In the 19th century, historians believed that the evolution of the culture of a society could be traced through its literature. ‘Periods and movements’ looks at the ebbs and flows of the development of English literature. The English have traditionally been regarded as having far greater distinction in literature and theatre than in art and music. Romanticism conjures up an idea of the artist alone, writing in a frenzy of inspiration. Romantic solitude was often an illusion, just a poetic device. A revolution in poetic diction and a collective literary endeavour with its aims encapsulated in a series of manifestoes were the characteristics of Romanticism and also the ‘Modernist’ revolution of the early 20th century.