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The multilingual nature of the audience for literature in the 14th century can be illustrated by the example of (c. 1330 – October 1408). A contemporary of and a personal friend of , Gower is remembered primarily for three major works, the , , and , three long poems written in , Latin and, Middle English respectively, which are united by common moral and political themes.
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have played an important part in the development of literature in England and , but though the whole of was politically part of the between January 1801 and December 1922, it can be controversial to describe as British. For some this includes works by authors from .
The Union of the Parliaments of Scotland and England in 1707 to form a single and the creation of a joint state by the had little impact on the literature of England nor on national consciousness among English writers. The situation in Scotland was different: the desire to maintain a cultural identity while partaking of the advantages offered by the English literary market and English literary standard language led to what has been described as the "invention of British literature" by Scottish writers. English writers, if they considered Britain at all, tended to assume it was merely England writ large; Scottish writers were more clearly aware of the new state as a "cultural amalgam comprising more than just England". 's "!" is an example of the Scottish championing of this new national and literary identity. With the invention of British literature came the development of the first British novels, in contrast to the English novel of the 18th century which continued to deal with England and English concerns rather than exploring the changed political, social and literary environment. (1721–71) was a Scottish pioneer of the British novel, exploring the prejudices inherent within the new social structure of Britain through comic . His (1748) is the first major novel written in English to have a Scotsman as hero, and the multinational voices represented in the narrative confront prejudices only two years after the . (1771) brings together characters from the extremes of Britain to question how cultural and linguistic differences can be accommodated within the new British identity, and influenced . wrote patriotic comedies depicting characters taken from the "outskirts of the empire," and intended to vindicate the good elements of the Scots, Irish, and colonials from English prejudice. His most popular play, "" (1771) was performed in North America and the .Providing a compact literary history of the twentieth century in England, Cities of Affluence and Anger studies the problematic terms of national identity during England's transition from an imperial power to its integration in the global cultural marketplace. While the countryside had been the dominant symbol of Englishness throughout the previous century, modern literature began to turn more and more to the city to redraw the boundaries of a contemporary cultural polity. The urban class system, paradoxically, still functioned as a marker of wealth, status, and hierarchy throughout this long period of self-examination, but it also became a way to project a common culture and mitigate other forms of difference. Local class politics were transformed in such a way that enabled the English to reframe a highly provisional national unity in the context of imperial disintegration, postcolonial immigration, and, later, globalization.