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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!
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.
November 2012 Guest Editor Kate Mosse on Wuthering Heights... Powerful and elegiac, a novel of drama, passion and compelling characterisation. Most exceptional of all, though, the brilliance of Bronte’s descriptions of landscape and light on the Yorkshire Moors has had a major influence on my writing about southwest France. One of Clare Balding's favourite books. Chosen by the public through a survey to coincide with the 10th birthday celebrations of World Book Day 2007, this title is one of ‘the ten books the nation can’t live without’. Have you read them all? Below are links to each title and position on the list. 1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen 2. The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien 3. Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë 4. Harry Potter JK Rowling 5. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee 6. The Bible 7. Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë 8. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell 9. His Dark Materials Philip Pullman10. Great Expectations Charles Dickens Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
It's 1805 and St Petersburg, Russia is overwhelmed by terror and uncertainty as Napoleon marches on the country and war breaks out. Focusing on three characters whose lives are transformed, War and Peace is about people trying to find their place in a world completely changed by war, social, political and spiritual upheaval. Timeless themes that resonate today while also offering an insight into a moment in history. A fantastic classic recommended by us. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
If you know Vanity Fair then the name Becky Sharp will immediately conjure images of a ruthless, immoral, and selfish social climber, and one of literatures most fascinating characters. At the time she was one of the first female leads and for her to be so ambitious and manipulative, well! Thackeray wrote a novel with flawed characters, cutting social commentary, along with the reality of being human and existing in a not so perfect world. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin was first serialised in an anti-slavery periodocial. By popular demand Harriet Beacher Stowe released it as a novel and it almost immediately sold out. The book describes the journey Uncle Tom takes from being a slave on a Kentucky farm takes to his death on the orders of the vicious plantation owner Simon Legree. His humanity, dignity and Christian faith shines through even in the worst adversity. The novel had a profound effect on attitudes to slavery and was cited by Abraham Lincoln as a strong motivation for the Amercian Civil War. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
March 2012 Guest Editor Alan Bradley on Louise Penny... As a young child and early reader, I used to pilfer my older sister’s copy of Ulysses. I didn’t understand the book but I loved the words. More than sixty years later, there are parts of Joyce (notably Finnegans Wake) that I still don’t understand, but I still love the words. I keep both books on my night table. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
A 2013 World Book Night selection. One of Dan Snow's favourite books. Marcus Sedgwick, July 2010 Guest Editor, says:"I continually list this book in my top five, because it's my belief that most people haven't actually read it, and know it only from bowdlerised abridgements, which is a shame because the real thing is powerful, dark and above all, scary."June 2010 Guest Editor Michael Morpurgo remembers:A terrifically exciting tale of a dead man’s map, mutinous pirates, skulduggery and buried treasure that will be thoroughly enjoyed by a child if read aloud to them from the age of 5 upwards. It’s such a gripping adventure that children are sure to pick it up again to read alone when they’re a little older. It’s the story of Jim Hawkins who discovers a map in an old sea chest but little does he know of the danger and excitement which lie ahead when sets sail for Treasure Island in search of treasure.What Michael Morpurgo says of his favourite children's book:'This was the first proper book I read for myself. Jim Hawkins was the first character in a book I identified with totally. I was Jim Hawkins. I lived Treasure Island as I read it. And I loved it. Still do. I wish I'd written it.'Treasure Island in a nutshell:Black spot moment. Sea dog dies. Jim finds map. Ship sets sail. Pirates on board. Island is found. Madman in cave. Two rival camps. Battle for map. Dig up chest. Treasure is gone. Gunn has gold. Head back home. Silver runs off. Jim writes book.
Perhaps his most famous work, Emile Zola's Therese Raquin is a dark and gripping story of lust, violence and guilt, set in the gloomy back streets of Paris. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with notes and an introduction by Robin Buss. In the claustrophobic atmosphere of a dingy haberdasher's shop on the Passage du Pont-Neuf in Paris, Therese Raquin is trapped in a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Camille. The numbing tedium of her life is suddenly shattered when she embarks on a turbulent affair with her husband's earthy friend Laurent, but their animal passion for each other soon compels the lovers to commit a crime that will haunt them forever. Therese Raquin caused a scandal when it appeared in 1867 and brought its twenty-seven-year-old author a notoriety that followed him throughout his life. Zola's novel is not only an uninhibited portrayal of adultery, madness and ghostly revenge, but also a devastating exploration of the darkest aspects of human existence. Robin Buss's translation superbly conveys Zola's fearlessly honest and matter-of-fact style. In his introduction, he discusses Zola's life and literary career, and the influence of art, literature and science on his writing. This edition also includes the preface to the second edition of 1868, a chronology, further reading and notes.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was America’s foremost feminist thinker of the early twentieth century. Her most famous work, The Yellow Wallpaper, was first published in 1892 and still resonates with a powerful representation of mental health and issues around women’s creativity and self-expression. Its narrator is a middle-class woman married to a physician. Suffering from post-natal depression, her husband “does not believe that I am sick!” beyond having a “slightly hysterical tendency”. And so he and her brother (also a doctor) have decreed that she simply needs to take air and exercise and not work (i.e. write) until she is well again. Never mind that she believes that “congenial work with excitement and change, would do me good”. Her agency removed, she starts to see a woman in the wallpaper of her room. She sees the woman creeping and crawling, “all the time trying to climb through” - an act of escape the narrator follows, to her husband’s horror. With tremendous power, prescience and stark lyricism, this offers a cutting critique of the ways in which women are infantilised, and hampered by male institutions. 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.
March 2011 Guest Editor Robert Goddard on The Woman in White... There’s just such a lot to enjoy and admire in this ground-breaking work of mystery and suspense. It was one of my inspirations for trying my hand at novel-writing in the first place. When The Woman in White was published in 1860, it was an instant success. No-one else had ever dared to cram quite so much intrigue into a plot, not least because it’s an extremely difficult thing to do. But Collins brushes the difficulty aside, throws in memorable characters and carries the whole thing off with the aplomb of the master he was. Genius! __________________________________________ Turn mobile detective with the hidden object puzzler. Developed by Freeze Tag Inc. Woman in White has been adapted from Wilkie Collins’ 19th century novel and is available to download now from the App Store, priced £0.69 for iPhone®/iPod® touch and £1.99 for iPad® HD. Just click the button below. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Friendship, hospitality and having fun propel the adventures of these four animals as they go about their lives against the watery landscape in this classic tale. Life on the riverbank with close-friends Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger is mostly peaceful. There is lots of entertaining as well as a great deal of just messing about on the river. Just occasionally the peace is shattered, as when Toad gets behind the wheel of his car and speeds around the countryside letting rip with the horn or, more seriously, by brief attempts to defeat the weasels and stoats in the Wild Wood.
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.
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.