The Good Soldier
Ford Madox Ford’s narrator, John Dowell, tells the story of the relationships that began in 1904 when he and his wife Florence met Edward and Leonora Ashburnham. Published in 1915, the novel is intriguing for its shifts in time and its unreliable narrator who haphazardly reveals the secrets behind the two couples’ well-ordered Edwardian facades. Read, unabridged, by Kerry Shale. 7 CDs; total time 7hrs 59mins.
The Vicar of Wakefield
‘A Book of Job transferred to 18th-century bourgeois England’, Goldsmith's tale begins with Charles Primrose, his wife and four children in their tranquil rural parish: an idyll to be shattered by bankruptcy, seduction and prison. Whether a story of suffering and fortitude or a satire of 18th-century life, the novel's appeal has never faltered. Read, unabridged, by Nicholas Farrell. 6 CDs; total time 7hrs 01min.
The Playboy of the Western World
Although a celebration of Irish life, language and humour, Synge’s comic masterpiece was seen as morally offensive and patronizing towards the Irish peasantry when it was premiered in 1907: it provoked not only controversy but actual rioting. This recording is of a classic production, with a cast led by the Irish actors Siobhan McKenna and Cyril Cusack. 2 CDs; total time 1hr 27mins.
The Cellist of Sarajevo
During the Siege of Sarajevo, a cellist plays at a site where many have died, while enemy snipers besieging the city try to kill him. Galloway’s bestselling novel revolves around the cellist, following three citizens as they go about their lives, risking death with every simple journey. Read by Gareth Armstrong. 6 CDs; total time 5hrs 28mins.
In Mary Shelley’s powerful Promethean fable, Dr Frankenstein’s experiment and its terrible outcome is told through the letters of an English explorer who met the doomed scientist as he pursued his monster into the Arctic wilderness. Read by Daniel Philpott, Roger May and Jonathan Oliver. 7 CDs; total time 9hrs 08mins.
Tolstoy's great tragedy, often described as a perfect work of art, tells the story of Anna, a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage who forfeits family life and acceptance in Russian society when she falls passionately in love with Count Vronsky, a young cavalry officer. This abridged version of the novel is read by Laura Paton. 4 CDs 5hrs 6mins
The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
This selection of six adventures from the last Sherlock Holmes collection, The Case-Book (1927), covers some of Conan Doyle’s darkest themes, including suicide, a desperate quest for rejuvenation and a supposed vampire in Sussex. The stories are read, unabridged, by David Timson. 4 CDs; total running time 4hrs 41mins.
Written in Reading Gaol, De Profundis is Oscar Wilde's letter to Lord Alfred Douglas, whose relationship with Wilde had led to the writer’s trial and imprisonment for ‘gross indecency’. In the first part, Wilde reflects on Douglas’s vanity and his own weakness, but goes on to describe how his ordeal has brought a deeper wisdom. The work is read here by Simon Russell Beale. 5 CDs; total running time 4hrs 54mins.
Black British and Caribbean Poets Read their Own Work
Poets of the Caribbean diaspora, such as E A Markham, Grace Nichols and Benjamin Zephaniah, have contributed powerfully to the poetry scene in Britain since the latter part of the 20th century, their work often responding to the harsh realities of the immigrant experience. This 2-CD anthology collects studio recordings from the British Library archive, including previously unissued live performances by Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean 'Binta' Breeze and Michael Smith.
Dissolute and disenchanted, Dmitri Olenin is an army cadet dispatched to the Caucasus, where he is transformed - as was Tolstoy - by the encounter with indigenous people living in harmony with nature. Jonathan Oliver reads this semi-autobiographical novella. 6 CDs: duration 7 hrs 02 mins.
Birds in Town and Village
WH Hudson (1841-1922) was a founder member of the RSPB whose books helped to popularize birdwatching as a pastime. This set of six CDs presents an unabridged reading by Neville Jason of one of Hudson's charming accounts of the hours he spent absorbed in studying birds' behaviour and listening to their songs; he also observes the actions of predators and appeals for his Edwardian contemporaries to pay greater attention to conservation. 6 CDs 7hrs 23mins
Edge of Eternity
Read by John Lee
Ken Follett's epic The Century Trilogy follows the experiences of families across the globe during the 20th century's most tumultuous events, and this final novel explores the impact of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights movement and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Read by John Lee. Abridged. 10 CDs 13hrs
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Having lost his job, his cat and his wife, been disturbed by strange phone calls and befriended by strange women, Toru Okada sought solace in a disused well behind his house. Then the boundaries of past and present, reality and unreality began to blur. The complete text of Murakami's masterpiece is read here by Rupert Degas. 21 CDs, running time 26 hrs 06 mins.
The Lady Elizabeth is the daughter of Henry VIII, but disinherited and declared a bastard after the execution of her mother. How the young Elizabeth survives the savage world of Tudor politics, inherits the throne and becomes queen is the subject of Alison Weir's novel. It is read here by Emma Fielding. Abridged. 5 CDs total duration 6 hours.
Following Charles Ryder, from student days at Oxford, where he was befriended by the aristocratic Sebastian Flyte, through to the end of the inter-war years, Evelyn Waugh's famous story of forbidden love and loss of innocence, is read here by Jeremy Northam. 4 CDs, running time approx 5 hours.
Kings and Queens
First published in 1932, Herbert and Eleanor Farjeon's book of poems tells the story of English monarchs, since William the Conqueror, with a poem devoted to each king or queen. This children's classic, along with a selection of the Farjeons' Heroes and Heroines (from Alexander the Great to Emmeline Pankhurst), is read by actors Isla Blair and Julian Glover.
An Audio Guide to the Wildlife of Scotland
Including several birds, such as the Crested Tit and Capercaillie, that are only found in Scotland, this CD contains the calls of 30 species, including the mournful song of the Black-throated Diver, the low growling calls of a Puffin and the roaring of a Red stag. One CD; running time 66min.
After Dark Classics
This collection of short fiction includes some of the real classics of horror writing. The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe, The Monkey's Paw by WW Jacobs, Bram Stoker's Dracula's Guest and A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins are among the 14 stories read by Patrick Malahide, Robin Bailey, Richard Pasco and Barbara Leigh-Hunt. Unabridged. Five audio CDs, running time 6 hours.
The Mill on the Floss
Maggie Tulliver had two lovers: Philip Watson, son of her father's enemy, and Stephen Guest, already promised to her cousin. But the love she valued most was that of her brother Tom. In telling their tragic story, Eliot vividly evoked the rural setting of Maggie and Tom's childhood at Dorlcote Mill and created one of her most enduring heroines. The unabridged novel is read here by Laura Paton. 16 CDs; total time 20 hrs 39 min.
The Climax of Empire
The Pac Britannica trilogy is Jan Morris's accessible and entertaining narrative history of the British Empire from the accession of Queen Victoria to the death of Winston Churchill. A snapshot of the Empire at the Diamond Jubilee, this second volume looks at what it comprised - from adventurers and politicians to communications and infrastructure - but also examines the jumble of ideologies within it and how they affected its 370 million people. Read by Roy McMillan. Unabridged. 13 CDs; running time 17hr 5min.
A Passage to India
Although set in India at the time of the British Raj and first published in 1924, EM Forster's novel poses serious questions about preconceptions of race, religion, truth and sex that are equally relevant today. An abridged version of the novel is read here by the actress Meera Syal. 4 CDs, duration 5 hours.
Rip Van Winkle
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Pride of the Village
This famous tale by Washington Irving (1783-1859) is set before and after the American Revolutionary War and tells of a Dutch villager who went wandering in the Catskill Mountains, fell asleep and awoke 20 years later - after the Revolution - to find the world much changed. Rip van Winkle and two more short stories are read here by Adam Sims. Unabridged. 2 CDs 2hrs 27mins
The First World War in Poetry
The actor Rory Kinnear reads a selection of war poetry ranging from the early patriotic optimism of John Galsworthy to the suffering and disillusion of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. The CD features works by 24 poets, both soldiers and civilians, including Robert Graves, Ivor Gurney, Rudyard Kipling and Edith Nesbit.1 CD duration 76 min.
Jimmy Witherspoon Featuring Robben Ford
Live at the 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival
In the early 1970s blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon (1920-1997) was touring with just a guitar player to back him when he agreed to let guitarist and saxophonist Robben Ford (b.1951) and his band join him for a gig in Palo Alto, California. The chemistry worked and the group became Witherspoon's permanent touring band, culminating in the classic 1972 performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival captured on this album. 1 CD duration 47 min.
They Should Have Asked My Husband
Pam Ayres has been delighting the world with her very personal form of poetry since the mid-1970s. This set features some of her best-loved poems and stories, as performed in a one-woman show at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, including 'Yes I'll Marry You My Dear' and 'Oh, I Wish I'd Looked After Me Teeth'. 2 CDs total duration approx. 2 hours.
The witty observations of animal and human behaviour and the wise aphorisms of Aesop's tales have entertained children and adults over millennia. Here Anton Lesser, one of Britain's leading classical actors, reads 60 fables, against the music of Four Seasons and flute concerti by Vivaldi. A Naxos Junior Classic audiobook. 1 CD 78mins
In this first of Dickens's two historical novels, the mob violence of the Gordon Riots and the burning of Newgate prison in 1780 forms the backdrop to a story of warring fathers and sons, a thwarted love match and unsolved murder. The book is read, unabridged, by Sean Barrett. 22 CDs (in a plastic file) 25hrs 21mins
A Portrait in Letters
Compiled and introduced by David Timson, this portrait presents Dickens's letters arranged in 'chapters' that portray the many sides to his personality and work, including his travels, the social causes he supported, romantic love and domestic life. The unabridged letters are read by the actor and Dickens biographer Simon Callow. 4 CDs 4hrs 10mins
From Pip's first encounter with the escaped convict in a village churchyard, Dickens's penultimate novel holds us in thrall to the orphan's changing fortunes and the shifting sands on which he bases his own great expectations. This abridged edition is read by Anton Lesser. 4 CDs; running time 5 hrs 14 mins.
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater
Thomas De Quincey's powerful autobiographical study describes the psychological effects of his addiction to opium: childhood experience turning into dreams, at first euphoric, but becoming horrific as dependence on the drug deepened. Published in 1822, the book brought De Quincey literary fame and was an important influence on later writers. It is read here by Gunnar Cauthery. Unabridged. 3 CDs, running time 3 hrs 41 mins.
'Of all my books,' wrote Charles Dickens, 'I like this the best.' The story of how the orphaned boy makes his way in the world, through trials and tribulations to ultimate happiness, shares much in common with Dickens's own life. A perennial favourite since it first appeared in 1849-50, David Copperfield is read here by Nicholas Boulton. Unabridged. 28 CDs 36hrs 10mins
The Essential Edgar Allan Poe
Stories. Poems. Biography
Although stories such as The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Murders in the Rue Morgue have remained popular to this day, Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) felt that his vocation was poetry. This collection includes both stories and poems, plus a biography of Poe. The works are unabridged and read by Kerry Shale, William Roberts and John Chancer. 6 CDs 7hrs 30mins
Henry Fielding's bawdy and hilarious parody of Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740) transforms the eponymous innocent virgin into a shameless slut and predatory social climber intent on marrying Squire Booby. The unabridged novel is read here by a cast led by Clare Corbett as Shamela. 2 CDs 1hr 30mins
The Golden Notebook
Set in London in the late 1950s, this novel by the Nobel laureate Doris Lessing (1919-2013) describes the challenges of life in the aftermath of war. It follows the psychological turmoil of Anna, a novelist and a single mother - as Lessing was - struggling to cope as her personal life and political certainties collapse around her. The Golden Notebook (1962) is read here by Juliet Stevenson. Unabridged. 21 CDs 29hrs 45mins
Set in medieval England during the reign of Richard the Lionheart, Scott's tale of the returning Crusader, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, his beloved Rowena and his Templar rival, Bois-Guilbert, is one of the great romantic novels, recreating the Age of Chivalry. This abridged version is read by the actor Jonathan Oliver. 2 Audio CDs; total running time 2hrs 38mins.
Against a background of social stagnation, apathy and outmoded institutions, Dickens uses a gallery of vivid characters to show that it is individuals and their acts of kindness, love and generosity that can revitalize society. This Complete Classics unabridged edition of Little Dorrit is read by Anton Lesser. 28 CDs 35hrs 15mins