Fans of British Writers discussion

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General Discussions > Favorite British Writers (as in more than one)

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message 1: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jun 18, 2010 11:18AM) (new)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments There is (elsewhere) a "favorite British writer" thread, but sometimes it may be hard to pare your choice down to one. Sometimes it may be a sort of "apples and oranges" choice. For example I love the James Herriot books...they're funny, but also at times heart rending. They are also semi-autobiographical, so how do I compare them to another favorite writer, P. G. Wodehouse...strictly humor and a totally different type. Or....how do I compare either of them to J. R. R. Tolkien, no comparasion at all. Since I'd rate Tolkien as one of my all time favorite writers I suppose that would make him my choice...except maybe C. S. Lewis would rate above him. That wouldn't be for his fiction of course, Tolkien's fiction is better, but Lewis's nonfiction work rates (again) as some of my all time favorite work.

See?

So, how about everyone else. Who are your favorite British writers, and why?


message 2: by Werner (last edited Jun 18, 2010 05:39PM) (new)

Werner | 1005 comments Mike, great idea for a thread! It's impossible for me to narrow it down to just one, too, for the same kinds of reasons. Wodehouse is one writer I've never read; but otherwise, the other three you mentioned are right at the top of my estimation, too. (I like Lewis' fiction as well as his nonfiction. :-)) The more I read of G. K. Chesterton, the more I'm coming to appreciate him as well.

My favorite 19th-century classic British authors are Austen, Dickens, Stevenson, Doyle, George Eliot, and H. G. Wells, though in each of those cases there are still books by them that I haven't read. When it comes to 20th-century mystery and historical fiction writers, respectively, Agatha Christie and Norah Lofts are tops. But I read more in the speculative genres than the descriptive ones, and for modern British speculative fiction, my hands-down favorites are J. K. Rowling, Stephen Lawhead, and Terry Pratchett. (Okay, Lawhead was American-born; but so was T. S. Eliot! He writes fiction much influenced by the Celtic tradition and usually set in the British Isles, and he's settled permanently in England; I consider him British.)

The "why" I like these, I guess, would be a matter of subjective taste. Their storytelling and their styles appeal to me (though they've all got different styles --sometimes vastly different), and they all have particular things they do well as literary craftspersons. Very often, especially with writers who share my Christian faith, I particularly like the messages in their writing; but Wells had a worldview I don't share, and I still like his science fiction. It's also important to note that there are lots of other British authors I've liked, but just haven't read enough of their work yet to call them favorites. And as I keep reading, I'll no doubt discover some new favorites I haven't made the acquaintance of yet!


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments I love Lewis also, and his allegorical fiction I hands down love more than Lord of the Rings, but LotR is I must admit superior fiction-wise. That was the sort of thing I'm hoping to spark discussion of.

As for Lawhead (a favorite of mine to)and Elliot being American born, P.G. Wodehouse became a naturalized American citizen...not something to be picky about. I hope we can get some discussion going about it all.


PaNdORa   (gökçe) (pandora-m) | 15 comments george eliot!!!


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments Is she the only one? :)


PaNdORa   (gökçe) (pandora-m) | 15 comments hehe not only one I just remember her with her longest novel middle march which made me sick I was insisted on not to finish that book (I dont know why whenever I got that book ,I couldnt communicate with it )my prof.was insisted on asking exam questions from that book :((


PaNdORa   (gökçe) (pandora-m) | 15 comments daniel defoe moll flander


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments Like most everyone I suppose I have to list Robinson Crusoe as my favorite Defoe novel as for Elliot I think Silas Marner is all I've read by her...like it though.:)


message 9: by Werner (last edited Jun 19, 2010 05:38PM) (new)

Werner | 1005 comments Mike, yes, Silas Marner is a really great novel --it was required reading when I was in high school, and fortunately I loved it-- and I believe you'd like Adam Bede as well (I sure did). Personally, I also liked Middlemarch; but different people have different takes on that, obviously. (The Lifted Veil is atypical of her work in that it's early science fiction, dealing specifically with psychic precognition; but I thought it was a worthwhile read, also.) And ever since I saw the Masterpiece Theater production of Daniel Deronda, I've wanted to read that one someday, too!

Robinson Crusoe is actually the only Defoe novel I've ever read --and I liked it, though the main drawback of it is that it has no chapter divisions of any kind --just hundreds of pages of unbroken text. (Fiction writers of that day were still perfecting their techniques. :-)) But I've often thought Moll Flanders might be worth a try, too! So, Pandora, you say that one is good?


PaNdORa   (gökçe) (pandora-m) | 15 comments yes it is nice book you should it
it reminds me of turkish series:)


PaNdORa   (gökçe) (pandora-m) | 15 comments Moll flander is an active woman we read that book in class while I was studying I had to my turkish translation of that book before having prepared for the exam I used to read the book loudly at home ,my mom was listen to me and said what kind of woman she is.


PaNdORa   (gökçe) (pandora-m) | 15 comments it has a hard language as a foreign especially for me it was difficult


message 13: by Barbara (last edited Jun 19, 2010 10:25PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 62 comments Yes indeed Moll Flanders was 'active'.....I can imagine Pandora's mother wondering what sort of a woman she was!

Werner did you really LIKE Adam Bede - I mean enjoy as opposed to admiring the prose etc ? I found it a terribly depressing book, and not one I would have thought a young ESL student would like. Mind you , come to think of it, teenagers often do like gloom don't they - I seem to remember liking/shivering at very depressing poetry in the antedeluvian past


message 14: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1005 comments Barbara, good question! Admittedly, some parts of Adam Bede (the Hetty plotline) are starkly tragic; and nobody but a sadist, or someone who actually likes to go through a box of Kleenex crying over a book (I'm neither :-)) could "enjoy" her fate. I'm honestly not a fan of unrelieved tragedy, and if I can get a completely happy ending, I'll take it gladly. At the same time, I know that real life often is tragic, and I can take tragic threads mixed with happy ones in a literary tapestry, as they are in life. That's what Eliot serves up in this book.

Hetty, here, isn't simply an innocent victim of fate and male lechery (though she's certainly a victim of the latter); she's a girl who's made some selfish and lousy choices along the way, that have contributed to getting her where she ends up. I like the fact that Eliot recognizes this; and the fact that Hetty faces up to this, under Dinah's influence, and takes moral responsibility for herself at the end mitigates (though it doesn't remove) the darkness of the tragedy. (Of course, many moderns would say that she --and Arthur, for that matter!-- never did anything here that was one bit wrong; but Eliot, to her credit, knows that that's a crock.) Dinah and Adam are characters I could like and respect, and I did enjoy their love story; being an evangelical, I liked the Christian elements here (Eliot wasn't herself a Christian, but was a strong theist sympathetic to many Christian ideas), and I thought Dinah's role as a lady preacher packed a good feminist message. (At the end, when the Methodist denomination's main body banned women preachers, my sympathies were with Seth's suggestion.) So in the main, yes, I did honestly like it. Of course, that's just me!


message 15: by Barbara (last edited Jun 20, 2010 03:21PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 62 comments Oh I am SO cross with myself. Another senior moment . Rushing into print about Adam Bede when what I really had in mind was Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure!

Of course I loved Adam Bede ,and for all the reasons you outline Werner .


PaNdORa   (gökçe) (pandora-m) | 15 comments Barbara wrote: "Yes indeed Moll Flanders was 'active'.....I can imagine Pandora's mother wondering what sort of a woman she was!

Werner did you really LIKE Adam Bede - I mean enjoy as opposed to admiring the p..."


hi Barbara I m emberrased to say this I havent read ADAM BEDE how is it ? like Moll flander


message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1005 comments Yes, Jude the Obscure is a really dark, depressing book, and "like" or "enjoy," in the usual senses, aren't verbs that readily come to mind in relation to it. (Tess of the D'Urbervilles isn't exactly an upbeat read, either.) An English professor here at BC who's a good friend of mine is a great fan of Hardy --I'm not sure why, exactly! :-)


message 18: by Barbara (last edited Jun 21, 2010 12:00AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 62 comments Well I'm a fan too ( of Hardy ) and am not really sure why either . His heroines I think - or maybe it's just Eustachia Vye. Also his sense of place , as does NL later, he makes his countryside seem like you can see and touch it. Like Dickens does for London .


message 19: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1005 comments Yes, my comment about Hardy was a bit tongue-in-cheek (though I still haven't ranked him as a favorite writer the way my friend does --maybe I should; TH can be an awfully dark writer, but I keep reading things he wrote, and I wouldn't if they didn't offer something!). You're right that he does wonders with developing his native Wessex; and he has a genuine feel for rural community and folk life, and an elegaic quality to his writing as he witnesses the destruction of that world under the relentless attack by modernity. I don't share his narrow pessimistic materialism; but then, I don't share the worldview of a lot of writers I like, and despite what critics may say, his message isn't always that people are just fatalistically doomed --several of his works have more upbeat strands, and quite a few of his "doomed" characters wind up as they do because of folly and selfishness (their own, and/or other people's), not from blind "Fate." (And while I read more fiction than poetry, I've read some pretty good Hardy poems.)

He did create some strong, memorable, self-directed heroines; but while she's brilliantly drawn, I have to say I don't really find Eustachia very likable. Tess is a different story --she's a heart-stealer from Chapter One (and like Hardy, I find it amazing that his clearly accurate description of her as a "pure woman" was the one thing that set many critics howling the most ferociously!). Bathsheba learns from life, and grows as a person, in good ways; and the smuggler lady (whose name I've shamefully forgotten!) in "The Distracted Preacher" is a pearl. (It's not hard to see why the title character loses his heart to her; if I'd been in his shoes, I'd have fallen for her myself!)


message 20: by Barbara (last edited Jun 23, 2010 08:43PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 62 comments Hi Pandora

Heavens, you don;t need to be embarrassed about having not read Adam Bede , I think you have done amazingly well for reading what you have done in a second language. I am seriously impressed!


message 21: by Carol (new)

Carol | 133 comments Thomas Hardy--I have read all his books, not all of them are up to the high standards of his famous ones, but they are still fantastic, compared writing that is available nowadays!!! It is true many of Hardy's books are just plain painful.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Austen, Dickens, Christie, Doyle... The familiar ones :)


message 23: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) my fave British writers are Kate Atkinson, Christopher Fowler, Colin Cotterill, and John Milton, just to mix it up a bit.


message 24: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1005 comments Carol, I've read all of Milton's poetry (and liked it for the most part, though I've never reviewed it here on Goodreads). But I have to confess that I've never really heard of any of the other three writers you mentioned (at least, as far as I can remember(. What can you tell us about them?


message 25: by Bekka (new)

Bekka | 7 comments My favorite British authors are J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis.
My favorite non-British author whose books are set at least partly in England and/or Ireland: Deborah Harkness and Katherine Kurtz.
Clearly, I'm into fantasy books!


message 26: by Carol (new)

Carol | 133 comments Werner
I am confused if we are talking about The Black Arrow anymore. Is there a place to talk about it?


message 27: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1005 comments Yes, Carol, the official common reads discussions last through a calendar month, and April still has a little over a week to go! I just haven't commented on the book myself lately, since I finished it awhile ago (it was a relatively quick read), and no one else had made any comments since my most recent one on April 12, either. Here's the link to that thread: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... . (You can also find it from the group homepage; it's currently the first one listed in the "Discussion of Individual Books" folder.

Even after the group read officially ends, the discussion thread will stay open. So people can still make comments even years later, as they read the book again or for the first name, or as they get new information to share or have new insights.


message 28: by Carol (new)

Carol | 133 comments Okay, so it looks like I am on the wrong thread here. Thanks.


message 29: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) Werner wrote: "Carol, I've read all of Milton's poetry (and liked it for the most part, though I've never reviewed it here on Goodreads). But I have to confess that I've never really heard of any of the other thr..."

I should have included the links in my initial post -

Kate Atkinson. Her Goodreads bio, in pertinent part, is below:

Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since. These and more are her works, but Case Histories and Life After Life likely are the most famous.
Behind The Scenes At The Museum Readers Guide (Reading Group Guides) by Kate Atkinson ]
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson


Christopher Fowler is a prodigious writer (think Stephen King in terms of volume of output. I haven't read most of them, but I adore the Bryant & May series. The bio from GR provides, in pertinent part:

"Christopher Fowler is an English novelist living in London, his books contain elements of black comedy, anxiety and social satire. As well as novels, he writes short stories, scripts, press articles and reviews. He lives in King's Cross, on the Battlebridge Basin, and chooses London as the backdrop of many of his stories because any one of the events in its two thousand year history can provide inspiration."

Fowler created my two favorite characters of contemporary fiction. They are middle aged to senior, quirky, brilliant, thoughtful and real. Plus, I can't tell you how much I've learned about London's history, including its subway system and rivers, from Fowler's works. Here's the link to the first in the series:
Full Dark House (Bryant & May, #1) by Christopher Fowler

Colin Cotterill was born in Surrey but has spent the majority of his adult life in Laos, and writes the Dr. Siri Palboun series. Dr. Siri is a physician who, in the early '70s is designated national coroner, notwithstanding his lack of training or interest in that role, following the Communist takeover of Laos. Here's a link to the first novel in the series and also one to my favorite of the series, thus far:

The Coroner's Lunch (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #1) by Colin Cotterill
Disco For The Departed (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #3) by Colin Cotterill

Cheers.

Carol


message 30: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) Bekka wrote: "My favorite British authors are J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis.
My favorite non-British author whose books are set at least partly in England and/or Ireland: Deborah Harkness and Katherine Kurtz.
Clearly..."


*smacks forehead* how did I miss CS Lewis and JK Rowling? Great calls, Bekka.


message 31: by Bekka (new)

Bekka | 7 comments Carol wrote: "Bekka wrote: "My favorite British authors are J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis.
My favorite non-British author whose books are set at least partly in England and/or Ireland: Deborah Harkness and Katherine ..."


:)


message 32: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1005 comments Carol, thanks for the additional information! When I read it, I realized that I have heard of both Fowler and Cotterill after all --I just didn't recognize their names. Although I've never read anything in either, I have heard of, and read intriguing reviews of, both of the series you mentioned in connection with them, and always thought that they seemed interesting.


message 33: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Ehrhardt (aliciabutcherehrhardt) | 102 comments Hi - I'm new. I didn't see other fans of Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey stories (especially ending with Busman's Honeymoon, but those (especially the latter ones with Harriet Vane) are big favorites.

I'm a fan of Jane Eyre, not so much of Wuthering Heights, though someone recently commented that Cathy and Heathcliff were teenagers - which made a lot of sense.

I like the essays of George Orwell (and 1984 and Animal Farm), and even Winston Churchill's non-fiction - India and South Africa.

There is so much good reading! So many great authors.


message 34: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 610 comments I like Thomas Hardy, H.E Bates, Somerset Maugham, J.K Rowling, Agatha Christie, C.S.Lewis, Kate Atkinson.etc. The list is also contains many authors mentioned by group members. Oh yes, I forget to mention George Eliot and Douglas Adams.


message 35: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Ehrhardt (aliciabutcherehrhardt) | 102 comments P.D. James, Conan Doyle, so many mystery writers I've read in quantity (though I can't remember half of them and don't have them on my list here).


message 36: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 610 comments There are a lot of terrific British writers! I used to read a lot more mysteries than I do now, and there are a lot of great British mystery writers. I like to read more non-fiction now and enjoy George Orwell, Forster and Pritchett, among others.


message 37: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Ehrhardt (aliciabutcherehrhardt) | 102 comments Never enough time to read. I can't believe I forgot Dame Agatha. And Ngaio Marsh. And Josephine Tey. And...

Does anyone else remember Meriol Trevor? Her children's book, The Other Side of The Moon, is one I still read every year.


message 38: by Jane (new)

Jane Jackson (janejackson91) | 2 comments Hi everyone, I am brand new to this group, active of only mere minutes ago. I love the concept, I love books in general and love British literature. As with British films, there tends to be a quirky subtly to it.
So, my favourite British authors would have to be:
- C.S. Lewis - when I was a kid I read The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe 7 times, until it literally fell apart.
- Tolkein. Obviously.
- Sebastian Faulks - for 'Birdsong' (what girl doesn't like that book?), NOT for Charlotte Grey, which I am convinced must have been ghost-written as it was so dire.
- Ian Fleming
- Most recently my favourite author of recent years is Antony J. Stanton, author of the simply brilliant new (last Nov) "Once Bitten, Twice Die" - post-apoc thriller... Highly recommended...
Once Bitten, Twice Die by Antony Stanton
Once Bitten, Twice Die

But I am very much looking forward to looking through the recommendations above and (hopefully soon) below...
JJ


message 39: by Rosina (new)

Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 20 comments I am going to stick with 20th century authors - those who fill my bookshelves.
Historicals: Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Dunnett, Patrick O'Brian, Rosemary Sutcliff, D K Broster
Crime: Reginald Hill, Iain Pears, Michael Innes, Lindsay Davis
Fantasy: Jasper Fforde, Terrry Pratchett

There are others - but that will do to begin with!


message 40: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Fraser (melaniefraservoiceuk) | 45 comments Stella Rimmington and Rik Stone are two of my favourites.


message 41: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) Rosina wrote: "I am going to stick with 20th century authors - those who fill my bookshelves.
Historicals: Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Dunnett, Patrick O'Brian, Rosemary Sutcliff, D K Broster
Crime: Reginald Hill,..."


Off to educate myself on Rosemary Sutcliffe, Rok Stone, and Michael Innes. Thanks for the homework!


message 42: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 610 comments Carol, I like Rosemary Sutcliffe's historical novels for teen readers. They are well researched and the plots are exciting. I have not read any of her adult fiction, but she does write well.


message 43: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) Rosemarie wrote: "Carol, I like Rosemary Sutcliffe's historical novels for teen readers. They are well researched and the plots are exciting. I have not read any of her adult fiction, but she does write well."

Thanks, Rosemarie, for the add'l info. A friend of my 14 year old daughter is always looking for suggestions for novels that aren't dystopian, fantasy or icky teen romance and Sutcliffe could be just the ticket, if not for my TBR list.


message 44: by Rose (last edited May 20, 2016 09:59AM) (new)

Rose Romano | 12 comments My list of favorite British writers is probably common and predicable. Jane Austin, any Bronte, Muriel Spark, Virginia Woolf, etc. And that's a long etc. because I have all these vague images of myself sitting in front of a book by a British author and drooling happily.

But speaking of Middlemarch, I think sometimes people like me who like older classics and are often disappointed by contemporary bestsellers (some are great, such as The 13th Tale by Diane Setterfield, which will definitely be an old classic some day) might consider what those bestsellers do for old classics.

What I mean is, the first time I read Middlemarch I was impatient with all the psychological motivations and explanations she gave for all her characters. I remember reading about why Dorothy was unhappy in her marriage--Casaubon wasn't what she thought he was before they got married. But Eliot takes five pages (at least, in the Italian translation) to tell us that and I remember thinking--OK, lady, we get it. Will you just tell us what happened?

Then I read a contemporary bestseller (written by a British woman, if I'm not mistaken) who just expected us to accept the characters as they were. There was one guy in particular who was a real jerk, very arrogant and shallow. Every time the author got through telling us the last terrible thing he did, I would turn the page thinking, okay, now we'll find out why he's such a creep. But nooooo! The author starts the next scene.

That's when I decided to read Middlemarch the second time. And I enjoyed it a lot more.

Thank you, Eliot, for assuming I'm an adult who can handle things like deep thought!


message 45: by Treece (last edited Jun 07, 2016 12:07PM) (new)

Treece (sapphire_roses) | 7 comments My favorite British authors since childhood and to date are:
Tanith Lee
Jane Austen
William Shakespeare
Michael Moorcock
Storm Constantine

Neil Gaiman is newly added to this list in recent years.

I'm delighted that there is discussion thread here for Tanith Lee. She is unparalleled.


message 46: by Treece (new)

Treece (sapphire_roses) | 7 comments Werner wrote: "Mike, great idea for a thread! It's impossible for me to narrow it down to just one, too, for the same kinds of reasons. Wodehouse is one writer I've never read; but otherwise, the other three you ..."

Agatha Christie, Doyle and Dickens are great choices!


message 47: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 610 comments As anyone read the books of Howard Spring? He wrote in the mid 20th century so his books may be harder to find now.


message 48: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1005 comments Rosemarie, I've never read any of Howard Spring's work myself, but the Bluefield College library has no less than ten novels by him. (I'm not sure if they've ever been checked out, and I'm guessing they were probably donated --we already had them when I came to work here in 1992.)

Patrice, Tanith Lee is one of a handful of English-language writers whom I particularly admire as (apart from anything else) a literary stylist. She was a wonderful craftswoman of prose!


message 49: by Richard (new)

Richard T. | 1 comments How many of you can resist a good Sherlock Holmes adventure?


message 50: by E.M. (new)

E.M. Swift-Hook | 75 comments Richard wrote: "How many of you can resist a good Sherlock Holmes adventure?"

An excellent question - for myself, I think the ease of accessing the stories through TV and film has meant I am less inclined to pick up a book.

That said I have read some and enjoyed.


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