The Modern Period -1901 - 1939

8. The Modern Period -1901 - 1939

The Modern Period (1901 - 1939)

The period between 1901 and 1939 is generally accepted as the Modern Age of English Literature. Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 makes the beginning of this new literary era and the beginning of the Second World War in 1939 indicates its end. Modernism is more than a literary phenomenon; it is inclusive of many art forms that flourished in European countries including England.

The Modern Period comprise two shorter ages:

  1. The Edwardian Period (1901 - 1910)
  2. The Georgian Period (1910 - 1936)


(a)Edwardian Period (1901 - 1910)

The first decade of the twentieth century (1901 - 1910) is called Edwardian Age due to the fact that King Edward-VII reigned over England during this decade. Some historians, however, think that the literary trends of this age continued until the outbreak of World War-01 in 1914; there are some others who think that those trends continued until the end of the First World War in 1918. Opinions about the end of this age vary because the literary features of this period did not have sharp closing point in time.


Main Literary Features of the Age   

  1. The changes in economy brought new – found wealth and new demands. Literature of the time reflects indulgence in cuisine, fashion, entertainment and travels.
  2. Advances in science had profound effect on life and literature. Automobile, electricity, radio, film etc. opened new possibilities for art and artists.
  3. The writer’s attitude to the voice of the authority is critical unlike the submissive attitude of the Victorian writers.
  4. The Victorian style still continues.
  5. Women issues come to light in literary works.
  6. The poor finds a stronger voice in literature.
  7. Emphasis on moral conduct and prudery declines.
  8. Greater awareness of human right influences writings. 


(b) Georgian Period (1910 - 1936)

The period between 1910 and 1936 is called Georgian Period after the name of George-V who reigned over England during these years. It is the second phase of the Modern Age. However, literary features of the Modern Age continued till 1939, the year in which the Second World War broke out. For this reason, it is generally agreed that the Modern Age ended in 1939.


Major Authors of the Modern period

1. Edward Morgan Forster

 Birth: 1 January 1879, Marylebore, Middlesex, England

Death: 7 June 1970, Coventy Worwickshire, England

Important information:

-English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist.

-He is best known for his ironic and well plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy.

-His most optimistic work is the novel “A Room with a view.”

-The novel “A passage to India” brought him his great success.

Famous Novels:

Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905)

The Longest Journey (1907)

A Room with a View (1908)

Howards End (1910)

A Passage to India (1924)

Maurice (written in 1913 – 14, published posthumously * in 1971)

Famous Plays:

Abinger Pageant (1934)

England’s Pleasant Land (1940)

Famous Novels:

The Voyage out (1915)

Night and Day (1919)

Jacob’s Room (1922)

Mrs Dalloway (1925)

To the Lighthouse (1927)

Orlando (1928)

The Waves (1931)

The Years (1937)

Between the Acts (1941)

Famous short stories:

Kew Gardens (1919)

Monday or Tuesday (1921)

A Haunted House and Other Short Stories (1944)

The Complete Shorter Fiction (1985)

Mrs Dalloway’s Party (1973)

Carlyle’s House and Other Sketches (2003)




Roger Fry

Non- Fiction Book:

A Rom of One’s Own

On Being Ill

Three Guineas

Granite and Rainbow

Women and Writing

Modern Fiction


2. David Herbert Lawrence (D. H. Lawrence)

Birth:  September 11, 1885, Eastwod, United Kingdom

Death: March 2, 1930, Vence, French

Impotent information:

English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, liberary critic and painter.

Famous Essays:

Abinger Harvest (1936)

Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)

Critical work: Aspects of Novel (1927)

Travel Writings

Alexandria: A History and Guide

Pharos and pharillon (A Novelist’s Sketch book of Alexandria through the Ages) (1923)

The Hill of Devi (1953)


3. Adeline Virginia Woolf

Birth: 25 January, 1882 Kensington, Middlesex, England

Death: 28 March, 1941 River Duse, Near lewes, Sussex, England

Important Information:

-English writer, one of the fore most modernists of the twentieth century.

-She is suffered from severe bouts of mental illness thorough out her life.

-She committed suicide by drowning in 1941

-She was a feminist.

Famous Novels:

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Sons and Lovers

Women in Love

The Rainbow

The Escaped Cock

The Virgin and the Gypsy

The White Peacock

Famous short stories :

The Rocking – Horse Winner

The Virgin and the Gypsy

Odour of Chrysanthemums

The Captain’s Doll

The Fox

The Ladybird

The Princess

St. Mawr


4. William Butler Yeats (W.B. Yeats)

Birth: 13, June, 1865

Death: 28 January 1939

Important information:

-An Irish Poet, Dramatist and critic

-1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature as the first Irishman

-He wrote introduction of / for Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali

-Famous for his symbolism and mysticism.

Famous Poems:

When You are Old

He wishes For the Cloths of Heaven

A Crazed Girl

A Drinking song

A Coat

The Second Coming

The Fiery song

A dream Of Death

The Lake Isle Of Innisfree

Sailing to Byzantium

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

A Deep – Sworn Vow

A Dialogue of Self and Soul

Brown Penny


5. Bertrand Russell

Birth: 18 May, 1872, Manmouthshire

Death: 2 February, 1970

Important Information:

-A British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, social critic and political activist

-Full name is Bertrand Arthur William Russell

Famous Works:

The ABC of Relativity

On the philosophy of Science

Unarmed Victory

Has Man a Future

Wisdom of the West

The Amberley papers

Religion and Science

In Praise of idleness

Marriage and Morals

Mysticism and logic

Legitimacy Versus industrialist

Essays in Skepticism

Fact and Fiction

Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare

Logic and Knowledge

Nightmares of Eminent Persons and Other Stories.

Satan in the Suburbs and Other Stories

New Hopes for a Changing World

Which Way to Peace

Road to Freedom

The analysis of mind

The Conquest of Happiness

Justice in War – time


6. William Somerset Maugham

Birth: 25 January, 1874

Death: 16 December, 1965

Important information:

-A British playwright, novelist, and short story writer.

-He was the highest paid writer during the 1930s.

-His first novel ‘Liza lambeth’ sold out so rapidly.

-He served in British secret intelligence service.

-During World War-I he served with Red Cross.

Famous Novels:

Liza of Lambeth                       

The making of a Saint

The Hero

The Merry – go – round

The Explorer

Of Human Bondage

The Painted Veil

Christmas Holiday

The Razor’s Edge

The Sacred Flame

Mrs Craddock

The Bishop’s Apron

The Magician

The Moon and Sixpence

The Narrow Corner

The Hour before the Dawn

Then and Now

Cakes and Ale

Famous Short Stories:


Six Stories Written in the First Person Singular

Ah King


The Mixture as Before

Creatures of Circumstance


Ashenden: Or the British Agent

The Book Bag

Judament Seat

Princess September and the Nightingale

The Unconquered




7. Pearl S. Buck (Pearl Sydenstricker Buck)

Birth: June 26, 1892, Hillsboro, West Virginia, USA

Death: March 6, 1973, Danby, Vermont, USA

Important Information:

-Writer, teacher, novelist

-She was a Noble Prize winner American woman novelist

-She was awarded Novel Prize in 1938 and Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his book “The good Earth.”


The Exile (1936)

Fighting Angle


A Bridge for passing

Famous Novels:

East wind: West Wind

The good Earth (1931)

The mother

The Proud Heart

Other Gods

The Townsman

The angry wife

God’s men

Imperial Woman

The living Reed

The Time in Noon

The Three Daughters of madame liang


The Goddes Abides

All Under Heaven

The rainbow

Sons. Kinfolk

The House Divided

All Men are Brothers

The Patriot

The promise

Portrait of a marriage

The long love

The Hidden Flower

Satan Never sleeps

Death in the castle

The New Year

Non – fiction books:

Of men and Women

A certain star

The Refugee

The Golden Flower

The Good Deed

Once Upon a Christmas

The Enemy


The Rainbow – D. H. Lawrence

The Rainbow – Pearl S. Buck


The Patriot (Novel) – Pearl S. Buck

The Patriot (Poem) – Robert Browning


8. Sir Winston Churchill

Birth: 30 November, 1874, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England

Death: 24 January, 1965, London, England

Important information:

-He was a British statesman and awarded Novel Prize in English Literature in 1953

-Full Name is Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

-Two times Prime Minister of England

Famous Works:

The river war




The senews of peace

The story of the malakand field force

The People’s Rights

The Unrelenting struggle

The History of the II World War


9. T. S. Eliot

Birth: 26 September, 1888 Lovis, Missouri, USA

Death: 4 January, 1965 Kensington, London, UK

Important information:

-An Essayist, Publisher, Playwright

-Nobel Prize winner in 1948

-He is famous “Objective CO - relative” theory.

Famous Poetry:

Prufrock and other Observations (1917): Some of its poems are-

            The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock

            Portrait of a Lady (Poem)

            Aunt Helen

Poems (1919)): Some of its poems are-


            Sweeney Among the Nightingales

            The Hippopotamus

            Whispers of Immortality

            A Cooking Egg

The Waste Land (1922)

The Hollow Men (1925)

Ariel Poems (1927-1954): Some of its poems are-

            Journey of the Magi (1927)

            A Song for Simeon (1928)

Ash Wednesday (1930)

Coriolan (1931)

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cals (1939)

Four Quartets (1945)

Famous poems:

A Fable for Feasters

Before Morning

On a Portrait

Morning at the Window

If Time and Space as Sages say

Circe’s Palace




Famous Proses:

A Tale of a Whale

The Man Who Was King

The Point of View


Gentleman and Seamen

The Birds of Prey

Famous Non – fiction books:

Christianity and Culture

The Second – Order Mind

Tradition and the Individual Talent

Homage to John Dryden

For Lancelot Andrews

After Strange Gods

Elizabethan Essay

The Frontiers of Criticism

Famous Plays:

Sweeney Agonistes

The Rock

Murder in the Cathedral

The Family Reunion

The Cocktail Party

The Confidential Clerk

The Elder Statesman


10. Ernest Miller Hemingway

Birth: July 21,1899, Qak Park, USA

Death: July 2, 1961, Ketchum, Idaho, USA

Important information:

-An American author and journalist

-His style was economical and understated

-Won the Nobel Prize in 1954

-Most of the works are considered classics of American literature

Famous Nobels:

The Torrents of spring

The Sun Also Rises

A Farewell to Arms

To Have and Have Not

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Across the River and into the Trees

The Old Man and the Sea

Islands in the Stream

The Garden of Eden

True at First Light

Famous Non – fiction books:

Death in the Afternoon

Green Hills of Africa

Hemingway, the Wild Years

A Moveable Feast

By – Lina: Ernest Hemingway

Ernst Hemingway: Cub Reporter

The Dangerous Summer

Dateline: Toronto

Under Kilimanjaro

Other Works:

Three stories and ten poems

In Our Time

Winner Take Nothing

Men without Women

The Fifth Column and the First Forty – Nine Stories

The Essential Hemingway

The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories

The Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War

The Nick Adams Stories

88 Poems

Complete Poems

Other Authors and their work of modern age

Andrew Cecil Bradley (1851 - 1935), better known as A. C. Bradley, a famous critic on Shakespeare:

Shakespearean Tragedy (1904)

Oxford Lectures on Poetry (1909)

Joseph Conrad (1857 - 14924):

The Nigger of the Narcissus (1898)

Heart of Darkness (1902)

Typhoon (1903)

The Mirror of the Sea (1906)

Under Western Eyes (1911)

Victory (1915)

The Rescue (1920)

Lord Jim (1900)

The End of the Tether (1902)

Nostromo (1904)

The Secret Agent (1907)

Chance (1913)

The Shadow Line (1917)

The Rover (1923)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874 - 1936):

Heretics (1905)

Charles Dickens: A Critical Study (1906)

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (1908)

Orthodoxy (1908)

John Millington Synge (1871 - 1909), an Irish dramatist:

In the Shadow of the Glen (1903)

The Well of the Saints (1905)

The Tinker’s wedding (1907)

Riders to the Sea (1904)

The Playboy of the Western World (1907)

Deirdre of the Sorrows (1910)

Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939), a psychologist known for his theory of psycho – analysis:

Interpretation of dreams (trans. 1913)

Psychopathology of Everyday Life (trans. 1914)

John Edward Masefield (1878 - 1967):

The Midnight Folk (1922)

Collected Poems (1923)

The Bird of Dawning (1933)

Dead Ned (1938)

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881 - 1975), better known as P. G. Wodehouse. He is famous for his use of language. He wrote about 96 Books:

The Man with Two Left Feet (1917)

Jeeves (1923)

Blandings Castle (1935)

Lord Emsworth and Others (1937)

James Joyce (1882 - 1941), a novelist, famous for his narrative technique known as stream of consciousness:

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

Ulysses (1922)

Exiles (1918)

Finnegans  Wake(1939)

Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924), a novelist, shorts story writer and an existentialist:

The Metamorphosis (1915)

The Trial (1925)

The Castle (1926)

Amerika (1927)

Ezra Pound (1885 - 1972) one of the exponents of “Imagism”

Umbra: Collected Poems (1920)

Cantos 1- 27 (1925 - 28)

Literary Essays (1954)

Make it New (1934)

Henry Miller (1891 - 1980):

Tropic of Cancer (1934)

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940):

The Great Gatsby (1925)

Tender is the Night (1934)

The Love of the Last Tycoon (1941)

William Cuthbert Faulkner (1897- 1962):

The Sound and the Fury (1929)

As I Lay Dying (1930)

Light in August (1932)

Absalom, Absalom! (1936)

Graham Greene (1904 - 91):

It’s a Battlefield (1934)

Wystan Hugh Auden (1907 - 1973):

Poems (1930)

The Oxford Book of Light Verse (1938)

Dylan Marlais Thomas (1914 - 1953):

Twenty – five poems (1936)

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