This comprehensive text traces the development of one of the world's richest literatures from the Old English period through to the present day, discussing a wide range of key authors without losing its clarity or verve. Building on the book's established reputation and success, the third edition has been revised and updated throughout. It now provides a full final chapter on the contemporary scene, with more on genres and the impact of globalization. This accessible book remains the essential companion for students of English literature and literary history, or for anyone wishing to follow the unfolding of writing in England from its beginnings. It is ideal for those who know a few landmark texts, but little of the literary landscape that surrounds them; those who want to know what English literature consists of; and those who simply want to read its fascinating story.