Ancestry: History: Georgian England: Literature:


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In This Category Literature
Alexander Pope
Daniel Defoe
James Boswell
Jonathan Swift
Samuel Johnson
William Wordsworth
Anne Hunter
Fanny Burney
Jane Austen
Mary Montagu
Samuel Richardson
Aphra Behn
George Byron
John Dryden
Percy Shelley
Susanna Blamire
Charlotte Lennox
Henry Fielding
John Keats
Samuel Coleridge
William Blake

The Origins of Georgian Literature

Georgian Literature, perhaps more accurately termed Augustan Literature is a distinctive style of writing that has its roots in the period of England's history when the country was ruled by Queen Anne, George I and George II. This period would cover the years from approximately 1700 up to 1760 although some historians would place the end of this period even later, to 1789. The term Augustan itself can be traced to King George I of England who was named George Augustus.

Two other labels have been affixed although rather inaccurately to this period in English literature namely: Neoclassicism and The Age of Reason. Although the use of these two terms may hold some merit, they also tend to overlook and exclude many key areas in the field of literature.

The era of Georgian Literature was marked by many remarkable developments such as the maturing of the novel into the form that we know today, the rapid development of the satirical form of writing, the change in drama from political satire to melodrama and in the field of poetry a shift towards a more personal exploration. Philosophical literature during this period also saw a widespread change to empiricism while political-economic writing gave birth to mercantilism as a distinct formal philosophy, as well as the birth of capitalism and widespread trade.

The chronological roots of Georgian Literature may be up for debate since much of its origins can be traced back to contemporary 18th century criticism and the term itself came to be a cursory description of a vague period that saw the growth of the satirical form of writing. What is certain however is that this period gave birth to an unprecedented bold political literature across many different genres marked by satires full of irony and hidden meanings.

Whereas literature before this period was largely confined to contributions from London, the rest of the country became more active in the literary world with contributions coming from many other areas within the kingdom. Literature began to break free from the strictly formal styles of the previous years and the various folk compositions, which had previously been largely ignored, now rose to almost equal prominence.

While the literature during this period appeared on the surface to retain much of the mild delivery and formal tone of years past, many of the political, philosophical and literary innovations of the later Romantic period were in fact beginning to take root and were starting to challenge the feudal and courtly values which had long been in place.

One of the most influential factors that led to the development of Georgian Literature was the increasing accessibility of printed material for both authors and even ordinary readers. Books which was formerly the domain of only a privileged few became much more affordable and there was a huge market for used books in many town fairs all over the country. Newspapers also began to be published in large numbers during this period and the number of publishers grew dramatically.

Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 05/04/2007

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