This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
Teaching your teens at home this year? In today’s post, I wrap up my series on High School British Literature Books. Hopefully, this will help. You can find the first three parts here, here, and here. Good luck with teaching!
My Background in British Literature Books
I earned my BA in English Literature from Biola University with a semester abroad at the University of Roehampton studying the likes of Shakespeare and 19th Century British Literature, I went on to teach a 19th Century British Literature course at a private school.
High School British Literature Reading List [Final Part]
16. James Hilton – Random Harvest
The Plot of Random Harvest
The 1941 novel by James Hilton was an instant success about life after World War One for a Mr. Charles Rainer, a wealthy businessman and politician, who recounts his life story to his secretary, Mr. Harrison.
In 1919 he found himself in Liverpool with amnesia and no memory of the last two years of his life. At an old fashioned musical hall, Rainer’s memory is triggered and he recalls a hospital in Melbury where he was during the final days of World War One and upon visiting the aslyum his memories come flooding back including a young lady Paula who helped him and fell in love with him when he was living under the pseudynm of Smith before finding himself in Liverpool where he slipped and regained his memory of life before 1917 but forgetting his life with Paula.
Themes of Random Harvest
Amnesia, shellshock, lost innocence
Most Faithful Film Adaptation of Random Harvest
The book was made into a movie almost immediately after first published starring my favorite actress, Greer Garson, and the impecable Ronald Colman. The story differs from the book in that it is not told in flashback but starts in 1918 when Paula (Garson) rescues Smithy (Colman).
17. Rudyard Kipling – Captain Courageous
The title of Captain Courageous comes from the Mary Ambree ballad (Pepys Collection),
“When captains courageous, whom death could not daunt”
The Plot of Captain Courageous
Captain Courageous is a 1897 coming of age novel by Rudyard Kipling about the spoiled Harvey Cheyne Jr., fifteen year old son of a railroad tycoon, from San Diego, California, who is washed overboard from the Transatlantic steamship he was on only to be rescued by We’re Here, a fishing schooner captained by Disko Troop.
Themes of Captain Courageous
storm and struggle
Most Faithful Film Adaptation of Captain Courageous
The 1937 Motion Picture starring Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, and Freddie Bartholomew was an instant classic and fan favorite the moment it debuted. The marine photography benefits from the gorgeous filming locations of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. And performances by the movie’s cast were strong and believable.
18. Henry James – The Golden Bowl
Did you know the title of the book is taken from The Book of Ecclesiastes?
“Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.”
The Plot of The Golden Bowl
The Golden Bowl is a 1904 character study of marriage and adultery and familial relationships.
Maggie Verver, the only child of American widower Adam Verver, marries the impoverished Prince Amerigo from Italy. Amerigo discovers that one of Maggie’s best friends from childhood is a Charlotte Stant, another American, who was his mistress many years ago in Italy after being introduced by Fanny Assingham, a close friend of the Verver family. When Charlotte marries Maggie’s father, the four become a close quartet always seen together although it might seem that Charlotte and Amerigo prefer each other’s company, and Maggie and Adam prefer their own company together.
Maggie believes all is fine until she begins to have suspicions about her husband and step-mother after they consummate their affair at a weekend house party. Her fears are confirmed when she buys a golden bowl for her father’s birthday only to have the shop owner see a photo of Charlotte and Amerigo at her house and proclaim them to be the pair who originally wanted to buy the bowl.
Maggie, once timid and shy, confronts her husband and begins a secret campaign to save her marriage and persuades her father to take Charlotte back to America.
Themes of The Golden Bowl
Marriage, Affairs, Familial Relationships, Secrets, Manipulation the feeling of claustrophobia
Most Faithful Film Adaptation of The Golden Bowl
The 1972 t.v. miniseries starring Daniel Massey as the Prince and Jill Townsend as Maggie was both faithful and positively received. I, however, cannot find it on DVD or Blu-Ray.
The 2000 Merchant Ivory costume drama starring Kate Beckinsale as Maggie and Jeremy Northam as The Prince is one of my favorite movies with stunning costumes, gorgeous settings and a terrific acting job by Kate Beckinsale.
Roger Ebert wrote, “I admired this movie. It kept me at arm’s length, but that is where I am supposed to be; the characters are after all at arm’s length from each other, and the tragedy of the story is implied but never spoken aloud. It will help, I think, to be familiar with the novel, or to make a leap of sympathy with the characters.”
I liked Ebert’s review but for one issue – he would have us sympathize most for Charlotte while my sympathies and allegiance tend towards Maggie.
19. Virginia Woolf – Mrs. Dalloway
The Plot of Mrs. Dalloway
Mrs. Dalloway is a vivid portrait of a single day’s time period in London featuring the book’s three main characters – Clarissa Dalloway (a socialite in London), Peter Walsh (Clarissa’s former lover), and Septimus Warren Smith (a World War One veteran).
Themes of Mrs. Dalloway
Flashbacks, Regrets, Traumatic Stress, Mental Illness, Suicide, Same-Sex Attraction, and “The continuous present”
Most Faithful Film Adaptation of Mrs. Dalloway
The Hours, written by David Hare (Roadkill), is a 2002 movie that is part autobiographical with Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf and Maryl Streep as a modern-day Clarissa Dalloway.
The most faithful adaptation is a 1997 British costume film starring Vanessa Redgrave and Michael Kitchen (Foyle’s War) with a supporting cast that included Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) as Sally, Rupert Graves (BBC’s Sherlock) as Septimus Warren Smith, Natascha McElhone (Designated Survivor) as a young Clarissa.
I hope you have enjoyed this series of British Literature books. Any one of them would make for a worthwhile reading experience and all would make for a great syllabus for a high school student studying British Literature.
Sharing is Caring
Continue the Conversation
What is your favorite British Literature novel? or Film Adaptation?
I haven’t read these books but these looks interesting. WIll try try my hands on it for sure.
I never got a chance to get into Brit Lit. Now reading this I need
While I know all the authors, I am not familiar with any of those titles! I will enjoy looking them up.
What a wonderful list! I love British literature…while growing up I remember we used to have one play of Shakespeare, short stories and one novel of Charles Dickens. It opened up a whole new world for me…I am pinning this post so that I can use this list to introduce literature to my daughter.
It just amazes me how many books are out there. Any favorites?
I haven’t read anything by this author before. But I will keep an eye out, thanks.
I haven’t read Rudyard Kipling – Captain Courageous yet. I really hope to get a copy. I have been hearing a lot of good reviews.
i love learning about new books. i will def have to check out a few of these titles,
Such awesome choices. These indeed are wondrous literary pieces.
I wish I had more reading, these book all sound amazing, I would love to read all of them. Reading books can be so relaxing!
Good list, will add to my to do books to read. I dont think I have read them. Seems interesting.
These all seem like they’d be such interesting reads. They’re definitely stories that I would love to delve into myself.
I definitely need to add more British literature to my reading lists. I’ve honestly never read any of these novels however, I do love a good Viriginia Woolf novel!
Apparently I need to read some British Literature because I haven’t ever heard of any of these books. They sound so interesting, though, and now that I’m saving time on not commuting to/from work everyday I have had more time to read. Thank you for sharing!
Such a fun series of posts about these british literature books. Some we read in my Brit Lit class my senior year of High School, but I haven’t really read much after that. I have heard of some of these, but not all on this list.
I don’t think I’ve ever read any British literature books. I’m definitely going to check these out.
This is really a great list of great classic books.
I love being able to pair these classic novels with a movie. That’s an excellent way to keep the kids interested.
These are great picks. Rudyard Kipling is a great choice for teens. He’s the original action writer.
I love this list! My oldest is due to start getting into these kinds of books for her homeschooling. This couldn’t have come at a better time!