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by Edmund Gosse
Edmund Gosse (1849-1928), author and literary critic, held posts as a lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, and librarian to the House of Lords; he was honoured with a knighthood in 1925. His 1897 history of English literature (of which the version reissued here was published a year later by William Heinemann as Volume 3 in the series Short Histories of the Literatures of the World) traces the nation's greatest literature, from Chaucer to Tennyson, across eleven chapters. Rather than concentrating on biographical or sociological detail of English literary history, Gosse's book instead focuses on literary technique and style, intending to instil 'a feeling of the evolution of English Literature in the primary sense of the term'. Gosse had his detractors, who accused him of a cavalier approach to factual detail, but his novel approach to literary criticism means that the work can still be read with interest and enjoyment.