‘London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.’
Including some of Oscar Wilde’s most well-known and infamous plays, Lady Windermere’s Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, and The Importance of Being Earnest, this collection of the infamous writer’s works displays his brilliant, quick wit to its full glory. Wilde’s pithy social comedies dissect the morals and idiosyncrasies of society in the 1890s and offer a view of the sexual politics of the time.
‘Now he found out a new thing – namely, that to promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing.’
An idyllic snapshot of a boy’s childhood along the banks of the Mississippi River, Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the author’s work that comes closest to his boyhood experiences of growing up in Hannibal in the 1840s.
Mischievous and full of energy, Tom enjoys childish pranks and pastimes with his friends, Huck Finn, the town outcast and Joe Harper, his best friend. However, at the town graveyard, Huck and Tom witness a murder, carried out by local vagabond Injun Joe. They vow never to tell a soul about what they have seen and so begins their journey into adulthood as Tom wrestles with his own morality, guilt and anxiety.
A ‘coming of age’ tale, it is through Tom’s adventures and relationships with others that he becomes more responsible and more aware of his own inner conflict. Through the central characters of Tom and Huck, Twain satirises the moral rigidity of society and adult hypocrisy, whilst at the same time giving a nostalgic portrayal of a young boy’s journey into adulthood.
‘People glorify all sorts of bravery except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest neighbours.’
An epic study of provincial life at a time when England was facing rapid industrialization and increasingly fluid social mobility, Eliot’s depiction of the small community of Middlemarch weaves an intricate web of different characters disparate lives as they strive to adapt to the changing world around them. Eliot was one of the first of her female contemporaries to write a novel that dealt with real-life issues and complex yet ordinary human life.
'How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrid, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young... If it was only the other way!'
Wilde's first and only published novel recounts the story of handsome Dorian Gray who upon having his portrait painted desires that it will age and grow ugly while he may remain eternally beautiful. The painting, which reflects each of Gray's sins and transgressions in its hideousness, haunts him until it finally becomes unbearable. In this dark tale of duplicity and mortality, Wilde creates a world where art and reality collide.