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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Paperback
by Tressell, Robert
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a classic representation of the impoverished and politically powerless underclass of British society in Edwardian England, ruthlessly exploited by the institutionalized corruption of their employers and the civic and religious authorities. Epic in scale, the novel charts the ruinous effects of the laissez-faire mercantilist ethics on the men, women, and children of th...
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Parade's End

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by Ford Madox Ford
Parade's End is the great British war novel and Ford Madox Ford's major achievement as a novelist. Originally published as four linked novels between 1924 and 1928, it follows the story of Christopher Tietjens, as his life is shattered by his wife's infidelities and overturned by the mud, blood and destruction of the First World War. Tietjens, with his old-fashioned Tory values, is already out of step ...
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Pride & Prejudice

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by Austen J
Pride and Prejudice, which opens with one of the most famous sentences in English Literature, is an ironic novel of manners. In it the garrulous and empty-headed Mrs Bennet has only one aim - that of finding a good match for each of her five daughters. In this she is mocked by her cynical and indolent husband. With its wit, its social precision and, above all, its irresistible heroine, Pride and Prejudice h...
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Wuthering Heights

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by Bronte E
Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine's brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and pol...
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Great Expectations

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by Dickens C
Considered by many to be Dickens' finest novel, Great Expectations traces the growth of the book's narrator, Philip Pirrip (Pip), from a boy of shallow dreams to a man with depth of character. From its famous dramatic opening on the bleak Kentish marshes, the story abounds with some of Dickens' most memorable characters. Among them are the kindly blacksmith Joe Gargery, the mysterious convict Abel Magwitch,...
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Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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by Hardy Thomas
Set in Hardy's Wessex, Tess is a moving novel of hypocrisy and double standards. Its challenging sub-title, A Pure Woman, infuriated critics when the book was first published in 1891, and it was condemned as immoral and pessimistic. It tells of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor and dissipated villager, who learns that she may be descended from the ancient family of d'Urbeville. In her search for resp...
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Women in Love

Paperback
by Lawrence D H
Lawrence's finest, most mature novel initially met with disgust and incomprehension. In the love affairs of two sisters, Ursula with Rupert, and Gudrun with Gerald, critics could only see a sorry tale of sexual depravity and philosophical obscurity. Women in Love is, however, a profound response to a whole cultural crisis. The 'progress' of the modern industrialised world had led to the carnage of the First...
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Moby Dick

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by Melville Herman
Moby Dick is the story of Captain Ahab's quest to avenge the whale that 'reaped' his leg. The quest is an obsession and the novel is a diabolical study of how a man becomes a fanatic. But it is also a hymn to democracy. Bent as the crew is on Ahab's appalling crusade, it is equally the image of a co-operative community at work: all hands dependent on all hands, each individual responsible for the security o...
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Hamlet

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by Shakespeare, William
Hamlet is not only one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, but also the most fascinatingly problematical tragedy in world literature. First performed around 1600, this a gripping and exuberant drama of revenge, rich in contrasts and conflicts. Its violence alternates with introspection, its melancholy with humour, and its subtlety with spectacle. The Prince, Hamlet himself, is depicted as a complex, divided, i...
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Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

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by Twain Mark
Tom Sawyer, a shrewd and adventurous boy, is as much at home in the respectable world of his Aunt Polly as in the self-reliant and parentless world of his friend Huck Finn. The two enjoy a series of adventures, accidentally witnessing a murder, establishing the innocence of the man wrongly accused, as well as being hunted by Injun Joe, the true murderer, eventually escaping and finding the treasure that Joe...
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Oliver Twist

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by Dickens C
Dickens had already achieved renown with The Pickwick Papers. With Oliver Twist his reputation was enhanced and strengthened. The novel contains many classic Dickensian themes - grinding poverty, desperation, fear, temptation and the eventual triumph of good in the face of great adversity. Oliver Twist features some of the author's most enduring characters, such as Oliver himself who dares to ask for more),...
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Picture of Dorian Gray

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by Wilde Oscar
Wilde's only novel, first published in 1890, is a brilliantly designed puzzle, intended to tease conventional minds with its exploration of the myriad interrelationships between art, life, and consequence. From its provocative Preface, challenging the reader to believe in 'art for art's sake', to its sensational conclusion, the story self-consciously experiments with the notion of sin as an element of desig...
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Sense & Sensibility

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by Austen J
Young women who have no economic or political power must attend to the serious business of contriving material security'. Jane Austen's sardonic humour lays bare the stratagems, the hypocrisy and the poignancy inherent in the struggle of two very different sisters to achieve respectability. Sense and Sensibility is a delightful comedy of manners in which the sisters Elinor and Marianne represent these two q...
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Jane Eyre

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by Bronte C
Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage. She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes g...
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Frankenstein

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by Shelley Mary
Begun when the author was only eighteen and conceived from a nightmare, Frankenstein is the deeply disturbing story of a monstrous creation which has terrified and chilled readers since its first publication in 1818. The novel has thus seared its way into the popular imagination while establishing itself as one of the pioneering works of modern science fiction.
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David Copperfield

Paperback
by Dickens C
Dickens wrote of David Copperfield: 'Of all my books I like this the best'. Millions of readers in almost every language on earth have subsequently come to share the author's own enthusiasm for this greatly loved classic, possibly because of its autobiographical form. Following the life of David through many sufferings and great adversity, the reader will also find many light-hearted moments in the company ...
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Odyssey

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by Homer
Homer's great epic describes the many adventures of Odysseus, Greek warrior, as he strives over many years to return to his home island of Ithaca after the Trojan War. His colourful adventures, his endurance, his love for his wife and son have the same power to move and inspire readers today as they did in Archaic Greece, 2800 years ago. This poem has been translated many times over the years, but Chapman's...
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Call of the Wild

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by London Jack
The Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906) are world famous animal stories. Set in Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s, The Call of the Wild is about Buck, the magnificent cross-bred offspring of a St Bernard and a Scottish Collie. Stolen from his pampered life on a Californian estate and shipped to the Klondike to work as a sledge dog, he triumphs over his circumstances and become...
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Gulliver's Travels

Paperback
by Swift Jonathan
Jonathan Swift's classic satirical narrative was first published in 1726, seven years after Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (one of its few rivals in fame and breadth of appeal). As a parody travel-memoir it reports on extraordinary lands and societies, whose names have entered the English language: notably the minute inhabitants of Lilliput, the giants of Brobdingnag, and the Yahoos in Houyhnhnmland, where talking...
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Emma

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by Austen J
Jane Austen teased readers with the idea of a 'heroine whom no one but myself will much like', but Emma is irresistible. 'Handsome, clever, and rich', Emma is also an 'imaginist', 'on fire with speculation and foresight'. She sees the signs of romance all around her, but thinks she will never be married. Her matchmaking maps out relationships that Jane Austen ironically tweaks into a clearer perspective. Ju...
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