English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England. In other words, English literature is as diverse as the varieties and dialects of English spoken around the world.
The first works in English, written in Old English, appeared in the early Middle Ages, the oldest surviving text being the Hymn of Cædmon.
In the 12th century, a new form of English now known as Middle English evolved. This is the earliest form of English literature which is comprehensible to modern readers and listeners, albeit not easily.
The most significant Middle English author was Geoffrey Chaucer who was active in the late 14th century. Often regarded as "the Father of English Literature," Chaucer is widely credited as the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language, rather than French or Latin.
|Geoffry Chaucer, Father of English Literature|
Despite the variety of authors of English literature, the works of William Shakespeare remain paramount throughout the English-speaking world.