The 100 greatest British novels of all time

Looking for some good book suggestions for leisurely reading over the Christmas holidays or as tips for presents? Then the 100 greatest British novels is a must read list for you. If one of your New year's resolutions is to improve your English, this is also a great way to make a start. 

An international perspective on British novels
BBC Culture polled book critics outside the UK a few years ago to give an outsider’s perspective on the best in British literature. The critics invited to participate were book reviewers or editors from well-known newspapers, magazines or literary blogs and literary scholars. Still valid today, this list offers some wonderful choices.

Middlemarch is No. 1
Middlemarch won the top spot. Author George Eliot was followed closely by Virginia Wolfe whose novels 'To the Lighthouse' and 'Mrs. Dalloway' ranked number 2 and 3 respectively. Unsurprisingly, Charles Dickens also had two novels in the top 10 with Great Expectations edging in at number 4 and David Copperfield ranked number 8. You can see the full list of the 100 greatest British novels here.

Women on top

Women writers performed particularly well and dominated the top 10 with the Brontë sisters and Mary Shelly joining George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) and Virginia Wolfe in the top rankings. Books by women also make up nearly 40% of the total 100 novels on the list.

The classics rule
Only 13 novels from the top 100 originate in our own century and not a single one from this century made the top 10. Most of the top 10 were written in the 1800s with just two written last century (To the Lighthouse, 1927 and Mrs. Dalloway, 1925).

What's so good about Middlemarch?

Want to find out a little more about this book before you commit to reading it? Or perhaps you'd like to suggest it for your book club and need to sell the idea. Try reading Michael Gorra's explanation of why Middlemarch is the greatest British novel and see if you agree.

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