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A SCHOOL HISTORY
LECTURER IN ENGLISH LITERATURE AT STREATHAM HILL
BLACKIE & SON, LIMITED, 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C.
GLASGOW AND LONDON
The present work, the outcome of several years' practical experience in teaching English literature, is intended as a text-book for the middle forms of schools, and is designed to form a stepping-stone between the bare summary and the more elaborate and extensive critical works. It aims at presenting a descriptive rather than a critical account of English writers from Chaucer to Tennyson, an account in which due proportion is observed between the greater and the lesser writers. It makes no pretension to be exhaustive, and was undertaken solely in the belief that a simple and straightforward account of English literature on the lines here adopted would fill a place yet unoccupied in the schools.
The plan of the book is to deal separately with the lives and works of the greater writers, and to group in classes those of lesser note and importance. An attempt has been made throughout to indicate the relations of the writers to their forerunners, to their own times, and to their successors.
The period traversed is divided into four parts, as follows: (1) from Chaucer to Marlowe; (2) from Shakespeare to Dryden; (3) from Pope to Cowper; (4) from Wordsworth to Tennyson. Each of these is provided with a chronological table and an index, and, while complete in itself, fits into the scheme of the whole.
Short illustrative passages from the works of most of the writers are incorporated with the text, but as it was impossible, within the space at command, adequately to represent the work of the greater writers, two companion volumes of selections are being prepared:
(1) Specimens of English poetry from Chaucer to Tennyson. (2) Specimens of English prose from Chaucer to Carlyle.
It is hoped that these will fulfil a useful office among school text-books.
I desire to express my cordial thanks to those who have afforded me assistance during the preparation of this volume. To the judgment and taste of Mr. Stephen Gwynn, who, with the utmost care and trouble, has gone over the book both in manuscript and in proof, it is greatly indebted; Mr. W. J. Craig, M.A., Trinity College, Dublin, editor of the Oxford Shakespeare, put his knowledge of our literature at my disposal; and Professor William Graham, Queen's College, Belfast, was my adviser in the treatment of the philosophers, Bacon, Hobbes, and Locke.
It gives me pleasure to record here my sincere appreciation of the kindness as well as of the value of their counsels.