The earliest datable text in Manx (preserved in 18th century manuscripts), a poetic history of the Isle of Man from the introduction of Christianity, dates to the 16th century at the latest.
Christianity has been an overwhelming influence on Manx literature. Religious literature was common, but surviving secular writing much rarer. The Book of Common Prayer and Bible were translated into Manx in the 17th and 18th centuries. The first Manx Bible was printed between 1771 and 1775 and is the source and standard for modern Manx orthography. It was a collective translation undertaken by most the Manx clergy under the editorship of Philip Moore. Further editions followed in 1777 and 1819. A tradition of carvals, religious songs or carols, developed, probably with its roots in the pre-Reformation period. Until the 18th century, the authors of carvals were generally clergy, but in the 19th century new words would be put to popular tunes for use in churches and chapels.
Edward Faragher, (Neddy Beg Hom Ruy, 1831–1908) of Cregneash has been considered the last important native writer of Manx. From the age of 26, he wrote poetry, often on religious subjects, some of which were printed in the Mona's Herald and the Cork Eagle. Some of his stories are reminiscences of his life as a fisherman, and in 1901 Skeealyn Aesop, translations of selected Aesop's Fables, was published.
With the revival of Manx, new literature has appeared, including Contoyryssyn Ealish ayns Cheer ny Yindyssyn a Manx translation of Alice in Wonderland by Brian Stowell, published in 1990. In March 2006 the first full-length Manx novel was published: Dunveryssyn yn Tooder-Folley (The Vampire Murders), also by Brian Stowell.