The advent of Modernism represented a conceptual shift in the ways that people wrote and understood literature in the United Kingdom, driven by technological advancements, cultural developments, and historical events. This literary shift was primarily characterized by an unprecedented emphasis on interior perspective, as Modernist writers strove to render the psychological experience of human beings from within.
Before getting into the literary content, a historical context must be established to illustrate how the events of this period significantly altered the status of Britain as an economic and colonial power by 1945. In the beginning of the 1900s, The British Empire had reached the peak of its global presence and influence.
The death of Queen Victoria, the longest reigning British monarch in history, marked the end of an era. Other historical factors began to shake British citizens' faith in the stability of the empire, such as the Boer War, World War 1, and the Easter Rebellion in Ireland.
The Boer War was perceived as an indication of Britain growing weaker, as the soldiers were ill-prepared, reportedly struggling, sick, and improperly trained. Irish Home Rule was legislation advocating for self-government that passed Parliment in 1914, but was not implemented, as 1914 was also the beginning of World War 1, which took priority in British government. This dismissal led to the Easter Rising insurrection, which was suppressed. In 1920, the Government of Ireland Act partitioned the country into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which remained part of the U.K.
World War 1 left Britain economically and psychologically devastated. Germany had been developing advanced weaponry that was much more sophisticated than the Victorian-era military technology of Great Britain.
The war produced a divided reponse that surfaced in the poetry of the era; some poets wrote about the war in terms of "the glory of Britain" and praised its involvement in the conflict, whereas others sought to represent the horrific reality of the violence and destruction, and expressed criticism of the British government's decisions.
At this point in time, the societal roles of women were changing. Women made significant contributions to the war effort.