2011 — The Pulitzer Prize for poetry is awarded to Kay Ryan. Philip Levine is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

2012 — The Pulitzer Prize for poetry is awarded to Tracy K. Smith for Life on Mars. Natasha Trethewey is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

2013 — The Pulitzer Prize for poetry is awarded to Sharon Olds for Stag's Leap.

2014 — The Pulitzer Prize for poetry is awarded to Vijay Seshadri for 3 Sections. Charles Wright is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress.

2015 — The Pulitzer Prize for poetry is awarded to Gregory Pardlo for Digest.

2016 — Great Britain leaves the European Union in a movement known as "Brexit." Donald Trump is elected president of the United States in a shocking upset.

2017 — Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, buys a majority stake in The Atlantic.

And who can guess what the future will hold? ...

Related Pages in Chronological Order: Song of Amergin, Caedmon's Hymn, Bede's Death Song, Deor's Lament, Wulf and Eadwacer, The Wife's Lament, Anglo-Saxon Riddles and Kennings, How Long the Night, Ballads, Sumer is Icumen in, Fowles in the Frith, Ich am of Irlaunde, Tom O'Bedlam's Song, Now Goeth Sun Under Wood, Pity Mary, Sweet Rose of Virtue, Lament for the Makaris

Other Related Pages: The Best Writing in the English Language

The HyperTexts