British Literature English 4


British Literature (English 4) is a one year, college-preparatory literature and composition course, and is the fourth volume of the Excellence in Literature curriculum for grades 8-12.

In British Literature you will study:



—Canterbury Tales (selected) by Geoffrey Chaucer

—Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and other Arthurian works

—King Lear by William Shakespeare

—Paradise Lost by John Milton

—Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

—Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

—Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

—To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Spiral bound; 8.5 x 11″; 166 pages


British Literature (English 4) is the fourth volume of the Excellence in Literature curriculum.

What does British Literature cover?

British Literature is a college-preparatory literature and composition course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.
Students will gain an understanding of the development of literature and will practice the skills of close literary analysis through essays, approach papers, and other evaluative writing.


By the end of the course, students will:


—Possess a broad knowledge of the history and development of British literature.

—Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.

—Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.

—Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.

—Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.


“Students completing these courses should be miles ahead of most of their high school contemporaries in their ability to read and analyze literature at a sophisticated level. 

The challenging writing assignments also promise to develop student skills in composition to a high level.”

From a detailed review by Cathy Duffy


What does British Literature include?

Self-directed: Like all the volumes of the Excellence in Literature curriculum, British Literature is written mostly to the student. The book begins by introducing the purpose and focus of the curriculum, then go on to provide information that will be useful as students work through the modules, including chapters on How to Read a Book and How to Write an Essay, as well as Discerning Worldview through Literary Periods. Online context resource links — articles, art, music, etc.— are kept updated at the EIL site.
Formats and Models: This chapter provides detailed instructions for each type of paper, along with a student-written model so parents and students can see exactly what is expected.
Honors: In the listing below, the highlighted book is the focus text, and the honors book is optional additional reading for students who want to earn an honors grade or prepare for a CLEP. A brief chapter in each book provides instructions for the additional writing that will round out the honors grade.
Following the nine modules that outline readings and a week-by-week lesson plan for each of the classic works being studied, you will find reference resources, including instructions for evaluation, reproducible rubric and assignment sheets, and more. You can see an annotated listing of each of the introductory and reference chapters at the “What is included in Excellence in Literature” post.

British Literature Modules

The first book listed in bold type after the module number below is the Focus Text, which is the central focus of the module. The Honors texts listed for each module are optional. If you would like for your student to earn honors credit and a weighted grade, the student will read both Focus and Honors texts, and do the writing assigned in the book. If the student has already studied the assigned Focus Text, the Honors text may be substituted. You can learn more about the honors option at the Honors page.

Each book is linked to an edition I prefer at Amazon. These are affiliate links, of course — that means I get a few cents from each book purchase, but it doesn’t change your cost at all.
Module 1: Beowulf: Translation by J. R. R. Tolkien OR translation by Seamus Heaney

Honors: The Dream of the Rood and Caedmon’s Hymn or The Battle of Malden from The First Poems in English

Module 2: Canterbury Tales (selected) by Geoffrey Chaucer

Honors: Piers Plowman by William Langland

Module 3: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight  and The Faerie Queene (Book 1) by Edmund Spenser and “Letters to Raleigh”

(You may choose the J. R. R. Tolkien translation of Sir Gawain if you prefer.)

Honors: Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory

Module 4: King Lear by William Shakespeare

Honors: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Module 5: Paradise Lost by John Milton

Honors: Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (if not read in English I)

OR The Confessions by St. Augustine of Hippo (Ignatius Critical Editions)

OR The Temple by George Herbert (Poetry Collection)

Module 6: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Honors: Persuasion or other novel by Jane Austen

OR Middlemarch by George Eliot

Module 7: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Honors: Oliver Twist OR David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

OR Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Module 8: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Honors: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

OR Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (if you did not read it in English I) OR Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Module 9: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

— This edition of To the Lighthouse features an introduction by Eudora Welty, whose short story “A Worn Path” was featured in Level 1 of Excellence in Literature.

Honors: Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis (1–Out of the Silent Planet, 2–Perelandra, and 3–That Hideous Strength)
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Visit my blog to read how I chose the literature for Excellence in Literature. This link will open in a new tab, so you don’t have to worry about losing your place here.

Get the print book and ebook together for just a bit more.

We offer the exclusive Print Plus ebook add-on option.

Print Plus eBook learning advantages:

  • Printed guide is best for frequently referenced instructional articles and models
  • eBook add-on can be one more than one device for use by others in the family
  • eBook add-on allows students to click context resources links on most computers, rather than type in URLs (any link updates will be listed on the Excellence in Literature resource site in the Curriculum User Content)
  • Extra copies of reproducible forms can be easily printed from the add-on

Don’t forget! This book also comes in an ebook edition, as well as a print and ebook bundle.

Click each title below for a detailed description of the study guide.

Introduction to Literature (English 1) 
Literature and Composition (English 2)
American Literature (English 3)
British Literature (English 4)
World Literature (English 5)
The Complete Curriculum: Literature and Writing for Grades 8-12
Handbook for Writers



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