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1The Development of English Literature (Summary)Old English, Middle English and ChaucerOld EnglishEnglish, as we know it, descends from the language spoken by the north Germanic tribes who settled in Englandfrom the 5th century A.D. onwards. They had no writing (except runes, used as charms) until they learned the Latinalphabet from Roman missionaries. The earliest written works in Old English (as their language is now known toscholars) were probably composed orally at first, and may have been passed on from speaker to speaker beforebeing written. We know the names of some of the later writers (Cædmon, Ælfric and King Alfred) but mostwriting is anonymous. Old English literature is mostly chronicle and poetry - lyric, descriptive but chiefly narrativeor epic.Middle English and ChaucerFrom 1066 onwards, the language is known to scholars as Middle English. Ideas and themes from French andCeltic literature appear in English writing at about this time, but the first great name in English li...