The Greatest English Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books in literature. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 215 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed literary works. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details about the selection process can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

    "Black Beauty" is a heartwarming and poignant novel that follows the life of a beautiful black horse named Black Beauty. From his early years as a carefree colt to his later life as a loyal and hardworking carriage horse, Black Beauty encounters various owners and experiences both kindness and cruelty. Through his eyes, readers witness the mistreatment of horses and the importance of compassion and empathy towards animals. This timeless classic serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring bond between humans and animals.

  2. 2. Mary Poppins by PL Travers

    In this beloved classic, a magical and enigmatic nanny named Mary Poppins arrives at the Banks' household to care for their mischievous children. With her peculiar and extraordinary abilities, Mary Poppins takes the children on whimsical adventures, teaching them valuable life lessons along the way. As the family learns to appreciate the wonder and joy in everyday life, Mary Poppins proves that even the most ordinary moments can be extraordinary.

  3. 3. Troilus And Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer

    The narrative is a medieval romance that tells the tragic tale of the young Trojan prince Troilus and his doomed love affair with the beautiful Criseyde amidst the backdrop of the Trojan War. After falling deeply in love with Criseyde, Troilus's happiness is short-lived as political circumstances force her to leave Troy and join the Greek camp. Despite her initial vow to remain faithful, Criseyde succumbs to the advances of the Greek warrior Diomedes, leaving Troilus heartbroken and disillusioned. The story explores themes of love, fate, and the capricious nature of fortune, ultimately leading to Troilus's untimely death on the battlefield, as he is unable to reconcile his loss and despair.

  4. 4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

    "Northanger Abbey" is a coming-of-age novel that follows the story of Catherine Morland, a young and naive girl who is invited to stay with the wealthy Tilney family at their estate, Northanger Abbey. Catherine's imagination is fueled by her love for gothic novels, leading her to create fantastical scenarios in her mind. As she navigates the complexities of society and falls in love, Catherine learns valuable lessons about the dangers of letting her imagination run wild and the importance of distinguishing reality from fiction.

  5. 5. Death On The Nile by Agatha Christie

    "Death On The Nile" is a thrilling murder mystery set aboard a luxurious Nile river cruise. When a young and beautiful heiress is found dead, renowned detective Hercule Poirot must navigate a web of deceit, jealousy, and hidden motives to uncover the truth behind her untimely demise. As the suspects become increasingly desperate to protect their secrets, Poirot races against time to solve the puzzle before the killer strikes again.

  6. 6. The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley

    "The Poisoned Chocolates Case" by Anthony Berkeley is a clever and intricate murder mystery that follows a group of amateur detectives as they attempt to solve the mysterious death of a wealthy woman who was poisoned by a box of chocolates. With multiple suspects and a series of puzzling clues, the story unfolds through a series of courtroom debates and discussions, keeping readers guessing until the surprising conclusion.

  7. 7. The White Devil by John Webster

    "The White Devil" is a gripping and darkly captivating play that delves into the themes of revenge, corruption, and deceit. Set in 16th century Italy, the story follows the lives of two powerful families, the Brachiano and the Medici, as they engage in a web of treachery and manipulation. As tensions rise and secrets unravel, the characters are consumed by their own desires, leading to a tragic and bloody climax. With its complex characters and intricate plot, "The White Devil" explores the depths of human nature and the destructive consequences of unchecked ambition.

  8. 8. The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

    "The Sheep Look Up" is a dystopian science fiction novel that presents a grim and polluted future where environmental degradation and overpopulation have reached catastrophic levels. The story follows various characters as they navigate a world plagued by toxic pollution, food shortages, and rampant disease outbreaks. With a sharp critique of corporate greed and government negligence, the novel explores the consequences of humanity's disregard for the environment and the urgent need for change.

  9. 9. The Blazing World A New World by Margaret Cavendish

    "The Blazing World" is a pioneering work of science fiction and feminist literature that tells the story of a young woman who is kidnapped by a merchant and taken on a voyage to the North Pole, where she enters a parallel universe. In this other world, she becomes the empress of a society inhabited by a variety of hybrid creatures. The empress engages in philosophical discussions with the inhabitants and uses her power to lead a grand intellectual and military campaign back in her own world. The narrative explores themes of power, gender, and the role of science and knowledge, as the protagonist asserts her authority in a world that reflects the author's imaginative and intellectual ambitions.

  10. 10. The Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin

    "The Arabian Nightmare" is a captivating and surreal journey through the dreams and nightmares of a young scholar named Abdulla. Set in medieval Cairo, the book explores the blurred lines between reality and fantasy as Abdulla becomes entangled in a web of magical creatures, mythical beings, and supernatural occurrences. With richly descriptive prose and a deep understanding of Arabian folklore, the story delves into themes of identity, love, and the power of storytelling, leaving readers questioning the nature of dreams and the boundaries of the human imagination.

  11. 11. Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary by M. R. James

    "Ghost Stories of an Antiquary" is a collection of chilling tales that delve into the supernatural and macabre. Written by M. R. James, these stories transport readers to eerie settings, where ancient artifacts, haunted houses, and vengeful spirits lurk. With a masterful blend of suspense and atmospheric descriptions, James weaves narratives that leave readers on the edge of their seats, questioning the boundaries between the real and the supernatural. Each story is a haunting exploration of the human psyche and the terrifying unknown, making this collection a must-read for fans of classic ghost stories.

  12. 12. The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

    "The Jewel of Seven Stars" is a gripping gothic horror novel that follows the story of a young archaeologist who becomes entangled in a mysterious and ancient curse. When an Egyptian mummy is brought to London, strange occurrences begin to unfold, leading the protagonist on a perilous journey to uncover the secrets of an ancient queen and her quest for immortality. As the suspense builds, the protagonist must confront supernatural forces and make a desperate attempt to break the curse before it consumes them all.

  13. 13. The Poet And The Lunatics by G. K. Chesterton

    "The Poet And The Lunatics" by G. K. Chesterton is a whimsical and satirical novel that follows the adventures of Gabriel Gale, a poet who finds himself entangled in a series of mysterious events. As he navigates through a world populated by eccentric characters and bizarre situations, Gabriel becomes embroiled in a plot involving secret societies, mistaken identities, and the blurred lines between sanity and madness. With his signature wit and clever wordplay, Chesterton explores the nature of art, reality, and the human condition in this delightful and thought-provoking tale.

  14. 14. High Citadel by Desmond Bagley

    In "High Citadel" by Desmond Bagley, a group of strangers find themselves stranded in the Andes mountains after their plane crashes. As they struggle to survive in the harsh conditions, they discover that they are not alone. With danger lurking in every corner, they must work together to overcome their differences and escape the treacherous mountain range.

  15. 15. Esther Waters by George Moore

    "Esther Waters" is a compelling novel that follows the life of a young woman named Esther, who works as a kitchen maid and becomes pregnant after a brief affair with a footman. Facing societal judgment and abandonment, Esther is determined to provide a better life for her child. She finds work as a nursemaid and eventually marries a coachman, only to face further challenges and heartbreak. Through Esther's journey, the novel explores themes of love, class, and the struggles of a single mother in Victorian England.

  16. 16. Monsieur, Or The Prince Of Darkness by Lawrence Durrell

    "Monsieur, Or The Prince Of Darkness" is a captivating novel that explores the complex and enigmatic life of a man known as Monsieur. Set against the backdrop of post-war Europe, the story delves into Monsieur's mysterious past, his involvement in espionage, and his relationships with various intriguing characters. Through vivid prose and intricate storytelling, the book delves into themes of identity, love, and the blurred lines between good and evil, leaving readers questioning the true nature of Monsieur until the very end.

  17. 17. The Voyage by Charles Morgan

    "The Voyage" by Charles Morgan is a gripping tale that follows the journey of a group of individuals aboard a ship, each with their own secrets and motives. As they navigate treacherous waters and encounter unforeseen challenges, tensions rise and alliances are tested. With vivid descriptions and intricate character development, the book explores themes of love, betrayal, and the human capacity for resilience in the face of adversity.

  18. 18. A House Of Children by Joyce Cary

    "A House of Children" is a compelling novel that delves into the lives of the Clare family, who live in a grand house in the English countryside. Set during the interwar period, the story follows the three children as they navigate their privileged yet tumultuous upbringing. With a keen eye for social dynamics and the complexities of family relationships, the author explores themes of class, power, and the impact of societal expectations on individual lives. As the children grow older, they confront their own desires and ambitions, ultimately questioning the values and traditions that have shaped their lives.

  19. 19. Jerusalem The Golden by Margaret Drabble

    "Jerusalem The Golden" follows the life of a young woman named Clara who is torn between her intellectual ambitions and her desire for love and companionship. Set in 1960s London, the novel delves into Clara's struggles with her family, her relationships, and her own identity as she navigates through the changing social and political landscape of the time. With its vivid portrayal of Clara's inner conflicts and the vibrant backdrop of the city, the book offers a poignant exploration of the complexities of personal and societal expectations.

  20. 20. The Root And The Flower by L. H. Myers

    "The Root And The Flower" is a captivating novel that explores the life of a young Englishman named Richard Anger who travels to India in search of his identity. Set against the backdrop of the British Raj, the story delves into themes of cultural identity, love, and the clash between Eastern and Western values. As Richard navigates the complexities of Indian society, he becomes entangled in a web of relationships and encounters a diverse cast of characters that challenge his beliefs and force him to confront his own prejudices. This thought-provoking and beautifully written novel offers a profound exploration of self-discovery and the transformative power of love.

  21. 21. The Malcontent by John Marston

    "The Malcontent" is a Jacobean-era tragicomedy that delves into themes of political intrigue, revenge, and moral corruption within a court setting. The play centers around the character Malevole, the disguised and deposed Duke Altofronto, who maneuvers through a web of deceit as he seeks to expose the hypocrisy and villainy of those who usurped his throne. Through a series of satirical and darkly humorous episodes, the protagonist navigates a treacherous court filled with unscrupulous characters, ultimately aiming to restore justice and reclaim his rightful position. The work is known for its biting wit, complex characterizations, and exploration of the human condition, reflecting the moral ambiguities of the time.

  22. 22. The Changeling by Thomas and William Rowley Middleton

    "The Changeling" is a Jacobean tragedy that delves into themes of love, betrayal, and madness. The narrative centers around Beatrice-Joanna, a young woman who falls in love with Alsemero while being betrothed to another man, Alonzo. Desperate to be with her true love, she enlists the help of her father's disfigured servant, De Flores, to murder Alonzo. However, this act of violence sets off a chain of deceit and horror, as De Flores demands Beatrice-Joanna's virginity as payment for his crime. The play intertwines this main plot with a subplot set in a madhouse, using the setting to explore the thin line between sanity and insanity, ultimately leading to a tragic conclusion where the consequences of the characters' actions catch up with them.

  23. 23. Astrophel And Stella by Philip Sidney

    The book is a collection of Elizabethan sonnets and songs that tell the story of the speaker's unrequited love for the beautiful and unattainable Stella. Through a series of passionate and articulate poems, the speaker, Astrophel, explores themes of love, desire, and jealousy, often employing astronomical imagery to reflect the heights of his adoration and the depths of his despair. The work is notable for its rich language and the way it captures the complexities of love, as well as for its influence on the development of the English sonnet form.

  24. 24. The Complete Works In Verse And Prose Of Samuel Daniel by Samuel Daniel

    This comprehensive collection brings together the full range of literary contributions from a notable English poet and historian of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It includes a rich tapestry of his work, featuring sonnets, epistles, and pastoral poems that reflect the poetic conventions of the Elizabethan era. The prose section reveals his historical writings and critical essays, showcasing his intellectual depth and his engagement with the political and cultural issues of his time. The compilation serves as a testament to the author's versatility and enduring influence in the canon of English literature.

  25. 25. 'Tis Pity She's A Whore by John Ford

    The play is a tragic tale set in Parma, Italy, centered around the forbidden love between Giovanni and his sister Annabella. Despite societal taboos and the grave moral implications, the siblings embark on an incestuous relationship, which leads to Annabella's pregnancy. As the story unfolds, their secret is threatened by external suitors, family pressures, and societal expectations, resulting in a series of deceitful acts, betrayals, and violent outcomes. The play explores themes of passion, morality, and the devastating consequences of transgressing social boundaries, culminating in a dramatic and bloody conclusion that underscores the destructive power of forbidden love.


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.