We often assume the Victorians had puritanical attitudes to sex, but this was far from the reality. From familiar classics to neglected gems, Claire Jarvis—Stanford academic and author of Exquisite Masochism: Sex, Marriage and the Novel Form—selects the best books on sex in Victorian literature.
Thanks to her ability to be many things to many people at once, Jane Austen is one of the vast minority of writers who manage to be both eternally popular and canonical. Here, Austen scholar Devoney ‘Stone Cold Jane’ Looser presents alternative Austens, from subversive youngster to video-game heroine
Oscar Wilde cultivated an image of himself as an idle genius, dashing off masterpieces with a lazy brilliance. But below the glittering linguistic surface of his works, suggests Sos Eltis, lies an anarchic politics and a phenomenal analysis of power.
Although less flamboyantly experimental than his contemporaries Joyce and Woolf, D H Lawrence was a modernist, says literary scholar Catherine Brown. Here, she selects five books that make the case for this most contradictory, and often divisive, of writers—a man whose fictions and ‘philosophicalish’ works were by turns brilliant and bewildering, sublime and ridiculous
He was the most popular novelist of the Victorian era, a convivial family man who always championed the underdog. But he also harboured dark secrets that only came out after his death. Jenny Hartley recommends the best books by and about the phenomenon that was and is Charles Dickens.
In the latest in our series, in which we ask experts to select their favourite plays from Shakespeare’s oeuvre, preeminent Shakespearean scholar Sir Stanley Wells chooses five plays that best chart the evolution of the Bard of Avon during his 25-year career.
William Wordsworth: The Major Works
by Stephen Gill (editor)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Major Works
by H. J. Jackson (Editor)
Willam Blake: Selected Poetry
by Michael Mason (Editor)
Percy Bysshe Shelley: The Major Works
by Michael O'Neill (Editor)
John Keats: The Major Works
by Elizabeth Cook (Editor)
Wilkie Collins, the sensationalist author and inventor of the detective novel, knew precisely how to “make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, make ’em wait”. Jason Hall, Victorian literature expert and editor of a new edition of Jezebel’s Daughter, chooses the five best books from Collins’s extensive oeuvre – and considers the voracious appetites and unorthodox lifestyle of this intriguing Englishman.
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels starring his fictional sleuth. So where to start? Michael Dirda – Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, writer and lifelong Sherlockian – gives us his personal choice of the best, and tells us more about their creator.
The distinguished Austen scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks tells us about the joy of rereading Austen and the hidden layers of complexity that emerge from the writing when one does so. She chooses the best books by or about Jane Austen.
The biographer explores the decadence of the young and rich in 1920s London, and tells us about Evelyn Waugh’s rebellious youth, bullying disposition and later breakdown – as well as just how much (and early) he drank