100 works of English Literature

  1. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
    A story of a man in search of truth told with the
    simple clarity and beauty of Bunyan’s prose make
    this the ultimate English classic.
  2. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719)
    By the end of the 19th century, no book in English
    literary history had enjoyed more editions, spin-offs
    and translations. Crusoe’s world-famous novel is a complex literary confection, and it’s irresistible.
  3. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)
    A satirical ma A satirical masterpiece sterpiece that’s nev that’s never been er been out of
    print, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels comes
    third in our list of the best novels written in English
  4. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (1748)
    Clarissa is a tragic heroine, pressured by her
    unscrupulous nouveau-riche family to marry a
    wealthy man she detests, in the book that Samuel
    Johnson described as “the first book in the world for the knowledge it displays of the human heart.”
  5. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (1749)
    Tom Jones is a classic English novel that captures
    the spirit of its age and whose famous characters
    have come to represent Augustan society in all its
    loquacious, turbulent, comic variety.
  6. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy,
    Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (1759)
    Laurence Sterne’s vivid novel caused delight and
    consternation when it first appeared and has lost little of its original bite.
  7. Emma by Jane Austen (1816)
    Jane Austen’s Emma is her masterpiece, mixing
    the sparkle of her early books with a deep
  8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
    Mary Shelley’s first novel has been hailed as a
    masterpiece of horror and the macabre.
  9. Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock (1818)
    The great pleasure of Nightmare Abbey, which was
    inspired by Thomas Love Peacock’s friendship with
    Shelley, lies in the delight the author takes in
    poking fun at the romantic movement.
  10. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of
    Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)
    Edgar Allan Poe’s only novel – a classic adventure
    story with supernatural elements – has fascinated
    and influenced generations of writers.
    The future prime minister displayed flashes of
    brilliance that equalled the greatest Victorian
    A whirlwind A whirlwind success … J success … Jane Eyre ane Eyre
  11. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
    Charlotte Brontë’s erotic, gothic masterpiece
    became the sensation of Victorian England. Its
    great breakthrough was its intimate dialogue with
    the reader.
  12. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847) Emily Brontë’s windswept masterpiece is notable
    not just for its wild beauty but for its daring
    reinvention of the novel form itself.
  13. Vanity Fair by William Thackeray (1848)
    William Thackeray’s masterpiece, set in Regency
    England, is a bravura performance by a writer at
    the top of his game.
  14. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850)
    David Copperfield marked the point at which
    Dickens became the great entertainer and also laid the foundations for his later, darker masterpieces.
  15. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Nathaniel Hawthorne’s astounding book is full of
    intense symbolism and as haunting as anything by
    Edgar Allan Poe.
  16. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
    Wise, funny and gripping, Melville’s epic work
    continues to cast a long shadow over American
  17. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis
    Carroll (1865)
    Lewis Carroll’s brilliant nonsense tale is one of the
    most influential and best loved in the English
  18. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)
    Wilkie Collins’s masterpiece, hailed by many as the
    greatest English detective novel, is a brilliant
    marriage of the sensational and the realistic.
  19. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868-9)
    Louisa May Alcott’s highly original tale aimed at a
    young female market has iconic status in America
    and never been out of print.
  20. Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871-2)
    This cathedral of words stands today as perhaps
    the greatest of the the greatest of the great Victorian fictions. great Victorian fictions.
  21. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
    (1875) Inspired by the author’s fury at the corrupt state of
    England, and dismissed by critics at the time, The
    Way We Live Now is recognised as Trollope’s
  22. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by
    Mark Twain (1884/5)
    Mark Twain’s tale of a rebel boy and a runaway
    slave seeking liberation upon the waters of the
    Mississippi remains a Mississippi remains a definin defining classic g classic of American of American
  23. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
    A thrilling adventure story, gripping history and
    fascinating study of the Scottish character,
    Kidnapped has lost none of its power.
  24. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome
    Jerome K Jerome’s accidental classic about
    messing about on the Thames remains a comic
  25. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
    Sherlock Holmes’s second outing sees Conan
    Doyle’s brilliant sleuth – and his bluff sidekick
    Watson – come into their own.
    Helmut Berger and Richard Todd in the 1970
    adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
  26. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    Wilde’s brilliantly allusive moral tale of youth,
    beauty and corruption was greeted with howls of
    protest on publication.
  27. New Grub Street by George Gissing (1891)
    George Gissing’s portrayal of the hard facts of a
    literary life remains as relevant today as it was in
    the late 19th century.
  28. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (1895)
    Hardy exposed his deepest feelings in this bleak,
    angry novel and, stung by the hostile response, he never wrote another.
  29. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen
    Crane (1895)
    Stephen Crane’s account of a young man’s
    passage to manhood through soldiery is a blueprint
    for the great American war novel.
  30. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
    Bram Stoker’s classic vampire story was very much
    of its time but still resonates more than a century
  31. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)
    Joseph Conrad’s masterpiece about a life-changing
    journey in journey in search of M search of Mr Kurtz has r Kurtz has the simplicity the simplicity of
    great myth.
  32. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (1900)
    Theodore Dreiser was no stylist, but there’s a
    terrific momentum to his unflinching novel about a
    country girl’s American dream.
  33. Kim by Rudyard Kipling (1901) In Kipling’s classic boy’s own spy story, an orphan
    in British India must make a choice between east
    and west.
  34. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)
    Jack London’s vivid adventures of a pet dog that
    goes back to nature reveal an extraordinary style
    and consummate storytelling.
  35. The Golden Bowl by Henry James (1904)
    American literature contains nothing else quite like
    Henry James’s amazing, labyrinthine and
    claustrophobic novel.
  36. Hadrian the Seventh by Frederick Rolfe
    This entertaining if contrived story of a hack writer
    and priest who becomes pope sheds vivid light on
    its eccentric author – described by DH Lawrence as
    a “man-demon”.
  37. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth
    Grahame (1908)
    The evergreen tale from the riverbank and a
    powerful contribution to the mythology of
    Edwardian England.
  38. The History of Mr Polly by HG Wells (1910)
    The choice is great, but Wells’s ironic portrait of a
    man very like himself is the novel that stands out.
  39. Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (1911)
    The passage of time has conferred a dark power
    upon Beerbohm’s ostensibly light and witty
    Edwardian satire.
  40. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
    (1915) Ford’s masterpiece is a searing study of moral
    dissolution behind the facade of an English
    gentleman – and its stylistic influence lingers to this
  41. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
    John Buchan’s espionage thriller, with its sparse,
    contemporary prose, is hard to put down.
  42. The Rainbow by DH Lawrence (1915)
    The Rainbow is perhaps DH Lawrence’s finest work, showing him for the radical, protean,
    thoroughly modern writer he was.
  43. Of Human Bondage by W Somerset
    Maugham (1915)
    Somerset Maugham’s semi-autobiographical novel
    shows the author’s savage honesty and gift for
    storytelling at their best.
  44. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
    The story of a blighted New York marriage stands
    as a fierce indictment of a society estranged from
  45. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)
    This portrait of a day in the lives of three Dubliners
    remains a towering work, in its word play
    surpassing even Shakespeare.
  46. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (1922)
    What it lacks in structure and guile, this enthralling
    take on 20s America makes up for in vivid satire
    and characterisation.
  47. A Passage to India by EM Forster (1924)
    EM Forster’s most successful work is eerily
    prescient on the subject of empire.
  48. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
    A guilty pleasure it may be, but it is impossible to
    overlook the enduring influence of a tale that
    helped to define the jazz age.
  49. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)
    Woolf’s great novel makes a day of party preparations the canvas for themes of lost love, life
    choices and mental illness.
    Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio in The
    Great Gatsby’s film adaptation by Baz Luhrmann.
  50. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
    Fitzgerald’s jazz age masterpiece has become a
    tantalising metaphor for the eternal mystery of art.
  51. LollyWillowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
    (1926) A young woman escapes convention by becoming
    a witch in this original satire about England after the
    first world war.
  52. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
    Hemingway’s first and best novel makes an escape
    to 1920s Spain to explore courage, cowardice and
    manly authenticity.
  53. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
    Dashiell Hammett’s crime thriller and its hard-boiled
    hero Sam Spade influenced everyone from
    Chandler to Le Carré.
  54. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930)
    The influence of William The influence of William Faulkner’s immersive tale Faulkner’s immersive tale
    of raw Mississippi rural life can be felt to this day.
  55. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
    Aldous Hu Aldous Huxley’s visio xley’s vision of a fu n of a future human race
    controlled by global capitalism is every bit as
    prescient as Orwell’s more famous dystopia.
  56. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)
    The book for which Gibbons is best remembered
    was a satire of late-Victorian pastoral fiction but
    went on to influence many subsequent generations.
  57. Nineteen Nineteen by John Dos Passos
    The middle volume of John Dos Passos’s USA
    trilogy is revolutionary in its intent, techniques and
    lasting impact.
  58. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934) The US novelist’s debut revelled in a Paris
    underworld of seedy sex and changed the course
    of the novel – though not without a fight with the
  59. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938)
    Evelyn Waugh’s Fleet Street satire remains sharp,
    pertinent and memorable.
  60. Murphy by Samuel Beckett (1938)
    Samuel Beckett’s first published novel is an
    absurdist masterpiece, a showcase for his uniquely comic voice.
    Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep.
  61. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)
    Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled debut brings to life
    the seedy LA underworld – and Philip Marlowe, the
    archetypal fictional detective.
  62. Party Going by Henry Green (1939)
    Set on the eve of war, this neglected modernist
    masterpiece centres on a group of bright young
    revellers delayed by fog.
  63. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien (1939)
    Labyrinthine and multilayered, Flann O’Brien’s
    humorous debut is both a reflection on, and an
    exemplar of, the Irish novel.
  64. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    One of the greatest of great American novels, this
    study of a family torn apart by poverty and
    desperation in the Great Depression shocked US
  65. Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse (1946)
    PG Wodehouse’s elegiac Jeeves novel, written
    during his disastrous years in wartime Germany,
    remains his masterpiece.
  66. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
    A compelling story of personal and political
    corruption, set in the 1930s in the American south.
  67. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (1947)
    Malcolm Lowry’s masterpiece about the last hours of an alcoholic ex-diplomat in Mexico is set to the
    drumbeat of coming conflict.
  68. The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen
    Elizabeth Bowen’s 1948 novel perfectly captures
    the atmosphere of London during the blitz while
    providing brilliant insights into the human heart.
    Richard Burton and John Hurt in Nineteen Eightyfour
  69. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)
    George Orwell’s dystopian classic cost its author
    dear but is arguably the best-known novel in
    English of the 20th century.
  70. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
    Graham Greene’s moving tale of adultery and its
    aftermath ties together several vital strands in his
  71. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)
    JD Salinger’s study of teenage rebellion remains
    one of the most controversial and best-loved
    American novels of the 20th century.
  72. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul
    Bellow (1953)
    In the long-running hunt to identify the great
    American novel, Saul Bellow’s picaresque third
    book frequently hits the mark.
  73. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954) Dismissed at first as “rubbish & dull”, Golding’s
    brilliantly observed dystopian desert island tale has
    since become a classic.
  74. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
    Nabokov’s tragicomic tour de force crosses the
    boundaries of good taste with glee.
  75. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
    The creative history of Kerouac’s beat-generation
    classic, fuelled by pea soup and benzedrine, has
    become as famous as the novel itself.
  76. Voss by Patrick White (1957)
    A love story set against the disappearance of an
    explorer in the outback, Voss paved the way for a
    generation of Australian writers to shrug off the
    colonial past.
  77. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
    Her second novel finally arrived this summer, but
    Harper Lee’s first did enough alone to secure her
    lasting fame, and remains a truly popular classic.
  78. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel
    Spark (1960)
    Short and bittersweet, Muriel Spark’s tale of the
    downfall of a Scottish schoolmistress is a
    masterpiece of narrative fiction.
  79. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
    This acerbic anti-war novel was slow to fire the
    public imagination, but is rightly regarded as a
    groundbreaking critique of military madness.
  80. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
    Hailed as one of the key texts of the women’s
    movement of the 1960s, this study of a divorced
    single mother’s search for personal and political
    identity remains a defiant, ambitious tour de force.
    Malcolm Macdowell in Stanley Kubrick’s A
    Clockwork Orange film.
  81. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
    Anthony Anthony Burgess’s d Burgess’s dystopian ystopian classic still co classic still continues ntinues
    to startle and provoke, refusing to be outshone by Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant film adaptation.
  82. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
    Christopher Isherwood’s story of a gay Englishman
    struggling with bereavement in LA is a work of
    compressed brilliance.
  83. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966)
    Truman Capote’s non-fiction novel, a true story of
    bloody murder in rural Kansas, opens a window on
    the dark underbelly of postwar America.
  84. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1966)
    Sylvia Plath’s painfully graphic roman à clef, in
    which a woman struggles with her identity in the
    face of social pressure, is a key text of AngloAmerican feminism.
  85. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth (1969)
    This wickedly funny novel about a young Jewish
    American’s o American’s obsession bsession with mastu with masturbation cau rbation caused
    outrage on publication, but remains his most
    dazzling work.
  86. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth
    Taylor (1971)
    Elizabeth Taylor’s exquisitely drawn character
    study of eccentricity in old age is a sharp and witty
    portrait of genteel postwar English life facing the
    changes taking shape in the 60s.
  87. Rabbit Redux by John Updike (1971)
    Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, Updike’s lovably
    mediocre alter ego, is one of America’s great
    literary protoganists, up there with Huck Finn and
    Jay Gatsby.
  88. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977)
    The novel with which the Nobel prize-winning
    author established her name is a kaleidoscopic
    evocation of the African-American experience in the
    20th century.
  89. A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul (1979)
    VS Naipaul’s hellish vision of an African nation’s
    path to independence saw him accused of racism, but remains his masterpiece.
  90. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
    The personal and the historical merge in Salman
    Rushdie’s dazzling, game-changing Indian English
    novel of a young man born at the very moment of
    Indian independence.
  91. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
    Marilynne Robinson’s tale of orphaned sisters and their oddball aunt in a remote Idaho town is
    admired by everyone from Barack Obama to Bret
    Easton Ellis.
    Nick Frost as John Self Martin Amis’s Money.
  92. Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis (1984)
    Martin Amis’s era-defining ode to excess unleashed
    one of literature’s greatest modern monsters in self –
    destructive antihero John Self.
  93. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo
    Ishiguro (1986) Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel about a retired artist in
    postwar Japan, reflecting on his career during the
    country’s dark years, is a tour de force of unreliable
  94. The Beginning of Spring by Penelope
    Fitzgerald (1988)
    Fitzgerald’s story, set in Russia just before the
    Bolshevik revolutio Bolshevik revolution, is her masterpiece: a brilliant her masterpiece: a brilliant
    miniature whose peculiar magic almost defies
  95. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (1988)
    Anne Tyle Anne Tyler’s portraya r’s portrayal of a middl l of a middle-aged, midAmerican marriage displays her narrative clarity,
    comic timing and ear for American speech to
  96. Amongst Women by John McGahern (1990)
    This modern Irish masterpiece is both a study of
    the faultlines of Irish patriarchy and an elegy for a
    lost world.
  97. Underworld by Don DeLillo (1997) A writer of A writer of “frightenin “frightening percepti g perception”, Don D on”, Don DeLillo
    guides the reader in an epic journey through
    America’s his America’s history and p tory and popular cu opular culture.
  98. Disgrace by JM Coetzee (1999)
    In his Booker-winning masterpiece, Coetzee’s
    intensely human vision infuses a fictional world that
    both invites and confounds political interpretation.
  99. True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter
    Carey (2000)
    Peter Carey rounds off our list of literary milestones with a Booker prize-winning tour-de-force
    examining the life and times of Australia’s infamous
    antihero, Ned Kelly.

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