The Romantics were fascinated by the power of wild nature. But as industry and science sought to harness that same power, the ideas of the child, nature and scientific progress would collide in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. A Romantic manifesto, the novel declares that children are sacred and need unconditional love. It also warns that nature is not to be trifled with or corrupted by science.
As the Romantic period blossomed, there was great progress in medical science. But the scientists treated the human body as a mechanism while the Romantics were interested in the spirit. In seeking to transcend the ordinary world, poets and painters explored the landscape of the human mind - with results that were decades ahead of the scientific researchers.
After two World Wars, a group of Oxford University tutors recast the horrors of war by creating a new genre: fantasy. Meetings of the Inklings gave birth to The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. The Inklings were motivated by traditional forces, but the Movement represented the absolute opposite. Young writers, such as John Braine and Kingsley Amis, wrote about class, money, sex and religion.
As Punk noisily grabbed the headlines in the 1970s, literature was going through its own changes. The huge impact of the Post-Colonial novel created an opportunity for novelists to experiment with form, structure and style. Feminist fiction finally brought writers such as Doris Lessing and Iris Murdoch to the fore. Novelist Iain Banks talks about writing in a post-modern world in which all the rules have changed.