20 best British and Irish novels of all time

If this is one of the 20,000 best English & Irish novels, then I am James Joyce's brother
If this is one of the 20,000 best English & Irish novels, then I am James Joyce’s brother

The Daily Telegraph has published what it laughingly calls the 20 best British and Irish novels of all time. Three are ludicrous choices – Jilly Cooper, The Sea, The Sea and The Sea. One is a US writer. Henry James took British citizenship just a few months before he died, well after he had written all his famous novels, and is generally agreed to be a US and not British writer. Boyd and Spark are, presumably, included as token Scots. Powell and Burgess are enjoyable enough and are certainly fine writers but not really in the twenty greatest. The same could be said for Graves and Powell. I would not include D H Lawrence but, if I did, it would not be Lady C but Sons and Lovers or Women in Love. And no Bronte? Disgraceful!

But this is one of the 20 best British novels
But this is one of the 20 best British novels

So here is my list. It’s (fairly) idiosyncratic. Most people would not agree, including, probably, me tomorrow. No Austen, no Welsh novels and only five women. But it is hell of a lot better than the Daily Telegraph’s list.

2 Replies to “20 best British and Irish novels of all time”

    1. Sadly, Downriver is one of those many books that I have sitting in my library which I have yet to read. I will move it further up the queue. Thanks for the suggestion.

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