Concentrating on the period 1660-1781, this book explores how the English literary past was made. It charts how antiquarians unearthed the raw materials of the English (or more widely) British tradition; how scholars drafted narratives about the development of native literature; and howcritics assigned the leading writers to canons of literary greatness. Poetry and the Making of the English Literary Past also analyzes the various kinds of occasion on which the contents of the literary past are rehearsed. Discussed, for example, is the rise of Poets' Corner as a national shrine forthe consecration of literary worthies; and the author also considers a wide range of poetic genres that lent themselves to recitals of the literary past: the funeral elegy, the progress-of-poesy poem and the session of the poets poem. The book concludes that the opening up and ordering of theEnglish literary past occurs earlier than is generally supposed; and the same also applies to the process by which women writers achieve their own distinctive form of canonical recognition.