though today in class we learned that the first novelist is a female writer, I enjoyed reading this.
My usual answer to the first question is Daniel Defoe, and my typical answer to the second question is Moll Flanders (1722).
Defoe seems to be correct, though a better answer to #2 would be Robinson Crusoe, which predated by Moll Flanders by a whole three years (1719).
Interesting that about a century goes by between the end of Shakespearean drama, which one would have thought would have spurred something as great as the novel, until the first real novel. What happened in between. More plays, I think. Poetry, Milton, etc. Tons of religious nuttiness, lots of kings and queens, the usual early civilizationist grapplings.. The colonization of the Americas. Lots of stuff. But no novels. Funny, that.
Anyone who has an earlier English novelist or novel please speak up.