Top British Novels Ever? Women Own That Bookshelf










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BBC Culture contributor Jane Ciabattari wondered.  She wondered what the rest of the world thought were the greatest British novels.  Fortunately she was wondering in 2015 and was able to poll 82 book critics and scholars (as noted by the BBC) from Australia to Zimbabwe in short order.

She asked the literary experts to name the top 10 British novels, eliminating nonfiction, plays, narrative and epic poems, short story collections and novels by authors not born in Britain. The pick for the greatest novel received 10 points. The points were added up to produce the final list.

Here are the top five:

  1. Middlemarch (George Eliot, 1874).
  2. To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf, 1927)
  3. Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf, 1925)
  4. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens, 1861)
  5. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847)

Gentlemen and not-so-gentlemanly men, please note: Of the top five books, four were written by women. The No.1 book was written by a woman named Mary Anne Evans, who said she used a male pen name to have her work taken seriously. Virginia Woolf, dogged by depression and unsure of her place as a writer, wrote two of the top five, and Charlotte Bronte, one of the three writing Bronte sisters, had No. 5.

What’s more, of the next five, two were written by Charles Dickens (6. Bleak House, 1861  and 8. David Copperfield, 1850) one by William Thackeray (10. Vanity Fair, 1848) and one by Emily Bronte (7. Wuthering Heights, 1847) and one by Mary Shelley (9. Frankenstein, 1818)

That means the top 10 British novels were written by seven writers, five of whom were women.  

Take a look at the entire list here.

and take note that of the 13 novels on the list that were published in this millennium, eight were written by women.

We’re just sayin’. In the stereotyped world of men love sports/women knit, statistics win out so much of the time. The guys debate batting averages, touchdown completions, top 10 basketball centers or hockey goalies. Well, sisters, get down to your local pub and get a conversation about British novels going. The statistics are way skewed for our side.

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