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Elizabethan Prose
During the Elizabethan period, Latin gradually gave way to English as the language of learning, and English prose finally achieved its maturity. Sir Thomas More wrote his Utopia (1516) in Latin. When Sir Francis Bacon wrote his account of a Utopian society, The New Atlantis in 1626, he wrote in English. Two events, one just before and one at the end of the Elizabethan age, contributed immensely to the stabilisation of the English language: the introduction of the printing press into England in 1476, and the King James translation of the Bible, published in 1611. It is no exaggeration to say that what Shakespeare did for poetry and drama; the King James Bible did for prose. The models they set have been the standards by which all later poetry, drama, and prose have been judged.

Contributed by Gifford, Katya
28 March 2002

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