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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!
September 2009 Good Housekeeping selection. On My Bookshelf by Penny Smith... This wasn’t a set text for us at school, but I read it anyway and it got me into the classics big time. I had such vivid pictures of all the characters and places. Sadly, every adaptation, including the fantastic one with Colin Firth, was never a patch on my image of what they all looked like and were like. Plus I just love a love story… GMTV presenter Penny Smith is passionate about books and is now a novelist herself; her latest fiction, After The Break, is published by Harper Perennial.
If you have watched the film, then forget all you know! For me, the film came first, then I read the book and the two are as different as different could be. This is actually the second book in the Leatherstocking Tales written by Cooper. Just one piece of advice, remember that The Last of the Mohicans was written in 1826, and set some 75 years before that, so there are parts that will likely make you squirm. This is a trip into the past and all that goes with the mindset of those times. Having said that, I find this book endlessly fascinating and yes, I would recommend it. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Captivating, stimulating, and written with the lightest and wittiest of touches. E. M. Forster not only transported me to another place, he also opened my eyes to the times and made me smile. I think I quite possibly discovered my love for Italy having read A Room with a View as a teenager. The characters pop with such vivid intensity, and Italy, well I felt as though Italy was performing just for me. A Room with a View is a beautifully entertaining and lovely romance, with just a little bite. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
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
Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
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.
While Pride and Prejudice may sit at the top of many people’s favourite Jane Austen books, Emma has to be a contender for the title too. For me Emma has a little more bite, it isn’t quite as comfortable a read as Pride and Prejudice, and that makes it more interesting. In terms of lead characters Emma is right up there, she may be headstrong, snobbish, convinced she knows best, yet because of those characteristics, because she isn't perfect, she also feels so very real. Emma is a bright, beautifully written novel with real heart and I love it. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
In an age of gene splicing, stem cell research and Computer Artificial Intelligence, Mary Shelley’s dark gothic tale contains a stark warning message for us all in this modern age. The novel is as much about the struggle that Dr Frankenstein’s creature has with what it means to be human as it does about the creation of life itself. The key takeaway for the reader is just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
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.
Anne entered my heart in my childhood, I devoured this book and fell in love. There is something about the setting of Prince Edward Island in Canada that charms. The characters feel so very real, and Anne Shirley, well, she is completely delightful. As I entered my teenage years Anne grew with me and I still call this series one of my favourites. These are books that I return to again and again, they deliver the most wonderful hug.
This is one of the best-loved family stories of all the classics. When Roberta, Peter and Phyillis’s father is arrested their life is turned upside down. The children move to the country and the railway that runs nearby becomes their greatest source of adventure. One day, they come up with a brilliant plan to make use of the friends they’ve made through the train to prove their father’s innocence and bring him back safely. Will it work? A book to treasure and return to again and again and features the complete and unabridged text. If you love a good story, then look no further.
From Aristotle to Aphra Benn to Jane Austen, and Socrates to Stendhal to Upton Sinclair our classics genre 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)...
There’s so much out there to discover, but it can be daunting without guidance.