The English: A Social History, 1066–1945

By Christopher Hibbert

This is included incase you become fascinated by English history as well as the cuktures, it records the daily life of the English people from the time of the Norman Conquest to just after the second world war. Based on diaries, letters, memoirs, official reports, the works of modern social historians and the literature of every period, it traces the development of English society over 900 years. The chapters range over life in the castles, palaces and monasteries, in the homes of rich merchants and in the hovels of peasants, describing the work and play of the inhabitants, their clothes, food and possesions, their servants and animals, their pleasures and suffering, their beliefs and attitudes, their schools, fairs, shops and markets, hospitals and prisons, theatres and churches, farms and factories, taverns and brothels covering every aspect of medieval and modern life.

White Teeth

Zadie Smith 2000

White Teeth is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing – among many other things – with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

John le Carré 1974

A mole, implanted by Moscow Centre, has infiltrated the highest ranks of the British Intelligence Service, almost destroying it in the process. And so former spymaster George Smiley has been brought out of retirement in order to hunt down the traitor at the very heart of the Circus – even though it may be one of those closest to him.

Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont

Elizabeth Taylor 1971

On a rainy Sunday in January, the recently widowed Mrs Palfrey arrives at the Claremont Hotel where she will spend her remaining days. Her fellow residents are magnificently eccentric and endlessly curious, living off crumbs of affection and snippets of gossip. Together, upper lips stiffened, they fight off their twin enemies: boredom and the Grim Reaper.

Then one day Mrs Palfrey strikes up an unlikely friendship with an impoverished young writer, Ludo, who sees her as inspiration for his novel.

1984

George Orwell 1949

The Thought Police, Doublethink, Newspeak, Big Brother – 1984 itself: these terms and concepts have moved from the world of fiction into our everyday lives. They are central to our thinking about freedom and its suppression; yet they were newly created by George Orwell in 1949 as he conjured his dystopian vision of a world where totalitarian power is absolute. In this novel, continuously popular since its first publication, readers can explore the dark and extraordinary world he brought so fully to life. 
The principal characters who lead us through that world are ordinary human beings like ourselves: Winston Smith and Julia, whose falling in love is also an act of rebellion against the Party. Opposing them are the massed powers of the state, which watches its citizens on all sides through technology now only too familiar to us. No-one is free from surveillance; the past is constantly altered, so that there is no truth except the most recent version; and Big Brother, both loved and feared, controls all. Even the simple act of keeping a diary – as Winston does – is punishable by death. 

Swallows and Amazons

Swallows and Amazons is a children’s adventure novel by English author Arthur Ransome and first published on 21 July 1930 by Jonathan Cape.

The Walker children – also known as Captain John, Mate Susan, Able-Seaman Titty, and Ship’s Boy Roger – set sail on the Swallow and head for Wild Cat Island. There they camp under open skies, swim in clear water and go fishing for their dinner. But their days are disturbed by the Blackett sisters, the fierce Amazon pirates. The Swallows and Amazons decide to battle it out, and so begins a summer of unforgettable discoveries and incredible adventures.

Tarka The Otter

Henry William Williamson 1928

One of the best-loved animal stories of our time.

“Twilight over meadow and water, the eve-star shining above the hill, and Old Nog the heron crying kra-a-ark! as his slow dark wings carried him down to the estuary.”

The classic story of an otter living in the Devonshire countryside which captures the feel of life in the wild as seen through the otter’s own eyes.
Tarka is born in Owlery Holt, near Canal Bridge on the River Torridge, where he grows up with his mother and sisters, learning to swim and catch fish, and to beware the hunters’ cry. His life is one of adventure and play, but soon he must fend for himself, travelling along streams and rivers to the open sea, sometimes with female otters White-tip and Greymuzzle. Always on the run, Tarka has many close shaves ….

Henry William Williamson was born in 1895 in Brockley, south-east London. The then semi-rural location provided easy access to the countryside, and he developed a deep love of nature throughout his childhood. He became a prolific author known for his natural and social history novels. He won the Hawthornden Prize for literatrure in 1928 for Tarka the Otter.

In Search of England

H.V. Morton 1926

One of the great travel books of all time: H. V. Morton’s famous and much-loved travelogue about England. Written in the early days of the motor car, this is an enduringly charming and fascinating account of H. V. Morton’s peregrinations around the hamlets, villages and towns of England in the 1920s. ‘I have gone round England like a magpie’ he writes, ‘picking up the bright things that please me’. He does so throughout with affectionate wit, whether they be snapshots of ruined gothic arches at Glastonbury or the engaging chatter of Norfolk farmers bartering for cigars. Anecdotal, leisurely, full of character and event, insight and opinion, this is travel writing of the very highest order.

Carry on Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse 1925

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) is widely regarded as the greatest comic writer of the twentieth century. Wodehouse wrote more than seventy novels and 200 short stories, creating numerous much-loved characters – the inimitable Jeeves and Wooster, Lord Emsworth and his beloved Empress of Blandings, Mr Mulliner, Ukridge, and Psmith. His humorous articles were published in more than eighty magazines, including Punch, over six decades. He was also a highly successful music lyricist, once with over five musicals running on Broadway simultaneously. P.G. Wodehouse was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for ‘an outstanding and lasting contribution to the happiness of the world’.

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett first published in book form in 1911, after serialisation in The American Magazine

At the beginning of the 20th century, 10-year-old Mary Lennox finds herself ignored and neglected by her wealthy English parents. Native servants in British India primarily care for Mary and spoil her until the Lennox estate is ravaged by a cholera epidemic that kills her parents. With the servants fleeing for their lives, Mary is left alone until she is found by the British Army.

Eventually relocated to her uncle Archibald Craven’s home in the Yorkshire Moors of the English countryside, the spoiled and sour Mary now faces a life quite unlike her pampered upbringing. However, all of that changes when Mary’s maid Martha Sowerby reveals a hidden treasure at the Craven home: a secret garden, walled away after the death of Archibald’s wife Lilias, awaiting its rediscovery.