5 Must Read Nineteenth – Century Classics


Literature is a great way to connect with others and for escapism. I would like to share some of the classics I have enjoyed reading and hopefully someone out there will find this useful! Naturally, I will have missed out many huge classics as this just a tiny list of some of the ones I consider are brilliant.

*I made a separate post where I recommend my 5 Must Read Poems.

The titles are not arranged in any particular order and are displayed as *author*, *title*.

1. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (serialized 1860-1; book publication 1861)

A few friends at university are slightly put off due to the Dickensian language however, Great Expectations is a first class novel which throws you into the Victorian era around mid (ish) Nineteenth Century. Pip, an orphan doesn’t expect his life to be anything other than ‘normal’ however this all changes the moment he meets an escaped criminal. Pip falls in love with the beautiful, yet cruel, Estella and is suddenly informed that he is to be brought up as a gentleman  of ‘great expectations’ due to a sum of money he is given anonymously. The novel centers around love, secrecy, morality, class and how easy it is to loose the self. This may sound daunting as a form of escapism due to the symbolic nature of the book, however it is definitely a must-read for those who would like to take some time to reflect from the words of one of the world’s most notorious writers.

2. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)

I cannot emphasize how much I adored reading this work of art. Some people who have not read the book mistake Frankenstein to be the creation however it is Victor Frankenstein who creates the ‘monster’. The story has a metafictional narrative as it is told as a narrative within a narrative. It follows the protagonist, a young scientist named Victor, who ‘[…] on a dreary night […]’ creates a creature due to his obsession with the creation of life. He abandons the creation. As a result of being shunned from society, the creation seeks revenge, carrying out actions that have severe repercussions for Victor, his family, his friends and the creation himself. If you are like me and empathize with the underdog in a story, this will certainly move you as Shelley makes you question, ‘what is a monster?’, or rather, who.

3.Jane Austen, Persuasion (1818)

This is Austen’s last completed novel and if you are a fan of her other works such as Pride and Prejudice, you will enjoy this short romantic story. The protagonist is Anne Elliot who is twenty- seven and single.  In her earlier years, she broke off an engagement with Captain Wentworth due to his poor financial status. However, when he returns a wealthy gentleman after the Napoleonic wars, Anne finds she is attracted to him again even though Wentworth appears to be more affectionate towards Anne’s friend, Louisa Musgrove. Persuasion has a classic love triangle with an underlying mixture of satire.

4. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843)

If you ever fancy getting into the Christmas mood, this is definitely the book for you. The novella tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a man known for his cynicism and selfishness. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley informs Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits. The three spirits show how his behaviour affects those around him. I love to watch the film adaptations of this book however there is still nothing like reading the original source.

5. Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (1868)

Considered the first full length detective novel by many, the story concerns the theft of a precious diamond, the moonstone, which is given to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. The moonstone was originally stolen from the Hindu Priests, by Rachel’s uncle.  A series of events occur through multiple narratives, which almost appears to be as consequences of a curse the moonstone has cast. I have recently studied this novel as part of my course and it is interesting how Collins helps create the figure of the detective prior to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes adventures.





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