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A chronicle is an account of events that occurs in the order that they happened in. The term is usually associated with historical events.

The events are recorded as someone witnessed them or as a group understands them. This can mean that there is some discrepancy between what happened and what is written down. Bias regarding one side or another may play a part as well, for example, in a chronicle of war or another type of dispute

Most chronicles are long, lasting numerous pages and even spanning a series of novels. For example, a chronicle that tracked someone’s year in an exotic place might explore every day they spent there. 

Chronicle pronunciation: kron-eh-cuhl
Chronicle definition and meaning

Definition of Chronicle 

A chronicle is an accounting of events that are supposed to be objective. Although this is not always the case.

A chronicle might come in the form of a series of books, essays, notes, diary entries, or more formal records. Depending on who wrote the chronicle, readers may come across a bias in regard to one type of experience. For example, a chronicle about World War II written by a German soldier is going to be different from that written by an English soldier. The writer’s bias is likely to play a role in which events they prioritize and the tone they use to describe those events. 

The word “chronicle” comes from “cronikle,” a Middle English word. 

Dead and Living Chronicles 

There are two primary types of chronicles, “dead” and “live.” The former refers to a chronicle that looks to the past only. For example, a writer who pens a chronicle of a previous year in their life, intentionally stopping at the end of the year before events have ended. This “dead” chronicle has a point at which it ends. 

A “live” or “living” chronicle is one that continues, such as the news or an ongoing diary. It’s going to pick back up the next day and continue to chronicle events. It doesn’t have a predetermined end date.

Examples of Chronicles 

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis 

The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of children’s books written by British author C.S. Lewis. There are, in total, seven books in the series. They were originally published in the mid-1950s. The books have been adapted for stage, television, and screen. 

The seven books tell the story of Narnia, a world of magic, talking creatures, and heroes and villains. The protagonists are always children, the only people capable of visiting Narnia. The series has sold over 100 million copies. 

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of Old English annals that tells the history of the Anglo-Saxon people. It was originally created in the 9th century in Wessex during Alfred the Great’s reign. Copies of the chronicle were distributed throughout England, where they were held in monasteries. It was updated until 1154. Today, nine manuscripts have survived. 

There are moments where it’s clear the writers of the chronicle were bias, suggesting that only one side of events were told or that what was told came from a subject point of view

Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande

Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande, also known as Holinshed’s Chronicles,  is another historical chronicle, this time published in 1577 and revised in 1587. The chronicle was used as one of Shakespeare’s sources while the Bard was writing his well-loved history and tragedy plays, such as Macbeth and King Lear. It’s also believed that authors like Edmund Spenser and George Daniel utilized the chronicles. 

Throughout the chronicle, readers will find established themes related to the countries, royalty, heroic ideas, and the role of the common people.  

Chronicles in Film and Television 

Throughout the history of film and television, there have been examples of chronicles. A living chronicle, like the news, is always running on television. While fictional chronicles, like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles or The Shannara Chronicles are more popular entertainment choices. These television series are only two examples that outwardly advertise themselves as chronicles. But, other shows like NCIS or The Office can also be considered chronicles as they follow a timeline and detail the lives of the same characters in every episode. 

Why are Chronicles Important?

Chronicles are important because they are part story-telling and historical record keeping. They involve the perspectives of those who experienced the events or have done a great deal of research about them. While it is difficult to do so, it is possible to write an objective chronicle, one that purely tells the facts. These are invaluable when it comes to studying history and understanding how events of the past played out. 

For some people, personal chronicles, like diaries, blogs, and vlogs, are incredibly important. These are a way of recording their day-to-day life and sharing it with others. Social media has provided users with numerous ways to do just this. 


What is the synonym of chronicle?

Some synonyms for chronicle are: account, annals, saga, history, and archives. 

How do you use the word chronicle?

One might say: “After reading the chronicle of the city, the new homeowners realized what they’d gotten into.” Or, “The chronicle of her life was long and boring.” 

How do you write a chronicle?

The information should be contained to a unifying topic, like personal history, the history of a city, or country, etc. It should be relayed in chronological order and should be objective. One’s personal interpretation should not play a role. 

What does a chronicle look like?

A chronicle can take the form of several diary entries, a long book, a collection of newspapers, and more. 

Related Literary Terms 

  • Anachronism: an error in the timeline or chronology of a piece of literature. This can be a purposeful or accidental error. 
  • Setting: when and where a story takes place. This could be a real place or someone completely fictional.
  • Realism: a literary movement that portrays everyday life exactly how it is.
  • Point of View: what the speaker, narrator, or character can see from their perspective.
  • Novel: a long, written, fictional narrative that includes some amount of realism.

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