The author does not confine her study simply to the great and the well established; rather, she explores that 'infinite variety' which constitutes the diverse heritage of English literature, presenting a pageant of writers up to the present day. She discusses the fables, prose and verse of the so-called Dark Ages after the break-up of the Roman Empire; of the Middle Ages, when the languages of Britain, France, Germany and Italy were in flux and Latin was still the vehicle for written learning; and the stabilizing and humanizing of English in the days of Chaucer and Langland. The great writers of later periods—Spenser, Shakespeare, Jonson and many others—are shown to owe much to the literatures and thought of Ancient Greece, Palestine, Rome, Italy and France. Gradually writing began to shake free of classical rules, and the development of a new art form, the novel, is analysed against the shifting social structures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The author examines also the work of many poets and dramatists and the latter-day influences of our changing culture on modern writing, which offer a challenging future for literature in English.