Study Guide

Restoration Literature Texts

Restoration Literature Resources

Primary Resources

John Dryden, "Astraea Redux: A Poem on the Happy Restoration and Return of His Sacred Majesty Charles the Second" (1660)
John Dryden celebrates the coronation of Charles II in this poem.

John Dryden, "To His Sacred Majesty: A Panegyrick on His Coronation, 1661—on the Coronation of Charles II"
John Dryden writes another poem celebrating—guess what?—the coronation of Charles II. Dryden really liked the king, apparently.

Samuel Butler, Hudibras (1663-1678)
In this poem, Butler pokes fun at the Puritans, who weren't very popular during the Restoration period.

George Etheredge, The Comical Revenge, or, Love in a Tub (1664)
A Restoration comedy about R&R… and by R&R we mean romance and revenge.

John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666)
It's a book detailing Bunyan's own spiritual awakening. Which, seeing as the dude wrote Pilgrims Progress, was big.

John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667)
Milton's epic poem has Satan as one of the principal characters. Need we say more?

John Dryden, Essay of Dramatick Poesie (1668)
Written as a dialogue between four speakers, Drysden's Essay considers the pros and cons of English poetry. The Lit nerd in us is screaming "But there are no cons to English poetry! None !"

John Milton, Samson Agonistes (1671)
Samson, the original man-bun enthusiast, loses all his strength when his wicked wife Delilah cuts off his hair.

William Wycherley, The Country Wife (1675)
Horner, one of the protagonists in this comedy and the original dirtbag, pretends he's impotent so that he can get it on with all the married ladeez.

William Wycherley, The Plain-Dealer (1676)
This comedy (yep, comedy) is about a sailor who's jilted by the woman he loves.

Aphra Behn, The Rover (1677)
There's lots of romance in this comedy. And it's all set in beautiful, beautiful Italy.

John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress (1678)
In this religious allegory, Bunyan takes us on a spiritual journey. Psst: also, it was one of the March sisters' favorite novels.

John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681)
This political satire is based on the biblical story of Absalom's rebellion against King David.

John Dryden, Mac Flecknoe (1682)
In this mock epic poem, Dryden makes fun of his literary rival, the poet Thomas Shadwell. And he's mean about it.

John Dryden, Religio Laici , Or, A Layman's Faith (1682)
Dryden's poem is a meditation on religion and politics.

Aphra Behn, Oroonoko (1688)
It's a novel about a slave taken to Surinam, and it's full of heartbreak. Probably not surprising, considering it's about slavery, but still: consider yourself and your soon-to-be-overflowing eyes warned.

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (1689)
In this work of political philosophy, John Locke shows us how government should get 'er done.

William Congreve, Love for Love (1695)
It's a comedy about love and money. What would we do without love and money? We'd be lonely and poor, that's what.

William Congreve, The Way of the World (1700)
Why can't two lovers just get married? Because a nasty old aunt is standing in the way.

Secondary Resources

Warren Chernaik, Sexual Freedom in Restoration Literature (1995)
We'll learn all about sex and literature in this study of the period. Sex, literature and history? Cancel our weekend plans.

Cynthia Wall, The Literary and Cultural Spaces of Restoration London (1998)
A book that takes us into literary London of the Restoration period. We want to go to there.

J.L. Styan, Restoration Comedy in Performance (1986)
This book delves into the history of one of the most popular genres of Restoration literature.

Peggy Thomson, Coyness and Crime in Restoration Comedy (2012)
This book provides a great analysis of gender in Restoration comedy.