English Authors

When was Jane Austen born, and when did she die? In what country?

Jane Austen was born in 1775 and died in England 1817

What was the name of the era at the time in England? It is characterised by distinctive trends in British architecture, literature, fashion, politics and culture.

The Regency era - 1795 to 1837

Name at least three of Jane Austen's six novels.

Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Presuasion, Mansfeild Park, Northanger Abby.

What did Jane Austen write about in her books?

About the domestic life of the young women of the landed gentry. They are romance novels, in which the female main characters usually try to find a suitable husband in order to both secure social standing and economic security, and find true love. She wrote about love and the troubles love brings, but not an overly romanticised version of love (so she is not a romantic writer).

What historical English social class did she write about? What characterised them?

The landed gentry, a historical social class consisting of landowners who could live entirely from rental income, and had a country estate. They belonged to aristocracy, but were socially below nobility - Lords and Ladies (British peerage) but could be very wealthy, wealthier than some peers.

Jane Austen's main characters are women. How was their life different from the lives of women in England (or Sweden) today?

They were not allowed to get an education or a job. They could not inherit money or property from their fathers (the money and the property would go to the closest male heir). They could not secure a social standing or economic stability without a suitable husband.

To which literary genre did Jane Austen "belong"?

Realism, or the transition to realism

What was Jane Austen's style of writing like?

Funny, humorous, witty, realistic, "feel-good" - the good people are usually rewarded in the end, good morality wins.

Who are the hero and heroine in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice?

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy

What is the main plot in Pride and Prejudice?

Mrs Bennet is trying to marry off her five unmarried daughters, in order to secure a social standing and economic stability for them. Mr Bingley moves into the neighbourhood, and he is rich and single. He has a friend called Mr Darcy, who is single too, and even richer. Everyone dislikes Mr Darcy at first, because he is proud, disagreeable and thinks himself above everyone else. These first impressions are however wrong. Eventually, and after many misunderstandings and some prejudice, Jane Bennet marries Mr Bingley and Elizabeth Bennet marries Mr Darcy. Everything ends well

When was Edgar Allan Poe born, and when did he die? In what country?

1809 - 1849, USA.

What kind of stories did Edgar Allan Poe write?

Mystery, detective and horror stories. Poe is generally considered to be the inventor of the detective fiction genre. (His detective Auguste Dupin was the model for Sherlock Holmes).

To which literary genre did Edgar Allan Poe "belong"?

Gothic fiction, which is a subgenre of Romanticism.

What in the definition of Gothic fiction?

A pleasing sort of terror". Its themes are: death, lost love and the dark and evil sides of human nature.

What is "The Raven" about?

A man is mourning the loss of a woman named Lenore. A raven is tapping on his window, and is let in. It is a talking raven. It repeats the word: "Nevermore". The main theme is that of undying devotion (of Lenore) and the conflict between the desire to forget and the desire to remember. It's about the narrator's slow fall into madness.

What makes "The Black Cat" a good example of Gothic fiction?

It deals with the dark and evil sides of human nature, as well as death, and a man's slow fall into madness.

21) When was Charles Dickens born, and when did he die? In what country?

1812 - 1870, England (the United Kingdom).

What was the name of the era at the time in England? Say something about what characterised that era.

The Victorian Era (The reign of Queen Victoria: 1837 - 1901). Characterised by high moral values: Duty, hard word, marriage as a sacred institution. (Divorce was out of the question, at least for respectable people.) Obeying rules and doing what was expected of you was very important. Victorian society had a strict hierarchy, and people (especially the poor) were supposed to stay in their place and not complain too much. Anything to do with sexuality was very hush-hush

Name at least three of Charles Dicken's novels.

Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, The Pickwick Papers, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Little Dorrit, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

What is Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" about, and what is its message?

The bitter miser (snåljåp) Ebenezer Scrooge transforms as a person as a result from supernatural visits from Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to come. He becomes a kind, generous and compassionate man who embodies the spirit of Christmas.

Mention something Charles Dickens wrote about in his books (a theme).

Charles Dickens often wrote about social differences in Victorian England. He criticised the living and working conditions of the poor. He wanted social reform.

What is the main plot in Oliver Twist?

Oliver Twist is an orphan, born into poverty and misfortune. When he asks for more food, he is cast out of the work house. He then works as a mourner as children´s funerals, has a fight with another kid, runs away to London, is recruited as a pickpocket by Fagin and the Artful Dodger, is rescued by a Mr Brownlow, is brought back to criminality by Fagin. Eventually, all ends well for Oliver and badly for the criminals.

What was Charles Dicken's style of writing like?

Creative, humorous, satirical.

Charles Dickens is one of the forerunners of "episodic writing". What is that?

His books were first published chapter by chapter, in weekly or monthly newspapers. This became to dominant Victorian mode for novel publication. It was cheap and accessible for lots of people. The chapters ended with cliffhangers that kept the readers in suspense. Feedback from the readers lead to changes in the plot and character development.

To which literary genre did Charles Dickens "belong"?

Realism mixed with fantasy. Social criticism.

When was Emily Dickinson born, and when did she die? In what country?

1830 - 1886, USA.

What kind of texts did Emily Dickinson write?

Poetry (poems)

To which literary genre did Emily Dickinson "belong"?

She straddles the genres of romanticism and realism

What themes did Emily Dickinson write about in her poems?

Love, nature, death, immortality, faith, pain and grief.

Emily Dickinson's poems didn't have titles, but are known as the opening lines of each poem. Mention one of the poems we read.

I´m nobody! Who are you?" and "Because I could not stop for death

What is the main theme of "I'm Nobody! Who are you?

Self-identity. Privacy and the inner life versus our role in society/our public persona.

What is characteristic of Emily Dickinson´s style of writing?

Unusual rhymes and slant rhymes (words that don't quite rhyme). Lots of dashes (-) and unconventional capitalisation and punctuation. Her poetry did not fit the conventional poetic rules at the time

Was she a well-known poet during her lifetime?

Not at all. Only seven of her 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime, and they were published anonymously.

Why was Emily Dickinson known as "The Woman in White"? What do you remember about her life?

She wore only white clothes, and isolated herself in her home. She was a recluse. She sometimes didn´t receive visitors, but talked with them through her bedroom door.

What war took place in America during her lifetime? What did they fight about?

The American Civil War, between 1861-1865., which was a war between the northern and the southern states, about the issue of slavery and about how much power the federal government should have.

When was Mark Twain born, and when did he die? In what country?

1835 - 1910, USA.

What was his real name? (Mark Twain was a pseudonym).

Samuel Langhorne Clemence

What part of the country was he from?

The Midwest (the state of Missouri)

Mark Twain" is actually a river term that signifies the safe depth for steamboats to pass. Twain himself wanted to be a steamboat pilot. What's the name of the river he grew up by, and which plays and important part in his books?

The Mississippi river

Name two novels by Mark Twain.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

What is a main theme in these novels?

Slavery was a main theme. Slavery was legal in Missouri (the state Twain grew up in) at the time.

What was his style of writing like?

Humorous, with social criticism.

Why is Twain sometimes called "the first truly American author"?

Mark Twain wrote the way people spoke in the Midwest (Missouri etc). He was a master of rendering colloquial/vernacular speech = the linguistic style used for casual communication. He was the first major writer to write in dialect.

Apart from being a writer, what else did he work as?

A steamboat pilot, a humourist (he did stand-up comedy before stand-up comedy was invented), a publisher and a lecturer.

What clothes was the always wearing in pictures taken during the last decade of his life?

He didn't want to be photographed without wearing his white suit.

When was Oscar Wilde born, and when did he die? In what country?

1854 - 1900. Born in Ireland, then lived in England. Died in Paris, France.

What was the name of the era at the time in England? Say something about what characterised that era.

The Victorian Era (The reign of Queen Victoria: 1837 - 1901). Characterised by high moral values: Duty, hard word, marriage as a sacred institution. Obeying rules and doing what was expected of you was very important. Victorian society had a strict hierarchy, and people (especially the poor) were supposed to stay in their place and not complain too much. Anything to do with sexuality was very hush-hush. Basically, Oscar Wilde personified the opposite of the Victorian ideals.

What is the title of Oscar Wilde's only novel?

The Picture of Dorian Gray

What's the main plot in The Picture of Dorian Gray?

The Picture of Dorian Gray is about a young man named Dorian Gray, who has his portrait painted. He wishes that he could always remain as young and beautiful as in the portrait. He strikes a deal with the devil, that he will always remain young and beautiful whereas the portrait is going to grow old and wither away. Dorian Gray is a hedonist. Hedonism is the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life.

Say the title of one of his plays

The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere´s Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband.

What was Oscar Wilde's style of writing like?

Funny, witty and sarcastic. Some critics thought his writing wasn't moral.

What movement was Oscar Wilde a part of? What characterised that movement?

The aesthetic movement. They believed in "art for art's sake" - that art and literature didn't have to have a hidden agenda (political, moral or such) but could be enjoyed just as it was

Why was Oscar Wilde sentenced to two years of hard labour in prison

He was sentenced to prison for "gross indecency", meaning homosexual activity. Homosexuality was considered a crime at the time. Oscar Wilde had a wife, but also several boyfriends.

What do you remember about Oscar Wilde's private life?

He was married to a woman called Constance, and together they had two sons. Oscar Wilde also had a long-term lover called Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas, along with many other homosexual relationships. He never divorced his wife, and she stood by him to the end.

Where did he die, and where is he buried?

Oscar Wilde died in Paris of meningitis (hjärnhinneinflammation) and is buried at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, where many people visit his grave.

When was Virginia Woolf born, and when did she die?

1882 - 1941

In what country?


What was her literary genre?


What characterises that genre?

Modernist literature is characterised by a conscious break with traditional ways of writing. Modernists experimented with literary form and expression.

What are "streams of consciousness"?

It is a narrative mode or method that attempts to "depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind of a narrator. It is a written equivalent of the character's thought process. It is a special form of interior monologue which is characterised by associative leaps in thought and lack of some or all punctuation.

What themes did Virginia Woolf write about?

Women, and women in society. Equal rights for men and women. She was an early feminist

What was the Bloomsbury group?

The Bloomsbury group was a group of open-minded writers and artists. They had a liberal approach to sexuality, and wanted to break old-fashioned norms in society.

What do you know about Virginia Woolf's love life?

She was married to Leonard Woolf, but simultaneously had several love affairs with women, most notably Vita Sackville-West.

Name two of Woolf's novels and/or famous essays.

The novels Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and Orlando. The essay A Room of One's Own.

How did she die?

She committed suicide by drowning.

When was Ernest Hemingway born, and when did he die? In what country?

1899 - 1961, in USA.

What did he work with during his lifetime?

He was a reporter for the newspaper The Kansas City Star, an ambulance driver in World War 1, a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War and World War 2 and, of course, he was a writer.

Ernest Hemingway was an expatriate (an expat) for much of his life. Please explain the term. Also, name some countries that he lived in.

An expatriate is a person who willingly lives outside their native country. Ernest Hemingway for example lived in Italy, Spain, France and Cuba.

Name two novels by Ernest Hemingway.

The Old Man and the Sea, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises.

What's the main plot in The Old Man and the Sea?

It's a story of a battle between an old fisherman (Santiago) and a marlin (en spjutfisk/svärdfisk). Santiago has gone 84 days without catching any fish. A marlin takes the bait. The marlin and the fisherman struggle for two days and two nights, before Santiago manages to stab the marlin with a harpoon. The marlin is strapped to the boat, and sharks eat it.

What was his style of writing like?

Ernest Hemingway is known for "the iceberg technique". He believed that the deeper meaning of a story should not be evident on the surface, but should shine through implicitly. Hemingway didn't describe things with lots of adjectives, but meaning is instead established through dialogue, though action and silences. His writing style is economical and understated. He often used "and" instead of commas, and avoided subordinate clauses.

) What themes did he often write about?

War, love, wilderness and love. He liked to portray soldiers, hunters and bullfighters.

What major literary award was he awarded in 1954?

The Nobel Prize in literature.

What do you know about Ernest Hemingway's health?

He was a heavy drinker. He survived two plane crashes and he was injured when working as an ambulance driver in World War 1. He once pulled a skylight down onto his forehead. He was in physical pain, and he was depressed, or possibly suffering from bipolar disease.

How did he die?

He committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a shotgun.

When was Sylvia Plath born, and when did she die?

1932 - 1963

In what country was she born? (She lived there until her early 20's.)

USA (Boston, Massachusetts)

What types of texts did she write?

Poetry, short stories and a novel.

What is her genre of poetry known as?

Confessional poetry

Name two of her collections of poetry.

Ariel and The Colossus and Other Poems

Sylvia Plath was a guest editor of Mademoiselle magazine in New York city for a month. This served as inspiration for her semi-autobiographical novel. What is the title of the novel?

The Bell Jar (Glaskupan)

When Plath was 8 years old, someone close to her died. She has written a very famous poem about this person. Who was the person, and what's the title of the poem?

Her father died when she was 8. The title of the poem is "Daddy".

What themes did Sylvia Plath often write about?

Death, the self, the body, nature, patriarchy, sexuality and love.

Sylvia Plath moved to England and married a fellow poet. What was his name?

Ted Hughes

How did Sylvia Plath die?

She committed suicide by placing her head in the oven with the gas turned on.

When was Jack Kerouac born, and when did he die?

1922 - 1969

In what country?

USA (but he was of French-Canadian descent)

What movement was Jack Kerouac connected to?

The Beat generation

What did that movement stand for?

The beat generation was a literary movement started by a group of authors whose work explored and influenced American culture and politics in the 1950s. The central elements of Beat culture are the rejection of standard narrative values, making a spiritual quest, the explorations of American and Eastern religions, the rejection of economic materialism, experimentation with psychedelic drugs and sexual liberation and exploration. They had a reputation of being bohemian hedonists, who celebrated non-conformity and spontaneous creativity.

Mention a few other writers who were part of that movement.

Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs.

What is the title of Jack Kerouac's best-known novel?

On the Road

What is the main plot of that novel?

The book is based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across the US. The protagonists are living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry and drug use. They are free-spirited and eager to explore the kicks of travelling across the US. The novel contains five parts, three of them describing road trips. The novel is largely autobiographical.

What is the name of the main character in the novel?

Sal Paradise

What themes did Jack Kerouac write about?

Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty and travel.

How did he die?

Kerouac died at age 47 from an abdominal hemorrhage caused by a lifetime of heavy drinking.