Brit Lit 101



Let’s face it, we as Americans would not be here today if it were not for the Brits and their ingenious, beautiful words. William Shakespeare even coined a plethora of phrases we use every day. “Wild goose chase,” “bated breath,” “heart of gold,” “kill with kindness,” “wear my heart upon my sleeve” and so many other sayings were gifted to us by the bard. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without Charles Dickens, Jane Austen essentially invented romance with Pride and Prejudice and who could forget everyone’s favorite early feminist, Virginia Woolf?

And for all you youngins, there would be no Harry Potter getting his acceptance letter to Hogwarts if it wasn’t for J.K. Rowling, who was inspired by J.R.R Tolkien’s magical creation of Middle Earth.

Here is a list of British authors who have made the English language what it is today.

William Shakespeare

Classic Literature

William Shakespeare
Jane Austen
Charles Dickens
Geoffrey Chaucer
Christopher Marlowe
Ben Jonson
Emily Brontë
Charlotte Brontë
Anne Brontë
John Milton

Portrait of Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell, 1840


Mary Shelley
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Joseph Conrad
Arthur Conan Doyle
E.M. Forster

Contemporary Authors

Virginia Woolf
George Orwell
Ian McEwan
Kate Atkinson
Graham Greene
D.H. Lawrence

J. R. R. Tolkien (aged 24) in army uniform, photograph taken in 1916.

Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction

J.K. Rowling
J.R.R Tolkien
George R.R. Martin
Lewis Carroll
C.S. Lewis
Roald Dahl
A.A. Milne
Beatrix Potter
H.G. Wells
Ian Fleming
William Golding
Arthur C. Clarke
Douglas Adams
Daniel Defoe
Rudyard Kipling
W. Somerset Maugham

Daguerrotype of Emily Dickinson, c. early 1847, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections


Geoffrey Chaucer
William Wordsworth
William Blake
Emily Dickinson
Lord Byron
John Keats
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
W.B. Yeats
Percy Bysshe Shelley
John Donne
Alexander Pope
Edmund Spenser
John Dryden
Alfred Tennyson
T.S. Eliot
Thomas Hardy


Henry Fielding
Jonathan Swift

—Duchess Jennifer Fauci

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