What Are Some Examples of English Literature?

Some examples of English literature include "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer and "The Faerie Queen" by Edmund Spenser. All works by William Shakespeare are also widely-accepted English literature.

English literature is usually classified according its period—Old and Middle English, Renaissance, Restoration, 19th century and 20th century. The poem "Beowulf" is an example of a literary work from Old English, while Chaucer's work is considered Middle English.

Shakespeare falls into the category of Renaissance literature, as does fellow playwright Christopher Marlowe, author of "Doctor Faustus." Sir Thomas More wrote "Utopia" at this time, and "Paradise Lost" by John Milton also dates to this period.

Literary works from the Restoration period include John Dryden's "Absalom and Achitophel" and John Locke's "An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding." Other notable works from this time include "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift and "An Essay on Man" by Alexander Pope. The poem "An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard" by Thomas Gray dates to this time, as does Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard Improved," an almanac.

For the 19th century, examples of English literature include Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Christabel: Kubla Khan," Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe" and the poetry of John Keats. Literature from the 20th century includes "Lord Jim" by Joseph Conrad and "The Call of the Wild" by Jack London.