Context of a non-fiction text

A selection of rolled up national newspapers

The context of a text is not the things that appear on the page but the circumstances in which it was written. The context helps to build up a background of how and why the piece of writing may have been written - events happening in the world at the time, how men or women were regarded in society, or even people’s opinions of religion or social rules can be reflected in a piece of writing.

It can be useful to think about:

  • The type of text - if it is a newspaper article about a topic that was important in that particular time in history.
  • When it was written – texts from the Victorian era are very different to something written in the last ten years.
  • Where it was written – is it from the UK, or from somewhere else? Or on a smaller scale, was it written in a school, a home, a prison?
  • Who wrote it – individual people will have different intentions. A child will write something different from an adult. A fan will write differently from a critic about a band.
  • Where it was published – a newspaper – tabloid or broadsheet? A magazine – is it for football fans, or for a general audience?
  • What it was written for - the purpose may have been more important in a different era; for example, a woman’s traditional role was in the home, and the text may show that.