I am fascinated by the 18thC. It was bawdy, raucous and rough – the age of Hogarth and Fielding. Yet it was also the Age of Enlightenment, when ‘Reason’ and ‘Civilisation’ became all important. And it was the century that saw the start of the English novel. (The image above is from Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe which is often credited as marking the beginning of realistic fiction as a literary genre.)
Those who enjoyed my recent course at the Art Gallery of NSW on ‘The First Best-Sellers’ might like a reading list – of books I recommended during the course, but also other books about the era, its novelists and the early attempts to write a novel.
I’d love to hear your opinions on 18thC writers and early novels. Do you find it as fascinating as I do? Which of these books have you read, or can you recommend any others? Tell me by leaving a comment.
Catharine and Other Writings (the juvenilia) by Jane Austen
Evelina by Fanny Burney
Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Castle Rackrent and The Absentee by Maria Edgeworth
History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding
The Adventures of David Simple by Sarah Fielding
The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox
The Monk by Matthew Lewis
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded By Samuel Richardson
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
Samuel Johnson: A Biography by Peter Martin
Fanny Burney: A Biography by Claire Harman
Dr Johnson’s Dictionary: The Extraordinary Story of the Book that Defined the World by Henry Hitchings
Laurence Sterne: A Life by Ian Campbell Ross
Boswell’s Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr Johnson by Adam Sisman
Daniel Defoe: The Life and Surprising Adventures by Richard West
Liber Amoris by William Hazlitt
The Covent Garden Ladies: Pimp General Jack & the Extraordinary Story of Harris’s List by Hallie Rubenhold
Mothers of the Novel by Dale Spender
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
I only recommend books I have read and know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.
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