The HyperTexts

Modernism Timeline and Chronology

This is brief history of Modernism in timeline form. We are of the opinion that Modernism was a continuation of Romanticism. Thus we may be able to draw a "line of succession" from Edmund Spenser to John Milton to William Blake to Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats, then on to early Modernists like William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf.

Related pages: Free Verse Timeline

A Brief History of English Poetry, Leading up to Modernism (the main periods are underlined; the major poets' names are bolded)

5600 BC — Rising seas separate England from the European mainland; consequently the natives' language begins to evolve separately from those of its continental peers.
3000 BC — The first smaller henges are dug out at Stonehenge but the native Britons remain prehistoric, lacking any writing.
55 BC — Julius Caesar invades England; the Anglo-Roman Period (55 BC-410 AD) makes Latin the language of rulers, clergy and scholars. Native poetry remains oral.
122 — The Roman Emperor Hadrian visits England; construction of Hadrian's Wall begins. Elites study Latin, the language of church, state and commerce.
410 — Rome is sacked by Visigoths; the Roman legions depart England. Germanic tribes soon invade. Thus begins the Anglo-Saxon or Old English Period (410-1066).
658 — Caedmon's Hymn, the oldest authenticated English poem, marks the beginning of English poetry (although it was Anglo-Saxon and thus heavily Germanic).
680 — Possible date for the composition of the epic poem Beowulf, a masterpiece of Old English (Anglo-Saxon) poetry.
871 — King Alfred the Great unites the Anglo-Saxons, defeats the Danes and becomes the first king of a united England. He was also a scholar, writer and translator.
950 — The Exeter Book has poems likely written by women, Wulf and Eadwacer and The Wife's Lament, the first rhymed poem and Anglo-Saxon riddles/kennings.
1066 — William the Conqueror wins the Battle of Hastings; this Norman Conquest begins the Anglo-Norman or Middle English Period (1066-1340). French and Latin rule.
1260 — Early rhyming poems include Sumer is icumen in, Fowles in the Frith, Ich am of Irlaunde, Now Goeth Sun Under Wood, Pity Mary, and Alison.
1340 — Birth of Geoffrey Chaucer, the first major vernacular English poet; thus begins the Late Middle English Period (1340-1503); also John Skelton and William Dunbar.
1455 — The Guttenberg Bible is the first book printed with moveable type. Printed books would lead to an explosion of knowledge and education around the world.
1503 — Birth of Thomas Wyatt; he and Henry Howard introduce the sonnet, iambic pentameter and blank verse to England, beginning the English Renaissance (1503-1558).
1517 — Martin Luther, a professor of moral theology at Wittenberg, publishes his 95 theses against the Roman Catholic Church, kick-starting the Protestant Reformation.
1532 — The English Reformation Period (1532-1649) was more religious/political than poetic.
1534 — Around this time, Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard introduce the English sonnet, modeled after Italy's Petrarchan sonnet.
1552 — Births of Sir Walter Ralegh and Edmund Spenser; the latter created the modern English style of poetry: "fluid," "limpid," "translucent" and "graceful."
1558 — The Elizabethan Period (1558-1603) was fertile with major works by Spenser, Ralegh, Philip Sidney, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare.
1572 — Birth of John Donne, the major poet of the Metaphysical Period (1572-1695); others were George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, Richard Crashaw and Henry Vaughn.
1579 — Edmund Spenser's Shepheardes Calender has been called "the first work of the English literary Renaissance."
1591 — Birth of Robert Herrick, first poet of the Cavalier Period (1591-1674); others included Richard Lovelace, Sir John Suckling and Thomas Carew.
1603 — The Jacobean/Caroline/Interregnum/Restoration Period (1603-1690) sees the King James Bible, Shakespeare's later plays, and major works by John Milton.
1608 — John Milton is born; John Donne writes his Holy Sonnets; Shakespeare completes his sonnets and his plays are being performed: Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, etc.
1611 — The King James Bible is published in still-readable English. It contains some of the earliest English free verse, such as the poetic Song of Solomon.
1649 — King Charles I is found guilty of treason then executed. Oliver Cromwell becomes England's Lord Protector and Regent in 1653. Milton lauds Cromwell.
1690 — The Augustan Period (1690-1756) is marked by the sophisticated work of Alexander Pope, John Dryden and Samuel Johnson. (But it seems like a dry spell today.)
1750 — Edward Young's melancholic Night-Thoughts, illustrated by William Blake in 1797, would become a major influence on Romantics such as Blake and Goethe.
1742 — Thomas Gray begins writing his masterpiece, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. It may have been the first major work of English Romanticism.
1752 — Birth of Thomas Chatterton, called the "marvellous boy" by William Wordsworth. Although he died at age 17, Chatterton has been called the first Romantic poet.
1757 — Birth of William Blake, a major poet of the English Romantic Period (1757-1837); others were Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats.
1759 — Birth of the Romantic poet Robert Burns, generally considered to be the greatest Scottish poet. Like Blake, he would be a stern critic of kings, state and church.
1776 — Americans declare independence with words written in ringing iambic pentameter by Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin: "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..."
1789 — The French Revolution influences the great Romantics: Blake, Burns, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley and Keats.
1798 — Lyrical Ballads, written by Wordsworth with a few poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, becomes the foundational text of the English Romantic Movement.
1819 — Keats publishes Ode to a Grecian Urn and Ode to a Nightingale. Byron publishes Don Juan. Birth of the American Romantic poet Walt Whitman.
1830 — Alfred Tennyson publishes his Poems, Chiefly Lyrical. Emily Dickinson, generally considered to be the greatest female American poet, is born.
1836 — Ralph Waldo Emerson is a founder of the Transcendental Club, which includes Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott.
1837 — The Victorian Period (1837-1901) is led by Tennyson, Matthew Arnold, Gerard Manley Hopkins, John Clare, Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
1855 — Walt Whitman publishes Leaves of Grass, a landmark work of Early Modernism (1855-1901) that rocks the Victorians to their whalebone corsets!
1867 — Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach has been called a masterpiece of Early Modernism.
1871 — Birth of Stephen Crane. He would write poems and prose in a minimalist or "spare" style that would influence modernist writers like Ernest Hemingway and Carl Sandburg.
1881 — Oscar Wilde's poems are published; he and Whitman were among the first gay poets to "come out of the closet" publicly. Henry James's novel A Portrait of a Lady.
1885 — Ezra Pound, an American poet and critic, is born. William Butler Yeats's first poems are published in the Dublin University Review.
1888 — T. S. Eliot, a major Modernist poet and critic, is born. Columbia Records, the first major American record label, is founded. The first classical music recording by Handel.
1889 — William Butler Yeats publishes The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems. Yeats meets and falls in love with the lovely Irish nationalist and revolutionary Maude Gonne.
1890 — Emily Dickinson's poems are published posthumously. William James publishes Principles of Psychology, a book that would influence the Modernists.
1892 — Walt Whitman prepares the final edition of Leaves of Grass, known as the "Deathbed Edition."
1893 — The birth of the great English war poet Wilfred Owen (1893-1918). William Butler Yeats publishes The Rose and The Celtic Twilight.
1895 — Scott Joplin publishes ragtime. Buddy Bolden creates the countermelody of jazz. The world will soon be awash in poems set to music: pop, rock, country, blues, etc.
1896 — Thomas Hardy's last novel, Jude the Obscure, is considered "shocking" and he turns to poetry for the last 30 years of his life. H. G. Wells writes The Island of Dr. Moreau.
1897 — H. G. Wells writes the early science fiction novel The Invisible Man.
1898 — Thomas Hardy's Wessex Poems. Oscar Wilde's long poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol. H. G. Wells writes The War of the Worlds.
1899 — Ernest Dowson's Decorations: in Verse and Prose. Dowson would be a major influence on T. S. Eliot, and thus on modernism.  Joseph Conrad writes Heart of Darkness.
1900 — Queen Victoria dies, marking the end of the Victorian Era. Sigmund Freud publishes Interpretation of Dreams, which became an important influence on the Modernists.
1901 — The Edwardian/Georgian Period (1901-1936) is brief but fecund with Thomas Hardy, A. E. Housman, Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke and Edward Thomas.

Our top ten poets of Early Modernism: James Joyce, William Carlos Williams, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Vachel Lindsay, Carl Sandburg, Ernest Dowson, Ezra Pound, Thomas Hardy, A. E. Housman, William Butler Yeats

Early Modernism and the Edwardian Period (1901-1910)

1901 — Approximate beginning time for American country music and jazz. Sears, Roebuck and Co. is selling record players to the public, setting the stage for the coming explosion of record sales. Charles Booth's performance of J. Bodewalt Lange's "Creole Blues" is recorded for the new Victor label. This is the first acoustic recording of ragtime to be made commercially available. Laura Riding is born. King Edward VII assumes the British throne, beginning the Edwardian Period.

1902 — Thomas Hardy publishes Poems of the Past and Present. Alfred Noyes publishes The Loom of Years. Hilda Doolittle, aka H.D., meets and befriends Ezra Pound. Ogden Nash is born, synchronistically, in the same year as the earliest-published American limerick, which appeared in 1902 in the Princeton Tiger: This is the popular limerick that starts "There once was a man from Nantucket." Victor Records issues the first known recording of black music, "Camp Meeting Shouts." Pianist Jelly Roll Morton claims to have invented jazz this year. Buddy Bolden is another candidate, as he creates a fusion of blues and ragtime. Henry James publishes The Wings of the Dove.

1903 — Wilbur and Orville Wright fly the first airplane at Kitty Hawk. William Butler Yeats publishes In the Seven Woods. Countee Cullen, an American poet, is born. W. C. Handy sees a bluesman playing a guitar with a knife (the first "pick"?). A plaque bearing the sonnet "The New Colossus" by Manhattan socialite Emma Lazarus is mounted inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, greeting newcomers with the lines, "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." George Bernard Shaw's play Man and Superman. Henry James publishes The Ambassadors. Samuel Butler's posthumous novel The Way of All Flesh "attacked all the major doctrines of his day."

1904 — Thomas Hardy's The Dynasts. Christina Rossetti's Poetical Works. Algernon Charles Swinburne's A Channel Passage and Other Poems. Carl Sandburg's In Restless Ecstasy. Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, is born. Henry James publishes The Golden Bowl.

1905 — Albert Einstein presents his Special Theory of Relativity. Time and space were no longer infinite or absolute; everything was suddenly relative. Vachel Lindsay peddles his poems on the street, makes 13 cents, and is ecstatic. Ernest Dowson's The Poems of Ernest Dowson. Oscar Wilde's De Profundis (posthumous). Paul Laurence Dunbar's Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow. George Bernard Shaw's play Major Barbara.

1906 — Alfred Noyes's "The Highwayman." Thomas Hardy's The Dynasts II.

1907 — James Joyce's Chamber Music. Sara Teasdale's Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems. Rudyard Kipling, an English poet and novelist, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. W. H. Auden, an English poet, is born. Buddy Bolden is committed to a mental institution without having ever recorded any music. The first wireless broadcast of classical music is produced in New York. Rudyard Kipling becomes the first English language writer to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, and the youngest at age 42. Ezra Pound is forced to leave a teaching position at Wabash College after offering a stranded chorus girl tea and his bed.

1908 — Ezra Pound leaves America for London. Pound's A Lume Spento, a collection of poems he later called "stale cream puffs." Pound, a transplanted American, is considered by many to be the father of English modernism. William Butler Yeats publishes The Collected Works in Verse and Prose. Yeats and Maude Gonne finally consummate their relationship in Paris, but the relationship does not last. Thomas Hardy publishes The Dynasts III. Theodore Roethke, an American poet, is born. Alcohol is banned in North Carolina and Georgia, presaging Prohibition.

1909 — Two poems published by T. E Hulme are considered to be the beginning of the early modernist movement called Imagism. Hulme forms the Secession Club with F. S. Flint and other poets. Ezra Pound soon joins the club. The poets discuss free verse and employing the methods of Oriental verse forms such as haiku and tanka. Pound publishes Personae and Exultations. Pound meets William Butler Yeats; Pound becomes Yeats's secretary. William Carlos Williams publishes Poems. Joseph Conrad completes The Secret Sharer. Robert Peary reaches the North Pole.

1910 — Rudyard Kipling writes his most famous poem, "If." Ford Madox Ford publishes Poems from London. Charles Olson, an American poet, is born. The NAACP is founded. Mark Twain dies. E. M. Forster's novel Howard's End. Marie Curie isolates radium. King George V assumes the British throne, beginning the Georgian Period. Virginia Woolf writes that "in or about December 1910, human character changed." The change became known as "modernism" (one aspect of modernism is that the "complexity of modern urban life must be reflected in literary form.")

Our top ten Modernist poets: E. E. Cummings, Edna St. Vincent Millay, D. H. Lawrence, Louise Bogan, Dylan Thomas, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Hart Crane, Wilfred Owen, Wallace Stevens (#1)

The Georgian Period (1910-1936), World War I and the Modernists

1911 — Georgian poets include Rupert Brooke, W. H. Davies, Robert Graves, D. H. Lawrence, Walter de la Mare, John Masefield, Harold Monro, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Thomas, Vita Sackville-West. Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky, who writes under the pen name "Guillaume Apollinaire," is suspected in the theft of the Mona Lisa from The Louvre museum in Paris and is imprisoned for six days. Ezra Pound's Canzoni is published in London. Irving Berlin completes his first hit, "Alexander's Ragtime Band." The birth of the American playwright Tennessee Williams.

1912 — Harriet Munroe founds the literary journal Poetry, influenced by Ezra Pound as a foreign editor. Pound, H.D. and Richard Aldington work out the principles of Imagist poetry. The first Imagist poems and essays appear in Poetry. Ironically "modernism" involved retreats to the past: Pound looked back to Confucius; T. S. Eliot to Dante; James Joyce to Homer; Lawrence to primitive tribes. The Titanic sinks, inspiring Thomas Hardy's "The Convergence of the Twain." Rudyard Kipling publishes his Collected Poems. Walter de la Mare publishes The Listeners and Other Poems. Robinson Jeffers publishes Flagons and Apples. Edna St. Vincent Millay publishes Renascence. Elinor Wylie publishes Incidental Numbers. Northrop Frye is born. The "father of the blues," pianist W. C. Handy, publishes songs titled "Memphis Blues" and helps inaugurate a new style based on rural black folk music.

1913 — D. H. Lawrence's Love Poems. Ezra Pound's manifesto and anthology Des Imagistes. Notable imagist poets include Pound, Hulme, F. S. Flint, H. D., Aldington and Amy Lowell.  Harold Monro founds the Poetry Bookshop in London, where Ezra Pound and Robert Frost will eventually meet. Wallace Stevens and his wife, Elsie, rent a New York City apartment from sculptor Adolph Weinman, who makes a bust of Elsie; her image later is used on the artist's 1916-1945 Mercury dime design. Rabindranath Tagore is awarded the Nobel prize in literature. D. H. Lawrence publishes Love Poems and Others. The word "jazz" first appears in print. Igor Stravinsky's avant-garde musical composition and ballet The Rite of Spring nearly causes a riot! Robert Bridges is appointed British Poet Laureate.

1914 — Great Britain enters World War I by declaring war on Germany. Famous war poets would include Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg, Edmund Blunden and Wilfred Owen. The Panama Canal opens to commercial traffic. Ezra Pound marries English artist Dorothy Shakespear at St Mary Abbots church, Kensington, London. T. S. Eliot meets Pound for the first time, in London. Pound is particularly taken with Eliot's poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and writes that Eliot "actually trained and modernized himself on his own." Pound and Eliot would become leading voices of English modernism. Edward Thomas makes the English railway journey which inspires his poem "Adlestrop" en route to meet Robert Frost. BLAST, a short-lived literary magazine of the Vorticist movement, is founded with the publication of the first of its total of two editions, edited by Wyndham Lewis in collaboration with Pound. J. R. R. Tolkien writes a poem about Eδrendil, the first appearance of his mythopoeic Middle-earth legendarium that will, in time, spawn the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Robert Frost publishes North of Boston. Wallace Stevens has his first major publication, "Phases" in Poetry at age 35. Carl Sandburg publishes "Chicago" in Poetry. William Butler Yeats publishes Responsibilities. James Joyce publishes Dubliners, a collection of short stories. Dylan Thomas, Randall Jarrell and John Berryman are born. W.C. Handy writes St. Louis Blues.

1915 — The last issue of Blast includes the first poems of T. S. Eliot to be published in England. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is published with the help of Ezra Pound by Poetry. Pound completes the first section of his Cantos. Virginia Woolf publishes her first novel, The Voyage Out. Herbert Read publishes Songs of Chaos. John McCrea publishes "In Flanders Fields." Edgar Lee Masters publishes Spoon River Anthology. Billie Holliday, an African-American singer, is born. Franz Kafka publishes his surrealist short novel Metamorphosis. Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity.

1916 — Thomas Hardy's Selected Poems. D. H. Lawrence's Amores. Edward Thomas's first published poetry collection, Six Poems, under the pseudonym Edward Eastway. William Butler Yeats's "Easter, 1916." Yeats also writes one of his loveliest poems, "The Wild Swans at Coole" at the Coole Park estate of his patron Lady Gregory. Robert Frost's Mountain Interval, includes his famous poem "The Road Not Taken," written about Edward Thomas. Carl Sandburg publishes Chicago Poems, including his best-known poem, "Chicago." James Joyce publishes his autobiographical modernist novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. W. H. Davies publishes Selected Poems. John Ciardi, an American poet, is born. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia will have worldwide repercussions. George Bernard Shaw's popular play Pygmalion.

1917 — The U.S. enters World War I and begins to dominate international affairs. More than 200,000 black men will serve in the U.S. armed forces in segregated units; they can fight and die for their country, but are not equal citizens. When William Butler Yeats proposes to Maude Gonne and is rejected yet again, he then proposes to her daughter Iseult Gonne, and is also rejected!

1918 — Wilfred Owen writes his graphic anti-war poem, "Dulce et Decorum Est." He dies just one week before the armistice that ends WWI. Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins tours with blues singer Mamie Smith and begins to develop a unique style of playing. The black singer, actor, and civil rights activist Paul Robeson graduates first in his class from Rutgers University. Robert Bridges publishes the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins posthumously.

1919 — George Gershwin's first and biggest hit is "Swanee." It is introduced by the singer Al Jolson, famous for performing in blackface. Physicist Ernest Rutherford, known as the father of nuclear physics, discovers a way to split atoms. The Original Dixieland Jass Band performs in London.

1920 — Edna St. Vincent Millay's "First Fig." Jazz is made popular by musicians like Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton. The first blues record is recorded on Valentine's Day (February 14, 1920) when Mamie Smith, a black vaudeville performer, cuts "Crazy Blues." The records sells "phenomenally" well and record companies are soon "beating the bushes for any black woman who can sing." Women's suffrage is adopted in the U.S.

1921 — Adolf Hitler is elected leader of the Nazi Party in Germany.

1922 — T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" (perhaps the major poem of English modernism). James Joyce publishes Ulysses (perhaps the major novel of English modernism). Edward Arlington Robinson wins the first Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The jazz pianist William "Count" Basie makes his first recordings. The first commercial recordings of what was considered country music were "Arkansas Traveler" and "Turkey in the Straw" by fiddlers Henry Gilliland & A.C. (Eck) Robertson on June 30, 1922 at the office of Victor Records in New York. They were Confederate veterans playing "hillbilly music." William Butler Yeats becomes a senator of the Irish Free State.

1923 — Wallace Stevens's Harmonium. William Carlos Williams's "The Red Wheelbarrow." William Butler Yeats is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Edna St. Vincent Millay wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, the defining performers of classic blues, make their recording debuts. Ralph Peer of Okeh records the hillbilly music of Fiddlin' John Carson in an empty loft in Atlanta. Hiram King "Hank" Williams is born in Olive, Alabama. He will become country music's greatest icon and most imitated performer.

1924 — The birth of the American writer and social critic James Baldwin (1924-1987). Robert Frost wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Robinson Jeffers' poem "Shine, Perishing Republic." E. M. Forster writes his best-known novel, A Passage to India.

1925 — Amy Lowell wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. E. E. Cummings receives the Dial Award. In Nashville the Grand Ole Opry begins radio broadcasts, bringing country and western music to the masses. Blind Lemon Jefferson is first recorded; he will become the dominant blues figure of the late 1920s and the first star of folk blues. Virginia Woolf publishes her novel Mrs. Dalloway. Franz Kafka publishes The Trial. William Butler Yeats publishes A Vision.

1926 — The birth of the American poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997), the author of "Howl" and perhaps the greatest and most influential of the Beat poets. Langston Hughes' The Weary Blues.

1927 — Show Boat becomes the first hugely popular American musical comedy. Jimmie Rogers, the "father of country music," appears on a radio station for the first time, in Ashville, North Carolina. Rogers then records "Blue Yodel," better known as "T for Texas" and is catapulted to stardom. The Carter family, another country music group, also makes its first recordings. They would employ a black man to find black tunes for them to use. It would be the convergence of black music and country music that would eventually "fuse" into rock and roll in the hands of artists like Elvis Presley. Virginia Woolf publishes her novel To the Lighthouse. Wyndham Lewis's play The Wild Body.

1928 — Edward Arlington Robinson wins his third Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Virginia Woolf publishes her gender-bending novel Orlando. D. H. Lawrence publishes Lady Chatterly's Lover in Italy; the racy book is called obscene. Thomas Hardy dies and is buried at the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey. Or rather, his ashes are buried there and his heart is buried at Stinsford with his wife Emma. (Shades of David Livingston!)

1929 — The Great Depression cripples the American economy, hurting the sales of books, phonographs and records. Virginia Woolf publishes her book-length essay A Room of One's Own. William Faulkner publishes The Sound and the Fury. Ernest Hemingway publishes A Farewell to Arms.

1930 — Hart Crane's The Bridge. Conrad Aiken wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas writes his first poem, around age 15. Many of his most famous poems were written as a teenager. Years later, Bob Dylan would take his assumed last name from Thomas's first. T. S. Eliot publishes Ash Wednesday.

1931 — E. E. Cummings writes the great modernist anti-war poem "i sing of Olaf glad and big."

1933 — Archibald MacLeish wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

1934 — Adolf Hitler becomes dictator of Germany.

1936 — Debut of the electric guitar; the dawn of the rock 'n' roll age. Legendary Delta bluesman Robert Johnson begins his short recording career. King George V dies, ending the Georgian Period.

World War II, the Cold War, Modernism and Postmodernism (1937-Present)

1939 — Great Britain enters World War II. During the war, pocket-sized collections of poems by writers including Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are distributed to soldiers for comfort and inspiration. (Wilfred Owen was presumably not included.) William Butler Yeats dies at age 73. W. H. Auden writes his famous elegy "In Memory of W. B. Yeats." Eddie Durham records the first music featuring the electric guitar; it will influence the development of the blues, which will in turn influence rock'n'roll.

1941 — T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets." The debut of FM radio stations. Alan Lomax records McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, at Stovall's Farm in Mississippi.

1942 — Wallace Stevens's Of Modern Poetry. The first award of a gold record for a million-selling hit went to Glenn Miller for "Chatanooga Choo-Choo."

1944 — Tennessee Williams has a hit play with The Glass Menagerie.

1945 — The end of World War II. Allen Ginsberg joins the Merchant Marine in order to pay his tuition at pricey Columbia University. At Columbia, Ginsberg meets other writers who will eventually become known as the Beats, including Lucien Carr, Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

1948 — T. S. Eliot wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. W. H. Auden wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Leonie Adams is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Columbia Records introduces the LP ("long playing") vinyl record, or "album." Allen Ginsberg has his "auditory vision" of William Blake; Ginsberg would become the foremost Beat poet.

1949 — Hank Williams Sr. makes his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Jerry Wexler, an editor at Billboard magazine, coins the term "rhythm and blues" as a substitute for the older term "race records."

1950 — Nat King Cole hits the charts with "Mona Lisa." Little Richard is an electric star.

1951 — Carl Sandburg wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed uses the term "rock 'n' roll" to promote rhythm and blues to white audiences. Muddy Waters is the king of the blues singers.

1952 — William Carlos Williams is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Sam Phillips founds Sun Records.

1954 — Bill Haley and the Comets have the first rock smash with "Rock Around the Clock." Elvis Presley records his first commercial record, a cover of the Arthur Crudup song "That's All Right, Mama," at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.

1955 — Black artists. sometimes employing racy lyrics, begin to hit the pop charts: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, the Platters. Chuck Berry's "Maybellene." Buddy Holley watches Elvis perform in Lubbock, Texas, and begins to perform in a similar rockabilly style. Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" is a precursor of rap and modern performance poetry. Tennessee Williams has a hit play with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which becomes a major motion picture starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor.

1957 — San Francisco book publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti is arrested for publishing Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl." The landmark obscenity trial (and not-guilty verdict) essentially leads to the end of U.S. government censorship.  Elvis is "All Shook Up" and doing the "Jailhouse Rock." Rockabilly star Buddy Holly and the Crickets hit the charts with "That'll Be the Day."

1958 — Robert Penn Warren wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Robert Frost is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Rock hits a high gear with up-tempo classics like "Tequila," "Get a Job" and "At the Hop." Buddy Holly appears on the Ed Sullivan show. Boris Pasternak, a Russian poet, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Ezra Pound's indictment for treason is dismissed. The Bollingen Prize is awarded to e. e. cummings. Billboard magazine introduces its Hot 100 chart. Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool" is the first No. 1 record.

1959 — Berry Gordy Jr. founds the Motown record label; its future stars will include the Miracles, Supremes, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Tennessee Williams has a hit play with Sweet Bird of Youth.

1962 — Bob Zimmerman changes his name to Bob Dylan, taking his new last name from the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's first. James Brown records "Live At The Apollo." Brown’s drummer Clayton Fillyau introduces a sound now known as the break beat, which would later inspire the b-boy movement, and rap.

1963 — William Carlos Williams wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Bob Dylan becomes famous for protest songs like "Blowin' in the Wind."

1964 — The Beatles top the American charts for the first time with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and Beatlemania has begun. The Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan show with an estimated audience of 73 million. The British invasion also includes the Animals with "House of the Rising Sun" and the Kinks with "You Really Got Me." Other popular British invasion groups include the Rolling Stones, the Who and Herman's Hermits. Ironically, the "invasion" largely consists of white English rockers importing American blues classics and emulations!

1965 — Stephen Spender is appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Jim Morrison and The Doors begin to perform, taking their name from poet William Blake's "Doors of Perception." The bad boys of rock'n'roll, the Rolling Stones, score with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Bob Dylan has a major hit with "Like a Rolling Stone" and goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival (receiving boos from the audience and producers). Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) recites one of his first rhymes before defeating Sonny Liston for the heavyweight boxing title. James Brown is the "godfather of soul."

1969 — Woodstock features folk and rock poets Arlo Guthrie; Joan Baez; John Fogerty; Sly Stone; Janis Joplin; Jimi Hendrix; and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Hendrix steals the show by playing a hard rock version of "The Star Spangled Banner" on his electric Fender Stratocaster. (But the Archies maintain the number one position on the charts with the pop hit "Sugar, Sugar.") Johnny Cash, who had problems with the law himself, performs for the inmates of San Quentin.

1970 — The Moody Blues, ELO and Pink Floyd invent "art rock."

1971 — Ex-Beatle John Lennon releases his Imagine album with its utopian title song. Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jesus Christ, Superstar.

1972 — The earliest "rap" musical events are held in the Bronx.

Related Pages in Chronological Order: Song of Amergin, Caedmon's Hymn, Bede's Death Song, Deor's Lament, Wulf and Eadwacer, The Wife's Lament, Anglo-Saxon Riddles and Kennings, How Long the Night, Ballads, Sumer is Icumen in, Fowles in the Frith, Ich am of Irlaunde, Tom O'Bedlam's Song, Now Goeth Sun Under Wood, Pity Mary, Sweet Rose of Virtue, Lament for the Makaris

The HyperTexts