Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales have become so much a part of the Western culture that they are often assumed to be a part of folklore and not credited to the strange and gangling Dane who wrote them. Several years before the fairy tales came out, the Brothers Grimm had published their tales taken from the folklore of European stories, but Andersen was to change the understanding of what a tale can achieve.
A collection of Rosetti's most well known and loved poetry. Alongside the famous beauty of Rosetti's 'In the Bleak Midwinter', 'Goblin Market' is a deceptively simple poem. The story of two sisters and their temptation, punishment and redemption, written in Christina Rosetti's characteristically songlike poetry, is easily passed over as a fable or fairy story. But there are several layers more to discover in this most intriguing of poems.
Attraction, desire and sex were not proper subjects for a 19th-century novel, and Charlotte Brontë's clear and open handling of all three in Jane Eyre was shocking, exciting and revolutionary. Jane Eyre - a small, plain-faced, intelligent and honest English orphan - is abused by her aunt and cousins as a child; acquires role models during her education at Lowood Academy; and becomes the governess of Thornfield Manor, where she falls in love with her Byronic employer, Edward Rochester.
In his own inimitable style, Terry Jones leads you through Chaucer's filthy and very funny tale of adultery, the feared coming of the second flood and burnt bums. The Canterbury Tales broke the literary mould in many ways. It established English as an acceptable language for literature, where previously it had been almost exclusively Latin or Norman French. It was also one of the first books to create a link between all the pieces of work in a literary collection.
Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is one of the most influential pieces of writing in the British literary cannon. It helped to establish English, rather than Latin or Norman French, as an acceptable language for literature. It was also one of the earliest pieces of work to have story linking - what had previously been just collected writings which the author deemed interesting.
The refusal to settle for what life has dealt you and the consequences of trying to change it is a theme which hasn't altered much in the last 150 years, and the astonishing beauty and challenge of Madame Bovary is as electric today as it was then. Very few books have created this much outrage and adoration.
Written in 1911, The Card is the story of Edward Henry (Denry) Machin, who rises from washerwoman's son to the Mayor of Bursley (Burslem in the Potteries town of Stoke-on-Trent) via a mixture of gentle deceit and personal hype. He is literally a trickster of confidence. His rise to fame is begun at an exclusive ball to which he has got himself invited, where he has the audacity to claim a dance with the glamourous but imposing Countess of Chell.
The Man of Property, the first in the long series of novels written by John Galsworthy known as the Forsyte Saga, was written in 1906. It was the second novel that Galsworthy had published under his own name, the four novels previous to this being published privately under the pseudonym John Sinjohn. And, unlike its predecessors, it was a great success. It examined and dissected the habits, manners, snobberies and increasingly suffocating moral code of the upper-middle classes to which he belonged.
Illusion and love - two of James' favourite things - grin thorough this collection of funny and wicked tales. The illusion of social class, a favourite stamping ground for James, is explored in the glittering social comedy "The Real Thing", first published in 1892, in which an artist attempts vainly to capture the nature of aristocracy via painting what he takes to be 'real' members of that social group.
'My Daddy! My Daddy!' has become one of the most famous tearjerking lines. Bobby's cry as her father's figure appears through the mist of the steam train in this story of a family's stalwart struggle to keep calm and carry on when forced by the wrongful arrest of their father on spying charges to move from their idyllic life to a rundown cottage by a railway line has jerked the tears of generations of readers (and, in latter years, filmgoers and theatre audiences).
This is a selection of D. H. Lawrence's short stories, mostly about women. Although much wider known for his novels and in particular for his forthright attitude to sex and its description in literature, it is for his short stories that Lawrence has most commonly gained critical acclaim. He was a beautiful creator of this most difficult of forms, giving us glimpses into the lives he describes in his stories, which often tell us more than full-length novels written by lesser hands.
There is the warmest of Christmas fires in this hearth. It was reportedly written in a matter of weeks to catch the Christmas deadline. Unlike his other seasonal stories, this is not a supernatural tale but one of the perfect domestic scene with which Dickens was so obsessed throughout his writing. It is all here: the warmth of home, the loving little woman, the children, the food and the laughter. All the things that go to make an idealised Christmas are rolled into one very warming story.
Filled with an array of comic characters, The Chimes tells the story of Toby Veck, a humble porter whose loses his faith in human nature at the hands of his presumed social superiors but regains it thanks to the spirits of the bells. Like its predecessor, it carries a heartfelt plea for charity and brotherhood and examines such distressing themes as suicide and infanticide as well as the question of whether the poor have any right to live at all.
This is one of the most famous children's books ever written. Since its publication in 1877, it has sold well over 30 million copies. It held the world record for sales far and above any other piece of children's literature for 130 years. It wasn't, however, written for children - the story of the highly spirited and gorgeous black stallion and his transfer from owner to increasingly abusive owner until his final happy rescue was originally intended to be a campaigning work distributed to those who worked with horses.
Alice's rather wild adventures in Wonderland begin on an unadventurous picnic, when her attention, wandering off from the lesson it was supposed to be glued to, is caught by a passing white rabbit who happens to be wearing a waistcoat and muttering to himself, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" As he disappears down a rabbit hole and Alice, for want of anything better to do, follows him, a tale of almost hallucinogenic wildness unfolds as she finds herself in Wonderland.
Eustacia Vye's great desire in life was to be loved to madness, and in this, one of Thomas Hardy's best-loved novels, one of his most superb female characters conducts her wild and lethal campaign against her rival - the innocent, rather conventional Thomas - against the backdrop of Egdon Heath, the equally wild and lethal Dorset moorland on which Hardy grew up.
The love affair between Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and Robert Browning is one of the most famous in literature. It begins in 1844 with Elizabeth Barrett, closeted in her room for five years through ill health and forbidden from marrying by her nonconformist father, publishing the most recent of her highly successful literary works, a collection of poetry. The poems prompt a letter from Robert Browning in praise of her work, which so touches her that she agrees to let him into her voluntary seclusion.
It was a nightmare from which he was furious to have been woken which triggered Robert Louis Stevenson's most successful and famous work. Having been stirred from what he termed 'a fine bogey tale', Stevenson set about putting his nightmare onto paper. It reputedly took him only three days to write, but the story of a split personality warring with itself between righteousness and immorality is as much a part of modern thought as it became in 1885.
Robert Louis Stevenson's lengthy short story 'The Pavilion on the Links' was considered by Arthur Conan Doyle to be 'the first short story in the world'. This unsettlingly nerve-racking tale is every bit as chilling as its much wider known follower, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and at the time of its publication was every bit as successful. Stevenson makes the choice in the story of having two fairly unpleasant characters for his main protagonists.
The stabbing of an antique dealer on Christmas Day leads the murderer, Markheim, to try to justify his life to the devil in an in-depth discussion about the nature of good and evil. His evening ends quite differently from how he'd planned it and results in him making an admission of guilt for the killing.... Author Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was born in Edinburgh into a prestigious family of lighthouse designers and engineers on his father's side and moral philosophers on his mother's.