Little indeed is known of the origin of English Literature, though it is reasonable to assume that verse of an extemporary kind was composed long before the period of the earliest written records and we can be certain that poetry made its appearance long before the first prose was written down.
Albert's History of English Literature has won for itself a secure place as a study of literary history and criticism. Its continued popularity suggests that the value of its judgments remains for the most part unimpaired. This 5th edition of the history has retained the method and layout of the original work.
PREFACE TO THE FIFTH EDITION:
Once again, the whirligig of time brings in his revenges, and in a relatively short time, new notes and evaluations are once again called for. These are in fact more extensive than were undertaken for the fourth edition, and have resulted in some increase in length.
Chapter XII, The Birth of Modern Literature, has suffered a few changes; Chapter XIII has again been extensively overhauled; Chapter XIV is once more rewritten. But the main point to emphasize is that the Bibliography has as been entirely re-compiled to take into account more recent scholarship. This considerable task has produced a book-list that cannot but add immeasurably to the value of the work.