Category Archives: Top 100

The 100 Greatest British Novels – BBC Culture Poll 2015


Good evening all! 

Whilst bimbling around the internet I came across the latest poll for the greatest British novels. The judging panel were based outside of the U.K. to give an outsiders view on our best novels. Naturally, my curiosity was ignited. 

I have to say I was really fascinated to see which novels came up! I’m ashamed to say there’s some I’ve never heard of, never read or some that I’ve even given up on. Oops! On the other hand, there’s some that I have read and LOVE. The ones I’ve read are in bold.

Out of 228 novels the critics named, the following are the top 100. Let’s take a look…

100. The Code of the Woosters (PG Wodehouse, 1938)

99. There but for the (Ali Smith, 2011)

98. Under the Volcano (Malcolm Lowry,1947)

97. The Chronicles of Narnia (CS Lewis, 1949-1954)

96. Memoirs of a Survivor (Doris Lessing, 1974)

95. The Buddha of Suburbia (Hanif Kureishi, 1990)

94. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (James Hogg, 1824)

93. Lord of the Flies (William Golding, 1954)

92. Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons, 1932) – I love this novel. It’s really just so good. 

91. The Forsyte Saga (John Galsworthy, 1922)

90. The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins, 1859) – An introduction to the Sensation Writing period. I couldn’t put it down. 

89. The Horse’s Mouth (Joyce Cary, 1944)

88. The Death of the Heart (Elizabeth Bowen, 1938)

87. The Old Wives’ Tale (Arnold Bennett,1908)

86. A Legacy (Sybille Bedford, 1956)

85. Regeneration Trilogy (Pat Barker, 1991-1995)

84. Scoop (Evelyn Waugh, 1938) – My first experience of Evelyn Waugh. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read. 

83. Barchester Towers (Anthony Trollope, 1857)

82. The Patrick Melrose Novels (Edward St Aubyn, 1992-2012)

81. The Jewel in the Crown (Paul Scott, 1966)

80. Excellent Women (Barbara Pym, 1952)

79. His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman, 1995-2000)

78. A House for Mr Biswas (VS Naipaul, 1961)

77. Of Human Bondage (W Somerset Maugham, 1915)

76. Small Island (Andrea Levy, 2004)

75. Women in Love (DH Lawrence, 1920) – Such a prolific writer. His words just run off the page for me. I love all of his novels. 

74. The Mayor of Casterbridge (Thomas Hardy, 1886) – The Victorianist in me is beaming. 

73. The Blue Flower (Penelope Fitzgerald, 1995)

72. The Heart of the Matter (Graham Greene, 1948)

71. Old Filth (Jane Gardam, 2004)

70. Daniel Deronda (George Eliot, 1876)

69. Nostromo (Joseph Conrad, 1904)

68. A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess, 1962) – I started this but couldn’t get into it. Maybe I will be able to complete this one day…

67. Crash (JG Ballard 1973)

66. Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen, 1811)

65. Orlando (Virginia Woolf, 1928) – The strangest book I’ve ever read. Without a doubt. 

64. The Way We Live Now (Anthony Trollope, 1875)

63. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark, 1961) – A fellow teacher and educator. Need I say more. 

62. Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1945) – Utterley breaks my heart. Poor Boxer. 

61. The Sea, The Sea (Iris Murdoch, 1978)

60. Sons and Lovers (DH Lawrence, 1913) – It’s good to see Lawrence as a big hit! I’ve noticed no Lady Chatterley’s Lover though! 

59. The Line of Beauty (Alan Hollinghurst, 2004)

58. Loving (Henry Green, 1945)

57. Parade’s End (Ford Madox Ford, 1924-1928)

56. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (Jeanette Winterson, 1985) – Utterley fascinating. 

55. Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift, 1726)

54. NW (Zadie Smith, 2012)

53. Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys, 1966) – One of my favourite writers of all time. She’s an unsung heroine. 

52. New Grub Street (George Gissing, 1891)

51. Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy, 1891)

50. A Passage to India (EM Forster, 1924) – Something I probably would never of heard of if I didn’t have to read it for university. 

49. Possession (AS Byatt, 1990)

48. Lucky Jim (Kingsley Amis, 1954)

47. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Laurence Sterne, 1759) – started this but it is HUGE. I gave up when nothing much happened. 

46. Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie, 1981)

45. The Little Stranger (Sarah Waters, 2009)

44. Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel, 2009)

43. The Swimming Pool Library (Alan Hollinghurst, 1988)

42. Brighton Rock (Graham Greene, 1938)

41. Dombey and Son (Charles Dickens, 1848)

40. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1865) – Perfect escapism! 

39. The Sense of an Ending (Julian Barnes, 2011)

38. The Passion (Jeanette Winterson, 1987)

37. Decline and Fall (Evelyn Waugh, 1928)

36. A Dance to the Music of Time (Anthony Powell, 1951-1975)

35. Remainder (Tom McCarthy, 2005)

34. Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005) – Bizarre. It really freaked me out so couldn’t complete this. 

33. The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame, 1908) – Magical. I so wanted this to be real. 

32. A Room with a View (EM Forster, 1908)

31. The End of the Affair (Graham Greene, 1951)

30. Moll Flanders (Daniel Defoe, 1722)

29. Brick Lane (Monica Ali, 2003)

28. Villette (Charlotte Brontë, 1853) – Another one I was meant to read but failed. Maybe one day. 

27. Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe, 1719) – Interesting, but not my cup of tea really. 

26. The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien, 1954)

25. White Teeth (Zadie Smith, 2000)

24. The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing, 1962)

23. Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy, 1895)

22. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (Henry Fielding, 1749) – Another one I was meant to read for university, but I saw the size of it, read the first page and decided to give it a miss. 

21. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad, 1899) – Completed it but I didn’t really like it. But too dark for me. 

20. Persuasion (Jane Austen, 1817)

19. Emma (Jane Austen, 1815) – Hilarious. The only Austen novel I’ve ever finished. 

18. Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro, 1989)

17. Howards End (EM Forster, 1910)

16. The Waves (Virginia Woolf, 1931)

15. Atonement (Ian McEwan, 2001) – The power of words. McEwan can be sometimes a bit much for me, but I did enjoy this novel. 

14. Clarissa (Samuel Richardson,1748) – Started but failed to finish… There’s something about big novels clearly. 

13. The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford, 1915)

12. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)

11. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen, 1813)

10. Vanity Fair (William Makepeace Thackeray, 1848)

9. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818) – Totally scary but another cracking piece of Victorian literature. 

8. David Copperfield (Charles Dickens, 1850)

7. Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë, 1847) – Amazing. 

6. Bleak House (Charles Dickens, 1853)

5. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847)

4. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens, 1861) – One of my favourite novels. Also, there’s some amazing adaptations around too. This should totally be number 1! 

3. Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf, 1925)

2. To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf, 1927)

1. Middlemarch (George Eliot, 1874)

Find out more here: 

So, 21 out of 100 is a little shocking! However, there’s some novels mentioned that I need to research and buy. More to be added to my TBR list clearly. 

How many have you read? Do you agree with the number 1 spot? Are there any missing that should have made it into the top 100? Let me know what you think! 

Big love x


Filed under Literature, Top 100, UK