Classics

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!

Monkey King: Journey to the West

Monkey King: Journey to the West

Author: Wu Ch'eng-en Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/02/2021

One of the world's greatest fantasy novels and a rollicking classic of Chinese literature, in a sparkling new translation and published in a Clothbound Classics edition. A shape-shifting trickster on a kung-fu quest for eternal life, Monkey King is one of the most memorable superheroes in world literature. High-spirited and omni-talented, he can transform himself into whatever he chooses and turn each of his body's 84,000 hairs into an army of clones. But his penchant for mischief repeatedly gets him into trouble, and when he raids Heaven's Orchard of Immortal Peaches, the Buddha pins him beneath a mountain. Five hundred years later, Monkey King is finally given a chance to redeem himself: he must protect the pious monk Tripitaka on his journey in search of precious Buddhist sutras that will bring enlightenment to the Chinese empire. Joined by two other fallen immortals - Pigsy, a rice-loving flying pig, and Sandy, a depressive river-sand monster - Monkey King does battle with Red Boy, Princess Jade-Face, the Monstress Dowager, and all manner of dragons, ogres, wizards and femmes fatales; navigates the perils of Fire-Cloud Cave, the River of Flowing Sand and the Water-Crystal Palace; and is serially captured, lacquered, sauteed, steamed and liquefied - but always hatches an ingenious plan to get himself and his fellow pilgrims out of their latest jam. Comparable to The Canterbury Tales or Don Quixote, Monkey King is at once a gripping adventure, a comic satire and a spring of spiritual insight. With this new translation by the award-winning Julia Lovell, the irrepressible rogue hero of one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature has the potential to vault, with his signature cloud-somersault, into the hearts of a whole new generation of readers.

Much ADO about Nothing

Much ADO about Nothing

Author: William Shakespeare Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/04/2018

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.

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

Author: William Makepeace Thackeray, John Carey Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/01/2003

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.

eBooks of the Month
The Woman in White

The Woman in White

Author: Wilkie Collins Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/01/2021

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his 'charming' friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

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Orlando

Orlando

Author: Virginia Woolf, Sandra Gilbert Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/07/2020

'A fantasy, impossible but delicious ... an exuberance of life and wit' The Times Literary Supplement First masculine, then feminine, Orlando begins life as a young sixteenth-century nobleman, then gallops through the centuries to end up as a woman writer in Virginia Woolf's own time. Written for the charismatic, bisexual writer Vita Sackville-West, this playful mock biography of a chameleon-like historical figure is both a wry commentary on gender and, in Woolf's own words, a 'writer's holiday' which delights in its ambiguity and capriciousness. Edited by Brenda Lyons with an Introduction and Notes by Sandra M. Gilbert

The Waves

The Waves

Author: Virginia Woolf, Kate Flint, Kate Flint Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/04/2019

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

Mrs Dalloway

Mrs Dalloway

Author: Virginia Woolf Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/07/2020

'One of the most moving, revolutionary artworks of the twentieth century' Michael Cunningham Clarissa Dalloway, elegant and vivacious, is preparing for a party and remembering those she once loved. In another part of London, Septimus Warren Smith is suffering from shell-shock and on the brink of madness. Smith's day interweaves with that of Clarissa and her friends, their lives converging as the party reaches its glittering climax. Virginia Woolf's masterly novel, in which she perfected the interior monologue, brings past, present and future together on one momentous day in June 1923.

eBooks of the Month
Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Author: Victor Hugo, Norman Denny Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/10/2012

Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; and by the relentless investigations of the dogged Inspector Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty. Norman Denny's lively English translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing Hugo's political and artistic aims in writing Les Miserables. Victor Hugo (1802-85) wrote volumes of criticism, dramas, satirical verse and political journalism but is best remembered for his novels, especially Notre-Dame de Paris (also known as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) and Les Miserables, which was adapted into one of the most successful musicals of all time. 'All human life is here' Cameron Mackintosh, producer of the musical Les Miserables 'One of the half-dozen greatest novels of the world' Upton Sinclair 'A great writer - inventive, witty, sly, innovatory' A. S. Byatt, author of Possession

eBooks of the Month
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Author: Victor Hugo Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/04/2021

A fine exclusive edition of one of literature's most beloved stories. Featuring a laser-cut jacket on a textured book with foil stamping, all titles in this series will be first editions. No more than 10,000 copies will be printed, and each will be individually numbered from 1 to 10,000. It was one of those spring days which possesses so much sweetness and beauty, that all Paris turns out into the squares and promenades and celebrates them as though they were Sundays. A mad priest, a vagabond playwright, a social-climbing soldier, and a misshapen bell-ringer-all are captivated and intrigued by a gypsy girl's beauty and charm. Who will betray her, and who will remain loyal, even beneath the shadow of the gallows? This motley group of outlaws finds sanctuary within the walls of medieval Paris' greatest monument, the grand Cathedral of Notre Dame.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Author: Thomas Hardy, Rosemarie Morgan Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/02/2003

June 2014 Guest Editor Freya North on Thomas Hardy... For me, no other writer so definitively captures both the beauty and challenges of Britain - its landscape, weather, village life versus city life and of course the class system.  But most of all I love the way that landscape is not merely a backdrop in Hardy's writing, but a leading character in it – something that has become a crucial element of my own writing.  I love the paintings of Millet – the unpatronizing dignity he imbued his scenes of rustic life.  This is so true of Hardy too and nowhere is this more compelling than in Tess of the D’Urbervilles - one of my all time favourite books. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.

eBooks of the Month
Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure

Author: Thomas Hardy, Patricia Ingham Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/05/1998

June 2014 Guest Editor Freya North on Thomas Hardy... For me, no other writer so definitively captures both the beauty and challenges of Britain - its landscape, weather, village life versus city life and of course the class system.  But most of all I love the way that landscape is not merely a backdrop in Hardy's writing, but a leading character in it – something that has become a crucial element of my own writing.  I love the paintings of Millet – the unpatronizing dignity he imbued his scenes of rustic life.  This is so true of Hardy too and nowhere is this more compelling than in Tess of the D’Urbervilles - one of my all time favourite books.

eBooks of the Month
Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Author: Thomas Hardy, Margaret R. Higonnet Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/01/2003

June 2014 Guest Editor Freya North on Thomas Hardy... For me, no other writer so definitively captures both the beauty and challenges of Britain - its landscape, weather, village life versus city life and of course the class system.  But most of all I love the way that landscape is not merely a backdrop in Hardy's writing, but a leading character in it – something that has become a crucial element of my own writing.  I love the paintings of Millet – the unpatronizing dignity he imbued his scenes of rustic life.  This is so true of Hardy too and nowhere is this more compelling than in Tess of the D’Urbervilles - one of my all time favourite books. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.

eBooks of the Month