British Author Challenge 2021 planning thread

Talk75 Books Challenge for 2020

Join LibraryThing to post.

British Author Challenge 2021 planning thread

Edited: Nov 26, 2020, 2:33pm

Hi all! Our dear PaulCranswick has decided to step back from the BAC and has graciously allowed me to run it next year. With lock downs and various restrictions looking like they'll be continuing into the new year, I thought it might be better to go with monthly themes instead of specific authors which we may not be able to get our hands on without access to library services.

I have a couple of ideas for monthly themes, but would love some suggestions for others! Are there any decades or historical eras you'd like to see? Significant anniversaries? Commemorative months? Uniquely British customs to highlight? Please let me know!

January: Children's Classics
February: LGBT+ History Month
March: Vaseem Khan & Eleanor Hibbert
April: Love is in the Air
May: V. S. Naipaul & Na'ima B. Robert
June: The Victorian Era (1837-1901)
July: Don't judge a book by its movie
August: Bernard Cornwell & Helen Oyeyemi
September: She Blinded Me with Science
October: Narrative Poetry
November: Tade Thompson & Elizabeth Taylor
December: Awards & Honors
Wildcard: Books off your shelves

Edited: Nov 8, 2020, 3:17pm

Here's the list of past authors and themes. Is there anything/anyone you'd like to revisit?

BAC 2015

January: Penelope Lively & Kazuo Ishiguro
February: Sarah Waters & Evelyn Waugh
March: Daphne du Maurier & China Miéville
April: Angela Carter & W. Somerset Maugham
May: Margaret Drabble & Martin Amis
June: Beryl Bainbridge & Anthony Burgess
July: Virginia Woolf & B.S. Johnson
August: Iris Murdoch & Graham Greene
September: Andrea Levy & Salman Rushdie
October: Helen Dunmore & David Mitchell
November: Muriel Spark & William Boyd
December: Hilary Mantel & P.G. Wodehouse
Wildcard: Bernice Rubens & Aldous Huxley

BAC 2016

January: Susan Hill & Barry Unsworth
February: Agatha Christie & William Dalrymple
March: Ali Smith & Thomas Hardy
April: George Eliot & Hanif Kureishi
May: Jane Gardam & Robert Goddard
June: Antonia Fraser & Joseph Conrad
July: Bernice Rubens & H.G. Wells
August: Diana Wynne-Jones & Ian McEwan
September: Doris Lessing & Laurie Lee
October: Kate Atkinson & William Golding
November: Rebecca West & Len Deighton
December: West Yorkshire writers
Wildcard: Rumer Godden and George Orwell

BAC 2017

January: Elizabeth Bowen & Brian Moore
February: Mary Stewart & Terry Pratchett
March: The Swinging Sixties
April: A. S. Byatt & Bruce Chatwin
May: Before Queen Victoria
June: Georgette Heyer & Simon Schama
July: D. E. Stevenson & Robert Louis Stevenson
August: Winifred Holtby & Robert Graves
September: The New Millennium
October: Jo Walton & Roald Dahl
November: The Poets Laureate
December: Elizabeth Gaskell & Neil Gaiman

BAC 2018

January: Debut Novels
February: The 1970s
March: Classic Thrillers
April: Folklore, Fables, and Legends
May: Queens of Crime
June: Travel Writing
July: The Angry Young Men
August: British Science Fiction
September: Historical Fiction
October: Comedic Novels
November: World War One
December: British Series
Wildcard: The Romantics

2019 British Isles Challenge

January: The Natural World
February: Pat Barker & Peter F. Hamilton
March: The Murderous Scots (Scottish Crime Novels)
April: Rosamond Lehmann and John Boyne
May: The Edwardian Era (1901-1913)
June: Nicola Barker & Wilkie Collins
July: Young Adult Fantasy Series
August: Anita Brookner & Jim Crace
September: Biography and Memoir
October: Rose Tremain & Louis de Bernières
November: The Jewish Contribution
December: Zadie Smith & Michael Morpurgo
Wildcard: Penelope Lively & Kazuo Ishiguro

2020 BAC

January: Jeanette Winterson & Graham Swift
February: The 1990s
March: Jane Austen & Walter Scott
April: Bernardine Evaristo & Caryl Phillips
May: Michael Moorcock, J. G. Ballard, & Brian Aldiss
June: Penelope Fitzgerald & Patrick Gale
July: Elly Griffiths & Winston Graham
August: The Brontë Sisters: Charlotte Brontë, Anne Brontë, & Emily Brontë
September: World War Two
October: Joanne Harris & George Orwell
November: Fay Weldon & John le Carré
December: The 2010s
Wildcard: Playwrights

Nov 8, 2020, 3:16pm

>1 amanda4242: thank you for taking on this responsibility.

What about a dual challenge each month, with a choice of a theme or an alternate choice of an author?

Nov 8, 2020, 6:48pm

>3 fuzzi: So rather than two authors or a theme, have one theme and one author each month? Am I understanding correctly?

Nov 8, 2020, 6:50pm

I did do six years then! Thanks for doing this, Amanda, I am sure that you'll breathe new life into the challenge.

>3 fuzzi: Nice idea.

Nov 8, 2020, 8:00pm

Ben Aaronovitch & Charles Stross make an interesting pair

Nov 8, 2020, 8:26pm

>5 PaulCranswick: I hope I can live up to the standard!

>6 quondame: Hmm...There is a new Rivers of London novella out next year, and I somehow managed to acquire the first three books of Stross's Merchant Princes series. Definitely something to ponder!

Nov 9, 2020, 7:11am

>5 PaulCranswick: thanks. If there's a month where the featured author is one I already have read and don't care to read again (like C.S. Forester), a topic option would be nice.

Nov 9, 2020, 10:22am

Hi, Amanda! Thanks for picking up where Paul is leaving off. This challenge has provided me with some great reading in the past, and introduced me to authors I might never have heard of otherwise. My wishlist is still crowded with some of the names from past years that I haven't got to yet. In general, I love themes or topics, since they give a lot of scope for choice. But I really appreciate author suggestions within those fields. It doesn't appear that Winston Churchill has ever been featured, although naturally he would fit neatly into several of the category months (WWI, WWII, Biography/Memoir). He was so prolific, and actually considered himself a professional writer first and foremost.

Nov 9, 2020, 2:43pm

>8 PaulCranswick: & >9 PaulCranswick: A lot of great names there!

>10 fuzzi: If there aren't any objections, I'm leaning towards strictly themes/topics rather than specific authors. I do like being introduced to and introducing others to new authors, but I also like the freedom of a less focused challenge.

Nov 9, 2020, 2:46pm

>11 laytonwoman3rd: Hi! The BAC has introduced me to a lot of great reading, too. I'm thinking of some fairly broad themes for next year so it will be easier for people to fit in stuff they already want to read, but I'll be sure to include lots of suggestions.

Edited: Nov 9, 2020, 6:07pm

>12 amanda4242: it doesn't matter to me 😊 I'm more partial to themes, personally.


Nov 9, 2020, 7:31pm

2018 my selections were wholly themed and the last two years a mixture of author choices and themes. I am excited to see what themes you come up with and I am sure that many of us will be avid supporters next year.

Edited: Nov 9, 2020, 9:19pm

>14 fuzzi: I've penciled in what I hope will be a fun theme with which to kick off new year!

>15 PaulCranswick: Choosing themes rather than authors also saves me from the agony of having to exclude favorite authors because there just aren't enough spaces for everyone.

Nov 10, 2020, 8:03am

I'm going against the grain to say I think I would prefer authors. I'm tired of themed challenges. The BAC exposed me to many authors I would have never read otherwise. If it is entirely theme-driven, I'll likely not participate at all.

Nov 10, 2020, 9:57am

Of the years I did the challenge I think the most successful mixed both approaches. I am open to Amanda's ideas and I will follow the challenge whatever she decides upon.

Nov 10, 2020, 11:18am

Hi - with a lot of mention, here and on Paul's thread,
of The Booker Lists before they were opened beyond the island,
it might be fun to have a month of some of the best-loved old favorites.

Nov 10, 2020, 2:36pm

>17 thornton37814: I lean towards themes because ongoing restrictions have made it difficult to track down specific authors, but if I chose some prolific authors and did a hybrid of themes and authors...move some things around...drop that thing I wasn't sure about anyway...I think it could work out well. Off to research authors!

Nov 10, 2020, 2:37pm

>19 m.belljackson: Hi! I'm actually considering an awards and honors month.

Nov 13, 2020, 1:19pm

Just a bump.

Nov 17, 2020, 12:44pm

I like the idea of themes, giving more freedom to choose, but within those themes I would also like suggestions for books or authors. It might be too hard to find fitting authors, and especially new suggestions would be very welcome.

Thank you for taking this challenge over from Paul, Amanda!

Nov 17, 2020, 12:49pm

>23 EllaTim: I plan on making the themes very broad, so it should be easy to pick out something that fits. I've also decided to include a few authors, with prolific authors matched with those whose output is smaller.

I'll announce the January selection a little later today.

Edited: Nov 18, 2020, 1:48pm

January: Children's Classics

John Tenniel's Cheshire Cat

2020 has not been a great year, so I thought we should kick off 2021 with some of the comfortable familiarity of childhood classics.

I'm interpreting both "children's" and "classics" pretty loosely. Anything that's often read in childhood can count, even if it wasn't written specifically for children, and anything published before 1996 can qualify for classic.


Works and series
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
Bed-Knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
Alice's Adventures by Lewis Carroll
Just William by Richmal Crompton
David Balfour books by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
Arabel and Mortimer by Joan Aiken
The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie (This is one of the books I read for the very first BAC.)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer
The Sally Lockhart Quartet by Philip Pullman
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Biggles by W. E. Johns
The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Mistress Masham's Repose by T. H. White
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
Andrew Lang's Fairy Books by Andrew Lang
Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl
Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

E. Nesbit
Rudyard Kipling
Michael Morpurgo
Beatrix Potter
Roger Hargreaves
George MacDonald
Angela Brazil
Kenneth Grahame
Diana Wynne Jones (The Chronicles of Chrestomanci are delightful.)
Brian Jacques

and some more suggestions from fuzzi

Edited: Nov 17, 2020, 5:35pm

>25 amanda4242: Love the theme! Would like to add to the list: The Secret Garden (one of my all-time favorites) by Frances Hodgson Burnett (or perhaps she's too American? I feel like the Secret Garden is such an "English" book!)

I'm not sure I have any themes in mind, but was wondering if you were considering authors by "region"--London, Yorkshire, Cornwall, etc. I'd love a month to introduce me to authors from various parts of Britain that might be off the beaten path, and representative of their area.

Nov 17, 2020, 5:46pm

>8 PaulCranswick: another lady to add that I don't think has been mentioned:

Barbara Pym

Nov 17, 2020, 6:29pm

>26 kac522: Wikipedia says Frances Hodgson Burnett was born in Manchester to British parents, so she qualifies in my book.

Regional authors sounds like a great theme; unfortunately, I don't feel like I know authors by region well enough to make it a theme this year.

Nov 17, 2020, 6:38pm

>25 amanda4242: Good start!

I really want to read Swallows and Amazons and Tarka the Otter

Nov 17, 2020, 6:57pm

>29 PaulCranswick: Thanks! I remember mostly enjoying Swallows and Amazons when I read it a few years ago.

Nov 17, 2020, 8:08pm

>28 amanda4242: I checked the Wikipedia page and discovered that she wrote A Lady of Quality which was made into the movie with Katherine Hepburn that I love and wish that Georgette Heyer Regencys had been adapted with similar verve. Maybe I'll read the Gutenberg online.

Nov 17, 2020, 8:33pm

>31 quondame: Haven't heard of that one before. I may have to check it out.

Nov 17, 2020, 9:44pm

>25 amanda4242: That's a delightful list...several old favorites and some new ones to explore.

Nov 17, 2020, 10:04pm

February: LGBT+ History Month

This month's theme is LGBT+ History Month, which is celebrated in the UK in February. For this theme, read books by or about LGBT+ Britons or works about LGBT+ history in the UK.

A very short, incomplete list of LGBT+ British authors:

E. M. Forster
Christopher Isherwood
W. H. Auden
Virginia Woolf
Vita Sackville-West
Jan Morris
Ali Smith
Siegfried Sassoon
Arthur C. Clarke
Clive Barker
Sarah Waters
Radclyffe Hall
Nicola Griffith
Alan Hollinghurst
Stephen Fry
Michael Field
Somerset Maugham
Joe Orton
Mary Renault
Paul Magrs
Lytton Strachey
Jeanette Winterson

Edited: Nov 17, 2020, 10:10pm

>33 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks! I tried to find a balance between the big names and some less well known works. Of course everyone is free to read something I didn't suggest!

Nov 17, 2020, 10:48pm

>34 amanda4242: Another great one!

Isherwood and Griffith are likely candidates for me in February.

Nov 18, 2020, 7:12am

Edited: Nov 18, 2020, 10:36am

>34 amanda4242: Isherwood and Jan Morris books have been staring at me from my shelves since before the term "LGBTQ literature" became so widely used. I have read some Isherwood, but haven't sampled Morris yet.

Nov 18, 2020, 1:47pm

>36 PaulCranswick: I love Isherwood's A Single Man.

>37 fuzzi: I never knew Lassie was originally a book! I'm going to add a link to your message to the list since touchstones are being cranky.

>38 laytonwoman3rd: I haven't read Morris yet, but I've really enjoyed the Isherwood I've read.

Nov 18, 2020, 1:59pm

>39 amanda4242: A Single Man broke my heart. Have you seen the film version (Colin Firth, Julianne Moore)?

Nov 18, 2020, 2:02pm

>40 laytonwoman3rd: Such a beautiful movie! Firth really should have gotten the Oscar that year.

Nov 18, 2020, 2:32pm

How about 'Climb Every Mountain, Ford Every Stream...' The Natural World.

Some possibilities:

Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination (Robert MacFarlane)
The Living Mountain (Nan Shepherd)
Kes (Barry Hines)
Vesper Flights/H is for Hawk (Helen MacDonald)
Wilding (Isabel Tree)
Findings (Kathleen Jamie)
Feral (George Monbiot)

Edited: Nov 18, 2020, 4:11pm

March: Vaseem Khan & Eleanor Hibbert

March sees the first of the specific author selections, Vaseem Khan and Eleanor Hibbert. In case you're wondering, there's no deeper significance to the pairing beyond matching a prolific author with one who has fewer published works.

Vaseem Khan writes mystery novels set in India. His first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, came out in 2015 and he has published a novel a year since.

The Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels:
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra
The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown
The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star
Murder at the Grand Raj Palace
Bad Day at the Vulture Club

Malabar House series:
Midnight at Malabar House
The Dying Day (A provisional title. Expected publication is sometime in 2021.)

You may know Eleanor Hibbert better as Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, Philippa Carr, or one of several other pseudonyms. Hibbert wrote over 200 books in a variety of genres, including historical fiction, thriller, non-fiction, and gothic romance.

Selected works
As Jean Plaidy:
Plantagenet Saga
Tudor Saga
Lucrezia Borgia
Queen Victoria Tetralogy

As Victoria Holt:
Mistress of Mellyn
Bride of Pendorric
The Shivering Sands
The Pride of the Peacock

As Philippa Carr:
Daughters of England series

As Elbur Ford:
Poison in Pimlico
The Flesh and the Devil
Bed Disturbed
Evil in the House

As Kathleen Kellow:
Danse Macabre
Rooms at Mrs. Oliver's
It Began in Vauxhall Gardens
Call of the Blood
Rochester, the Mad Earl

Nov 18, 2020, 4:15pm

>42 Caroline_McElwee: Just flashed on The Sound of Music...*shivers*

We did have the natural world as a theme in 2019. Maybe a science month, in which we can include natural history?

Nov 18, 2020, 5:18pm

>43 amanda4242: Blimey definitely a nostalgia hit there with Eleanor Hibbett, as Vctoria Holt. I read The Bride of Pendorric donkeys years ago, and for some reason bought a copy of it more recently, with the intent to find out whether it stood the test of time.

Hadn't heard of Vaseem Khan. March taken care of.

>43 amanda4242: Good idea Amanda.

Nov 18, 2020, 6:17pm

I devoured Victoria Holt as a teenager. Mistress of Mellyn, Bride of Pendorric....I'm very tempted to revisit one of those and see how it hits me now. I read fair bit of the Plantagenet saga as well.

Nov 18, 2020, 6:25pm

>43 amanda4242: I was a bit perplexed at the two authors selected as I hadn't heard of either of them until I realised that Eleanor Hibbert was also Jean Plaidy et al. I have several of hers on the shelves and always enjoy her books even if they are not so heavy - or perhaps because of that!

I will try to find something by Vaseem Khan too. Thumbs up for coming up with one that is new to the ex-host! x

Edited: Nov 18, 2020, 9:13pm

>45 Caroline_McElwee: I discovered Hibbert as Plaidy on the sale table at my local library. I haven't read her in years, but I remember her doing a fair job with historical detail.

Khan is a name I discovered while searching for authors who weren't the proverbial old white guys; I haven't read him yet, but the Baby Ganesh books sound fun.

>46 laytonwoman3rd: I have a few of her Plantagenet books on my shelf, but her gothic romances are tempting me, too.

Nov 18, 2020, 6:30pm

>47 PaulCranswick: Finding something new for someone with such an extensive library is quite an accomplishment!

Nov 18, 2020, 9:06pm

>49 amanda4242: Especially if there is no sci-fi or vampires involved!

Nov 19, 2020, 12:02pm

Edited: Nov 19, 2020, 3:27pm

April: Love is in the Air

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

When in April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all
The veins are bathed in liquor of such power
As brings about the engendering of the flower,
When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath
Exhales an air in every grove and heath
Upon the tender shoots, and the young sun
His half course in the sign of the Ram has run
And the small fowl are making melody
That sleep away the night with open eye,
(So nature pricks them and their heart engages)
Then 75ers long to read stories of love.

April's theme is one of love and romance. Romance writing is often looked down on as trashy stuff you find in the supermarket check-out line, but many classic works of literature feature a love story at the center of the action. You can read anything from the latest Mills and Boon release to George Eliot's Middlemarch, where much of the action is directly related to characters making truly disastrous marriages. You can choose fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose, as long as love or some sort of romantic entanglement is a major part of the book.


Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
Behind These Doors by Jude Lucens
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Maurice by E. M. Forster
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Possession by A. S. Byatt
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis by Ali Smith
Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson by Nigel Nicolson

Jane Austen
Georgette Heyer
KJ Charles
Fanny Burney

Nov 19, 2020, 7:01pm

Several up there calling to me, Amanda.

Nov 19, 2020, 7:17pm

>53 PaulCranswick: That's great! Romance isn't really my genre so I had some trouble thinking up suggestions.

Edited: Nov 19, 2020, 9:38pm

Again, some favorites on that list. Maybe I'll finally read Daniel Deronda...

Nov 19, 2020, 8:33pm

>55 laytonwoman3rd: Daniel himself is a bit of a drip, but Gwendolen Harleth is a fantastic character.

Nov 20, 2020, 7:13am

>52 amanda4242: I read Middlemarch last took me a couple weeks to get through because IT WAS THAT GOOD. Highly, highly recommended.

I have The Concubine, A Story of Anne Boleyn by Norah Lofts sitting unread on my shelves. I think it would qualify for this challenge.

Nov 20, 2020, 12:06pm

>57 fuzzi: I fell in love with Middlemarch when I read it for the second BAC. It may be time for a reread soon!

I'd say The Concubine would qualify.

Nov 20, 2020, 12:07pm

I just saw that Jan Morris, one of the authors suggested in >34 amanda4242:, has died at the age of 94.

Guardian obituary

Nov 20, 2020, 12:39pm

I really liked Jan Morris's work. An amazing writer. I read the book about her home in Wales and felt like I was there even though there was little physical detail about the place. I knew she was elderly so her death is not unexpected but still I am sad about the loss of her voice.

Nov 20, 2020, 12:44pm

>60 benitastrnad: I've always heard good things about her writing. My local library has several of her books, so I'll almost certainly be reading her in the coming year.

Edited: Nov 20, 2020, 2:30pm

May: V. S. Naipaul & Na'ima B. Robert

V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad and Tobago, the descendant of Indian emigrants who came to the Caribbean as indentured servants. He attended University College, Oxford, graduating in 1953. His first novel, The Mystic Masseur, was published in 1957 and was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Naipaul's work continued to garner him many awards and honors, including a Booker for In a Free State, a knighthood, and a Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in 2018.

Selected works

A House for Mr. Biswas
A Bend in the River
Half a Life
In a Free State
The Enigma of Arrival
An Area of Darkness
India: A Million Mutinies Now

Na'ima B. Robert was born in 1977 in Leeds, the daughter of a Scottish father and Zulu mother. Robert's family moved to Ethiopia when she was two, and to Zimbabwe a few years later. She converted to Islam in 1998 and soon after chose to wear the niqāb, a face veil, full-time. She writes primarily picture books and young adult novels; her memoir From My Sisters' Lips was published in 2005.

Selected works

The Swirling Hijaab
Going to Mecca
Ramadan Moon
From Somalia, with Love
Boy vs. Girl
Far From Home
She Wore Red Trainers: A Muslim Love Story

As Thando McLaren:
Letters Around the World
Treasure Hunt: Travel Back in Time

Nov 20, 2020, 6:59pm

>62 amanda4242: A House for Mr Biswas is a favourite book of mine.

You got me again with Na'ima B. Robert - never heard of her!

Nov 20, 2020, 8:36pm

>63 PaulCranswick: Yes! Another new name for you! Truthfully, I hadn't heard of Robert either. I was looking for authors off the beaten track and stumbled across her; her life sounded interesting and she has a decent number of published works, so on to the list she went.

Edited: Nov 21, 2020, 11:58am

June: The Victorian Era (1837-1901)

Queen Victoria in her official Diamond Jubilee photograph by W. & D. Downey

We've done pre-Victorian novels and the Edwardian Era, so now it's time for the big one.

Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent became queen on 20 June 1837. She married Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel in 1840, by whom she had nine children. When Prince Albert died in 1861 she became something of a professional widow. During her 63 year reign British colonial expansion covered the globe, making the British empire the largest in history. At her death on 22 January 1901 her full style was "Her Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India."

The era saw a massive technological revolution: steam power, electricity, railways, automobiles, telegraphs, and telephones all rose during Victoria's rule. Improvements in paper making and printing, combined with educational reform and cheaper means of lighting homes, helped lead to an explosion in literacy rates and an increased demand for newspapers, magazines, and books.

The British Empire in 1898

This is the month for reading works written during the Victorian Era, not about it. You don't have to match her exact reign, and there's wiggle room for serialized works, but we're looking at stuff written between 1837 and 1901. That being said, I see no reason not to include authors from across the empire. As the map above shows, Britain's empire was so vast during Victoria's reign that the sun *literally* never set upon it; if an author who wrote during the era was subject to British rule, then I think they can be a part of this challenge.


Charles Dickens
Elizabeth Gaskell
George Eliot
Charlotte Brontë
Emily Brontë
Anne Brontë
John Ruskin
Oscar Wilde
Thomas Hardy
George Gissing
Anthony Trollope
Wilkie Collins
Christina Rossetti
Richard Francis Burton

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin
Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Liza of Lambeth by Somerset Maugham
Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands by Mary Seacole
The River War by Winston Churchill
The Devil's Disciple by George Bernard Shaw
Varney the Vampire
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Nov 21, 2020, 9:13am

>62 amanda4242: Na'ma B Roberts's From my Sisters' Lips is excellent. It's a while since I read it, but I'll look forward to reading something else from the list.

Nov 21, 2020, 11:59am

>66 Caroline_McElwee: That's good to hear! I hadn't heard of her before I went looking for possible BAC authors so I wasn't sure about the quality of her writing.

Edited: Nov 21, 2020, 5:47pm

July: Don't judge a book by its movie

Brideshead Revisited (1981)

My other hobby is watching movies, so for this month I'm combining my two hobbies for a theme of books that have been adapted for film or television. Rules are simple: read a book that's been made into a film or TV series, watch the adaptation, and compare the two.

We aren't what you'd call short of options here. Wikipedia's pages on British novels adapted into film and Television shows based on British novels are excellent resources for finding book/adaptation combos.


Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series by Val McDermid ---> Wire in the Blood TV Series
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
James Bond series by Ian Fleming
The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
Lucifer by Mike Carey
Hellblazer series ---> Constantine film has elements from the Dangerous Habits arc, the Constantine TV series draws from Original Sins and The Devil You Know, and the animated movie Constantine: City of Demons confusingly is an adaptation of All His Engines rather than the City of Demons book.
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh --->Bright Young Things
To Serve Them All My Days by R. F. Delderfield
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (My favorites are the 1943 version with Orson Wells and the 2005 mini-series with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.)
High Rise by J. G. Ballard
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell --->The Durrells in Corfu
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Inspector Rebus series by Ian Rankin --->Rebus
Takeshi Kovacs series by Richard Morgan --->Altered Carbon
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Regeneration by Pat Barker
The Quite American by Graham Greene
Theatre by Somerset Maugham --->Being Julia
Poldark Saga series by Winston Graham
Royal Flash by George Macdonald Fraser
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (I love the 1990 version with Charleton Heston and Christian Bale.)
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

Nov 21, 2020, 6:19pm

>68 amanda4242: Wheeee! I love this topic.

Nov 21, 2020, 6:30pm

>68 amanda4242: love this challenge.

I would like to put in a good word for the Timothy Dalton Jane Eyre and the Robin Ellis Poldark series from the 1970s.

Nov 21, 2020, 6:42pm

>69 laytonwoman3rd: It should be a fun one.

>70 fuzzi: Timothy Dalton did make a good Rochester. I completely understand why Jane fell for him!

Nov 21, 2020, 8:20pm

We have not had Elizabeth Taylor as a featured author. Might be good to put her on the list this year. Eudora Welty and William Maxwell loved her writing.

Nov 21, 2020, 8:43pm

You are doing a great job, Amanda.

I really like both themes selected for June and July and I have, as you can guess, a huge amount of options for both. Provisionally I am thinking:

George Meredith
Thomas Hardy
The Poldark books
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Edited: Nov 22, 2020, 11:58am

August: Bernard Cornwell & Helen Oyeyemi

Bernard Cornwell was born in London in 1944 to an English woman and a Canadian airman. He was adopted by a family that belonged to a very strict sect of Christianity. He read history at University College London. He and his second wife moved to the US in 1979; he began writing because he was unable to get a green card at the time and writing didn't require a work permit.

He and his wife, Judy, have published together under the name Susannah Kells.

Selected works
Sharpe's Adventures
The Saxon Chronicles
The Grail Quest
Starbuck Chronicles
The Warlord Chronicles
Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles
Fools and Mortals

Helen Oyeyemi was born in 1984 and wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl, while studing for her A-levels. She wrote two plays while studying social and political sciences at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. White is for Witching, her third novel, won a Somerset Maugham Award, and was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award.

The Icarus Girl
The Opposite House
White Is for Witching
Mr. Fox
Boy, Snow, Bird
Juniper's Whitening and Victimese
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

Nov 21, 2020, 9:45pm

>72 benitastrnad: I do have another author month penciled in I need to fill...

>73 PaulCranswick: I didn't know Salmon Fishing in the Yemen had been made into a movie.

Nov 21, 2020, 9:48pm

Both of those appeal to me, Amanda, and I have plenty by both on the shelves.

Nov 22, 2020, 11:10am

>72 benitastrnad: Elizabeth Taylor has been featured in the Virago group, where we read a novel a month during her centennial year way back in 2012. She'd be a wonderful choice for anyone who hasn't "found" her yet and for those of us who think we need an excuse to return to her.

Nov 22, 2020, 11:58am

>76 PaulCranswick: I thought it was high time we featured Cornwell.

>77 laytonwoman3rd: I enjoyed Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont when I read it a few years ago.

Edited: Nov 23, 2020, 12:22pm

September: She Blinded Me with Science

September's theme is science non-fiction. Choices can include natural sciences (physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, etc.), social sciences (anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, etymology, sociology, etc.), technology, natural history, history of science, biographies of scientists, or any other science-related non-fiction.

This month's theme was inspired by a suggestion from Caroline_McElwee.


My suggestion list is a bit short this time because my relationship with science can mostly be summed up like this:
ME: Have you built me a TARDIS yet?
SCIENCE: Um, no.
ME: Well, get back to me when you do. *goes back to reading*

Charles Darwin
Stephen Hawking
Richard Dawkins
Hugh Aldersey-Williams
Oliver Sacks
Camilla Pang
Emily Winterburn
The Science of Doctor Who by Paul Parsons
The Science of Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen
Thomas Huxley
Joseph Banks
David Attenborough

Nov 22, 2020, 6:44pm

I'm loving your ideas Amanda!

Nov 22, 2020, 6:47pm

>80 EllaTim: Thanks!

Nov 22, 2020, 6:49pm

Nov 22, 2020, 7:39pm

Nov 23, 2020, 10:05am

>79 amanda4242: I'll add suggestions to that list: Thomas Huxley and Joseph Banks.

Nov 23, 2020, 11:15am

>1 amanda4242: Favorite British Animal Books?

Nov 23, 2020, 11:51am

>86 fuzzi:

Great list - I was also thinking of the Veterinarian books...(names elusive this morning).

Edited: Nov 23, 2020, 11:56am

>84 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks! I'll add them to the list.

>87 m.belljackson: Are you thinking of James Herriot?

Edited: Nov 23, 2020, 12:05pm

>87 m.belljackson: Maybe James Herriot: All Creatures Great and Small, etc.? New Masterpiece series starting in January, too.

>79 amanda4242: David Attenborough, mostly known for TV, but has written a lot of books, too.

Nov 23, 2020, 12:06pm

>89 kac522: Thanks! I'll add him to the list.

Nov 23, 2020, 1:57pm

>87 m.belljackson: yes, that Joyce Stranger. I managed to snag the Timothy Yorke books and enjoyed them all.

Edited: Nov 23, 2020, 2:47pm

>91 fuzzi: >88 amanda4242: >89 kac522:

Yes, for James Herriott - Joyce Stranger I'd not heard of so read THE RUNNING FOX reviews. Did she write others that won't make some (many?) of us cry?

Nov 23, 2020, 3:51pm

>92 m.belljackson: some of Joyce Stranger's work will touch your heart, and bring a tear to your eye, but she doesn't manipulate the reader like some authors do. She doesn't do an Old Yeller on us.

Edited: Nov 23, 2020, 3:52pm

October: Narrative Poetry

One of Doré's illustrations for Paradise Lost

Wait! Don't run away! This is *narrative* poetry, poems that tell a story. It's "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven" not "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." Narrative poems come in all sizes, from the massive Faerie Queene to the 200-odd lines of Tam O'Shanter.

Why October for a poetry month? Because National Poetry Day in the UK is the first Thursday in October.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Simon Armitage's translation is great. Even noted poetry hater richardderus raved about it in his review.)
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
Paradise Lost by John Milton
The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope
Tam O'Shanter by Robert Burns
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Don Juan by Lord Byron
Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came by Robert Browning
Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear
The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll

Edited: Nov 23, 2020, 5:20pm

This is just a note to say that I won't be editing posts to add suggestions because touchstones are acting up worse than usual. I'm keeping track of all of your suggestions and will include them when I set up the monthly threads next year.

Nov 23, 2020, 4:25pm

>93 fuzzi: That's good to hear. Old Yeller has traumatized too many children and should not be emulated!

Nov 24, 2020, 7:28am

>96 amanda4242: but the sequel Savage Sam is very good. Sam is the son of Old Yeller, and comes into his own.

Nov 24, 2020, 2:04pm

>97 fuzzi: I had no idea it was a series! Of course, I've tried not to think about Old Yeller since my fourth grade teacher thought it would be a good book to read to the class...and then showed us the movie as a special treat.

Edited: Nov 24, 2020, 3:00pm

>98 amanda4242: yikes!

I read Old Yeller once, saw parts of the movie and decided I didn't want to see the rest.

Then at a book fair for school I saw Savage Sam, fell in love with the cover (ha!)

and bought it. I lost my original copy at some point but I had almost memorized the story by then. A few years ago I saw the same edition for sale on Ebay and grabbed it.

Oops, sorry for the off topic post...

Nov 24, 2020, 3:05pm

>99 fuzzi: That is an alluring cover.

You were wise to skip watching all of Old Yeller; the only thing worse than reading about what happens is watching it happen. I would also suggest skipping Where the Red Fern Grows, which was assigned reading in the fifth grade and then we watched the movie...why do adults think children should read so many books where the dogs die?!

Nov 24, 2020, 4:02pm

>100 amanda4242: actually...I love the Red Fern story, and have read it more than once. Go figure.

As a child I loved reading Black Beauty, and kept hoping that Ginger didn't die. No matter how many times I read and reread that book, I kept hoping for a different outcome.

Nov 24, 2020, 4:30pm

November: Tade Thompson & Elizabeth Taylor

Tade Thompson was born in London and moved with his family to Nigeria when he was about seven years old. He studied medicine and social anthropology, specializing in psychiatry. As a speculative fiction writer, Thompson's works have garnered him a number of honors, including two Nommo Awards, a Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award, and an Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Selected works
The Rosewater Insurrection
The Rosewater Redemption
"Bicycle Girl" (Short story available at Expanded Horizons)
The Murders of Molly Southbourne
The Survival of Molly Southbourne
Household Gods (free download here)
Making Wolf

And by popular acclaim, Elizabeth Taylor! Taylor was born in in Reading, Berkshire in 1912. The first of her twelve novels was published in 1945; she also wrote numerous short stories for magazines. She died in 1975.

Selected works
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
A View of the Harbour
A Wreath of Roses
A Dedicated Man and Other Stories
The Sleeping Beauty
In a Summer Season
The Devastating Boys

Nov 24, 2020, 4:36pm

>101 fuzzi: Go figure, indeed!

Nov 24, 2020, 5:06pm

>102 amanda4242: Yay! for Elizabeth Taylor. I am currently reading through her works (slowly). I loved Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, both the book and the film.
One work not mentioned on your list, but I enjoyed was At Mrs Lippincote's, which is set during WWII.

Nov 24, 2020, 8:27pm

>100 amanda4242: My daughter had a very similar reaction to being assigned Where the Red Fern Grows....I've never read it, and she says "DON'T!"

Nov 24, 2020, 9:42pm

For the children's books, don't forget Enid Blyton!! She's in the Jean Plaidy school of "literature" -- lightweight but fun. Also, I adored both the Chalet School series (Elinor Brent Dyer) and the Saddler's Wells ballet series by Lorna Hill. Both are set in the 1930s to 1950s or thereabouts, so they can feel dated, but also are lovely. Noel Streatfield wrote A Vicarage Family and two sequels, about growing up in late Victorian/early Edwardian England and breaking out to become an author and independent woman. The first of these definitely is aimed at the children's market.

It's also worth checking out Rumer Godden?

Adam Nicolson wrote a lovely book about his home in the Hebrides (thinking of the nature category).

At some point perhaps a historical fiction category? Everyone from Hilary Mantel to the writers of potboilers...

Nov 25, 2020, 2:20am

>94 amanda4242: Name dropping Richard and poetry together in the same post deserves a thumbs up from me alone.

I think you know that this one would please me. Kipling, Tennyson, Byron, Chesterton, Milton all stand out but Heaney and Hughes and Armitage have added much in recent decades.

Beowulf by Heaney
Tales from Ovid by Hughes
The Death of King Arthur by Simon Armitage are all possibles

also I would like to read again some Tennyson including The Lady of Shallot and The Charge of the
Light Brigade

Nov 25, 2020, 2:22am

>102 amanda4242: Tade Thompson is another I am not familiar with - well done, Amanda.

Elizabeth Taylor was close to selection on numerous occasions and had to be included sooner rather than later.

Edited: Nov 25, 2020, 3:19am

Your June choice Amanda got me thinking about doing a Victorian era challenge whereby I read one book for every year of her reign:

She ascended the throne in 1837 The French Revolution by Thomas Caryle
and her last full year on the throne was 1900 Love and Mr. Lewisham by HG Wells (she died in January 1901) a total of 64 years.
I will read books from my shelves where possible and won't exclude non-British works (allows me to read favourites such as Balzac, Zola etc) but I will not replicate any authors. For example of of my unread Dickens books (Martin Chuzzlewit, Bleak House, Dombey and Son, Little Dorrit and Our Mutual Friend - I have read his other 11 novels) I must choose just one and fit it into the challenge.

I will start the challenge 1 December 2020 and hope to complete it by 31 December 2021 which means 5 books a month. Will help with my 1001 challenge too I daresay.

Edited: Nov 25, 2020, 12:22pm

>104 kac522: I enjoyed reading Mrs. Palfrey, but I haven't seen the film yet.

>105 laytonwoman3rd: Your daughter gave sage advice.

Edited: Nov 25, 2020, 12:21pm

>106 Chatterbox: How could I have failed to mention Enid Blyton?! She was at the top of every list of British children's books I looked at! I'm favorite-ing your post so I don't forget your suggestions.

We did have a historical fiction month in 2018, and we have two historical fiction writers featured next year, Eleanor Hibbert and Bernard Cornwell.

Edited: Nov 25, 2020, 12:23pm

>107 PaulCranswick: I knew this one would be right up your alley. :)

>108 PaulCranswick: Woo hoo! Another new to you author! Several people here mentioned Taylor, so it would have been churlish not to include her.

>109 PaulCranswick: That is quite the undertaking, especially since Victorian novels tend to be freaking massive tomes. I will be there to cheer you on!

If you're looking for a book for 1844, might I suggest The Count of Monte Cristo? My copy is over 1400 pages long, but I sped through it in about a week and a half because it is just that good.

Nov 25, 2020, 12:24pm

>102 amanda4242: I've read most of Elizabeth Taylor, but not heard of Tad Thompson so look forward to reading a new to me writer.

Nov 25, 2020, 3:20pm

>113 Caroline_McElwee: I love finding new authors; even if I don't end up liking their work, at least I've tried something different.

Edited: Nov 26, 2020, 3:05pm

December: Awards & Honors

And for the final month of 2021 we'll be looking at books and authors that have garnered awards and honors. No need to stick to strictly British awards, as many of them are open to international authors anyway; just make sure the author of the work you choose has some claim to being British. I'm interpreting honors pretty loosely: it can mean longlisted for a prize, named a notable book by a major organization, or even listed as one of the 1001 books to read before you die; the only thing I'm specifically excluding is books whose only "honor" is that it made a bestseller list.

John Llewellyn Rhys Prize
Arthur C. Clarke Award
James Tait Black Memorial Prize
Guardian Fiction Prize/Guardian First Book Award
Booker Prize
Orange Prize for Fiction/Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award

British Nobel laureates in Literature
Rabindranath Tagore (I'll allow him in as India was still part of the British Empire when he won.)
Rudyard Kipling
George Bernard Shaw (Dual Irish/British nationality.)
John Galsworthy
T. S. Eliot (Naturalized British citizen)
Bertrand Russell
Winston Churchill
Elias Canetti
William Golding
V. S. Naipaul
Harold Pinter
Doris Lessing
Kazuo Ishiguro

Edited: Nov 26, 2020, 1:27am

>115 amanda4242: Seamus Heaney was British born in Northern Ireland, Amanda. I do though note that Heaney always stressed he was Irish and not British but his birth certainly was in the UK.

It is also arguable that WB Yeats should be included as a British winner. For one he was born in 1865 and Ireland was definitely part of the United Kingdom at that time. Secondly when he won in 1923, the Irish Free State had come into being only the year before. It was only on 29 December 1937 that Ireland came into being with ratification of its constitution. I do think, though, of Yeats as being very much an Irish poet.

I got round all that a few years ago by making it a BIAC challenge to include our Irish cousins (I am at least a quarter Irish myself).

Nov 26, 2020, 2:17am

I've kept an eye on the BAC for years, thinking I should join in but never getting around to it - usually because if I'm not having a reading slump I'm focused on something particular and the BAC authors choices right then don't fit what I'm in the mood for. But this year (well, next year) might be the year I really do join in. The choices for themes are broad enough that I should be able to fit something into nearly every month (I might skip a few of the author months) but still not so vague that anything goes. Really excellent job, Amanda! I'm looking forward to joining you, and am making a tentative list of books to try to get to in 2021.

Nov 26, 2020, 1:04pm

Thank you, Amanda and Paul, for all the on-going hard work!

I'll be taking The Wildcard for December with playwright Christopher Marlowe,
which will mean a completion of BAC, AAC, and the Non-fiction Challenge.

Looking forward to this new one in 2021.

Nov 26, 2020, 2:13pm

>116 PaulCranswick: I thought I might have missed a couple who could qualify; that's what I get for relying on Wikipedia! Thankfully I have a friend who can help fill in the gaps. :)

Nov 26, 2020, 2:22pm

>117 PawsforThought: Welcome! I'm glad to hear the selections appeal to you! Do feel free to skip whichever months you want; this is a very casual challenge that's about finding good things to read rather than marking every single item off a list.

Nov 26, 2020, 2:23pm

>118 m.belljackson: Congratulations on completing all three challenges!

Edited: Nov 26, 2020, 2:47pm

Wildcard: Books off your shelves

If you're anything like me you always have one or two books on hand you haven't gotten around to reading yet, so the Wildcard selection is here to help you conquer your TBR stack. Only two restrictions:

1) You can't have read the book before.

2) You must own the book before 01-01-2021. Hitting purchase at 11:59 P.M. on New Year's Eve is fine, but nothing purchased in 2021!

Wildcards can replace any of the months or be read in addition to the other selections.

Nov 27, 2020, 12:21pm

>122 amanda4242: woo! Love the wildcard.

Nov 27, 2020, 2:36pm

>123 fuzzi: I thought it would be nice to have an excuse to chip away at the TBR stack (really mountain).

Dec 2, 2020, 6:41pm

Hi - I've scrolled around, but can't find just a plain list by Month for 2021...?

Thank you.

Dec 2, 2020, 7:23pm

>125 m.belljackson: January: Children's Classics
February: LGBT+ History Month
March: Vaseem Khan & Eleanor Hibbert
April: Love is in the Air
May: V. S. Naipaul & Na'ima B. Robert
June: The Victorian Era (1837-1901)
July: Don't judge a book by its movie
August: Bernard Cornwell & Helen Oyeyemi
September: She Blinded Me with Science
October: Narrative Poetry
November: Tade Thompson & Elizabeth Taylor
December: Awards & Honors
Wildcard: Books off your shelves

>1 amanda4242: also has the list with links to the relevant posts.

Dec 2, 2020, 7:26pm

>126 amanda4242:

Thank you!
I wasn't sure if the one at the top was a final listing after so many
comments were added.

Dec 2, 2020, 7:28pm

>127 m.belljackson: It's the final list; I added the names and links as I announced them.

Dec 10, 2020, 7:56pm

Just a bump.

Dec 11, 2020, 10:14am

I'm looking forward to reading Peter Pan....for the first time!

Dec 11, 2020, 11:02am

>130 laytonwoman3rd: Maybe I'll join you since I've also managed to make it to adulthood without reading Peter Pan.

Dec 26, 2020, 9:41pm