The Department of English is as old as the University of Dhaka: it opened when the University started functioning on July 1, 1921. C. L. Wren, a distinguished scholar who later became Professor of English at Oxford was appointed the first Head of the Department. After 1947 several teachers left the department and for some time there was a crisis. However later eminent teacher like Professor A.G. Stock joined as teaching faculty.

The Department of English contributed immensely to the spread of education in the then East Bengal. It has also played its part in the education of women of this country. Leela Nag, a student of the Department, was the first woman graduate of University of Dhaka, and her admission to the Department of English was an epoch-making event in the history of women's emancipation in our country.

The teachers and students of the Department played an active part in the Language Movement of 1952 and the War of Liberation in 1971. Two teachers - Dr. Jyotirmoy Guhathakurata and Mr. Rashidul Hasan and seven students were martyred in the War of Liberation in 1971.