The Guardian’s The 100 best novels written in English

Robert McCrum’s full list of 100 best novels written in English  (17 August 2015)

top 100 novels written in english

“a classic is a book that has never finished what it wants to say” – Italo Calvino

17 Nov 2015: A few authors I have read, but their other books are selected, i.e. Austen, Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Doyle, Kipling, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells (I’ve read 2 HG Wells’ books and some short stories, but every single bloody list seems to pick his OTHER books that I haven’t read), Edith Wharton, Woolf, Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Orwell, Capote, Ishiguro. A few I have read their short stories, but not their books i.e. Poe, Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Elizabeth Bowen. In total I’ve read 19 authors in the list, but not the books chosen, plus 13 books that are in the list (each author only gets one slot). So I’m familiar with 32 authors out of 100, which is not too bad! Realistically in 2016, I’d love to get to Three Men in a Boat, The Sign of Four, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Heart of Darkness, The Wind in the Willows, Mrs Dalloway, The Sun Also Rises, 1984, The End of the Affair, In Cold Blood, The Bell Jar. Will I be able to get to Middlemarch and Midnight’s Children in 2016? Doubtful.

Those I’ve read are in Royal Blue (18/100)

1. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678)

2. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719)

3. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)

4. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (1748)

5. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (1749)

6. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (1759)

7. Emma by Jane Austen (1816)

8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

9. Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock (1818)

10. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)

11. Sybil by Benjamin Disraeli (1845)

12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)

13. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)

14. Vanity Fair by William Thackeray (1848)

15. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850)

16. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

17. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

18. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)

19. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)

20. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868-9)

21. Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871-2)

22. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope (1875)

23. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884/5)

24. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

25. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome (1889)

26. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (1890)

27. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)

28. New Grub Street by George Gissing (1891)

29. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (1895)

30. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1895)

31. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

32. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)

33. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (1900)

34. Kim by Rudyard Kipling (1901)

35. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)

36. The Golden Bowl by Henry James (1904)

37. Hadrian the Seventh by Frederick Rolfe (1904)

38. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)

39. The History of Mr Polly by HG Wells (1910)

40. Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (1911)

41. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (1915)

42. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)

43. The Rainbow by DH Lawrence (1915)

44. Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham (1915)

45. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920)

46. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)

47. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (1922)

48. A Passage to India by EM Forster (1924)

49. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos (1925)

50. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)

51. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

52. Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1926)

53. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)

54. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1929)

55. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930)

56. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

57. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

58. Nineteen Nineteen by John Dos Passos (1932)

59. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)

60. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938)

61. Murphy by Samuel Beckett (1938)

62. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)

63. Party Going by Henry Green (1939)

64. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien (1939)

65. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)

66. Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse (1946)

67. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946)

68. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (1947)

69. The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen (1948)

70. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)

71. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (1951)

72. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)

73. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (1953)

74. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)

75. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

76. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)

77. Voss by Patrick White (1957)

78. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

79. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1960)

80. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

81. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (1962)

82. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

83. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (1964)

84. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966)

85. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1966)

86. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth (1969)

87. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (1971)

88. Rabbit Redux by John Updike (1971)

89. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977)

90. A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul (1979)

91. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)

92. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1981)

93. Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis (1984)

94. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (1986)

95. The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald (1988)

96. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (1988)

97. Amongst Women by John McGahern (1990)

98. Underworld by Don DeLillo (1997)

99. Disgrace by JM Coetzee (1999)

100. True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (2000)

McCrum’s reflection (including those he regretted to leave out)

And lastly:

Here, to provoke Observer readers just one last time, is my All Time Top 10 (chosen from this series, in chronological order):

Emma
Wuthering Heights
Moby-Dick
Middlemarch
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Heart of Darkness
The Rainbow
Ulysses
Mrs Dalloway
The Great Gatsby

 

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