Friday, July 8, 2011

The HuffPost's Bogus British Book List: No Shakespeare, Austen, Tolkien, Rowling?!

So, the Huffington Post decided to trumpet its UK launch with a list of British writers beloved by Americans. Here's what they wrote:

America has an enduring love affair with British literature--we may have won the War of Independence but we are forever indebted to our island ancestors for the books that get us excited. So here you are England, America's love note to your authors.
Now here's the surprise: Jane Austen didn't make the list, and neither did Shakespeare. Our best guess is that both are too large to be considered British and they belong to the world. You'll be surprised to see who got mentioned most frequently.

Dang, was I surprised! Here's the list:

1.   Graham Greene
2.   Madeleine Wickham (a.k.a. Sophie Kinsella)
3.   Chris Ewan
4.   Evelyn Waugh
5.   David Mitchell
6.   Douglas Adams
7.   George Gissing
8.   Zadie Smith
9.   John Donne
10. Charles Dickens
11. William Golding
12. Neil Gaiman
13. Nick Hornby
14. John Fowles
15. Jasper Fforde
16. Ian Fleming

I know such lists are usually rubbish, but this one in particular seems like it was dreamed up by a trio of tequila, Google, and the sozzled denizens of a frat house. And perhaps Sophie Kinsella and Chris Ewan's Twitter accounts. Plus the mighty George Gissing fan club.

George Gissing, reveling on making the HuffPost list

Think of all the writers Sophie K. and Chris Ewan (the only one of the bunch I hadn't heard of) beat out:

J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, Shakespeare, Austen, Le Carre, Thomas Hardy, George Orwell, P.D. James... Actually the list is almost endless.

Since the HuffPost voters made such a hash of things, let's have the wise and witty readers of The Year of Writing Dangerously weigh in. Who are your favorite British writers?


  1. In addition to Shakespeare and Austen, I'm really surprised JK Rowling wasn't on there! But how about CS Lewis? He's a favorite of mine.

  2. This list is shit. My ten year old could probably do better.

    Matter of fact, any list that doesn't list Tolkien and Rowling in the top 10 writers from any planet, is useless.

    And I haven't even heard of a third of these writers.

    Not to sound angry or anything, it is funny to see what people come up with, but if you combined the good half of that list, with the ones that you mentioned, you'd be off to a decent start.

  3. I would add Oscar Wilde, Charlotte Bronte, Somerset Maugham, Sebastian Faulks,Thomas Hardy.

  4. Um, Emily Bronte...she did write Wuthering Heights and some pretty great poetry.
    Not to mention George Elliot, EM Forster, and Wilkie Collins.
    Wilde was Irish, so fair enough on him.
    At least Dickens made it! And Neil Gaiman--he's great.

  5. Okay, I agree with Dickens, but like you. I didn't recognize a whole bunch of authors on this list. Here is my list (in no particular order with the exception of Miss Austen and Agatha Christie-I have read everything these two ladies ever wrote, and they deserve the 1, 2 spots):

    Jane Austen
    Agatha Christie
    The Bronte sisters
    Charles Dickens
    C.S. Lewis
    J.R.R. Tolkein
    Arthur Conan Doyle
    George Orwell

  6. First your flirt with Twitter and now I find you read the Huffington post. I am worried.

    For what it is worth:

    Hilary Mantel.
    Arthur Conan Doyle.
    Tom Sharpe.
    Kingsley Amis.
    H.G. Wells
    Arthur Ransome
    Agatha Christie
    Charlotte Bronte
    G.K. Chesterton
    Lancelot Hogben

  7. Wow! That list is incredibly sparse. Not to belittle those that were listed but not including authors that should have made the cut makes the list disingenuous. Seriesly, no C.S. Lewis or Tolkien?


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