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Additional info for A Short History of English Literature
If we consider what was written in English between the birth of Spenser in 1552 and the death of Milton in 1674 we find ourselves confronted by a great concourse of major and minor writers of astonishing variety. It is necessary to pick one’s way through the mass of material with guide lines that are rough and ready. Even the convenient distinction between drama and poetry is imprecise. A very large proportion of the drama was in verse. The great dramatists were poets. There was a group of young writers at the beginning of this period who have come to be known as the ‘University Wits’ because, after studying at Oxford or Cambridge, they moved to London to take up writing professionally.
The expressions ‘tender mercies’ and ‘loving kindness’ are his. So too are the haunting The early sixteenth century 33 phrases, ‘His leaf also shall not wither’ and ‘my beauty is gone for very trouble’. It was the Great Bible which was revised under the direction of Archbishop Parker in 1568 and called the ‘Bishops’ Bible’, and on this text the Authorized Version (1611) was to be based. The one book of comparable significance in English literary history to that of the Bible is the Book of Common Prayer.
The period was one of immense and concentrated literary activity. Nor did the activity end with the death of James I, convenient as that may be as a dividing line, for the work of the Cavalier poets as well as Paradise Lost was to follow. If we consider what was written in English between the birth of Spenser in 1552 and the death of Milton in 1674 we find ourselves confronted by a great concourse of major and minor writers of astonishing variety. It is necessary to pick one’s way through the mass of material with guide lines that are rough and ready.