Literature Home Product Information Site Map Search
Glencoe Online
Parent Site Literature  

Recommended Reading List – British Literature

Unit 1    Unit 2    Unit 3    Unit 4    Unit 5    Unit 6

Unit 1

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
by Mark Twain
When Hank Morgan is magically transported back in time to the year 528, he becomes minister to King Arthur. Morgan has many adventures bringing nineteenth-century know-how to the peasants and knights.

Down the Common
by Ann Baer
Daily life in a medieval English village was often a struggle against adversity. This novel provides a fascinating, historically accurate picture of that life in its vivid portrayal of the trials and triumphs of Marion, a fictional medieval woman.

The Earliest English Poems
translated by Michael Alexander
Anglo-Saxon poets composed a variety of poems, including heroic poems, riddles, and elegies. This book gathers much of the best Old English poetry in modern English translations.

Saint Joan
by George Bernard Shaw
In the early 1400s, while still in her teens, Joan of Arc led French soldiers to victory in a pivotal battle in the Hundred Years War. Shaw's play explores the character of this courageous and unconventional woman, who believed that she was divinely inspired and who was sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her belief.


Unit 2

by William Shakespeare
Prince Hamlet is horrified to learn that his father, the king of Denmark, did not die of natural causes but was secretly poisoned by Claudius, who has now assumed the throne. At the urging of his father's ghost, Hamlet seeks revenge. Shakespeare's play is a marvelous meditation on power and politics, loyalty and love.

Othello: A Novel
By Julius Lester
Shakespeare's Othello tells the story of Othello, a noble general; Desdemona, his loving wife; and Iago, the scheming henchman who comes between them. In this new "what if?" retelling of their story, Lester portrays Iago and Othello as fellow African immigrants to Elizabethan England. This new twist to the old tale allows Lester to explore the tragic consequences of racism while remaining substantially true to the central themes of Shakespeare's play.

The Children of Henry VIII
by Alison Weir
King Henry VIII's death ushered in a period of intrigue and bloody turmoil. Although his heirs belonged to the same family, they were raised separately, and each had a distinctive, willful personality. This book chronicles their tumultuous relationships and the power struggles within their society.

Doctor Faustus
by Christopher Marlowe
Marlowe's play dramatizes one of the most enduring legends of Western literature– that of Doctor Faustus, a brilliant scientist who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for superhuman knowledge. As the hour of his death draws near, Faustus begins to realize the true implications of this unnatural and irreversible pact.


Unit 3

Animal Farm
by George Orwell
In this biting satire, barnyard animals overthrow their human masters to create a society based on equality and justice. At first they live peacefully, but soon a small group of pigs takes over, distorting the founding principles of their society and imposing a dictatorship on their fellow animals.

A Parcel of Patterns
by Jill Patton Walsh
This novel tells the story of Mall Percival, a young woman living in the 1600s, whose life is tragically affected when a parcel of dress patterns brought from London carries the plague to her restful town. Mall is frightened and confused as family and friends become stricken with the deadly disease. As the death toll rises, the townspeople make a pact to stay within the boundaries of their town in order to avoid carrying the disease to neighboring villages.

Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe Robinson
Crusoe survives a shipwreck only to be marooned alone on an island. Equipped with just a few tools and materials salvaged from the ship, Crusoe builds a house, a boat, and a new life. Defoe's story captures the imagination in its depiction of survival techniques and provides insights into the life and morals of the eighteenth century.

The Book of Eulogies: A Collection of Memorial Tributes, Poetry, Essays, and Letters of Condolence
by Phyllis Theroux
This anthology offers the reader fascinating insights into the lives of some celebrated figures, as well as touching tributes to personal heroes and loved ones as told by those who knew them best. Included here are Robert Kennedy's remarks upon hearing of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Thomas Jefferson's thoughts about George Washington; and the touching memories of parents bereaved of their beloved children. The account of these ordinary and extraordinary lives bring solace and inspiration to those living today.


Unit 4

Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen Elizabeth
Bennet is the bright, self-assured, and irreverent daughter of a poor country gentleman. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the snobbish, disapproving, and very proper nephew of a wealthy landowner. What happens when these two opposites attract? Austen's novel recounts the comic misadventures of two whose stubborn pride and foolish prejudices threaten to keep them forever apart.

Jane and the Man of Cloth
by Stephanie Barron
This fictional mystery features the author Jane Austen as an amateur sleuth who must unravel the secrets of High Down Grange, a dismal manor house where she and her family take refuge during a storm. When a murder takes place near the manor, villagers suspect the ringleader of the local smuggling trade. But could the murderer actually be mysterious, attractive Geoffrey Sidmouth, master of High Down Grange?

Women Romantic Poets 1785–1832: An Anthology
edited by Jennifer Breen
Two main groups of women wrote poetry during the Romantic Era: elite women of letters who wrote for the love of it, and working–class women, who wrote for the money in it. This collection presents some of the finest works of both social groups, including such well-known authors as Dorothy Wordsworth, Anna Barbauld, and Mary Lamb.

The Way to Xanadu: Journeys to a Legendary Realm
by Caroline Alexander
Caroline Alexander has had a lifelong fascination with "Kubla Kahn," the masterful poem in which Samuel Taylor Coleridge describes the great vistas of Mongolia, Ethiopia, and other exotic lands. Yet Coleridge never visited these places; he learned about them from travel accounts. Alexander undertakes the journey that Coleridge missed, visiting the locales of the poem and describing their wondrous beauty and rich history.


Unit 5

Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë
At the center of this brooding romance are Cathy Earnshaw, a beautiful, vivacious, and privileged woman, and Heathcliff, the penniless servant who loves her. When their union is thwarted, Heathcliff plots the ruin of the Earnshaws, all the while pursuing a close relationship with Cathy. Imbued with a deep sense of mystery, this classic novel of ill-fated love is a masterpiece of storytelling.

A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." So begins this novel of friendship, sacrifice, and redemption set during the bloody struggle of the French Revolution. The story revolves around Charles Darnay, who has been recently released from the notorious Bastille prison, brought to London by a French doctor to recover his health. Darnay and the doctor's daughter fall in love, but their happiness is threatened when Darnay is pulled back into the maelstrom of French politics. Their friend, the flawed but loveable Sydney Carton, plays a pivotal role in securing their happiness.

Three Houses
by Angela Thirkell
Angel Thirkell was related to both Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones and author Rudyard Kipling. In this heart-warming memoir, she recalls a happy Victorian childhood of holidays by the sea and youthful adventures. Filled with the sights and sounds of early nineteenth-century England, Three Houses provides a fascinating glimpse of life as it was lived during the reign of Queen Victoria.

The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde
Jack Worthing and his friend Algernon Moncrieff are practicing elaborate deceptions to woo the women they love. Jack pretends to be a fictitious character named Ernest; Algernon invents a sick friend named Bunbury who serves as a convenient excuse to leave town whenever the going gets tough. This witty satire of Victorian social conduct is one of the most frequently performed plays in the English language– and one of the funniest.


Unit 6

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley
It is the 2600s, and society is ruled by scientific principles administered by the state. People are born in hatcheries, raised in government nurseries, and assigned jobs based on their intellectual abilities. When John the Savage, a remnant of the old order, enters into this "brave new world," the novel builds to a gripping confrontation between the individual and the state. Written during the 1930s, a time when severe economic depression led many intellectuals to call for greater government control over the economy and the state, this cautionary tale still has much to say to today's readers.

Cat Among the Pigeons
by Agatha Christie
At the tranquil Meadowbank School, young girls from elite families are provided with the best education money can buy. In this sheltered environment, no one is prepared for the murder of the school's gym teacher. Hercule Poirot, a shrewd and elegant Belgian detective, is called from the other side of the world to solve the riddle of the killer's identity.

Waiting for Godot
by Samuel Beckett
This landmark play portrays the predicament of Vladimir and Estragon, two tramps who are trapped in an endless wait for the arrival of a mysterious figure named Godot. Until he arrives, they dare not leave; yet it is questionable whether Godot will ever arrive at all. In simple but poetic language, Beckett portrays the human condition as alternately comic and tragic. One of the most influential dramas of the twentieth century, Waiting for Godot helped usher in the theatrical movement known as theater of the absurd.

Testament of Youth
by Vera Brittain
In the early 1900s, few women attended prestigious universities such as Oxford. Vera Brittain, a young Englishwoman, had to struggle just to be accepted there. She seemed destined for a brilliant academic career, but her life was forever changed with the outbreak of World War I. Determined to participate in the war effort, Brittain left school, traveled to the front, and helped care for wounded soldiers. This moving memoir recounts her experiences of a devastating war that deprived her of a sweetheart, a brother, and several close friends.


McGraw-Hill / Glencoe