The UK's main strengths in the arts has been in literature, the theatre and music.
Painting styles have run from the Lindisfarne Gospels, with their Celtic decorations to the classic painters such as Constable, Gainsborough and Reynolds and then Blake and Turner and through the Victorians such as Millais, Burne-Jones, and Morris to the moderns such as David Hockney and Bridget Riley. In sculpture, Henry Moore is undoubtedly the UK's most significant artist.
English has become the world's most successful international language, a fact that has given writers in the language a world audience: Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and the Bronte sisters are probably the best known classical novelists. In Scotland, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson and in Wales Dylan Thomas are the major names.
In the theatre it is, of course, Shakespeare who outshines all his contemporaries such as Christopher Marlowe to the more recent playwrights such as Osborne and Pinter.
Shakespeare is as respected for his poetry as for his plays. Other leading poets include Spenser, from Shakespeare's time, Alexander Pope, and Dryden and then Byron, Shelley, Coleridge and Wordsworth. Kipling is the best known Victorian poet. In this century, the "war poets" Owen and Sassoon were followed by the poets of the thirties such as Auden and Spender. Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin have been among the leading poets in recent years.
The UK's musical heritage, at the beginning of the 1960s was best known for classical composers such as Elgar and for the light opera of Gilbert and Sullivan. Then came the explosion of British pop music, the Beatles (Hey Jude, Help and Ticket to Ride) and the Rolling Stones.
Finally, in cinema and television - art forms of the twentieth century, the UK has played a major role with Alfred Hitchcock the UK's most celebrated film director.