The Augustan Age 1713-1789

Key concepts

Key events and people

Key authors

Scientific developments


Reason and judgement


The general and universal


The values and norms of society as a whole



Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)


The spinning mill 1769


James Watt invents the steam engine 1775


The American Declaration of Independence 1776



Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

Samuel Richardson (1689-1761)

Henry Fielding (1707-54)

Laurence Sterne (1713-1768)


Alexander Pope (1668-1744)

Literary Context

The period after the Restoration is characterized by the rise of the novel of which the best known English ones are probably Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe from 1719, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels from 1726 and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, of Virtue Rewarded  from 1740.  In 1749 Henry Fielding published Tom Jones.

The term Augustan refers to the tendency of many writers to identify with and be inspired by classical ancient Roman writers such as Virgil and Ovid. The period between the Restoration and the Romantic period  is also sometimes referred to  as “The Age of Enlightenment” or “The Age of Reason”, a period when developments in philosophy and science enhanced man’s understanding of the world around him and encouraged him to question authority and become generally enlightened, for instance through reading.

The publication of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary in 1755 led to the standardization of the meaning and spelling of words.