Modern British Literature Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Teach your students about modern British literature with this lesson plan. They will review a text lesson, take a follow-up quiz, and participate in two activities that will reinforce their comprehension of the material.

Learning Objectives

After participating in this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Differentiate between the styles of Modernism and its predecessor Victorianism
  • Explain some of the inherent themes to Modernist writings
  • Name some authors of the British Modernist movement


1-1.5 Hours


Key Vocabulary

  • Alienation
  • Decay
  • Literary movements
  • Modernism
  • The Great War
  • Victorian

Curriculum Standards


Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.


Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)


  • Let your students know they will be studying Modern British literature.
  • Ask if anyone is familiar with any works by British authors from 1900-60.
  • Review vocabulary terms.
  • Read the description for this text lesson Modern British Literature: Books & Characteristics and the first section 'Background for Modern British Literature.'
    • What are literary movements?
    • When was the Victorian period?
    • What were some of the traits of that time frame?
    • On what did many authors focus?
  • Now, read the section 'Modern British Literature Characteristics.'
    • When was the Modernist period?
    • How are authors generally connected to one another?
    • How is Modernist literature different from Victorian literature?
    • What two characteristics are common to Modernism?
    • Which war brought about these characteristics?
    • What was the perspective of Modernist authors?
  • Now, read the section 'Test Examples in Modern British Literature.'
    • Can you name five examples of Modernist literature from the text lesson?
    • Can you name some common themes of these five novels?
  • Finally, have the students read the section 'Lesson Summary', recap the complete text lesson, and field any pertinent questions from your students.
  • Have your students take the lesson quiz to check their understanding.

Activity One

  • Inform your students they are going to be playing a '10 Questions' type of game.
  • Divide your students up into pairs.
    • Tell students they will need to use the Internet to find the answers to these questions.
    • 1) This British author was also part Polish. (Joseph Conrad)
    • 2) This author renounced his American citizenship to become British. (T.S. Eliot)
    • 3) This author was born on Groundhog Day. (James Joyce)
    • 4) This author took her own life by drowning. (Virginia Woolf)
    • 5) This British author also wrote in French. (Samuel Beckett)
    • 6) This British author was quoted as saying 'Make it new.' (Ezra Pound)
    • 7) These Modernist plays from the 1950s expressed frustrations arising from World War II and whether life has meaning. (Theatre of the Absurd)
    • 8) Was Mina Loy, Kay Boyle, or Dorothy Richardson not a British author? (Kay Boyle was an American Modernist.)
    • 9) What is a contoversial term for Modernism from about 1940-1960? (Post-Modernism)
    • 10) This is an early 1900s romance novel about a British woman traveling to Italy. (A Room with a View)

Activity Two

  • Explain to your students they will be studying 'A Haunted House' by Virginia Woolf. Afterward, they will be acting out their own haunted house stories.
  • Divide your students into small groups for this activity.

Part One

  • Hand out copies of the short story 'A Haunted House.' They can also go online and listen to a reading of the story for no charge. It is about six minutes in length.

Section A - The Plot of the Story

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