The British Literary Heritage is virtually unrivaled in the Western world, and this large, lavishly illustrated volume explores the richness, diversity, and continuity of that tradition, from its first stirrings in Anglo-Saxon poetry to the present day. At the heart of the chronicle is the towering figure of Shakespeare, who receives a full chapter to himself. Other figures treated in depth are Chaucer, Milton, Donne, Wordsworth, Dickens, Eliot, and Auden. An examination of such modern authors as Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, and Edward Bond brings the story up to date. The book is, throughout, far more than a mere outline of periods and schools of writing. Capturing the pleasure and exhilaration of literature, it moves beyond facts and events to present the broad sweep of ideas and the main concerns of British writers across some 1,200 years. The nine contributors are all acknowledged experts in the particular areas, and they bring to their sections not just deep knowledge but genuine zest and affection for their subjects. The illustrations--32 in color and more than 200 in black and white--reflect the content and concerns of the chapters. They range from manuscript and book illustrations to works of art and architecture, portraits, social scenes, landscapes, and caricatures. Rather than simply decorating the text, they illuminate the ideas, preoccupations, and outlooks of the various periods treated. Also included in this handsome volume are suggestions for further reading, maps, and a table of important dates.