Thomas Hardy
2nd June1840- 11th January 1928

Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset, England to a working class family who did not have the means to give him a full education.
Although he demonstrated academic potential, he was to finish school at 16 and become an apprentice to an architect- later on going to King's College London to pursue this profession.
In 1870 he was in Cornwall; restoring the parish church of St Juliot where he met Emma Lavinia Gifford, whom he was to marry 4 years later.
Later on in the marriage he was to become estranged to his wife, who later died in 1912.
He was extremely traumatised by her death so began writing poetry, including his works Poems 1912-13, which addressed the loss of a loved one.

Hardy was writing prose from 1867 to 1897 and was a key figure in the Naturalism movement, which was a literary movement that reflected everyday life and acted in contrast to surrealism and romanticism.
This movement was a very prominent move in the mid 19th century and was a factor that greatly affected Hardy's writing, in terms of situations that the characters were in, which would have been an accurate portrayal of life at the time.
The term 'cliffhanger' is said to have originated from Hardy's work, in particular a serial novel called A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873), where the protagonist was left hanging of a cliff- a rather literal meaning of the term.

Hardy regarded his work as broken up into 3 categories; novels of character and environment, romances and fantasies and novels of ingenuity.
Below are examples of his work...

The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
The Return of the Native (1878)
Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)


Christina Rossetti
5th December 1830-29th December 1894

Rossetti was born in London in 1830 and began writing at the age of 7 but it was only at age 18 that one of her poems were published in the athenaeum magazine.
She had a troubled childhood, as her family were suffering from financial difficulties, which resulted in Rossetti suffering a nervous breakdown at 14.
From this experience she became very interested in the Anglo-Catholic movement, which played a big role in her life.

Whilst writing poetry, women's suffrage was a big issue that many people think affected the way in which she wrote. Women's suffrage refers to the economic and political reform movement, which attempted to give women the right to vote etc. Although Rossetti said she was uncertain about this movement, many scholors identify feminist themes in her poetry.
As women were becoming more politically active during the 19th century, many people were to identify her as a feminist.
However she was a very opinionated person- opposed to war, experimentation on animals and the exploitation of under age girls in prostitution. These were also important issues at the time that have affected her poetry.

Her best known works are as follows;
Goblin Market (1862)- known as an expression of Rossetti's feminism but is really a poem about feminine sexuality and how it relates to Victorian morality.
In the Bleak Midwinter (1872)- a Christmas poem. 


Henrik Ibsen
20th March 1828- 23rd May 1906

Ibsen was born in Norway in 1828 to a well-to-do merchant family- descendents of the oldest and most infamous family in Norway.
After his birth, his family's affairs started to change, leading to the downfall of his parents. His mother turned to religion whilst his father suffered severe depression. His parents and their difficulties were both big influences on his writing, as many of his characters were said to have symbolised his parents and the themes of his plays dealing with financial difficulties.
Realism was also another theme to this plays.
He is regarded as one of the founders of modernism in the theatre. Modernism means modern thought, character or practice.
His plays were also seen as inappropriate, as he challenges the Victorian values of family life and other aspects of living. He delved deeper into the facades of people and the morals that one should have abided by in Victorian times and looked, more critically, at the issue of morality at the time- a factor that influenced his writing. This brought a lot of criticism from people who lived by these Victorian ideals in the 19th century.

His most notable works are;
Peer Gynt (1867)
A Doll's House (1879)
Ghosts (1881)
The Wild Duck (1884)
Hedda Gabler (1890)






Name: Jane Austen

Life Span: 16th December 1775 - 18th July 1817

Time Period of Writing: Regency Period - the era in the United Kingdom, between 1811 and 1820, where the era was distinctive for its architecture, literature, fashions, culture and politics.

Important work: Sense and Sensibilty, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion*, North Hanger Abbey*.*published posthumously.

Synopsis of Life
: Jane Austen was born in the village of Stevenson in Hampshire and belonged to a family of eight children. Her father was a clergyman (priest) and she grew up in a close knit family. She was educated at home by her brother and father and began writing as a teenager. Her brother had helped her to negotiate her first novel with a publisher and all of Austen's work was published anonymously. Austen remaind unmarried and she began to suffer from health problems in 1816, having Addison's Disease, she traveled to Winchester for treatment and died there on the 18th of July. Her final novel was left incomplete.

Themes and Social interaction
: Austen's novels were set amongst the English Middle/Upper class. Her work was most famous for the wit, social observation, relationships between men and women, and insight into the lives of early 18th century women.


Name: John Donne

Life Span:
1572- 31st March 1631

TIme Period of Writing: 
Metaphysical poetry and coterie poetry during theological and political unrest of Elizabethan times.

Important Work:
Genres; Satire, love poetry, sermons and elegies. 'An Anatomy of the World' 'A Nocturnal upon S. Lucy's Day.' 'Holy Sonnet' 'A Valediction Forbdiing Mourning'

Synopsis of Life:
John Donne was born to a catholic family and educated by Jesuits, his father died when he was at a young age and so was raised by his mother. At 11yrs he studied at Oxford and then Cambridge but didn't take a degree, as it required a non-Catholic oath at graduation. He then studied Law at Lincoln's Inn in London. He became Lord Keeper of the Great Seal and married Anne More, for which her enraged father removed him from his post. He took many positions of religious posts and advanced his life into preaching. The death of his wife greatly affected him causing his poetry to reflect an obession of his own death, which came on March 31st.

Themes and Social Interactions:
Much of his work consisted of the common and personal themes of love, sexuality, religion and death. His satires reflected the political and social situation of the time


Name: Ben Jonson

Life Span: 11th June 1572 - 6 August 1637

Time Period of Writing: English

Important works:
Ben Johnson if famously known for his satirical plays 'Volpone' 'The Alchemist' 'Bartholowmew Fair', his plays were comical or tragedies and poetry 'On my First Sonne' 'To Celia' 'Penhursht'.

Synopsis of Life:  Ben Johnson was born posthumously to a clergyman. He was eduacted at Westminister School and worked in his step-fathers trade, bricklaying. He joined th army and later returned to England and married Anne Lewis.  The death of his son caused him to write the poem 'On my FIrst Sonne'. He began to play write 1597 for Lord Admiral's Men and was identified as a great writer. A co-written play 'Isle of Dogs' was suppressed for causing great offence and for this he was arrested and famously imprisoned.
Johnson had been trialed for the murder of a man he killed in a dual, which he merely escaped the gallows by pleading for the benifit of clergy. Much of his life saw rivalry, violence and trouble with authorities, especially with co-writers and famously with Shakespeare. He has been honoured immensly for his work and a memorial remains in his name ar Westminister Abbey.

Themes and Social Interactions. His work was much focused on Restoration Satirical Comedies, though this popularity began to decline as the Romantic era of Shakespeare flourished.


The Brontes
Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)
Emily Bronte (1818-1848)
Anne Bronte (1820-1849)

The three sisters wrote in the Victorian times.
Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre (1846), Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853).
Emily's novel Wuthering Heights was published in 1847.
Anne's accomplishments included Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

All of the Brontes sisters contributed to a collection of poems entitled Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.

The sisters lived in such times that women were not always given a fair chance in the business world. Therefore, they assumed masculine names so that people would be interested in buying their book.

They had two sisters, both of whom died in childhood and a brother, Branwell. Their father, Patrick, was an Anglican clergyman who was appointed as the rector of the village of Haworth, on the Yorkshire moors. After the death of their mother in 1821, their Aunt Elizabeth came to look after the family.


Aphra Behn ( 10 July 1640-16 April 1689)

One of the first English women credited to earn their livelihood by authorship.

There is little known about her early years, evidence suggests that she may have had a Catholic upbringing.

During a trip to an English sugar colony she spoke with an African slave trader, whose story formed the basis of one of her most famous works Oroonoko.

She was reportedly bisexual ,and held a larger attraction to women than to men, a trait that, coupled with her writings and references of this nature, would eventually make her popular in the writing and artistic communities of the 20th century and present day.

By 1666 Behn had become attached to the Court where she was recruited as a political spy to Antwerpy by Charles II.


NAME: Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

LIFE: 13 November 1850- 3 December 1894 (aged 44)

Important works
Treasure Island

Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes

An Inland Voyage

Life synopsis:
Robert Stevenson was born into wealthy engineering family. His father, Thomas Stevenson had designed some of the first lighthouses. Stevenson was, however, different to his father as he decided to write instead of becoming an engineer as his father wanted him to be. Stevenson from birth had suffered from a lung condition, and had often travelled to warmer climates to ease it.


Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

Life: December 10, 1830- May 15, 1886

Important Works
Not all the Frankfort Berries

Yield such an Alcohol!

Life synopsis:
Born in the family home in Amherst, Massachusetts America, she was brought up into a life of prosperity. Her influence for writing came from her friend Benjamin Franklin Newton, who died when Dickinson was 18, he was often referred to as her tutor. Newton introduced her to William Wordsworth and Ralph Waldo Emerson, specifically the first books of his collected poems.
She then wrote  "Whose name my Father's Law Student taught me, has touched the secret Spring" which established and recognized her as a poet.


Name: Tennessee Williams (born Thomas Lanier Williams, changed to Tennessee because his father was born in Tennessee)

Life: March 26, 1911- Feburary 25, 1983

Important Works
The Glass Menagerie

Streetcar Named Desire

Life synopsis:
Williams born and bred in New Orleans, Louisiana was where he'd began writing his play A Streetcar Named Desire. He completed writing the play in Key West, Florida where he won Pulitzar Prize for Drama. Williams suffered from alcoholism (he this portrayed in his works), dependence on amphatmines and depression due to his parents giving his schizophenic sister drastic treatment which made her more paranoid and incapacitated her for the rest of her life. Williams died in 1988, after chocking on a eyedrop bottlecap in the hotel Elyseé in New York.


Margaret Atwood
D.O.B: November 18 1939
AGE: 69
Period: 1969 - Present
Famous work:  The Blind Assassin (2000) and  The Handmaid's Tale(1985)
  • Born in Ottawa, Ontario
  • The second of three children
  • Fathers name was Carl Edmund Atwood
  • She didnt attend school full-time until she was 11 years-old
  • She attended Leaside High School in Leaside, Toronto and graduated in 1957
  • She began writing from the age of six and realised she wanted to write professionally at the age of 16
  •  She graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in Philosophy and French
  • During the same year she began her graduates studies at Harvard's Radcliffe College,
  • Here she obtained a Masters degree in 1962
  • In 1968 she married Jim Polk, whom she divorced in 1973
  • She formed a relationship with fellow novelist Graeme Gibson soon after and moved to Alliston, Ontario, North of Toronto
  • In 1976 they has their only child, Eleanor Jess Atwood Gibson. Atwood then returned to Toronto in 1980. She divides her time between Toronto and Pelee Island, Ontario


Geoffrey Chaucer
lived from 1343-25th October 1400

Life Synopsis: Chaucer was an English Poet, author, philosopher,bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat,albeit Chaucer wrote many works , Chaucer is best known for his unfinished work: The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer is credited by many authors becuase he was the first writer to demonstrate vernacular English language rather than French or Latin. Chaucer started writing in the 14th centuary, his first major works was The Book of the Duchess. Two other early works were Anelida and Arcite and the house of fame. Chaucer wrote many of his major works in the prolific period  where he held the job of customs comptroller for  London. His Parlement of Foules, The Legend of Good Women and Troilus and Criseyde all date from this time. It is believed that Chaucer started work on the Canterbury tales in the late 14th century (1380's)


William Shakespeare
was born 26th April 1564 -23rd April 1616.

 Life Synopsis: Shakespeare was an English play writer and poet. He is widely considered as the greatest writer in the English Language. Some of Shakespeare's work is about romance such pieces include: Romeo and Juliet written in the 16th century 1592 and Twelfth Night was written in the 17th  century. Shakespeare produced most of his work and between 1589 and 1613 his early plays were mainly comedies and histories, by the end of the 16th century until 1608 Shakespeare was writing about tragedies, some of his best tragedies are King Leah, Macbeth and Hamlet, which are considered to be his finest works in the English language.



Jonathan Swift
Swift lived in the 17th century,30th November 1667-
Death:19th October 1745.
Profession: Jonathan Swift was a Satirist, Essayist and political pamphleter 

Swift started writing in the 17th century. He is more famous in the English language for his satire rather than his poems, such works include The Battle of the Books written in 1967, it was not published until 1704. Swift's first two books were A Tale of a Tub and The battle of the books, during his visits to England in the 18th century.
In 1707 Johnathan Swift wrote his most distinguished narrative poem Baucis and Philemon
few months later he produced one of the finest examples of his irony, the Argument to Prove That the Abolishing of Christianity in England May, as Things Now Stand, Be Attended with Some Inconveniences (1708). In the early months of 1708 wrote Vindication of Isaac Bickerstaff


Ursula Askham Fanthorpe  22 July 1929 – 28 April 2009
A highly regarded English poet who was first inspired by the human tragedy she saw in a neurological hospital. She was educated in Surrey and at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she received a first-class degree in English language and literature, and subsequently taught English at Cheltenham Ladies' College for sixteen years. She then abandoned teaching for jobs as a secretary, receptionist and hospital clerk in Bristol - she later remembered some of the patients whose records she had been responsible for in her poems.
Fanthorpe wrote for 29 years. Her first volume of poetry, Side Effects, was published in 1978. She was "Writer-in-Residence" at Lancaster University (1983–85), as well as Northern Arts Fellow at Durham and Newcastle Universities. In 1987 Fanthorpe went freelance, giving readings around the country and occasionally abroad.
In 1994 she became the first woman in 315 years to be nominated for the post of Professor of Poetry at Oxford.
She was with her partner R.V. "Rosie" Bailey, Fanthorpe's partner for 44 years and co-wrote a collection of poems together.
In 2003 she received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.



Alan Ayckbourn
12 April 1939 (1939-04-12) (age 70)

Born in Hampstead, Sir Alan Ayckbourn CBE (born 12 April 1939) is a popular and prolific English playwright. He has written and produced seventy-two full-length plays in Scarborough and London and was, between 1972 and 2009, the artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, where all but four of his plays have received their first performance. More than 40 have subsequently been produced in the West End, at the Royal National Theatre or by the Royal Shakespeare Company since his first hit Relatively Speaking opened at the Duke of York's Theatre in 1967.

Major successes include Absurd Person Singular (1975), The Norman Conquests trilogy (1973), Bedroom Farce (1975), Just Between Ourselves (1976), A Chorus of Disapproval (1984), Woman in Mind (1985), A Small Family Business (1987), Man Of The Moment (1988), House & Garden (1999) and Private Fears in Public Places (2004). His plays have won numerous awards, including seven London Evening Standard Awards. They have been translated into over 35 languages and are performed on stage and television throughout the world. Ten of his plays have been staged on Broadway, attracting two Tony nominations.
After leaving school at 17, Ayckbourn's career took several temporary jobs in various places before starting a temporary job at the Scarborough Library Theatre, where he was introduced to the artistic director, Stephen Joesph (1921-67). It is said that Joseph became both a mentor and father figure for Ayckbourn, and he has consistently spoken highly of him.

Ayckbourn's career was briefly interrupted when he was called for National Service. He was swiftly discharged, officially on medical grounds, but it is suggested that a doctor who noticed his reluctance to join the Armed Forces deliberately failed the medical as a favour. Although Ayckbourn continued to move where his career took him, he settled in Scarborough, eventually buying Longwestgate House, the house formerly owned by Stephen Joseph.


7th May 1940-16th February 1992
An English novelist known for her feminist, magical realism and science fiction works.
During the war Carter was evacuated to South Yorkshire where she stayed with her grandmother, as a teenager she suffered from Anorexia, a condition suffered by many people around the world.
At the age of 20 she married her partner Paul Carter, and moved with him to Bristol.
She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she began her Literature studies, followed by a successful graduation and the official start to her literary career.
SHADOW DANCE (1966)was her first novel written during a summer vacation and based on a kind of 'detective' storyline.In 1970, she separated from her husband and went to live in Japan for two years, during her stay there she worked  many different jobs, for example she even worked as a bar hostess. The experience of a different culture had a strong influence on her work and as stated, "taught her what it is to be a woman and became radicalised" .
She also explored the United States, Asia and Europe, helped by her fluency in French and German. She spent much of the late 1970s and 1980s as a writer in residence at universities, including the University of Sheffield, Brown University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of East Anglia. In 1977 Carter married Mark Pearce.

"A good writer can make you believe time stands still."

As well as being an accomplished novelist, Carter contributed for many well known newspapers, The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman. She also wrote two original radio dramas as well as two of her fictions have been adapted for the silver screen: The Company of Wolves (1984) and The Magic Toyshop (1987).
Her novel Nights at the Circus won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature.
Angela Carter died aged 51 in 1992 after developing cancer.

novels written:        * Shadow Dance (1966) 
                                      aka Honeybuzzard
                               * The Magic Toyshop (1967)
                               * Several Perceptions (1968)
                               * Heroes and Villains (1969)
                               * Love (1971)
                               * The Infernal Desire Machines of 
                                  Doctor Hoffman (1972) aka The
                                  War of Dreams
                               * The Passion of New Eve (1977)
                               * Nights at the Circus (1984)
                               * Wise Children (1991)


Edward Lear

12 May 1812(1812-05-12), Highgate, London, England

Died: 29 January 1888 (aged 75) Sanremo, Italy Edward

Occupation: Artist, Poet

Important work: Illustrations of the Family of the Tortoises, Terrapins, and Turtles, Views in Rome and its Environs, Gleanings from the Menagerie at Knowsley Hall, Illustrated Excursions in Italy, Book of Nonsense, Journal of a Landscape Painter in Greece and Albania, Views in the Seven Ionian Isles, Journal of a Landscape Painter in Corsica, Nonsense Songs and Stories.

Synopsis of life: Lear was born into a middle-class family in Highgate, the 20th child of Ann and Jeremiah Lear. He was raised by his eldest sister, also named Ann. Due to the family's failing financial fortune, at age four he and his sister had to leave the family home and set up house together. He started work as a serious illustrator and his first publication, published when he was 19, was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots in 1830. He had a lifelong ambition to illustrate Tennyson's poems. Lear also suffered from health issues. From the age of six he suffered frequent grand mal epileptic seizures, and bronchitis, asthma, and in later life, partial blindness. Lear experienced his first seizure at a fair near Highgate with his father. The event scared and embarrassed him. Lear felt lifelong guilt and shame for his epileptic condition.

Themes: he wrote a lot about travelling in his poems as for much of his life, Lear travelled extensively in France, Italy, Albania and Greece, recording the landscapes.


Alan Bennett

Born: 9 May 1934 (1934-05-09) (age 75) Armley, Leeds, Yorkshire, England

Occupation: Actor, author

Important work: On Television: My Father Knew Lloyd George (also writer), 1965, Famous Gossips, 1965, Plato—The Drinking Party, 1965, Alice in Wonderland, 1966, On the Margin series (actor & writer), 1966-67. Stage: Better Late, 1959, Beyond the Fringe (also co-writer), 1960. Winner of a Special Tony Award, 1963, The Blood of the Bambergs, 1962, A Cuckoo in the Nest, 1964, Forty Years On (also writer), 1968

Synopsis of life: Bennett was born in Armley in Leeds, West Yorkshire. The son of a co-op butcher, Bennett attended Leeds Modern School (now Lawnswood School), learned Russian at the Joint Services School for Linguists during his National Service, and gained a place at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.
However, having spent time in Cambridge during national service, and partly wishing to follow the object of his unrequited love, he decided to apply for a scholarship at Oxford University. He was accepted by Exeter College, Oxford and went on to receive a first-class degree in history. While at Oxford he performed comedy with a number of future successful actors in the Oxford Revue. He was to remain at the university for several years, where he researched and taught Medieval History, before deciding he was not cut out to be an academic.


Kate Chopin

February 8, 1850, St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Died: August 22, 1904 (aged 54) St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Occupation: Novelist, short story writer

Important works: Bayou Folk
, A Night In Acadie, The Storm, The Story of an Hour,  Désirée's Baby,  A Pair of Silk Stockings, Athenaise, At the 'Cadian Ball, Lilacs, A Respectable Woman
Novels: At Fault, The Awakening

Synopsis of life: Kate Chopin was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father, Thomas O'Flaherty, was a successful businessman. Her mother, Eliza Faris, was a member of the French community in St. Louis. Her grandmother, Athenaise Charleville, was of French Canadian descent. After her father dies she became close with her mother and grandmother. She started reading fairy tales, poetry, and religious allegories, and novels. Her favorite author’s were Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. In 1870, at the age of 20, she married Oscar Chopin and settled in New Orleans. Kate had all six of her children by 28. Kate Chopin found herself in a state of depression after the loss of both her husband and her mother, and was advised by a friend to start writing during her hard times.

Themes: Kate Chopin experienced different lifestyles throughout her time. Her childhood consisted of an upbringing by women from an Irish and French family. Kate Chopin found herself within the Cajun and Creole part of the nation after she joined her husband in Louisiana. As a result, many of her stories and sketches were about her life in Louisiana and women as individuals