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In book publishing, an anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler; it may be a collection of plays, poems, short stories, songs or excerpts by different authors. [1]


In genre fiction, the term anthology typically categorizes collections of shorter works, such as short stories and short novels, by different authors, each featuring unrelated casts of characters and settings, and usually collected into a single volume for publication. Alternatively, it can also be a collection of selected writings (short stories, poems etc.) by one author. [2] [3]

Complete collections of works are often called "complete works" or "opera omnia" (Latin equivalent).


The word entered the English language in the 17th century, from the Greek word, ἀνθολογία (anthologic, literally "a collection of blossoms", from ἄνθος, ánthos, flower), a reference to one of the earliest known anthologies, the Garland (Στέφανος, stéphanos), the introduction to which compares each of its anthologized poets to a flower. That Garland by Meléagros of Gadara formed the kernel for what has become known as the Greek Anthology.

Florilegium , a Latin derivative for a collection of flowers, was used in medieval Europe for an anthology of Latin proverbs and textual excerpts. Shortly before anthology had entered the language, English had begun using florilegium as a word for such a collection.


In East Asian tradition, an anthology was a recognized form of compilation of a given poetic form. It was assumed that there was a cyclic development: any particular form, say the tanka in Japan, would be introduced at one point in history, be explored by masters during a subsequent time, and finally be subject to popularisation (and a certain dilution) when it achieved widespread recognition. In this model, which derives from Chinese tradition, the object of compiling an anthology was to preserve the best of a form, and cull the rest.

In Malaysia, an anthology (or antologi in Malay) is a collection of syair, sajak (or modern prose), proses, drama scripts, and pantuns. Notable anthologies that are used in secondary schools include Sehijau Warna Daun, Seuntai Kata Untuk Dirasa, Anak Bumi Tercinta, Anak Laut and Kerusi.

Twentieth century

In the twentieth century, anthologies became an important part of poetry publishing for a number of reasons. For English poetry, the Georgian poetry series [4] was trend-setting; it showed the potential success of publishing an identifiable group of younger poets marked out as a 'generation'. It was followed by numerous collections from the 'stable' of some literary editor, or collated from a given publication, or labelled in some fashion as 'poems of the year'. Academic publishing also followed suit, with the success of the Quiller-Couch Oxford Book of English Verse [5] encouraging other collections not limited to modern poetry. The concept of 'modern verse' was fostered by the appearance of the phrase in titles such as the Faber & Faber anthology by Michael Roberts, [6] and the very different William Butler Yeats Oxford Book of Modern Verse. [7]

Since publishers generally found anthology publication a more flexible medium than the collection of a single poet's work, and indeed rang innumerable changes on the idea as a way of marketing poetry, publication in an anthology (in the right company) became at times a sought-after form of recognition for poets. The self-definition of movements, dating back at least to Ezra Pound's efforts on behalf of Imagism, could be linked on one front to the production of an anthology of the like-minded. Also, whilst not connected with poetry, publishers have produced collective works of fiction from a number of authors and used the term anthology to describe the collective nature of the text. These have been in a number of subjects, including Erotica, edited by Mitzi Szereto and American Gothic Tales edited by Joyce Carol Oates.

See also

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Poetry, also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre − to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, a prosaic ostensible meaning. A poem is a literary composition, written by a poet, using this principle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arthur Quiller-Couch</span> British writer and literary critic (1863–1944)

Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch was a British writer who published using the pseudonym Q. Although a prolific novelist, he is remembered mainly for the monumental publication The Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900 and for his literary criticism. He influenced many who never met him, including American writer Helene Hanff, author of 84, Charing Cross Road and its sequel, Q's Legacy. His Oxford Book of English Verse was a favourite of John Mortimer's fictional character Horace Rumpole.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geoffrey Grigson</span> English poet, writer, critic and naturalist (1905–1985)

Geoffrey Edward Harvey Grigson was a British poet, writer, editor, critic, exhibition curator, anthologist and naturalist. In the 1930s he was editor of the influential magazine New Verse, and went on to produce 13 collections of his own poetry, as well as compiling numerous anthologies, among many published works on subjects including art, travel and the countryside. Grigson exhibited in the London International Surrealist Exhibition at New Burlington Galleries in 1936, and in 1946 co-founded the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Grigson's autobiography The Crest on the Silver was published in 1950. At various times he was involved in teaching, journalism and broadcasting. Fiercely combative, he made many literary enemies.

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Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

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Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Miscellany</span> Publishing term; collection of various pieces of writing by different authors

A miscellany is a collection of various pieces of writing by different authors. Meaning a mixture, medley, or assortment, a miscellany can include pieces on many subjects and in a variety of different forms. In contrast to anthologies, whose aim is to give a selective and canonical view of literature, miscellanies were produced for the entertainment of a contemporary audience and so instead emphasise collectiveness and popularity. Laura Mandell and Rita Raley state:

This last distinction is quite often visible in the basic categorical differences between anthologies on the one hand, and all other types of collections on the other, for it is in the one that we read poems of excellence, the "best of English poetry," and it is in the other that we read poems of interest. Out of the differences between a principle of selection and a principle of collection, then, comes a difference in aesthetic value, which is precisely what is at issue in the debates over the "proper" material for inclusion into the canon.


  1. "Wood County native part of poetry anthology".
  2. Lim, Samantha (31 December 2019). "Telltale Food, Malaysia's First Food Anthology". Malaysia Tatler. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  3. Genzlinger, Neil (12 August 2019). "Lee Bennett Hopkins, Champion of Poetry for Children, Dies at 81". The New York Times.
  4. James Bridges (Independent Scholar) (31 July 2002). "/ Bridges, James. Georgian Poetry. The Literary Encyclopedia. 31 July 2002". Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  5. "Quiller-Couch, Arthur, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250 – 1900". Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  6. Faber Anthologies Archived February 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Fantastic Fiction – Oxford Book of Modern Verse". Archived from the original on 4 November 2014.

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