British Literature:The Neoclassical Period 1660-1798

  1. The Restoration – the reign of Charles II 1630-1660 (after his restoration to the throne in 1630 following the English Civil War and Cromwell).
  2. The Age of Enlightenment – the 18th century.

A.Historical Context

  • A dramatic rise of literate people
  • Factories begin to spring up as industrial revolution begins
  • Impoverished masses begin to grow as farming life declines and factories are built
  • Coffee Houses – where educated men spent their evenings with literary and political groups


  • Satire
  • Poetry
  • Essays
  • Letters, diaries, biographies
  • Novels


  • Emphasis on reason and logic
  • Stresses harmony, stability, wisdom
  • Emphasis on the individual
  • Belief that humanity is basically evil
  • Approach to life ”the world as it should be”


  • Daniel Defoe
  • Jonathan Swift
  • Alexander Pope
  • John Milton 

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