Texts for British Literature

English IV: British Literature, A Survey Course

British Literature- Excellence in Literature: English 4

British Literature Study Guide

What does British Literature cover?

British Literature is a college-preparatory chronological literary survey course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.

Students will gain an understanding of the development of British literature and will practice the skills of close literary analysis through essays, approach papers, and other evaluative writing. You may learn more about how I chose the literature for Excellence in Literature in How I Chose Books for Excellence in Literature .

British Literature: English 4

This British Literature study guide is available for purchase at the Everyday Education website. In addition to the study guide, you will also need the focus texts for British Literature. These are the classic books your student will read.

There is also an honors track available for this course. You can view a list of the honors texts here.

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By the end of the course, students will:

  •  Possess a broad knowledge of the history and development of British literature.
  • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.
  • Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.
  • Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.
  • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.
  • Demonstrate competence in the MLA style of source documentation


Focus Texts for British Literature

Unit 1: Beowulf
Beowulf: Translation by Seamus Heaney



Honors: The Dream of the Rood and Caedmon’s Hymn or The Battle of Malden


Unit 2: Canterbury Tales (selected) by Geoffrey Chaucer
Canterbury Tales: Modern Library Classics edition
The Knight’s Prologue and Tale
The Squire’s Prologue and Tale
The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale (also known as the Pardon-Peddlar’s Tale)
Sir Thopas’ Prologue and Tale
The Tale of Melibee
The Monk’s Prologue and Tale
The Nun Priest’s Prologue and Tale
The Canon’s Yeoman’s Prologue and Tale (also known as the Cleric-Magician’s Servant’s Tale)
Here the Maker of This Book Takes His Leave

Honors: Piers Plowman by William Langland

Unit 3: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

and The Faerie Queene (Book 1) by Edmund Spenser and “Letters to Raleigh”

Honors: Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory

Unit 4: King Lear by William Shakespeare
King Lear by William Shakespeare, Modern Library edition



Honors: Hamlet by William Shakespeare


Unit 5: Paradise Lost by John Milton
Paradise Lost by John Milton



Honors: Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (if not read in English I) or
The Temple by George Herbert (Poetry Collection)

Unit 6: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Honors: Persuasion or other novel by Jane Austen
Middlemarch by George Eliot

Unit 7: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Honors: Oliver Twist or David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Unit 8: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Honors: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë or Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (if you did not read it in English I) or Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Unit 9: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
This edition of To the Lighthouse features an introduction by Eudora Welty, whose short story “A Worn Path” was featured in Level 1 of Excellence in Literature.

Honors: Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis

Excellence in Literature: Assignment Checklist 
Excellence in Literature: Student Evaluation Summary 
Formats and Models
Approach Paper Format
Historical Approach Paper Format 
Author Profile Format 
Literature Summary Format 
Literary Analysis Model 
Sample Poetry Analysis 
What an MLA Formatted Essay Looks Like
Tips for Evaluating Writing 
Excellence in Literature Evaluation Rubric 
Excellence in Literature: Student Evaluation Summary 

Note: Books shown in the table of contents above are focus texts only. Context and honors reading are assigned within each unit. You may see the recommended editions of the honors texts here.

Optional Resources

Your student will need a good writer’s handbook in order to develop the habit of looking up things when a question arrises. Every professional writer and editor I have encountered has several handbooks, as each has a different focus and use; but for your student, one or two should be adequate. Here are two options:

Handbook for Writers: Excellence in Literature, Johnston and Campbell - A writer's handbook for high school and college students.Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers

This writer’s handbook has two parts. The first section provides detailed instructions on how to construct essays and arguments, and the second second is a manual of grammar, style, and usage. This is a book that will be useful from high school into college.


Writers Inc. - A handbook for high school students.
Writer’s Inc. is a time-tested high school handbook that is chock-full of helpful tips and advice on writing, style and usage, and more. This is especially useful as a first handbook for writing students.


Catalog – Other levels of EIL

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