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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

A History of English Literature

Edition 3rd Edition
ISBN 9780230368316
Publication Date March 2013
Formats Paperback Ebook 
Publisher Palgrave
Series Palgrave Foundations Series

A History of English Literature has received exceptional reviews. Tracing the development of one of the world's richest literatures from the Old English period through to the present day, the narrative discusses a wide range of key authors but never loses its clarity or verve.
Building on the book's established reputation and success, the third edition has been revised and updated throughout. It now provides a full final chapter on the contemporary scene, with more on genres and the impact of globalization.

Features of this best-selling book include:
• a helpful overview of each chapter
• boxed biographies of authors, and tables of publications and historical events
• on-page definitions of important terms and concepts
• suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter to aid study
• portraits of authors, illustrations, maps and an index.

A History of English Literature remains the essential companion for anyone wishing to follow the unfolding of writing in England from its beginnings. It is ideal for those who know a few landmark texts, but little of the literary landscape that surrounds them; those who want to know what English literature consists of; and those who simply want to read its fascinating story.

MICHAEL ALEXANDER is Emeritus Professor of English Literature, University of St Andrews, UK. He is a poet and translator and has international experience of teaching English literature, both medieval and modern.

List of Illustrations
List of Timelines
Preface to Second Edition
Preface to Third Edition
Old English Literature: to 1100
Middle English Literature 1066-1500
Tudor Literature: 1500-1603
Shakespeare and the Drama
Stuart Literature: to 1700
Augustan Literature: to 1790
The Romantics: 1790-1837
The Age and its Sages
Late Victorian Literature: 1880-1900
Ends and Beginnings: 1901-19
From Post-War to Post-War: 1920-55
New Beginnings: 1955-80
Further Reading


Praise for the third edition: 'Michael Alexander is a writer of rare skill: he is learned, as befits a former professor of English literature, and yet he is able to write about reading in a way that is accessible and pleasurable but never lightweight. Above all, he is an astute guide through the classical landscape of English writing....' - Alexander Lucie-Smith, The Tablet 'A reliable and readable guide for all students of literature. The new final chapter manoeuvres its way skilfully through the treacherous waters of contemporary writing, retaining that distinctive individual voice which makes the whole book so worthwhile.' - David Newell, Glasgow University, UK 'Lucid, learned, judicious and informative.' - Stephen Arata, University of Virginia, USA 'An intelligent and comprehensive guide. Michael Alexander has certainly accomplished a mammoth task in providing a summary of avastliterary landscape in the new final chapter.' - Sara Thorne, author of Mastering Poetry'Alexander's book is still by far the best of its kind available on the market. The new final chapter is clear and superbly written.' - Jorge Luis Bueno Alonso, University of Vigo, Spain 'An excellent reference book on the history of English literature from the earliest times to the present.' - Jeo-Yong Noh, Yeungnam University, Korea'Hugely enjoyable and stimulating, not least in its nicely modulated value judgments!' - Till Kinzel, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany Praise for previous editions:'If I had my way, every student of English would be supplied with a copy of this book.' - Gary Day, The Times Higher Education Supplement 'A text that will and should endure for many generations...an indispensable guide for any Literature student who wishes to have a complete and logical understanding of the traditional canon.' - WordPlay, Council for College and University English 'An ideal starting point for any English student who is serious about the subject. It manages to provide a comprehensive overview of English literary history in an accessible, practical format. Moreover it is genuinely entertaining - Alexander's style is pithy, pungent and personal...The reader is constantly reminded that this is a history, not the history, of English literature, and the writer's own strong opinions encourage the reader to discover his or her own views and preferences...I strongly recommend it to all students of English literature, and to their teachers.' - Sarah Annes Brown, Anglia Ruskin University, UK'To write a linear history of a great literature is a difficult task, verging on the impossible these days. Professor Alexander has brought off a remarkable feat. His history is comprehensive, clear, judicious and sometimes punchy. This is an account of English writing which can be of great use to the student, the fact-hound, the teacher or the general reader. Above all, it is a triumph of reason and judgement, never cranky, nor exclusive. I shall recommend it widely.' - Chris Wallace-Crabbe, University of Melbourne, Australia 'The book is a miracle of compression...To maintain the same qualities of wit, crispness and sharp but essentially generous judgement...in a book which is something very much more than a 'survey' of the whole field of English Literature is an extraordinary achievement.' - John Rathmell, Cambridge University, UK'...eminently fit to excite the critical consciousness of the student.' - Philip Smallwood, Essays in Criticism '...a fantastic mine of information in which writers are seen within their chronological and literary context. Although, inevitably, there is no room for detailed analysis within such a wide-ranging book, the content provides an effective starting point for readers whatever their literary intentions.' - Sara Thorne, author of Mastering Poetry 'A succinct, comprehensive and readable chronological account...[Alexander] threads the history and literature together with authority and occasional wit.' - Jim Sweetman, The Professional Journal of the National Association for the Teaching of English 'I got a clear sense of the methodological overview, sensitively presented. It seems to be a book that could be both read as a whole and used selectively ... it will be useful for foundation course students, undergraduates, both majoring in English and otherwise, and also to A-level students.' - Ian McMechan, Hampton School, Middlesex, UK 'The book is a fine achievement, and sixth-formers and undergraduates should be encouraged to have their own copies.' - Martin Dodsworth, English Association Newsletter 'For students of A-level English literature, a wide contextualising book of this kind is not just a good read: it is essential reading.' - Bernard O'Donoghue, The English Review 'I would go so far as to say that every literature student should buy this book.' - David McLaurin, The New Tablet
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