Literature Timeline

Date Literary Period Authors/Works
800-400 BC This period was dominated by Homer and other Greek tragedians

The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer

Oedipus the King by Sophocles

Medea by Euripedes


250 BC - AD 150 Writers of the Roman Empire are most noted in this time period  

Famous authors from this period: Virgil, Horace, and Ovid




Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Period





The rise of haiku poetry     


Tale of Genji by Japanese writer Murasaki Shibiku (written around the year 1000)



1066-1500 Middle English Period


Persian poet Rumi (1207-73)

Petrarch, Italian writer, inventor of the sonnet (1304 -74)


The Divine Comedy by Dante, Italian writer (1307-1321)

The Decameron by Italian writer Boccacio (1313-75)


The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400) by Geoffrey Chaucer, British writer (1343-1400)



1450- Invention of the printing press                           


1500-1660 The Renaissance

558-1603 Elizabethan Age

1603- 1625  Jacobean Age

1625 - 1649 Caroline Age

1649 - 1669 Commonwealth Period



Francois Rabelais, French writer (1490-1553)

Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, British writer (1564-93)

William Shakespeare, British poet and playwright (1564-1616)


Ben Johnson, British author (1572-1637)

John Donne, British poet (1572-1631)

The Faerie Queen (1589) by Edmund Spenser, British poet

1599 The Globe Theatre built


Don Quixote (1605-1615) by Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish writer

Andrew Marvel, British poet (1621-78)

Henry Vaughan, British poet (1621-95)


Paradise Lost (1667) by John Milton, British author (1608-74)





 The Neoclassical Period

1660-1700 The Restoration

1700-1745 The Augustan Age (Age of Pope)

1650-1750 Puritan/Colonial Literature (America)


Tartuffe (1664) by French writer Moliere (1622-73)

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), British poet

Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Moll Flanders (1722) by Daniel Defoe, English writer (1660-1731)


Gulliver's Travels (1726) by Jonathan Swift, English writer (1667-1745)


Candide (1759) by French writer Voltaire (1694-1778)

Samuel Johnson, English writer (1709-84)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, French writer and philosopher (1712-78)

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (1741) by American Jonathan Edwards


The Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole (first gothic novel)


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German writer


1750-1800 The Age of Reason (America)



Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry, American Revolution authors


Poems on Various Subjects (1773) by Phyllis Wheatley, African-American poet (1753-1784)

Common Sense (1776) by Thomas Paine 


The Romantic Period

--The Gothic Period (approx. 1785-1820,  though it lasted longer in America)




William Blake, English poet (1757-1827)




William Wordsworth, English poet (1770-1850)

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet (1772-1834)


Jane Austen, English author (1775-1817)


Lord Byron, English poet (1788-1824)

Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet (1792-1822)

John Keats, English poet (1795-1821)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, English poet, (1809-92)


Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley, British writer (1797-1851)


The Last of the Mohicans (1826) by James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist (1789-1851)


1832-1901 The Victorian Period

1848-1860 The Pre-Raphaelites

1840-1860 Transcendentalism (America)

1865-1900 Age of Realism (America)


Edgar Allan Poe, American writer influenced by Gothic movement    (1809-49)

Robert Browning, English poet (1812-89)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, English poet (1806-61)


Charles Dickens, British author (1812-1870)


Emily Dickinson, American writer (1830-1886)


Henry James, American writer (1843-1916)

Transcendentalist writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) by Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)


Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Bronte, British writer (1816-55)


Wuthering Heights (1848) by Emily Bronte, British writer (1818-48)

The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne, American writer


Moby Dick (1851) by Herman Melville, American writer



Walden (1854) by Henry David Thoreau, American essayist

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) by Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897)

Les Miserables (1862) by Victor Hugo, French writer

Vanity Fair (1848) by William Makepeace Thackeray, English novelist


Madame Bovary (1857) by Gustave Flaubert, French writer


Little Women (1868) by Louisa May Alcott, American author

Middlemarch (1872) by George Eliot (a.k.a. Marian Evans), British writer

Paul Lawrence Dunbar, American poet (1872-1906)

A Doll's House (1879) by Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian dramatist (1828-1906)

Huckleberry Finn (1885) by American writer Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens, 1835-1910)


The Red Badge of Courage (1895) by Stephen Crane, American author (1871-1900)


The Awakening (1899) by Kate Chopin, American writer


The Yellow Wallpaper (1899) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, American writer

Leaves of Grass (1900) by Walt Whitman, American poet



The Edwardian Period (Europe)

Naturalism (America)



Heart of Darkness (1902) by Joseph Conrad, Polish/British author (1857-1924)



The Souls of Black Folk (1903) by W.E.B. Dubois, American writer



The Call of the Wild (1903) by Jack London, American writer, (1876-1916)

Ethan Frome (1911) by Edith Wharton, American writer (1862-1937)



The Modern Period


"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915) by T.S. Eliot, American writer


Robert Frost, American poet (1874-1963)



Edna St. Vincent Millay, American poet (1892-1950)

My Antonia (1918) by Willa Cather, American writer (1873-1947)

Winesburg, Ohio (1919) by Sherwood Anderson, American writer


The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer (1896-1940)


The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway, American writer (1899-1961)

As I Lay Dying (1930) by William Faulkner, American writer (1897-1962)


Of Mice and Men (1937) by John Steinbeck, American writer (1902-1968)


Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) by Zora Neale Hurston, American writer (1891-1960)

Langston Hughes, American poet (1906-67)

The Glass Menagerie (1945) by Tennessee Williams, American playwright (1911-1983)


Animal Farm (1945) by George Orwell, British writer (1903-1950)


The Stranger (1946) by Albert Camus, French writer (1913-1960)


1950 -

Post Modernism




The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J.D.Salinger, American writer (1919-)


Invisible Man (1952) by Ralph Ellison, American writer (1914-1994)

The Crucible (1953) by Arthur Miller, American playwright (1915-)

Fahrenheit 451 (1953) by Ray Bradbury, American author (1920-)

Lord of the Flies (1954) by William Golding, British author (1911-1993)


Long Day's Journey Into Night (1956) by Eugene O'Neill, American playwright (1888-1953)


On the Road (1957) by Jack Kerouac, American writer (1922-69)


Night (1958) by Elie Wiesel, Romanian-American (1928-)


Catch 22 (1961) by Joseph Heller, American writer  (1923-)


A Separate Peace (1962) by John Knowles, American writer (1926-)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) by Ken Kesey, American author (1935-2001)


The Bell Jar (1963) by Sylvia Plath, American poet and author (1932-63)


The Chosen (1967) by Chaim Potok, American writer (1929-2002)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970) by Maya Angelou, American author (1928-)


The Bluest Eye (1970) by Toni Morrison, American author (1931-)


Bless Me, Ultima (1972) by Rudolfo Anaya, Mexican-American Author  (1927-)

The Woman Warrior (1976) by Maxine Hong Kingston, Asian-American writer (1940-)

The Color Purple (1982) by Alice Walker (1944-)


The House on Mango Street (1983) by Sandra Cisneros (1954-)

Love Medicine (1984) by Louise Erdrich, Native American author (1954-)

The Joy Luck Club (1989) by Amy Tan, American writer (1952-)