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Classics are books that are as relevant and popular now as in their own era. Have a glance through history when you scroll through our selection of time-tested Classics. You might re-discover a forgotten gem!
A formally innovative work of modernist fiction, Virginia Woolf's The Waves is edited with an introduction by Kate Flint in Penguin Modern Classics. More than any of Virginia Woolf's other novels, The Waves conveys the full complexity and richness of human experience. Tracing the lives of a group of friends, The Waves follows their development from childhood to youth and middle age. While social events, individual achievements and disappointments form its narrative, the novel is most remarkable for the rich poetic language that expresses the inner life of its characters: their aspirations, their triumphs and regrets, their awareness of unity and isolation. Separately and together, they query the relationship of past to present, and the meaning of life itself. Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is regarded as a major 20th century author and essayist, a key figure in literary history as a feminist and modernist, and the centre of 'The Bloomsbury Group'. This informal collective of artists and writers, which included Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, exerted a powerful influence over early twentieth-century British culture. Between 1925 and 1931 Virginia Woolf produced what are now regarded as her finest masterpieces, from Mrs Dalloway (1925) to the poetic and highly experimental novel The Waves (1931). She also maintained an astonishing output of literary criticism, short fiction, journalism and biography, including the playfully subversive Orlando (1928) and A Room of One's Own (1929) a passionate feminist essay. If you enjoyed The Waves, you might like Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, also available in Penguin Classics. 'A book of great beauty and a prose poem of genius' Stephen Spender 'Full of sensuous touches ... the sounds of her words can be velvet on the page' Maggie Gee, Daily Telegraph
Bring a timeless treasure from Mark Twain to another generation. Miffed about being made to whitewash the fence on a Sunday morning, Tom Sawyer tricks his friend to do the work for him, while he sits on the pavement, happily munching an apple. So begins the series of Tom's adventures and misadventures. Orphaned and staying with his Aunt Polly, the mischievous Tom manages to create quite a stir in the small village. He runs away to an uninhabited island, falls in love, digs up treasure, and saves an innocent man. The book will take older children through a journey of evolving friendships, budding romance, and thrilling adventures. European English spelling/language conventions
Three lively retellings of Daniel Defoe's classic novels, plus two bonus programmes about his extraordinary life and far-reaching influence. Robinson Crusoe and his Farther Adventures An imaginative blend of the famous castaway tale and its lesser-known sequel, this thrilling drama sees Crusoe setting sail for the far north. Facing danger in the Siberian wastes, he keeps terror at bay by telling his companions campfire tales of his many adventures on his beloved island. Starring Tim McInnerney as Crusoe. Moll Flanders When Daniel Defoe meets Elizabeth Atkins in Newgate jail, she recounts her stranger-than-fiction story of a rags-to-riches life that took her from prostitution to prosperity - but culminated in destitution. Inspired, Defoe mixes fact and fiction to re-invent her as one of his most engaging characters: Moll Flanders. Starring Ben Miles as Defoe and Jessica Hynes as Elizabeth Atkins. A Journal of the Plague Year Writing a fictional journal of the Great Plague of 1665, Defoe soon comes to be haunted by the characters he is conjuring. Starring Ben Miles as Defoe. This exciting new collection of reinvented tales will also include two bonus programmes about Daniel Defoe himself:Defoe: Merchant, Writer, Convict, Spy by Philip Palmer - A biographical drama about Defoe's life, starring Ben Miles as Defoe and Niamh Cusack as his wife Mary. Defoe: The Facts and Fictions - A documentary by Mark Lawson, exploring the far-reaching influence of the pioneering author.
Virginia Woolf called Jane Austen the most perfect artist among women, and Emma Woodhouse is arguably her most perfect creation. Though Austen found her heroine to be a person whom no one but myself will much like, Emma is her most cleverly woven, riotously comedic, and pleasing novel of manners.
The epic battle between man and monster reaches its greatest pitch in the famous story of Frankenstein. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor himself to the very brink. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship ... and horror. Mary Shelley was born in 1797, the only daughter of writers William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. In 1814 she eloped with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, whom she married in 1816. She is best remembered as the author of Frankenstein, but she wrote several other works, including Valpergaand The Last Man.
The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio has remained, since it's publication, one of the most important books ever written and is widely considered a classic.
This seasonal compendium collects together poems, short stories, and prose extracts by some of the greatest poets and writers in the English language. Like Charles Dickens's ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, they are representative of times old and new--from John Donne's Elizabethan hymn over the baby Jesus to Benjamin Zephaniah's Talking Turkeys, from Thomas Tusser counting the cost of a Tudor feast to P. G. Wodehouse's wry story about Christmas on a diet. Enjoy a Christmas Day as described by Samuel Pepys, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, or Nancy Mitford. Venture out into the snow in the company of Jane Austen, Henry James, and Dickens's Mr. Pickwick. Entertain the children with the seasonal tales of Dylan Thomas, Kenneth Grahame, and Oscar Wilde.
Lud-in-the-Mist - a prosperous country town situated where two rivers meet: the Dawl and the Dapple. The latter, which has its source in the land of Faerie, is a great trial to Lud, which had long rejected anything 'other', preferring to believe only in what is known, what is solid. Nathaniel Chanticleer is a somewhat dreamy, slightly melancholy man, not one for making waves, who is deliberately ignoring a vital part of his own past; a secret he refuses even to acknowledge. But with the disappearance of his own daughter, and a long-overdue desire to protect his young son, he realises that something is changing in Lud - and something must be done. Lud-in-the-Mist is a true classic, an adult fairy tale exploring the need to embrace what we fear and to come to terms with 'the shadows' - those sweet and dark impulses that our public selves ignore or repress.
This little book of brief selections in prose and verse, with accompanying texts of Scripture, is intended for a daily companion and counsellor. These words of the goodly fellowship of wise and holy men of many times, it is hoped may help to strengthen the reader to perform the duties and to bear the burdens of each day with cheerfulness and courage.
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy by William Shakespeare. First published in 1600, it is likely to have been first performed in the autumn or winter of 1598-1599, and it remains one of Shakespeare's most enduring and exhilarating plays on stage. Stylistically, it shares numerous characteristics with modern romantic comedies including the two pairs of lovers, in this case the romantic leads, Claudio and Hero, and their comic counterparts, Benedick and Beatrice.
Will O' the Wisp (French: Le feu follet) is a 1931 novel by the French writer Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. It has also been published in English as The Fire Within. It tells the story of a 30-year-old man who after military service, followed by a few years of cosmopolitan, decadent life, has become burned out, addicted to heroin and tired of living.
When a young seaman named Jim follows his captain in abandoning a sinking ship and leaving its passengers aboard, the guilt he feels follows him for the rest of his life. Offered the opportunity for a new beginning, Jim takes up the role of a company representative on a remote Pacific island, where he gains respect from the locals who name him ""Lord"" Jim. But this new sense of self-belief is challenged when marauders attack the island. Conrad's powerful late 19th-century tale drew on real-life events as it examined the terrible repercussions of poor judgement and the subsequent tragedy that ensued.
In a Nutshell: Psycho-political thriller * Terrorist hijacking * Extremes of patriotism Unreservedly uncompromising, this gripping, thought-provoking novel raises pertinent questions about trust, sacrifice and the extremes people will go as a result of absolute devotion to a cause, and makes for a relentlessly intense reading experience. The novel opens as teenager Ben awaits the first visit of his US General father since he was used as a pawn - by his father - in a terrorist negotiation that left him dreaming of “screaming children”. These screams belong to the preschoolers who were bound for day camp when their bus was hijacked, trapping teenage driver Kate in a battle between violent terrorists (“No one is free from war until our homeland is free”, they state) and a secret government defence agency known as Inner Delta, for which Ben’s father works. One of the hijackers, Miro, is himself only sixteen, but “he was not a child anymore”; “inflicting death did not bother him”. As the ordeal goes on and negotiations get underway, Kate begins to wonder: “what had made him a monster? This world, his works. Who was guilty, then: the monster or the world that created it?” But, whatever the cause, the terrorists’ actions are monstrous. As the deadline for meeting their demands draws closer, “eager to serve” Ben, with his “air of innocence”, is sent to deliver proof that the terrorists’ leader has been captured, and chaos erupts.While the terrorists are prepared to murder to realise their aims, Ben’s father is so consummately committed to defending his nation that he’s prepared to use his own son as a go-between, and herein lies the moral crux of this complex novel: how far will an individual go in the name of their cause? And, in addition, how might any of us act in such extreme circumstances? Kate, too, finds herself “amazed at her ability to lie, to improvise, to plot and scheme.” While the themes are big, bold and masterfully presented, the impeccably precise writing also makes this a perfect – if harrowing - page-turner. ~ Joanne Owen It is one of The Originals from Penguin - iconic, outspoken, first. The Originals are the pioneers of fiction for young adults. From political awakening, war and unrequited love to addiction, teenage pregnancy and nuclear holocaust, The Originals confront big issues and articulate difficult truths. The collection includes: The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton, I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith, Postcards from No Man's Land - Aidan Chambers, After the First Death - Robert Cormier, Dear Nobody - Berlie Doherty, The Endless Steppe - Esther Hautzig, Buddy - Nigel Hinton, Across the Barricades - Joan Lingard, The Twelfth Day of July - Joan Lingard, No Turning Back - Beverley Naidoo, Z for Zachariah - Richard C. O'Brien, The Wave - Morton Rhue, The Red Pony - John Steinbeck, The Pearl - John Steinbeck, Stone Cold - Robert Swindells.
In a nutshell: Iconic | Outspoken | Big Issues | Difficult Truths A story about writing, this is also a wonderfully romantic story told by a young narrator trying to capture the unusual behaviour of her family and the life they lead in an unusual ruined castle as well as describing her own emotional turmoil. Cassandra is determined not to be pretentious as she tells the stories of her family and the story of her own desperate entanglement with the man who loves her sister. The result is a book that is delightfully entertaining and humorous. ~ Julia Eccleshare It is one of The Originals from Penguin - iconic, outspoken, first. The Originals are the pioneers of fiction for young adults. From political awakening, war and unrequited love to addiction, teenage pregnancy and nuclear holocaust, The Originals confront big issues and articulate difficult truths. The collection includes: The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton, I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith, Postcards from No Man's Land - Aidan Chambers, After the First Death - Robert Cormier, Dear Nobody - Berlie Doherty, The Endless Steppe - Esther Hautzig, Buddy - Nigel Hinton, Across the Barricades - Joan Lingard, The Twelfth Day of July - Joan Lingard, No Turning Back - Beverley Naidoo, Z for Zachariah - Richard C. O'Brien, The Wave - Morton Rhue, The Red Pony - John Steinbeck, The Pearl - John Steinbeck, Stone Cold - Robert Swindells.
In a Nutshell: Teen rebellion * Class conflict * Gangs gone wrong A heartrending coming-of-age classic that blazed the trail for young-adult-oriented fiction long before YA was even a twinkle in publishers’ eyes. With his parents dead, Ponyboy Curtis is looked after by his big brothers; Sodapop, who “understands everything, almost”, and Darry, who treats Ponyboy “as if I was six instead of fourteen”. The way Ponyboy sees it, there are two sorts of people. There are greasers who “steal things and drive souped-up old cars and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while”. And then there are Socs, who live on the rich side of the tracks, “jump greasers…and get editorials in the paper for being a public disgrace one day and an asset to society the next”. Ponyboy knows which side he’s been born into and is desperate to prove himself to his older greaser peers, so much so that he and his friend Johnny get embroiled in a “rumble” that sets a succession of tragic events in motion.Published when the author was only eighteen, and now newly re-published as part of a series that showcases pioneering books for young adults, this is a truly seminal work that transcends the era in which it was written. The themes of class conflict and gang bravado are pertinent, and Ponyboy poignantly encapsulates that bolt-from-the-blue moment when the world is seen through adult eyes for the very first time. While their struggles and losses are deeply harrowing, the novel ends with a spark of hope that Ponyboy and his brothers will make it through, and make a future for themselves. ~ Joanne Owen It is one of The Originals from Penguin - iconic, outspoken, first. The Originals are the pioneers of fiction for young adults. From political awakening, war and unrequited love to addiction, teenage pregnancy and nuclear holocaust, The Originals confront big issues and articulate difficult truths. The collection includes: The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton, I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith, Postcards from No Man's Land - Aidan Chambers, After the First Death - Robert Cormier, Dear Nobody - Berlie Doherty, The Endless Steppe - Esther Hautzig, Buddy - Nigel Hinton, Across the Barricades - Joan Lingard, The Twelfth Day of July - Joan Lingard, No Turning Back - Beverley Naidoo, Z for Zachariah - Richard C. O'Brien, The Wave - Morton Rhue, The Red Pony - John Steinbeck, The Pearl - John Steinbeck, Stone Cold - Robert Swindells.
Buddy has a hopeless father who is an ageing rocker, interested only in Elvis and bikes, and living on the fringes of the under-world. The two manage to strike up some kind of relationship when Buddy's mum walks out - until Buddy realises that his dad is involved in something more serious than he suspected.
Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty, winner of the Carnegie Medal, is a compelling story told from two points of view, evoking the feelings of both Helen, in a series of letters to the unborn baby, and of Chris as he reads the letters and relives the events of their relationship while Helen is in labour.
Esther Rudomin was ten years old when, in 1941, she and her family were arrested by the Russians for being 'capitalists' and transported to Siberia. The next five years spent were spent in exile where they went barefoot and hungry until the end of the Second World War. Despite the hardships endured, Esther's story radiates optimism and is a beautiful example of the resilience of the human spirit.
NO TURNING BACK by Carnegie-medal winning author Beverley Naidoo is the powerful and moving story of Sipho and his struggle to survive on the city streets of Johannesburg in the 1990s. South African society is on the brink of a huge change as apartheid comes to an end, but will it make any difference to the tough life of Sipho and the other street kids?
Kino is a desperately poor Mexican pearl diver. But when he finds 'The Pearl of the World' he believes that his life will be magically transformed. Obsessed by his dreams, Kino is blind to the greed, fear and even violence the pearl arouses in his neighbours - and himself.
Aidan Chambers' Carnegie-medal winning novel is about love, discovery and betrayal. Jacob, aged 17, is abroad on his own for the time, visiting his grandfather's grave at the commemoration of the Second World War Battle of Arnhem in Holland. Jacob's life-changing experiences are interwoven with the extraordinary wartime story of passion and treachery that he learns from Geertrui, whose family is linked to Jacob's in a way he never suspected.
Young Jody Tiflin lives on his father's California ranch. He is thrilled when his father gives him a red pony, and later promises him the colt of a bay mare. Both these gifts bring joy to Jodi's life - but tragedy soon follows. As Jodi begins to learn the harsh lessons of life and death, he starts to understand what growing-up and becoming an adult really means.
Link, aged 17, is distrustful of people until he pairs up with Deb, another homeless youngster. But what Deb doesn't tell him is that she's an ambitious young journalist on a self-imposed assignment to track down the killer and she's prepared to use herself as bait ...
Sadie is Protestant, Kevin is Catholic - and on the tense streets of Belfast their lives collide. It starts with a dare - kids fooling around - but soon becomes something dangerous. Getting to know Sadie Jackson will change Kevin's life forever. But will the world around them change too?
Laurie isn't sure what to make of 'The Wave'. It had begun as a simple history experiment to liven up their World War II studies and had become a craze that was taking over their lives. Laurie's classmates are changing from normal teenagers into chanting, saluting fanatics. 'The Wave' is sweeping through the school - and it is out of control. Laurie's friends scoff at her warnings but she knows she must make them see what they have become before it's too late.
Ann Burden has been living alone in a valley for over a year - until Loomis, a scientist in a radiation-proof suit, arrives. She hopes they will be companions but his behaviour towards her becomes increasingly threatening as he attacks her and then cuts off her food supply and tries to bring her under his control. Although there may be no one else alive, Ann steals his suit and leaves the valley in search of humanity.
Kevin and Sadie just want to be together, but it's not that simple. Things are bad in Belfast. Soldiers walk the streets and the city is divided. No Catholic boy and Protestant girl can go out together - not without dangerous consequences ...
Hercule-Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac was a French dramatist and duelist from the seventeenth century. In fictional works about his life he is featured with an overly large nose, which people would travel from miles around to see. This work is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. Although there was a real Cyrano de Bergerac, the play is a fictionalization of his life that follows the broad outlines of it in five acts. The entire play is written in verse, in rhyming couplets of 12 syllables per line, very close to the Alexandrine format, but the verses sometimes lack a caesura. It is also meticulously researched, down to the names of the members of the Academie francaise and the dames precieuses glimpsed before the performance in the first scene. The play has been translated and performed many times, and is responsible for introducing the word "panache" into the English language. Cyrano is in fact famed for his panache, and the play ends with him saying "My panache." just before his death.
First published in 1748, "Clarissa" is the long and tragic tale of the ever-virtuous Miss Clarissa Harlowe. Though her family, newly wealthy, wishes to enter the aristocracy, they can only do so by marrying Clarissa to an unrefined and loveless man. She is soon offered protection from the selfish motives of her family by Robert Lovelace, who tricks Clarissa into running away with him. Though witty and urbane, Lovelace soon proves himself a villainous rake, eager to strike out at the Harlowes by making sexual advances on their highly moral daughter. Clarissa repeatedly refuses the vague offers of marriage Lovelace gives her, deceiving herself by denying her physical attraction to him, yet holding true to her belief in virtue, even as she grows increasingly ill from the stress of her situation. A masterful epistolary novel, "Clarissa" is a tragic heroine who remains true to her quest for virtue to the very end. Contained in this book is the first of two volumes.
With an Introduction and Notes by Peter Merchant. Canterbury Christ Church College. The tough-mindedness of the social satire in and its air of palpable integrity give this novel a special place in Anthony Trollope's Literary career. Trollope paints a picture as panoramic as his title promises, of the life of 1870s London, the loves of those drawn to and through the city, and the career of Augustus Melmotte. Melmotte is one of the Victorian novel's greatest and strangest creations, and is an achievement undimmed by the passage of time. Trollope's 'Now' might, in the twenty-first century, look like some distant disenchanted 'Then', but this is still the yesterday which we must understand in order to make proper sense of our today.
Deep in the forests of Moran, far from civilization, live families of woodcutters and shepherds. A remote and beautiful world, it is a place where madness still reigns, murder occurs, and bloody punishments are delivered. What has happened to the body of the sensual and beautiful Catherine Corvol, wife of a rich landowner, killed not out of hatred but an excess of love? Around this central enigma, Germain has created a gothic enchantment, a dazzling rural fantasy rich in angels, obsession, and revenge where the reader is carried forward as much by the lyricism and strangeness of the language as by the macabre and fantastic turns of the plot.
From Aristotle to Aphra Benn to Jane Austen, and Socrates to Stendhal to Upton Sinclair our regular emails will point you in the direction of all the great classics from the beginnings of literature right up to the essential 20th century classics such as Animal Farm.
The privileged classes (Henry James) and life on the poverty line (Zola)... History (Robert Graves) and prophesy (George Orwell)... Romance (Emily Bronte) and ribaldry (Henry Fielding)... Generations lost (Ernest Hemingway) and encapsulated (F. Scott Fitzgerald)... Writers ahead of their time (James Joyce) and right on the pulse of it (Jack Kerouac)...
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