Transition from Poetry to Prose in English literature

English literature
The Peterborough Chronicle
The Peterborough Chronicle, in a hand of about 1150, is one of the major sources of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

From Old English Period of 450 till the end of the Elizabethan period in 1603 poetry was the most dominant genera of English Literature. But at the end of the Elizabethan period with the introduction of Drama by Christopher Marlow, William Shakespeare and other great dramatist, drama became one of the most influential and widely accepted genera of English literature.

Later during the Romantic period (1800-1850) Novels were introduced which became very popular among the common people in the Victorian period.

Afterwards during the Victorian period Short Story was introduced which captured the audience of all age and class. So Short Stories took its rightful place among other popular genera of English Literature.


Poetries are written in meter and rhythmic way to express deep thoughts and philosophies. In order to understand and enjoy reading poetry one not only need skill of language but also needs a philosophical and well-informed mind. A reader of poetry is should have a vast extent of knowledge in order fully understand the essence of poetry. So the readers of poetry must be well educated and knowledgeable. Since in the past the literacy rate was very low and education was mainly vocational; the readers of literature were confined among the Aristocrats. But as the time passed more and more people became literate and academic education became available to common people as a result the number of people reading literature increased which introduced Prose in English Literature.

Hamlet dramaIntroduction of Drama

During the Elizabethan period English economy started expanding due to colonization and industrialization. This lead to creation of jobs and people were earning more than before. In the past when they struggled to manage basic food, clothing and shelter but now they have some spare money for entertainment. As a result dramatists started writing and staging dramas at different places. Christopher Marlow, William Shakespeare and other great dramatists produced their masterpieces and made Drama the most popular genre of literature. Unlike poetry, drama could be enjoyed by anyone as it was performed on stage so drama gained great acceptance in the lives of English people as a source of education as well as entertainment.

Introduction of Novel

Novel coves

During the Victorian period the British Empire became the most powerful force in all sectors. They flourished in Economy, Industry, Science, Education, Art and Literature. Due to rapid industrialization the people became competitive and materialistic. Industrialization made the cost of printing thus the cost of books low so common people could afford them. Though more people were being educated and attracted towards literature, most of them were not patient enough to read and then analyze poetry. So the Novels which were being written during the Romantic period by Merry Shelly, Walton Scot, Charles Lamb and many other authors. Novels were popularized during Victorian period through the writings of Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Robert Browning, Hardly, Stevenson. These novels expressed the life, struggles, experiences, thoughts and emotions of common people so it was accepted by the mass. People could easily relate to the characters of the novels. Thus novels become one of the most popular genera in English Literature.

Slum Stories of London 1895 Antique Book by Henry Nevinson
Slum Stories of London 1895 Antique Book by Henry Nevinson

Introduction of Short Stories 

People became very competitive in their career as a result they were always busy to read the longer forms of literature like Poetry or Drama. So the introduction of Short stories by Charles Dickens was a great success. People could easily read a short story in less than an hour within their busy schedule. Even children were patient enough to read a short story. As a result short stories became very popular among people of all class, age and occupation.

Thus Prose was introduced and gained an irreplaceable position in English Literature.


Author: Qazi Syed Sayeed Nahin

I was born to serve, Not to lead, But still trying to lead. An artist, Trying to be a business man.

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