English Literature

English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Thomas Pynchon is American, V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad, and Vladimir Nabokov was Russian, but all are considered important writers in the history of English literature. In other words, English literature is as diverse as the varieties and dialects of English spoken around the world in countries originally colonized by the British. In academia, the term often labels departments and programs practicing English studies in secondary and tertiary educational systems. Despite the variety of authors of English literature, the works of William Shakespeare remain paramount throughout the English-speaking world.

Until the early 19th century, this article deals with literature from Britain written in English; then America starts to produce major writers and works in literature. In the 20th century America and Ireland produced many of the most significant works of literature in English, and after World War II writers from the former British Empire also began to challenge writers from Britain. Additional information on literature in English from countries other than the UK and Ireland can be found in see also below.

Read more about English Literature:  Old English Literature: 450-1153, Middle English Literature: 1154-1485

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Famous quotes containing the words literature and/or english:

    As a man has no right to kill one of his children if it is diseased or insane, so a man who has made the gradual and conscious expression of his personality in literature the aim of his life, has no right to suppress himself any carefully considered work which seemed good enough when it was written. Suppression, if it is deserved, will come rapidly enough from the same causes that suppress the unworthy members of a man’s family.
    —J.M. (John Millington)

    “Mustn’t grumble” was the most English of expressions. English patience was mingled inertia and despair. What was the use? But Americans did nothing but grumble! Americans also boasted. “I do some pretty incredible things” was not an English expression. “I’m fairly keen” was not American. Americans were showoffs—it was part of our innocence—we often fell on our faces; the English seldom showed off, so they seldom looked like fools.
    Paul Theroux (b. 1941)