Confessions of an English Opium Eater
Thomas De Quincey's powerful autobiographical study describes his addiction to opium and its psychological effects: childhood experience is turned into dreams that are at first euphoric, but become horrific as his dependence on the drug deepens. Published in 1822, the book brought De Quincey literary fame and became an important influence on later writers.
The Mayor of Casterbridge
While he was drunk at a fair, the hay-trusser Michael Henchard sold his wife and child to a sailor for five guineas. Alone the next morning, he vowed to mend his ways and eventually, by hard work and good judgement, he became mayor of Casterbridge. Then, 18 years after being sold, his wife returns and Henchard finds he cannot escape his past.
Jude the Obscure
A self-taught young stonemason whose ambition is to go to university, Jude Fawley has his hopes dashed when he is tricked into a bad marriage. Once free again, he finds a soul-mate, but society and class conspire to deny them happiness. Hardy described his novel as the story of a ‘deadly war waged between flesh and spirit’.
The Great Adventure Collection
Tracking Magua with Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans; travelling into the Heart of Darkness in search of Kurtz; or entering an extinct volcano on a Journey to the Centre of the Earth ... This set of eight novels could be described as the A-list of adventure stories: the other five are The Man Who Would Be King, Robinson Crusoe, The Odyssey, Gulliver’s Travels and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and a ninth book is a journal to record your own exploits.
The Innocents Abroad
In 1867 Mark Twain joined a group of American tourists sailing to Europe and the Holy Land aboard the steamship Quaker City. Offering ‘no apologies for any departures from the usual style of travel-writing’, Twain produced a merciless satire on contemporary travel guides and a hugely entertaining account of his fellow ‘pilgrims’ and their ‘pleasure trip’, describing incidents such as a communal fumigation in Italy as well as the scenery and sights.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The story of a young hobo and an escaped slave who set off to find freedom, journeying by raft down the Mississippi, Huckleberry Finn started out as a sequel to Tom Sawyer, but quickly became accepted as Mark Twain’s masterpiece and one of the great works of American literature. First published in 1884.
The Call of the Wild
He had Learned Well the Law of Club and Fang
Set in the Yukon during the 1890s Gold Rush, Jack London’s short novel tells of Buck, a pet mongrel – a cross between a St Bernard and a Scottish sheepdog – who is stolen and taken to Alaska to work as a sled dog and has to adapt to life in a pack.
Far from the Madding Crowd
As a young, independent woman taking over the running of a rural estate, Bathsheba Everdene attracts the attentions of three very different men: a respectable local farmer, a dashing soldier, and a devoted young shepherd, Gabriel Oak, who works on her land. This was the first of Hardy’s great novels, originally published in 1874.
Franz Kafka’s strange tale of Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself transformed into a monstrous bug, is open to many interpretations – probably as many as it has readers – and was written in 1912. Translated from the German, with a short introduction, by William Aaltonen.
In this early masterpiece of detective fiction, Rachel Verinder is given the Moonstone, a large Indian diamond, on her 18th birthday. That very night, the jewel is stolen, and the curse of the Moonstone begins; a renowned detective is called in to unravel a mystery involving hypnotism, opium and Indian jugglers. First published in 1868.
The Classic Science Fiction Collection
Fantastic Tales From Jack London, Rudyard Kipling, Jules Verne, HG Wells, Miles J Breuer, Austin Hall
This anthology draws on the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Jules Verne and HG Wells were experimenting with ideas suggested by technology. These 41 tales by 21 authors feature robots, dystopian societies and time travel and set the scene for the genre’s success.
The Classic Fantasy Collection
Strange Tales from HP Lovecraft, Robert E Howard, Arthur Machen, George MacDonald, Lafcadio Hearn, HG Wells
Fantasy fiction began in the 19th century, when writers such as William Morris and George MacDonald drew on Norse and Celtic mythology to conjure magical worlds peopled by wizards and dragons. More than 35 tales from the mid-20th century are collected in this volume.
Chilling Supernatural Tales
From the pitter-patter footsteps of a haunted porcelain doll to a shadowy spectre slumped by the fireside, the eerie apparitions conjured from the imaginations of writers including MR James, Edith Wharton and Charles Dickens provide an unsettling reminder that there are things beyond our understanding.
The Good Soldier
‘This is the saddest story I have ever heard’: so begins John Dowell, the unreliable narrator of this dark and intriguing tale of two disintegrating marriages – his own and that of the ‘good soldier’, Capt Edward Ashburnham. Set in the years before the First World War, and published in 1915, The Good Soldier is acknowledged as one of finest novels of the 20th century.
The Great Horror and Fantasy Collection
From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to HP Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu, the mysterious characters, gothic towers and challenges to rational thought in these eight classic titles continue to unnerve modern readers. The set also includes The Woman in White, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dracula, The Turn of the Screw, Metamorphosis, and a collection of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, as well as a journal with illustrations and quotes to inspire your own tale.
The Importance of Being Earnest
And Other Plays
Wilde’s comedy of mistaken identity offers a witty satire of Victorian manners and morals. Also included are his earlier plays Lady Windermere’s Fan, which revolves around marital infidelity, and An Ideal Husband, with its theme of political corruption.
The Man Who Would be King
And Other Stories
Including the story that inspired the classic movie starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine, these nine dramatic tales demonstrate Kipling’s mastery of the short story and ability to create believable characters and settings, in Britain and the subcontinent.
Science Fiction and Fantasy
This collection assembles some of the most influential fantastic fiction of the late 19th and 20th centuries, ranging across landscapes from Antarctica to Mars, with stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne and HG Wells, and including Robert E. Howard’s tales of Conan the Barbarian.
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Beautiful and spirited, but also impoverished and mistreated, Tess suffers through the hypocrisy of Victorian society, and falls victim to injustice. Controversial at the time of writing and censored when it was first published, the novel is now considered Hardy’s masterwork.