Here you can find the best books on English Literature, chosen by various experts. The novelist and journalist, Robert McCrum, recommends the best novels in English, choosing three by English women, one by an American (Mark Twain) and one by an Irishman (James Joyce). Catherine Brown, head of English at the New College of the Humanities chooses the best books by DH Lawrence and Professor Hermione Lee the best by Virginia Woolf. Jenny Hartley tackles Charles Dickens.
Professor Gillen D’Arcy Wood makes a case for the enduring and unacknowledged influence of the Romantic poets and chooses his top five works from their output. Professor Lucy Newlyn of Oxford focuses explores the relationship between William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy and William St Clair discusses reading the Romantics. Devoney Looser takes an alternative look at Jane Austen and Professor Patricia Meyer Spacks chooses Austen’s best works. Selina Hastings chooses five books to understand Evelyn Waugh and the cultural milieu of the Bright Young Things. Michael Dirda, critic at the Washington Post talks about Sherlock Holmes and, staying with detective novels, Jason Hall discusses Wilkie Collins.
Ending with books on the summit of English literature, Stanley Wells selects the best of Shakespeare’s plays and James Shapiro looks at Shakespeare’s life, but warns that a conventional biography is impossible.
More on other writers in English and schools and movements within English Literature can be found here.
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
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 Charles Dickens and discusses Dickens the phenomenon, past and present.
In our Shakespeare series, we ask experts to select their favourite plays from the Bard’s oeuvre. Here, 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 Nicholas Shrimpton & William Blake
Percy Bysshe Shelley: The Major Works
by Michael O'Neill (Editor) & Zachary Leader (Editor)
John Keats: The Major Works
by Elizabeth Cook (Editor)
Freud said he owed them everything and even people who have never read a poem in their lives speak their language today. Gillen D’Arcy Wood, Professor of Environmental Humanities and English at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, explains who the Romantic poets were and recommends five of the greatest Romantic poems.
Virginia Woolf was long dismissed as a ‘minor modernist’ but now stands as one of the giants of 20th century literature. Her biographer, Hermione Lee, talks us through the best Virginia Woolf books, novels and essays, and diaries, of Virginia Woolf.
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. Michael Dirda – Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, writer and lifelong Sherlockian – gives us his personal choice of the best Sherlock Holmes books and tells us more about their creator.
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