Authors of major works in British Literature

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Last updated: May 6, 2019
Oliver Goldsmith
18th century English writer known for works The Vicar of Wakefield; She Stoops to Conquer

Jonathan Swift
Author, journalist and political activist known for works Gulliver’s Travel and A Modest Proposal

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Robert Burns
Scottish poet and lyricist known as “Scotia’s bard” because had heart for people and all living things; poems satirical but full of sentiment; best known for Auld Lang Syne song;poems A Red, Red Rose, To a Mouse and A Man’s a Man for a ‘ That poem

Sir Walter Scott
Poet and novelist; poems were descriptions of scenery, long novelistic poetry with dashing verses of romance, adventure, and love such as The Lady of the Lake; novels represents romantic historical fiction such as Waverly and Ivanhoe

Robert Louis Stevenson
Scottish writer of novels such as Treasure Island, Dr.

Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Kidnapped; and poetry A Child’s Garden of Verses

George MacDonald
British author, poet, and pioneer of fantasy literature; known for Phantastes, The Princess and The Goblin, At the Back of the North Wind

J. M. Barrie
Scottish dramatist best known for writing play Peter Pan

William Wordsworth
Major English romantic poet who launched Romantic Age with friend and poet Samuel Coleridge; wanted to do away with “learned” poetry to reach average person using everyday language; best known for Lyrical Ballads, Lines Written Above Tintern Abbey, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Prelude, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, The World

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
English poet, literary critic and philosopher; best known for Lyrical Ballads, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner; Kubla Khan; coined phrase “suspension of disbelief”

William Blake
English poet and illustrator, considered a nonconformist because he thought imagination is greater than reasoning; poetry written for common people; works include Poetical Sketches, Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, Jerusalem and Visions of Daughters of Albion

Geoffrey Chaucer
English poet and author with satiric wit; best known for Canterbury Tales, Triolus and Criysede, and Parliament of Fools; founded technique rime royal

Sir Thomas Malory
English writer best known for Le Morte Darthur

Edmund Spenser
English poet best known for The Faerie Queen and Astrophel

Ben Jonson
English poet, essayist, and playwright; dubbed English’s first Poet Laureate; best known for plays Every Man in His Humor, Valpone, and The Alchemist

Christopher Marlowe
Elizabethan poet and playwright; Shakespeare’s most important predecessor in English drama; considered “bad boy” because challenged social norms and pushed limits of religion; first to use Free Verse; best known for plays Doctor Faustus, Jews of Malta, Edward the Second, Massaire of Paris, Tamburlaine the Great; poetry Passionate Shepherd to His Love, Hero and Leander

John Donne
English poet and writer of english prose, essayist, metaphysical poet (ability to startle reader); Holy Sonnet, Satires, Songs and Sonnets (“The Good Morrow”, “The Flea”)

John Bunyan
English Christian writer and preacher; best known for book The Pilgrim’s Progress

Alexander Pope
18th century poet; best known for satirical verse and translation of Homer; use of heroic couplet; poems The Rape of the Lock, Essay on Man

Daniel Defoe
English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer and spy; considered one of founders of English novel; best known for novels Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, A Journal of the Plague Years, Roxana

Henry Fielding
English novelist and playwright; known for rich earthly humour and satirical prowess; best known for novels Tom Jones, Shamela, Joseph Andrews

Samuel Richardson
18th century writer and printer;usually writes of a feminine heroine’s quest for virtue; best known for 3 epistolary novels Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison

Lawrence Sterne
Anglo-Irish novelist, Anglican clergyman, and humorist; best known for novels Tristram Shandy and Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

Charles Dickens
writer and social critic; regarded as one of greatest novelist of Victorian Period; wrote novels, short story collections, selected non-fiction, poetry and plays such as A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Martin Chuzzlewit, and Our Mutual Friend

Charlotte Bronte
English novelist and poet; eldest of 3 Bronte sisters; wrote under pen name Currer Bell novels Jane Eyre and Villette

Emily Bronte
English novelist and poet; wrote only one novel Wuthering Heights which examined the roles of women in male dominated Victorian society – gave women a voice that they had previously never had before in influencing attitude and policy, especially within Great Britain

Anne Bronte
English novelist and poet; youngest of 3 Bronte sisters; wrote under pseudonym Acton Bell novel Agnes Grey

William Makepeace Thackeray
English novelist of 19th century; famous for satirical works such as novel Vanity Fair

Anthony Trollope
most successful and prolific English novelist of Victorian Era for satire and novels Chronicles of Barsetshire and The Way We Live Now

George Eliot

a Mary Ann Evans was an English novelist, journalist, translator and one of leading writers in Victorian Era; best known for novels Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner

Thomas Hardy
English novelist and poet; Victorian realist who was influenced by writers of Romantic period, especially William Wordsworth; novels include Far From the Madding Crowd, Jude the Obscure,Return of the Native, Mayor of Castorbridge, Tess of D’Ubervilles, and poem Wessex Poems and Other Verses

Matthew Arnold
English Victorian poet; poetry often wrestles with problems of psychological isolation; best known for poem Dover Beach

Lewis Carroll
pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson; English writer, mathematician, logician, photographer and Anglican deacon; most famous for novels Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

Lord Alfred Tennyson
Victorian poet; Poet Laureate of Britain and Ireland; excelled at penning short lyrics based on classical mythological themes; best known for poems In Memoriam of A.H.H, Ulysses, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Lady of Shalott, and Idylls of the King

Robert Browning
English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologue, made him one of foremost Victorian poets; best known for poems Porphyria’s Lover, Love Among the Ruins, and The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Most prominent English poet of Victorian period; wife of Robert Browning; poetry popular in Britain and U.S.; book Sonnets from the Portuguese has most famous poems Number 33 and Number 43

Edward Lear
English artist, illustrator, author and poet; known for literary nonsense in poetry and prose, especially in limericks a form he popularized; best known for poem The Owl and the Pussy-Cat and book of limericks A Book of Nonsense

Oscar Wilde
Irish writer and poet; became one of London’s most popular playwrights; known for plays The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband, novel A Picture of Dorian Grey, and letters De Profundis

William Butler Yeats
Anglo-Irish poet and foremost figure of 20th century; interest in mysticism, spiritualism, occultism and astrology; best known for poems The Second Coming, When You Are Old, and A Crazed Girl

George Bernard Shaw
Irish playwright and co-founder of London School of Economics; focused on issues of education, marriage, religion, government, health care and class privilege; most famous plays Pygmalion and Androcles & The Lion

James Joyce
Irish novelist and poet; most influential writer in modernist avant-garde of early 20th century; best novels include Ulysses, Dubliners and Portrait of Artist as a Young Man, ballad Finnegan’s Wake

Ruyard Kipling
British Poet Laureate; English short story writer, poet, novelist of late Victorian era; wrote tales and poems of British soldiers in India and stories for children; novels include The Jungle Book, Kim, and Just So Stories; poetry Gunga Din, If, White Man’s Burden, Riki Tiki Tavi


S. Eliot

One of major 20th century poets; essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic; famous poems Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Wasteland, Hollow Men and Ash Wednesday

Ezra Pound
Expatriate American poet and critic; development of Imagism; famous poems Cantos, The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter, and In a Station of Metro

Wilfred Owen
English poet and soldier; one of leading poets of World War I; famous poems Dulce et decorum est and Anthem for Doomed Youth

Rupert Brooke
English poet who wrote in anti-Victorian style, using rustic themes and subjects (such as friendship and love) and reflected mood of England during years leading up to World War I; famous poem The Soldier

Siegfried Sassoon
English poet, writer, and soldier; wrote angry and compassionate poems of World War I; famous poem Suicide in the Trenches

D. H. Lawrence
20th century novelist, poet, short stories, essayist, critic and travel writer; best known for celebration of sensuality in an over-intellectualized world; famous works include novels Sons and Lovers, Women in Love, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Rainbow

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