Which authors typify England? Recommendations needed

I’m starting to identify the authors and books I want to read as part of my Lines of Connection World Reading Challenge, trawling through sources such as other blog sites and LibraryThing and Goodread groups.

The first country on my Prime Meridian list is the UK  according to Wikpedia. Strictly speaking though, this should be England since the Prime Meridian doesn’t run through Wales, Ireland or Scotland.

I thought this would be one of the easiest countries for which to select candidates to read given its rich literary history. But that’s actually the problem – too much choice! So I need help in narrowing down the options. And here’s where I need the help of fellow book enthusiasts and bloggers.

My Requirements

1. I’m looking for suggestions of which authors would be considered most representative of the literature of each country on my list.  The author that comes first to mind when thinking of that country. But I don’t want the selection to be too obvious. So for England, the likes of Dickens, Austen, Eliot would naturally come to mind. But since the major reason I’m doing this challenge, is to  broaden my reading experience, ideally I’m hoping to find authors whose work isn’t that familiar to me.

2. The author must have been born in the country or be someone who has lived there for many years

3. Their work must be available in English otherwise I won’t be able to read it. I’m not about to embark on a course in Swahili just to be able to read something from Kenya.

4. I’m looking to read novels not plays or poetry

All suggestions will be very well received…..

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on January 3, 2013, in world literature and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. hmm. I too was going to suggest Somerset Maugham and Evelyn Waugh. Perhaps recent authors would be Zadie Smith (White Teeth or NW) and Helen Simonson (Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand) is sort of fun. cheers

  2. How about E M Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady? W. Somerset Maugham, Beryl Bainbridge and Evelyn Waugh spring to mind too… All very different but it depends what you fancy. 🙂

  3. I looked at the books in my bookshelf and decided to suggest something by R.F. Delderfield, such as To Serve Them all my Days. An easy-to-read story-teller with post WW1 social changes as the backdrop.

  4. Ugh you’ve boxed us in terribly here. If not Dickens then who. I’m tangled in a terrible love affair with James Joyce. Well he was born in Ireland as you know but lived much of his time in France, etc. I guess I’m not much help. But what about Ian McEwan? He’s English and certainly wonderful. Hope this helps. JK

    • I think I’ve boxed myself in too Joe! I’ve read quite a bit of McEwan but not Chesil Beach so that could be a contender. Joyce would have be reaching for the wine bottle a bit too often probably!

  5. It’s a challenge to find a writer who’s representative of English literature and culture and for it to not be Dickens, Eliot or the like. But what about Peter Ackroyd? He has written a novel called English Music that is about English culture – I remember most vividly a chapter involving Turner’s paintings …

    • Ackroyd is a wonderful suggestion Christina – many of his books are set in London which is the start of the Prime Meridian so it would have a strong connection to the theme of the challenge. I enjoyed Hawksmoor but thats all I’ve read by him so this would be a great opportunity to read more. The English Music one does sound a good option because it’s also about literature it seems.

      • Yes. As far as I remember, each chapter is about one part of English culture – ie painting, literature, theater etc. I particularly remember the Turner one because I love Turner’s paintings and because I think it worked very well when they entered a Turner painting.

  6. I’m not much help as not read anything English for a bit. I would however, use it as an excuse to return to my childhood with lashings of ginger beer and adventures in the coves of Cornwall with a little indulgence of Blyton’s Famous Five!

    • I did a little of that earlier in the year when I was starting a Children’s lit course. So ended up reading the first of the Famous Five books. I can see why they enthralled me as a kid though now of course they seem very dated and tame compared to the literature children have available now.

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