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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!
Agatha Christie's most famous murder mystery, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
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.
Written in 1932, this is an amazing dystopian fiction is set in a futuristic world state where everyone has been conditioned to be content and perform according to a social and intelligence-based hierarchy. In a world where there have been scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning and behaviour conditioning the question is posed through Bernard Marx, Helmholtz Watson and John, is it better to be manipulated and happy or to be free? A must-read for all science-fiction fans. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
So incredibly entertaining, this is a novel I can read again and again. Discover adventure, betrayal, revenge and love between the pages of a drama filled belter of a read. Yes, I love this book, and it is one of my favourite classic reads. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Set in the deep American south between the wars, this is the classic tale of Celie, a young poor black girl. Raped repeatedly by her father, she loses two children and then is married off to a man who treats her no better than a slave. She is separated from her sister Nettie and dreams of becoming like the glamorous Shug Avery, a singer and rebellious black woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the support of women that enables her to leave the past behind and begin a new life. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers. 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.
One of the best loved stories in children’s literature, The Secret Garden brings nature alive in the story of how Mary Lennox, a lonely, unhappy and spoilt child is transformed by finding her way into a hidden garden. Brought to her Uncle’s house in Yorkshire after the death of her mother, Mary has no friends and no occupation. Used to being waited she is selfish and mean spirited. But when Mary unlocks the door to the garden she not only finds the wonders of nature as the flowers and trees grow and bear fruit but she also finds a friend in Dickon, the kindly gardener’s boy. How Mary, and her wheelchair bound cousin Colin are transformed by the garden remains as magical as when it was first written.
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.
May 2014 Guest Editor Daisy Goodwin on The Palliser Series... Dickens is the prose stylist, but Trollope is the psychologist. His characterisation is subtle and surprising and he is particularly good at creating convincing female characters. I love Lady Glencora in the Palliser series, she is the embodiment of what today we would call ‘soft power’. I have written two novels set in the nineteenth century and I read Trollope continually as a language barometer.
Not recognised as a masterpiece until years after Anthony Trollope's death (perhaps it made people flinch a little too much), The Way We Live Now is just as current and relevant as it was when it was written. Corruption, social climbing, and scandal is as prevalent today as it has always been and the main character Melmotte is truly wonderful, because he is so very dreadful. A book to make you smirk, wince, and nod. There are surely some well known people alive today that would easily step between the pages and feel right at home. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
One of fiction's greatest chancers - the story of Denry Machin and his unceasing, ingenious efforts to become a great man. Set in the raw, Victorian world of the 'Five Towns', The Card tells the extremely funny and tangled story of Denry Machin's rise from mediocrity to fame through a series of ludicrous and yet perversely successful schemes. He dances, pleads, cheats and inspires his way through life in a series of set-pieces which wonderfully evoke a now long-gone world of civic balls, seaside excursions, newspaper boys and patent chocolate remedies. As everybody said after one of his most stylish coups, Denry 'was not simply a card; he was the card.'
The classic book that inspired Kes, the famous film, now published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Barry Hines's A Kestrel for a Knave was published in 1968, and was made into one of the key British films of the sixties. Billy Casper is beaten by his drunken brother, ignored by his mother and failing at school. He seems destined for a hard, miserable life down the pits, but for a brief time, he finds one pleasure in life: a wild kestrel that he has raised and tamed himself.
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.
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.