Today, "English literature" is frequently defined as literature produced in English. British literature, on the other hand, often refers to works by authors from the United Kingdom (which includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), as well as the Republic of Ireland. This distinction is important because each language has its own literary tradition that has been influenced by many factors including geography, history, culture, and politics.
In short, English literature is all literature written in the English language, while British literature is all literature written by authors who were born in the UK or whose primary language is English.
Many consider Shakespeare to be the greatest writer in the English language, thus his work forms a significant part of English literature. Other important early writers are Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, John Donne, George Herbert, and Philip Sidney. The Romantic era produced many great poets such as William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott. Modern novelists include Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, and James Joyce.
British literature begins with Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century and ends with Julian Barnes in the 21st century.
English literature is literature created by British people that depicts the English way of life and culture. This style of literary work is written in English, which is the people's mother tongue or native dialect. The works of the English people span three literary genres: prose, theater, and poetry.
Prose consists of novels, short stories, essays, and reports. These can be fiction (stories with characters who talk like us) or non-fiction (facts written about real events). Prose writers often use simple, direct language and tell a clear story with a beginning, middle, and end. Some examples of popular novelists are Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and George Orwell. Short story writers include Anton Chekhov, Alice Munro, and Lael Alquemter. Essay writers include Thomas Jefferson, David Hume, and John Locke.
Poetry is made up of sonnets, odes, villanelles, sestinas, and limericks. Poets use imagery and allusion to create poems that appeal to the mind and touch the heart. They usually use language that is formal but simple, direct, and often poetic itself. Some famous poets include William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Robert Frost.
Theater is used to describe works that use music, action, words, and images to tell a story.
British literature is linked with the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. Because of its usage throughout Britain's former colonies, English has been used to write by far the majority of British literature, with English literature becoming a worldwide phenomenon as a result of its use. Although Ireland has had a significant impact on British culture, including through the influence of Irish language poetry, this absence of a distinct Irish identity means that there is no comparable body of work under the label of Irish literature.
Britain has been controlled by other countries at various times in history, most notably by the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, and the Americans. Therefore, some scholars classify British literature according to these different regimes to illustrate how politics influences art. The Romans influenced Britain through their language (Latin), but did not publish any written works in Europe until well after they withdrew from Britain. The Anglo-Saxons arrived in England around 500 AD and began publishing their own writings about a century later. America took control of Britain during the Revolutionary War of 1775-83, and President George Washington ordered that American writers should contribute to a British literary fund so that we can write today what they wrote then.
According to some critics, the rise of mass media has affected British literature because people are now more likely to read accounts of life in Britain written by outsiders rather than by those who live there.