The 100 Best Novels (a list from 1898)

1_Lit Critic

I admit it. I’m a bit of a list fiend. I’m attracted to them like a cat to catnip. So I was particularly interested to find this list while browsing the Times Lit blog. It’s a ‘100 Best Novels‘ list. There are many of these lists about – the only difference is this was one written by a critic (Clement K. Shorter) in 1898. Only dead writers were to be included. Just to provide some context 1898 was the year the following were published:

  • Thomas Hardy – Wessex Poems and Other Verses
  • Henry James – The Turn of the Screw
  • H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds
  • Oscar Wilde – The Ballad of Reading Gaol
  • Emile Zola – Paris

How many on this list have you read? How many do you recognise? I shall be chewing this one over for a while.


5 thoughts on “The 100 Best Novels (a list from 1898)

Add yours

  1. Wow. This list is really interesting. I have only read 8 of the books (9 if you count Anna Karenina). I have read books from several of the authors on the list (Dumas, Dickens, Gaskell, and Eliot) but not the actual books listed there.


  2. Hi, thank you for looking in AND being the first person to comment on the blog! Much appreciated. Sorry for the delay, I’m still trying to work out how moderation works – I want to keep the spammers out. I hear they can take over if you let ’em.

    Yep, I thought it was fascinating, too. I haven’t read that many on the list, but some of my all time favourites are there: Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Pride and Prejudice, The Woman in White, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Some of the others are on my reading list. Quite a few I hadn’t heard of, I’m looking them up.

    I think the rules were that the authors couldn’t still be alive and only one novel per author was allowed. But I see that Elizabeth Sewell appears twice, I don’t know how that happened! (I had to look her up). If it was only one book per author, it’s strange to see George Eliot’s Silas Marner on there, rather than Middlemarch. Also – I see it is a chronological list, earliest books first. They don’t seem to be ranked.


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