William Shakespeare, Britain's greatest playwright, was born at Stratford-on-Avon in England. Stratford is now the second most-visited town in Britain. People come to see his plays, performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the theatre which is named after him, and to see his tomb.
In the early 1590s, Shakespeare went to London. He set up his own theatre, the Globe, where his company performed his plays. An exact reconstruction of the Globe is being built and visitors can now experience what it was like to go to the theatre 400 years ago.
Dickens was probably the most popular novelist in the English language in the nineteenth century. When he was only 12, Charles had to leave school and work in a factory. His novels often tell the stories of young children who work hard to escape a life of poverty. Many of the stories were set in London and his novels show how the city changed during his lifetime. Most of his books first appeared as serials in magazines. Each week or month, Dickens had to write another chapter of his story. He had to write fast and sometimes changed the stories if the public did not like his last chapter or particularly liked certain characters.
Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte
The Bronte sisters were exceptional writers of poetry as well as fiction. Between 1847 and 1848, all three sisters published novels. They all wrote under different names because "good" women were not allowed to write: Emily Bronte became Ellis Bell; Charlotte Bronte, Currer Bell; Anne Bronte, Acton Bell.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is one of the most famous of their novels. The story tells of the destructive and passionate love between two children, Catherine and Heathcliff, who grow up on a farm called Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff leaves the farm when Catherine, for reasons of class, refuses to marry him.
All three sisters died very young. The house where they lived is now a museum and you can walk from it over the Yorkshire moors to the farm where Wuthering Heights is set.
Thomas Hardy was both a poet and a novelist. Hardy wrote about the English countryside, in particular Dorset in south-west England, where he came from. Hardy wrote romantic love stories and showed how farming life was rapidly changing with the introduction of machines. His stories take place in Wessex, an ancient name for a region of south-west England.
His last two novels, Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, were both very controversial, particularly in their treatment of sexual passion. Annoyed at public response, Hardy spent the rest of his life writing poetry.
Jane Austen spent her short life in Hampshire, near the south coast of England. Her novels describe the everyday life of people in the upper-middle class circles she knew best. Money and social position were very important and the only role of a woman of that class was to find a rich husband.
Her characters spend most of the time in the countryside, doing little or no work. Occasionally they go to London; sometimes they go to Bath, a fashionable town. Her novels may sound boring, but they are a record of what life was like for the upper-middle class in the early nineteenth century and are among the finest and most entertaining novels written at the time.
2. LITERATURE: THE CLASSICS
William Shakespeare, Britain's____________________, was ____ at Stratford-on-Avon in England. Stratford is now _______________________________________. People come to _____________, performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company _______________which is named after him, and to see ________.
In the early 1590s, Shakespeare ______________. He ______________________, the Globe, where _______________________________. An exact ___________________________ is being built and ___________________________ what it was like to go to the theatre 400 years ago.
Dickens _____________the most popular _________in the English language in the __________ century. When he was only ___,Charles had to ____________ and work in a factory. His novels often _________________of young children who work ____ to escape _______of poverty. Many _______________were set in London and his novels ____ how the city _______ during ____________________. Most of his books first ___________________ in magazines. Each _____or month, Dickens had to write _______________ of his story. He had to write ____ and _________ changed the stories if the public ____________ his last chapter or ______________ liked _______ characters.