All posts by SNEHA MARY.A

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights, activist. Maya Angelou, the original name was Marguerite Annie Johnson and she was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. Although born in St. Louis, Angelou spent much of her childhood in the care of her paternal grandmother in rural Stamps, Arkansas. When she was not yet eight years old, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend and told of it, after which he was murdered; the traumatic sequence of events left her almost completely mute for several years. This early life is the focus of her first autobiographical work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) which gained critical acclaim and a National Book Award nomination. Subsequent volumes of autobiography include Gather Together in My Name (1974), Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976), The Heart of a Woman (1981), All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), and Mom & Me & Mom (2013).

In the 1950s, Angelou found encouragement for her literary talents at the Harlem Writers’ Guild. About the same time, Angelou landed a featured role in a State Department-sponsored production of George Gershwin’s folk opera Porgy and Bess; with this troupe, she toured 22 countries in Europe and Africa. She also studied dance with Martha Graham and Pearl Primus. In 1961 she performed in Jean Genet’s play The Blacks. That same year she was persuaded by a South African dissident to whom she was briefly married to move to Cairo, where she worked for the Arab Observer. She later moved to Ghana and worked on The African Review.

Angelou returned to California in 1966 and wrote Black, Blues, Black (aired 1968), a 10-part television series about the role of African culture in American life. She was the first black woman director in Hollywood, and she wrote, produced, directed, and starred in productions for stage, film, and television. As the writer of the movie drama Georgia, Georgia (1972), she became one of the first African American women to have a screenplay produced as a feature film. She also acted in such movies as Poetic Justice (1993) and How to Make an American Quilt (1995) and appeared in several television productions, including the miniseries Roots (1977). Angelou received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Look Away (1973), even though the play closed on Broadway after only one performance. In 1998 she made her directorial debut with Down in the Delta (1998). The documentary Maya Angelou and Still I Rise (2016) depicts her life through interviews with Angelou and her intimates and admirers.

Angelou’s poetry, collected in such volumes as Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie (1971), And Still, I Rise (1978), Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987), and I Shall Not Be Moved (1990), drew heavily on her personal history but employed the points of view of various personae. She also wrote a book of meditations, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993), and children’s books that include My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me (1994), Life Doesn’t Frighten Me (1998), and the Maya’s World series, which was published in 2004–05 and featured stories of children from various parts of the world. Angelou dispensed anecdote-laden advice to women in Letter to My Daughter (2008); her only biological child was male.

Angelou died on May 28, 2014, when she was 86, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she had served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University since 1982.


Who is William Butler Yeats?

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet, dramatist, prose writer, and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and became a pillar of the Irish literary establishment who helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served two terms as a Senator of the Irish Free State. William Butler Yeats was born on June 13, 1865, in Dublin, Ireland. He was the oldest of four children of John Butler Yeats, a portrait artist. He was educated in London but returned to Ireland in 1880 and soon afterward embarked on a literary career. In 1890, Yeats began writing plays, and as a strong adherent of the Irish National Movement, he did much to assist in the creation of national theatre. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

His poetry

Yeats was acutely conscious of the spiritual barrenness of his age, and his whole artistic career is best seen as an attempt, at first to escape from the sordid materialism which he found on every hand, and later to formulate a new positive ideal that would supply his spiritual needs. His narrative poem The Wanderings of Oisin (1889), which first established his reputation, Poems (1895), The Wind Among the Reeds (1889), and The Shadowy Waters (1900); and it was in these early days that he wrote many of the lyrics. Probably the best known of them is The Lake Isle of Innisfree (1893). The increasing realism of this period is seen in The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910) and Responsibilities (1914), which strike a more personal note. The peak of his achievements is reached in The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933), in which he handles philosophical themes with a compact precision of style and a great mastery of rhythm and language.

His Drama

William Butler Yeats was also a prolific playwright, with no less than twenty-four dramas, two adaptations from Sophocles, and several unpublished juvenile efforts to his credit. The virtues of his plays are in their poetry. For him, his themes were always of primary importance, and there is a close parallel between the subjects of his lyrics and those of his plays. His characters, too, were drawn from Irish legend and from among those simple types to be found in so many of his poems. His plays include Countess Cathleen (1892), The Land of Heart’s Desire (1894), The Shadowy Waters (1900), Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902), On Baile’s Strand (1904), The king’s Threshold (1904), The Hour-glass (1904), Deirdre (1907), The Resurrection (1913), At the Hawk’s Well (1917), The Only Jealousy of Emer (1919) Calvary (1921), and The Cat and The Moon (1926).

His Death

Yeats died in January 1939 while abroad. Final arrangements for his burial in Ireland could not be made, so he was buried at Roquebrune, France. The intention of having his body buried in Sligo was thwarted when World War II began in the autumn of 1939. In 1948 his body was finally taken back to Sligo and buried in a little Protestant churchyard at Drumcliffe.

Who was William Shakespeare and why is he famous?

His Life

William Shakespeare was a renowned English poet, playwright, and actor born in 1564 in Stratford upon Avon. His birthday is most commonly celebrated on 23rd April, which is also believed to be the date he died in 1616. His father, John Shakespeare, was a burgess of the town and seems to have followed the occupations of a butcher, a glover, and a farmer. Shakespeare attended the grammar school of the town, though Ben Jonson, himself a competent scholar, affirmed that Shakespeare knew “small Latin and less Greek.” In 1584, Shakespeare left his native town. Why he did so is not known. The most popular explanation, which appeared after his death, is that he was convicted of poaching on the estate of a local magnate, Sir Thomas Lucy and that he fled to escape the consequences. Then, until 1592, when he appears as a rising actor, Shakespeare disappears from view.

His Works

Altogether Shakespeare’s works include 37 plays, 2 narrative poems, 154 sonnets, and a variety of other poems. No original manuscripts of Shakespeare’s plays are known to exist today. His plays are wonderfully and poetically written, often in blank verse. Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594) are the only works that Shakespeare seems to have shepherded through the printing process. Both owe a good deal to Ovid, the Classical poet whose writings Shakespeare encountered repeatedly in school. These two poems are the only works for which he wrote dedicatory prefaces. Shakespeare may also have written at least some of his sonnets to Southampton, beginning in these same years (1593–94) and continuing through the decade and later. As a narrative, the sonnet sequence tells of strong attachment, of jealousy, of grief at separation, of joy at being together and sharing beautiful experiences.

In the second half of the 1590s, Shakespeare brought to perfection the genre of romantic comedy that he had helped to invent. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595), one of the most successful of all his plays, displays the kind of multiple plotting he had practiced in The Taming of the Shrew and other earlier comedies. The Merchant of Venice (1596) uses a double plot structure to contrast a tale of romantic wooing with one that comes close to tragedy.

Concurrent with his writing of these fine romantic comedies, Shakespeare also brought to completion, his project of writing 15th-century English history. After having finished in 1589–94 the tetralogy about Henry VI, Edward IV, and Richard III, bringing the story down to 1485, and then circa 1594–96 a play about John that deals with a chronological period that sets it quite apart from his other history plays, Shakespeare turned to the late 14th and early 15th centuries and to the chronicle of Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry’s legendary son Henry V. Thus, in his plays of the 1590s, the young Shakespeare concentrated a remarkable extent on romantic comedies and English history plays. The two genres are nicely complementary: the one deals with courtship and marriage, while the other examines the career of a young man growing up to be a worthy king.

Shakespeare grave

His Death

On April 23, 1616, William Shakespeare died in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon at the age of fifty-two. In truth, the exact date of Shakespeare’s death is not known but assumed from a record of his burial two days later, 25 April 1616, at Holy Trinity Church. Stratford upon Avon, where his grave remains. While no one knows what Shakespeare died of exactly, he was sick before his death. A month before his death, he signed a will leaving almost everything to his daughter Susanna.

John Milton

John Milton was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under its Council of State and later under Oliver Cromwell. He was born in Bread street, Cheapside, London. His father was a money scrivener, an occupation that combined the duties of the modern banker and lawyer. As a child, John Milton attended St. Paul’s School, and in his lifetime he learned Latin, Greek, Italian, Hebrew, French, and Spanish. He attended Christ’s College, Cambridge, graduating in 1629 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and 1632 with a Master of Arts.

After Cambridge, Milton spent six years living with his family in Buckinghamshire and studying independently. During his period of private study, Milton composed a number of poems, including “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity,” “On Shakespeare,” “L’Allegro,” “Il Penseroso,” and the pastoral elegy “Lycidas.” In May of 1638, Milton began a 13-month tour of France and Italy, during which he met many important intellectuals and influential people, including the astronomer Galileo, who appears in Milton’s tract against censorship, “Areopagitica.” Milton was a Puritan who believed in the authority of the Bible, and opposed religious institutions like the Church of England, and the monarchy, with which it was entwined. He wrote pamphlets on radical topics like freedom of the press, supported Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War, and was probably present at the beheading of Charles I. Milton wrote official publications for Cromwell’s government.

L’Allegro by John Milton

It was during these years that Milton married for the first time. In 1642, when he was 34, he married 17-year-old Mary Powell. The two separated for several years, during which time Milton wrote The Divorce Tracts, a series of publications advocating for the availability of divorce. The couple reunited and had four children before Mary died in 1652. It was also in 1652 that Milton became totally blind. In 1656, he married Katherine Woodcock.

In 1667, he published Paradise Lost in 10 volumes. It is considered his greatest work and the greatest epic poem written in English. The free-verse poem tells the story of how Satan tempted Adam and Eve, and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. In 1671, he published Paradise Regained, in which Jesus overcomes Satan’s temptations, and Samson Agonistes, in which Samson first succumbs to temptation and then redeems himself. A revised, 12-volume version of Paradise Lost was published in 1674.

Many of his works have religious, political, and personal themes. For example, instances of imagery of light and darkness and good and evil can be found in several works, including the annotated examples given in the section below. Milton came to face his own battle with inevitable darkness as he began to lose his sight. In order to keep writing, he employed assistants. One of the most well known of his assistants is fellow writer Andrew Marvell. When the monarchy was restored in England in 1660, Milton was imprisoned, but later pardoned. He spent the rest of his life writing.

John Milton died in England in November 1674. There is a monument dedicated to him in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey in London.    

Who is Chaucer?

Geoffrey Chaucer was an English poet, author, and civil servant. The date of his birth is uncertain, but it is now generally accepted as being 1340. He was born in London. Chaucer’s family was of the bourgeois class, descended from an affluent family who made their money in the London wine trade. According to some sources, Chaucer’s father, John, carried on the family wine business. Geoffrey Chaucer is believed to have attended the St. Paul’s Cathedral School, where he probably first became acquainted with the influential writing of Virgil and Ovid. He entered the household of the wife of the Duke of Clarence (1357), and saw military services abroad, where he was captured.

The chief characteristics of Chaucer’s works are their variety in subject matter, genre, tone, and style and in the complexities presented concerning the human pursuit of a sensible existence. Yet his writings also consistently reflect an all pervasive humour combined with serious and tolerant consideration of important philosophical questions. From his writings Chaucer emerges as poet of love, both earthly and divine, whose presentations range from lustful cuckoldry to spiritual union with God.

Chaucer’s body of best-known works includes the Parliament of Fouls, otherwise known as the Parlement of Foules, in the Middle English spelling. Some historians of Chaucer’s work assert that it was written in 1380, during marriage negotiations between Richard and Anne of Bohemia.The poem uses allegory, and incorporates elements of irony and satire as it points to the inauthentic quality of courtly love. Chaucer was well acquainted with the theme firsthand during his service to the court and his marriage of convenience to a woman whose social standing served to elevate his own.

Chaucer is believed to have written the poem Troilus and Criseyde sometime in the mid-1380s. Troilus and Criseyde is a narrative poem that retells the tragic love story of Troilus and Criseyde in the context of the Trojan War. Chaucer wrote the poem using rime royal, a technique he originated. Rime royal involves rhyming stanzas consisting of seven lines apiece. Troilus and Criseyde is broadly considered one of Chaucer’s greatest works, and has a reputation for being more complete and self-contained than most of Chaucer’s writing, his famed The Canterbury Tales being no exception.

The Canterbury Tales is by far Chaucer’s best known and most acclaimed work. Initially Chaucer had planned for each of his characters to tell four stories a piece. The first two stories would be set as the character was on his/her way to Canterbury, and the second two were to take place as the character was heading home. Apparently, Chaucer’s goal of writing 120 stories was an overly ambitious one. In actuality, The Canterbury Tales is made up of only 24 tales and rather abruptly ends before its characters even make it to Canterbury. The tales are fragmented and varied in order, and scholars continue to debate whether the tales were published in their correct order. Despite its erratic qualities, The Canterbury Tales continues to be acknowledged for the beautiful rhythm of Chaucer’s language and his characteristic use of clever, satirical wit.

The legendary 14th century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer died October 25, 1400 in London, England. He died of unknown causes and was 60 years old at the time. Chaucer was buried in Westminster Abbey. His gravestone became the center of what was to be called Poet’s Corner, a spot where such famous British writers as Robert Browning and Charles Dickens were later honored and interred.

Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith was an Anglo-Irish novelist, playwright, and poet. He was born in Pallas, a small village in County Longford, in Ireland, and he was the son of the poor but admirable curate of the village. His father, the village, and various local features are duly registered, and unduly idealized, in the poem The Deserted Village. In 1744, Goldsmith proceeded to Trinity College, Dublin; graduated, after some misadventures; and then tried various careers in turn law, medicine, and playing the flute at various places, including Dublin, Venice, Padua, and Leyden. During his years of wandering, he roved over Europe, playing the flute for a living; then in 1756, he returned to England, poor, unknown, but undaunted. During his later years, he was a member of Johnson’s famous club, where his artless ways his bickerings, witticisms. and infantile vanity was the mingled amusement, admiration, and contempt of his fellow members.

His Poetry

Though its poetical production is not large, it is notable. His first poem, The Traveller (1764), deals with his wandering through Europe. The poem, about four hundred lines in length, is written in the heroic couplet and is a series of descriptions and criticisms of the places and people which he had experienced. His only other poem of any length is The Deserted Village (1770). In this poem, as he deals with the memories of his youth, the pathetic note is more freely expressed. The peculiar humor and pathos of Goldsmith are hard to analyze. Both emotions arise from simple situations and are natural and free from any deep guile. Goldsmith’s miscellaneous poems are important, for they include some of his characteristic humorous and pathetic writing. The ballad called The Hermit is done in a sentimental fashion, the witty Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog is suggestive of Swift without Swift’s savage barb, and the fine lines beginning “When lovely woman stoops to folly” are among the best he ever wrote.

The Deserted Village, Oliver Goldsmith

His Drama

Goldsmith wrote two prose comedies, both of which rank high among their class. The first, called The Good-Natur’d Man (1768), is not so good as the second, She Stoops to Conquer (1773). Each, but especially the latter, is endowed with an ingenious and lively plot, a cast of excellent characters, and a vivacious and delightful style. Based on the Restoration comedy, they lack the Restoration grossness. The second play had immense popularity, and even yet it is sometimes staged.

His Prose

The prose is of astonishing range and volume. Among his works of fiction, we find The Citizen of the World (1759), a series of imaginary letters from a Chinaman, whose comments on English society are both simple and shrewd. This series was contributed to The Public Ledger, a popular magazine. He wrote many other essays in the manner of Addison, almost as well done as those of Addison. His other important work of fiction is his novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), which is in the first rank of eighteenth-century novels. In addition, Goldsmith produced a great mass of hackwork, most of which is worthless as historical and scientific fact, but all of which is enlightened with the grace of his style and personality. Some of these works are An Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe (1759), his first published book; The History of England (1771); and An History of Earth and Animal Nature, a kind of text-book on natural history, which was published posthumously.

Goldsmith died after a brief illness in 1774, at the age of just 43, and is buried in London’s Temple Church. Johnson would remember him as a man ‘who left scarcely any kind of writing untouched and who touched nothing that he did not adorn’.

Richard Steele

His Life

Sir Richard Steele was an Irish writer, playwright, and politician. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, in March 1672. The exact date of his birth is not known, but he was baptized on March 12. Steele’s father, an attorney, died in 1676, and his mother died the next year. He was placed under the guardianship of his maternal uncle, Henry Gascoigne, who was secretary and confidential agent to the Duke of Ormonde. In 1684 he began attending Charterhouse School, London, where he met Joseph Addison. Both Steele and Addison went to Oxford, Steele entering Christ Church in 1689 and transferring to Merton College in 1691. In 1695 Lord Cutts, to whom Steele had dedicated a poem on the funeral of Queen Mary, became Steele’s patron. Steele first served him as private secretary and then became an officer in Cutts’s regiment in 1697. Two years later Steele received a captaincy in a foot regiment.

Sir Richard Steele, self-portrait

His Drama

Steele wrote some prose comedies, the best of which are The Funeral (1701), The Lying Lover (1703), The Tender Husband (1705), and The Conscious Lovers (1722). They follow in the general scheme the Restoration comedies but are without the grossness and impudence of their models. Indeed, Steele’s one importance as a dramatist rests on his foundation of the sentimental comedy, avowedly moral and pious in aim and tone. In places, his plays are lively and reflect much of Steele’s amiability of temper.

His Essays

It is as a miscellaneous essayist that Steele finds his place in literature. He started The Tatler in 1709, The Spectator in 1711, and several other short-lived periodicals, such as The Guardian (1713), The Englishmen (1713), The Reader (1714), and The Plebeian (1719). The Plebeian is Steele’s most famous political journal, which involved him in a dispute with Addison, whose death in 1719 frustrated Steele’s attempt at reconciliation. Steele’s working alliance with Addison was so close and so constant that the comparison between them is almost inevitable. Of the two writers, some critics assert that Steele is the worthier. In versatility and originality, he is at least Addison’s equal. His humour is a border and less restrained than Addison’s, with a naive, pathetic touch about it that is reminiscent of Goldsmith. His pathos is more attractive and more humane. The aim of Steele’s essays was frankly didactic; he desired to bring about a reformation of contemporary society manners and is notable for his consistent advocacy of womanly virtue and the ideal of the gentleman of courtesy, chivalry, and good taste. His essays on children are charming, and he is full of human sympathy.

Joshep Addison and Richard Steele

His Politics

Steele served as the chief Whig propagandist; as the principal journalist of the Whigs in opposition, he was the antagonist of Jonathan Swift, who held the corresponding job for the Tories. Steele’s writings frequently made his political career perilous. Appointed commissioner of stamps in 1710, he was forced to resign from this office in 1713. That same year he was elected to Parliament from Stockbridge, but he was expelled in 1714 on a charge of sedition. After the accession of George I to the English throne in 1714, Steele obtained several political favors. In 1715 he was knighted and was re-elected to Parliament. Steele’s intemperance gradually undermined his health, and he suffered from gout for many years. In 1722 he wrote his last and most successful comedy, The Conscious Lovers. In 1724, still notoriously improvident, impulsive, ostentatious, and generous-Steele was forced to retire from London because of his mounting debts and his worsening health. He went to live on his wife’s estate of Llangunnor in Wales, and in 1726 he suffered a paralytic stroke. His health was broken, Steele died at Carmarthen, Wales, on Sept 1, 1729.

The Victorian Age

In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. Many events occurred during her reign in England and in the rest of the world. Many places in the British colonies were named after her. Even the nineteenth century has been referred to as the Victorian Era or Victorian England or the Victorian Age. Victoria also changed the way the monarchy in Britain worked. During her reign, Britain was the most prosperous nation in the world. England had gone from a rural society to an urban one. Britain did not lose a war during her reign. She also inspired authors to do writings on human rights and saving the poor. Victoria affected the rest of Europe because she was the “Grandmother of Europe”. She put on the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Golden Jubilee, and the Diamond Jubilee, to show how great the British Empire was. The British created a new renaissance.

The Victorian Age was a period of remarkable progress in physical as well as medical science. Henry Bessemer’s process which made possible the mass production of steel and Michael Faraday’s discoveries of electrical power added much to the material prosperity of the period. The use of chloroform in medical practice by Simpson in 1847 and the anti-septic surgery developed by Joseph Lister came as a great relief to the suffering humanity. In 1859 Charles Darwin, the great scientist of the day published “The Origin of Species”. It brought forth a rather shocking theory that man and all other species of life had evolved from a common source.

In no other period of English history was there such an output of literature as in the Victorian Age, Poetry, Prose, novel, history, and painting and writing on painting-all these were produced in large quantities. Alfred Tennyson who became the poet Laureate in 1850 was the greatest poet of the day. Robert Browning, famous for his dramatic monologues, was his nearest rival. Other poets of the period, but lower caliber, were Matthew Arnold, Swinburne, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his sister Christina Rossetti, Fitzgerald, Coventry Patmore, and many others. Great among the prose were Carlyle, Macaulay, Ruskin, Newman, and many others. However, the most outstanding literary contribution of the period was the novel. As far as the novel was concerned it was an age of giants. Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and many others. In the mid-Victorian period, there was a distinguished school of artists known as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who wanted to revive the art forms which existed in European art before the time of Raphael.

The latter half of Queen Victoria’s reign was noted for many reforms in the field of both politics and education. The Reforms Act of 1867 and 1884 extended the right to vote to larger and larger sections of society. This in turn necessitated reforms in the educational systems of the country. The educational reforms effected by Gladstone eradicated some of the anomalies which had become a stumbling block in the path of progress of the nation. The only problem which Gladstone failed to solve, because of the lack of co-operation from the House of Lords, was Home Rule for Ireland. At any rate, speaking, on the whole, the Victorian Age was a period of peace and prosperity.


Queen Anne (1665 – 1714) was the last of the Stuart’s the second daughter of James II and his first wife Ann Hyde. Queen Anne ruled England from 1702 to 1714. It was a golden age in the history of England because it was a period of great prosperity. Industry, agriculture, and commerce all continued to prosper. Only during the last three years of her reign were their sign of distress and discontent, and that was chiefly due to the unavoidable war conditions in which the people had to live. English agriculture had improved so far that more wheat was grown than in medieval times. Wheat was the most important article of food. In the reign of Anne, there was a great exchange of agricultural products between one district and another. England’s agriculture improvement during this regime was so much that she was able to send corn abroad on a large scale.

Queen Anne’s reign was not yet time to appreciate the value of good education. There were only a few public schools like Eton, Winchester, and Westminster which were patronized chiefly by the aristocracy. The sons of the squires, yeomen and shopkeepers went to the nearest grammar schools. In wealthy families, private chaplains were employed to teach the young gentlemen. In schools, the punishment was of a rather severe type. Flogging was restored as a means of imparting knowledge and maintaining discipline. Writers like Locke and Steele were highly critical of this method. Women’s education was almost neglected and there was no good school for them. Most girls learned from their mothers to read, write, sew, and manage the household.

In the early part of the eighteenth century, most of the marriages were arranged by the parents. However, runaway marriages were common. There were also numerous love marriages. Divorce was almost unknown. During the twelve years of Queen Anne, in the whole country, there were only six divorces.

There were certain sports and pastimes which provided relaxation to the people. In Anne’s reign, a primitive kind of cricket was just beginning to take its place among the village sports. Football also was played by many. Cockfighting was watched with excitement by all classes of people. Horseracing attracted hundreds of people to the places where it was conducted. The most usual sports that people could easily resort to, were angling, shooting, and snaring birds of all kinds.

The most important industries of the period were coal mining and cloth-making. The coal mines were treated as the property of the owner of the land. Explosions were common in these mines and many workers lost their lives. In Anne’s time, the coal-mining industry was midway between the domestic and the factory system. The industry next in importance was cloth-making. Spinning was done chiefly in country cottages by women and children, and weaving chiefly in towns and villages by men.

The religious activities of the period consisted of the establishment of many religious societies and charity schools. life in individuals and families, to encourage church- The first object of these societies was to promote Christian attendance, family prayers, and Bible study. During the reign of Anne hundreds of charities, schools were founded all over England to educate the children of the poor in reading, writing, moral discipline, and the principles of the Church of England. Another characteristic activity of the period was the working of the Society for the Reformation of Manners.

In the last couple of years of her life, Anne became very ill. She was often bedridden and attended to by doctors. These doctors used many techniques to try to cure Anne including bleeding her and applying hot irons. These crude medicinal techniques probably did more harm than good, and Anne died on July 31st, 1714.

Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe was an English writer, trader, journalist, pamphleteer, and spy. He was born in London, became a soldier, and then took to journalism. He is one of the earliest, and in some ways, the greatest, of the Grub Street hacks. He worked for both the Whigs and the Tories, by whom he was frequently employed in obscure and questionable work. His parents were Presbyterian dissenters, and he was educated in a Dissenting Academy at Stoke Newington run by Charles Morton. After leaving school and deciding not to become a dissenting minister, Defoe entered the world of business as a general merchant, dealing at different times in hosiery, general woolen goods, and wine. In 1684 he married Mary Tuffley; six of their eight children lived into adulthood. After expanding into the import-export business for goods such as tobacco and alcohol, Defoe made some unwise investments and in 1692 declared bankruptcy. He was twice briefly imprisoned for his debts, negotiating his freedom with the aid of recognisance (guarantors) and becoming an accountant and investment advisor to the government and private business owners.

His Poetry

Defoe wrote some form of poetry all his life, but his great period of poetic composition was from 1699 to 1707. Here and there, especially in the Review, he left distichs, lampoons, pasquinades, fragments of songs, and ballads; he also included verses in his novels. One can track the development of his thought in the poems, his attachment to certain ideas, such as reform or morality, his theoretical interests in the language and style of poetry, his habit of casting poems into irony, and his skill in creating large poetic “fictions” that permit him to draw together numerous “characters” in recognizable patterns. Within his lifetime a few poems had considerable popularity, in, for example, the 1703 Poems on Affairs of State. The poems are taken up chronologically, with a few exceptions; and some efforts are made to create larger groupings of the poems, such as parliament poems, moral satires, and Scottish poems. The best texts of the poems, with annotations and headnotes, are to be found in Poems on Affairs of State: Augustan Satirical Verse, 1660-1714, volumes 6 and 7 (1970, 1975).

Political Writing

Like most of the other writers of his time, Defoe turned out mass political tracts and pamphlets. Many of them appeared in his journal, The Review, which, issued in 1704, is in several ways the forerunner of The Tatler and The Spectator. His ‘The Shortest Way with the Dissenters’ (1702) brought upon him official wrath and caused him to be fined, imprisoned, and pilloried. He wrote one or two of his political tracts in rough verses which are more remarkable for their vigor than for their elegance. The best known of his class is The True-born Englishmen (1710). In all his propaganda, Defoe is vigorous and acute, and he has a fair command of irony and invective.

His Fiction

His works in fiction were all produced in the later part of his life, at almost incredible speed. First came Robinson Crusoe (1719); then Duncan Campbell, Memories of a Cavalier, and Captain Singleton, all three books in 1720; in 1722 appeared Moll Flanders, A Journal of the Plague Year, and Colonel Jacque; then Roxana (1724) and A New Voyage round the World (1725). This great body of fiction has grave defects, largely due to the immense speed with which it was produced. Before his death in April 1731, Defoe was plagued by debts and restlessly moved between several different lodgings. He is buried in Bunhill Fields, the cemetery for Nonconformists.