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Guide to reading books by British or Irish writers
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An excellent way to learn English is to read books. This page lists some famous British and Irish authors and their best-known books.

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Famous British and Irish authors and some of their most famous books include the following:

Sherlock Holmes statue,
Baker Street station

Sherlock Holmes museum,
Baker Street

British Classics
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes stories, eg "The Hound of the Baskervilles", 1902)
Bram Stoker ("Dracula", 1897)
Charlotte Bronte ("Jane Eyre", 1847)
(see also: Travel/Tours/England/Haworth)
Charles Dickens ("Oliver Twist", 1837; "A Christmas Carol", 1843)
D.H.Lawrence ("Lady Chatterley's Lover", 1928)
Daniel Defoe ("Robinson Crusoe", 1720)
E.M.Forster ("A Passage to India", 1924; "Howards End", 1910)
Emily Bronte ("Wuthering Heights", 1847)
(see also: Travel/Tours/England/Haworth)
Evelyn Waugh ("Brideshead Revisited", 1945)
H.G.Wells ("The Time Machine", 1895; "The War of the Worlds", 1898)
Jane Austen ("Sense and Sensibility", 1811; "Emma", 1815; "Pride and Prejudice", 1813)
(see also: Travel/Tours/England/Bath and Travel/Tours/England/Winchester)
Mary Shelley ("Frankenstein", 1818)
Oliver Goldsmith ("The Vicar of Wakefield", 1766; "She Stoops to Conquer", 1773)
P.G.Wodehouse ("The Inimitable Jeeves", 1924)
R.D.Blackmore ("Lorna Doone", 1869)
Robert Graves ("I, Claudius", 1934)
Virginia Woolf ("Mrs Dalloway", about 1915)
William Shakespeare ("Romeo and Juliet", 1596; "Macbeth", about 1600)
(see also: Travel/Tours/England/Stratford)

Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew"
performed at the Globe Theatre

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre,
Southwark, London

Irish Classics
(see also: Travel/Tours/Ireland/Dublin)
James Joyce ("Ulysses", 1922; "Finnegans Wake", 1939)
Jonathan Swift ("Gulliver's Travels", 1726)
Oscar Wilde ("An Ideal Husband", 1895; "The Importance of Being Earnest", 1899)
Samuel Beckett ("Waiting for Godot")
George Bernard Shaw ("Pygmalion", 1912)

Modern British
Agatha Christie (Miss Marple and Inspector Poirot books)
Douglas Adams ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy")
George Orwell ("Nineteen Eighty-Four", 1949; "Animal Farm", 1945)
Graham Greene ("The Third Man", 1950; "The End of the Affair", 1951)
Harold Pinter ('The Caretaker")
Ian Fleming (James Bond books)
(see also: Britain/Films/Bond)
Iris Murdoch ("The Bell"; the film "Iris" is about her life)
J.R.R.Tolkien ("The Hobbit", 1937; "Lord of the Rings", 1954)
(see also: Life/Entertainment/Theatre/Lord-Of-The-Rings)
James Herriot ("All Creatures Great and Small")
Jeoffrey Archer ("First Among Equals", 1993)
Richard Adams ("Watership Down", 1973)
Tom Stoppard ("Arcadia", 1993; "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead", 1968)
William Golding ("Lord of the Flies", 1954)

Children's Books

Thomas the Tank Engine
(by Rev W Awdry)

(by Elisabeth Beresford)

Paddington Bear
(by Michael Bond)

A.A.Milne ("Winnie the Pooh", 1926)
Beatrix Potter ("Peter Rabbit", 1902) (see: Britain/Films/MissPotter and Travel/Tours/England/Windermere)
C.S.Lewis ("The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe")
Edith Nesbit ("The Railway Children", 1906) (see also: Travel/Tours/England/Haworth)
Elisabeth Beresford (the "Wombles" stories)
Enid Blyton ("Noddy" stories; the "Famous Five" books)
Frances Hodgson Burnett ("Little Lord Fonteroy", 1886; "Secret Garden", 1909)
J.K.Rowling (Harry Potter stories; for more details see: Britain/Films/Potter)
Kenneth Grahame ("The Wind in the Willows", 1908)
Lewis Carroll ("Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", 1865; "Through the Looking-Glass", 1872) (see also: Travel/Tours/England/Oxford)
Michael Bond ("Paddington Bear" stories)
Rev. W. Awdry ("Thomas the Tank Engine" stories)
Roald Dahl ("James and the Giant Peach"; "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory")
Rudyard Kipling ("The Jungle Book", 1894; "Just So Stories", 1902)

Characters from A A Milne's
Winnie the Pooh stories

Beatrix Potter's characters

Peter Rabbit

Jemima Puddleduck

Squirrel Nutkins

Out-of-copyright books are available free online at or or

There is a collection of free short stories at:

Readers consist of a book and a matching tape/CD, set at different levels of English ability
Penguin Readers (Penguin Longman):
Cambridge English Readers (Cambridge University Press):
Oxford University Press Readers:
Heinemann ELT Guided Readers (Macmillan Heinemann)

There is a list of British and Irish authors and web links is at

A Brief History of English Literature
Authors: John Peck, Martin Coyle
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Date: January 2002

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