Long-dead authors we love

Some of these are classics and some of them are only sort of classics….

In alphabetical order!

Jane Austen–with or without zombies, she is the ultimate comfort read

Anne Bronte– An amazing feminist!  Loved The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.  #1 also enjoyed her boring rags to respectability books that didn’t do so well on the market.

Charlotte Bronte (but not Emily)– Who isn’t in love with Mr. Rochester?  (well, #1, but she’s still read and reread Jane Eyre)

Charles Dickens — My favorite:  The Pickwick Papers

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — I love Sherlock Holmes stories, with all their lumps and weirdnesses and creepy things and details…  Fond childhood memories. I have them all in one volume.  (#1 has never really gotten into the stories, though she loves all manners of the video adaptations.  She’s such a prude it’s probably just the cocaine that’s the problem.  But Holmes always seems so much more likable on the screen.)

Alexander Dumas — Mmmmmm read the entire Three Musketeers saga (and LOVE the Steven Brust homage) (#2 prefers the Brust series to the original)  (Honestly #1 does too– stronger female characters on the good guys’ side, not just the bad.)





Maria Edgeworth — she saved me once, lost and alone in a foreign company (along with some remaindered Craig Shaw Gardener books).  (And yes, she’s from THE Edgeworth family and used to hang out with Ricardo and Malthus and other famous dismal folk.)

Rachel Ferguson– Just enjoyed The Brontes Went to Woolworths.

Stella Gibbons– Cold Comfort Farm.  Awesome movie, awesomer book.  I had no IDEA it was written in its own time period.  Very modern, just like the main character!

Robert van Gulik — the Judge Dee mysteries. (#1 has not heard of these– must… add… to Christmas wishlist!)

L.M.  Montgomery — Anne, Emily… pure comfort.

Baroness Orczy — Sequels never really matched The Scarlet Pimpernel, but who cannot sympathize with the main character?  Wonderful drama, terrific romance.  #2 likes Lady Molly of Scotland Yard.  (#1 must needs add this one as well.)

Rafael Sabatini — It was so disappointing to find out that not all of his books are as good as Captain Blood or Scaramouche.  Still, I wish I had access to a big city library that keeps them all so I could finish winnowing out the good ones.

Dorothy L. Sayers — both of us love her Wimsey stories.  #2 has also read some of her letters, essays, etc.

Samuel Shellabarger — Not as light as Sabatini, with a lot more shades of grey.  Captain from Castile is phenomenal on many levels that I would love to go into but don’t want to give major plot points away!  Let’s just say I was expecting a formula and he did not provide one which made the book a thousand times richer and more satisfying.

Booth Tarkington — Loved Penrod and Seventeen as a kid.  I hope to get a set for my own child(ren).  Really?  No Powell’s links to Penrod and Seventeen?  These are children’s CLASSICS y’all.  Let’s check out Amazon…  (Maybe it’s the Little Rascal’s style portrayal of race… have to explain the phrase “wrong, but a product of its time… we know better now” to the kid.)

Mark Twain — I liked The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and all its sequelae best. (#2 says, enh, I never really loved them that much.)  Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court was great until it turned into a morality treatise.  Went all Ray Bradbury somewhere in the middle there.

PG Wodehouse — Who ISN’T in love with Jeeves and Wooster?  And the Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry adaptation is sublime!

What long-dead authors do you love?

p.s.  We decided that for the purposes of this post, “long-dead” meant 20 years or more.  Authors who died more recently will be in a different post.

19 Responses to “Long-dead authors we love”

  1. Molly On Money Says:

    I can’t come up with any! This is a great list- I realize how much I focus on reading current authors. I’m a big reader and am always searching for new books.
    I justed started a book club that I’m calling the ‘Trashy’ book club. It came about after I read a study that found women in monogamous relationships who read romance novels regularly had more sex on average then women that did not!

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    I read that study too!
    Also, might I recommend Captain from Castile for your trashy reading pleasure?

  3. Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom Says:

    I read dead people too!
    I was a big Dickens fan as a kid – but my 100% favorite book of all time, dead or alive, is Gone With the Wind.
    I got a kobo e-reader on CC points pre-loaded with 100 books from dead people. That’s been the greatest thing for encouraging me to go back and re-read some of these things I haven’t read since I was a kid and discover some new ones. I read Sherlock Holmes and Twain this summer and am currently on Aesop’s Fables.
    Speaking of Dickens, I read on the Onion recently that if Oliver Twist was serialized today we’d be bombarded with poop-up ads for gruel and waistcoats. :-)

  4. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Ooh, I have such mixed feelings about Gone with the wind. It made me cry a lot.

    We like Aesop’s fables at our place. We’ve got one version on cd for listening in the car.

    Also probably ads for theft deterrent devices w/ oliver twist.

  5. imawindycitygal Says:

    Thanks for this list! Several of these are available free through Project Gutenberg. And most of the PG books can be downloaded through iBook or Amazon so you can load them on an ereader like Kindle, iPad or iPhone.

    As for that study mentioned in the comments…that didn’t work for me. :-( I then ended up getting a divorce, though, and that did work for me. :-)

  6. Lola Says:

    Love the assortment of dead authors! I will have to give Sabatini a try (loved the old B&W movies, but have not read the books).

    You might give Elizabeth Gaskell a look – she’s 200 years old this year. Try “North and South” and then be sure to check out the most recent BBC dramatization (er, dramtisation) with Richard Armitage as the perfect John Thornton. Then there’s the whole “Cranford” set of works by EG and the BBC….

    While I don’t know that I would call her a favorite, attention must be paid to George Eliot and her towering novel “Middlemarch.” You do have to slog through those first 3 chapters or so that set the socio-politcal stage of 1820’s England, but then things roll along quite nicely. One chapter is called Three Love Problems, and that’s no understatement. I actually prefer “Silas Marner,” which, besides being much shorter, mixes just the right measure of sweet with the bittersweet. Again, excellent BBC versions are available for both these works.

    For dead authors in translation, I suggest Norway’s Sigrid Undset, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1928, and her magnificent trilogy “Kristen Lavransdatter.” Has any woman ever had such a variety of man problems her whole life long? Even if you just read Volume 1, “The Bridal Wreath,” you will be in awe. I’ve never heard of a decent production of poor Kristen’s saga, but the word is that the new Penguin Classics translation is a winner, so check it out!

  7. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    I have heard of most of those and will definitely check some of them out when I have time. I’m not sure I want Silas Marner but the rest I’ve heard are great!

  8. Everyday Tips Says:

    I think I prefer live authors over dead ones!

    I just asked my 16 year old son who his favorite dead author is, and he said Steinbeck. His favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird written by Harper Lee, but he doesn’t know if she is dead or not. (He just informed me that there is rumor that Truman Capote really wrote the book under her name since that was her only book.)

    My husband went with Tolkien (off the top of his head).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      To Kill a Mockingbird is awesome. Google thinks she’s still alive. I’m not crazy about Steinbeck, but my mom likes him a lot.

      We’ve got some more modern suggestions in the works (as always) but at least one of us is really lazy about putting in links. I’ll be happy to hear your son’s suggestions for other works… it sounds like he has good taste. I love talking about books. (Especially since my taste is pretty YA…)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        And that’s got me thinking… a while back there was some discussion on the academic blogs we follow about why women can’t write the Great American Novel…

        But isn’t To Kill a Mockingbird that novel? Or Little House on the Prairie? Or My Antonia? Little Women? Women have been writing the great American novel in the voices of its young women for centuries.

        The argument is that the Great American ideal is one of individualism and only men like Jonathan Franzen can tap that for cultural reasons (Americans don’t like individualistic women or some such). But there’s another America, that observes that individualism and society as a whole and makes connections. And that is the provenance of the young woman.

        Anyhoo. I don’t usually get into such discussions because I’m totally uneducated in both parts of literary feminism (the literary part and the feminism part), so I could totally be talking garbage.

  9. Rumpus Says:

    I don’t read (or at least remember) too many old authors, but I enjoy old haiku, e.g., by Matsuo Bashō: an ancient pond / a frog jumps in / the splash of water [1686]. I also enjoy knowing about ancient philosophers as well as gentleperson-scholars from Renaissance times, but never seem to make time to actually read up on them. It’s too easy to read sci-fi/fantasy.

  10. First Gen American Says:

    I loved many on this list as one of my favorite kinds of reads is historical fiction.

    The adventures of Huck Finn was my favorite book as a kid. I re read it last year and I’m happy to say it still amused me greatly.

    I read Sherlock Holmes for the first time when I lived in England and I love anything Bronte.

    I’m intrigued by Cold Comfort Farm. Must have a look.

  11. Debbie M Says:

    There’s a modern BBC adaptation of Sherlock Holmes that’s really good. What would his addiction be in the 21st century? Guess at answers to questions like that, and then see what these guys decided. Fun!

    Other favorite dead authors:

    Georgette Heyer – good if you like Jane Austin–not the same, but also delicious with interesting characters you grow to love.

    I enjoyed Sun Tzu’s _Art of War_ when I thought I might be at war (with the new girlfriend of an ex)–it’s all about collecting allies and even spies rather than running out and attacking, so it was a great resource for helping me decide how to respond in various situations. (I would see what ideas I’d get from the book, then see if going through with those ideas would also be okay if there wasn’t really a war, and if so, I’d know just what to do.) Normal people think it’s good for businessmen.

    I had a really funny translation of Don Quixote in college–just so long as you imagine it being a cartoon and not real life.

    As a kid I really liked Edgar Allen Poe and even memorized “El Dorado.”

    And I have a soft spot for Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.

    And sadly, I also admit to liking Upton Sinclair, even though everyone who knows calls him very mediocre–I agree that the ending to _The Jungle_ sucks, but I liked the rest of that book (very educational) and read a bunch of his other books, too. So you can’t trust my judgment except on Georgette Heyer and the BBC adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.

  12. Link Round Up – Time to Read! | Everyday Tips and Thoughts... Says:

    […] Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured share books they loved from long dead authors. It made me realize that I don’t read many ‘classics’, or books at all from dead authors. Perhaps I need to expand my horizons? I did real ‘Tale of Two Cities in high school, but I absolutely hated it. […]


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