Entertainment/Literature - other

From Quiz Revision Notes

Biography and Autobiography

AddictedTony Adams

The Kindness of StrangersKate Adie

OpenAndre Agassi

Pride and Perjury – memoirs of Jonathan Aitkin

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, BoysViv Albertine

Reaching for the MoonBuzz Aldrin

Infidel: My LifeAyaan Hirsi Ali

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956Anne Applebaum

Basingstoke BoyJohn Arlott

It’s not About the Bike, Every Second Counts, My ComebackLance Armstrong

Days of GraceArthur Ashe

Opening UpMike Atherton

The Necessary AptitudePam Ayres

The Centre of the BedJoan Bakewell, who had an affair with Harold Pinter

Miracles of Life: from Shanghai to SheppertonJG Ballard

Twin TracksRoger Bannister

An Education – memoir by Lynn Barber

My TakeGary Barlow

My Side, My World, My Story – books by David Beckham

That Extra Half an InchVictoria Beckham

A Mingled ChimeThomas Beecham

An Accidental MPMartin Bell

My Spin on CricketRichie Benaud

More Time for PoliticsTony Benn

Free at Last – memoirs of Tony Benn

A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine: The Last Diaries – Tony Benn

Untold StoriesAlan Bennett

What’s it All About?Cilla Black

Speaking for MyselfCherie Blair

The Goldfish Bowl: Married to the Prime Minister – Cherie Blair

Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My LifeJames Blake

Head OnIan Botham

No Angel – biography of Bernie Ecclestone by Tom Bower

Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell – Tom Bower

Take It Like A ManBoy George

My Shit Life So FarFrankie Boyle

Strong Woman: Ambition, Grit And A Great Pair Of HeelsKarren Brady

Look Back in HungerJo Brand autobiography

My Booky Wook, Booky Wook 2Russell Brand

The Art of CaptaincyMike Brearley

Beyond the Black DoorSarah Brown

Small Man in a BookRob Brydon

Decision PointsGeorge W Bush memoir

What’s It All About, The Elephant to HollywoodMichael Caine memoirs

No Ordinary JoeJoe Calzaghe

Diaries Volume One: Prelude to Power 1994-1997Alistair Campbell

Diaries Volume Two: Power and the People 1997-1999 – Alistair Campbell

Diaries Volume Three: Power and Responsibility 1999–2001 – Alistair Campbell

Biographies of United States political figures Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson Robert Caro

Look who it is!: My StoryAlan Carr memoir

Fighting All the WayBarbara Castle

Landing on my FeetMike Catt

Mao – biography by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday

My Soccer LifeBobby Charlton

My Early Life: A Roving Commission is a 1930 book by Winston Churchill. It is a compilation of two of his earlier autobiographical works, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria (1900) and Ian Hamilton's March (1900). The film Young Winston was based on this title

Alan Clark Diaries –

Volume 1 Diaries: In Power 1983–1992 (1993)

Volume 2 Diaries: Into Politics 1972–1982 (2000)

Volume 3 Diaries: The Last Diaries 1993–1999 (2002)

A Young Man’s PassageJulian Clary

Rocket ManRoger Clemens

My LifeBill Clinton

Living HistoryHillary Clinton

Running My LifeSebastian Coe

Through My EyesCheryl Cole

The Man in the White SuitBen Collins

Good Times!Justin Lee Collins

The Outsider: My AutobiographyJimmy Connors

May I Have Your Attention Please?James Corden

Skating for Gold – Robin Cousins

I Don’t Mean to be Rude, ButSimon Cowell

Something’s BurningFanny Cradock

Mommie Dearest is a memoir and expose written by Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of actress Joan Crawford

Of Molecules and MenFrancis Crick

The Diaries of a Cabinet MinisterRichard Crossman

My StoryTom Daley

Dairy of a GeniusSalvador Dali

It’s in the BloodLawrence Dallaglio

Back from the BrinkAlistair Darling memoir

The Autobiography of a Super-TrampWH Davies

An Appetite for WonderRichard Dawkins

My Beautiful GameNancy Dell’Olio

Spilling the BeansClarissa Dickson-Wright

White LightningAllan Donald

The Way the Wind BlowsAlec Douglas-Home

Permission to SpeakClive Dunn

My Family and Other AnimalsGerald Durrell. Tells of the part of his childhood Durrell spent on the Greek island of Corfu between 1935 and 1939

The Overloaded Ark – first Gerald Durrell book

A Zoo in My Luggage – Gerald Durrell

Against The Odds: An AutobiographyJames Dyson

UnbelievableJesscia Ennis

A Cellarful of NoiseBrian Epstein

It’s Not What You Think, Memoirs of a FruitcakeChris Evans

Red Carpets and Other Banana SkinsRupert Everett

My Wicked, Wicked WaysErrol Flynn

Captain Scott – biography by Ranulph Fiennes

Better Than SexMick Fitzgerald

Behind the ShadesDuncan Fletcher

The Pen and the Sword – biography of Jonathan Swift by Michael Foot

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the FutureMichael J Fox

Lester – biography of Lester Pigott, written by Dick Francis

Born LuckyJohn Francombe

My Father’s Fortune: A Life – memoir of Michael Frayn

Notes from a Small SopranoLesley Garrett

The Road AheadBill Gates

The First Lady of BondEunice Gayson, who played Sylvia Trench

To Be, or Not...to BopDizzy Gillespie

Spitfire: The BiographyJonathan Glancey

Peeling OnionsGunter Grass

The Age of Turbulence – memoir of Alan Greenspan

Daddy, We Hardly Knew YouGermaine Greer

Good-Bye to all thatRobert Graves

This One’s On MeJimmy Greaves

The Motorcycle Diaries is a memoir that traces the early travels of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, then a 23-year-old medical student, and his friend Alberto Granado

Bad Girls Go Everywhere – biography of Helen Gurley Brown

William Pitt the Younger, William Wilberforce – biographies by William Hague

The Autobiography of Malcolm X – biography written by Alex Haley

Provided you don’t Kiss me – biography of Brian Clough by Duncan Hamilton

On the EdgeRichard Hammond

The Two of Us – biography of John Thaw by Sheila Hancock

ImperiumRobert Harris’s fictional biography of Cicero

Lustrum – Robert Harris. About the life of Cicero

Making WavesDavid Hasselhoff

Feel – biography of Robbie Williams by Chris Heath

A Moveable Feast – memoir by Ernest Hemingway about his years as an expatriate writer in Paris in the 1920s

God’s Architect – biography of Augustus Pugin by Rosemary Hill

Hitch-22: A MemoirChristopher Hitchens

Barefaced Lies and Boogie-Woogie BoastsJools Holland

With a Little Bit of LuckStanley Holloway

A Fart in a ColanderRoy Hudd

The Working Man’s BalletAlan Hudson

Next to youGloria Hunniford

Robert Peel, a BiographyDouglas Hurd

Human Race Get Off Your KneesDavid Icke

Howard Hughes: My Story – fake autobiography written by Clifford Irving

Enter the Bear PitJohn Jacobs, about the 1991 Ryder Cup match at Brookline

Bit of a Blur – memoirs of Alex James

Beyond a Boundary – a memoir on cricket written by the Trinidadian Marxist intellectual C. L. R. James

Life at Number 10Neil Jenkins

The Hardest (Working) Man in ShowbizRon Jeremy

This Boy: A Memoir of a Childhood – volume 1 of Alan Johnson memoirs

Please, Mr Postman – volume 2 of Alan Johnson memoirs

Unforgivable BlacknessJack Johnson

Sent Off at GunpointWillie Johnston

3,096 DaysNatascha Kampusch

The Sound of LaughterPeter Kay

The Second HalfRoy Keane

Journey of a Thousand MilesLang Lang

Tall, Dark and GruesomeChristopher Lee autobiography

Me CheetaJames Lever. Spoof Hollywood memoir narrated by the chimp from the Tarzan movies

A Question of HonourLord Levy

Strikingly DifferentGary Lineker

Night TrainSonny Liston

Old StonefaceJohn Lowe

I Should Have Been at WorkDes Lynam

Some Sunny DayVera Lynn

It Just Occurred To MeHumphrey Lyttleton

Race against TimeEllen MacArthur

Agent ZigzagBen Macintyre. Biography of WWII double agent Eddie Chapman

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies – Ben Macintyre

A Spy Among Friends – Ben Macintyre. About Kim Philby

Keeping it RealJodie Marsh

Stuart: A Life Backwards is a biography by Alexander Masters of his friend Stuart Shorter. The book starts from Shorter's adult life, and works backwards to trace Shorter's life through his troubled childhood

Oh, Carol!Carol McGiffin

Life and Laughing: My StoryMichael McIntyre

DC Confidential – memoirs of Christopher Meyer, former British Ambassador to USA

American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & The Oklahoma City Bombing – a biography by New York journalists Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck

TimebendsArthur Miller

In the FrameHelen Mirren

Hons and Rebels – memoirs of Jessica Mitford

Beware of the DogBrian Moore

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography Vol. One: Not For TurningCharles Moore

The Insider – memoirs of Piers Morgan

Keats, Philip Larkin – biographies by Andrew Motion

MomentumMo Mowlam

Chronicles of Wasted TimeMalcolm Muggeridge

Decline and Fall: DiariesChris Mullin

Coming of AgeAndy Murray

Memoirs of a Not So Dutiful DaughterJenni Murray

RedGary Neville

So MeGraham Norton

Praying to the AliensGary Numan

At My Mother’s Knee, The Devil Rides OutPaul O’Grady

A Simples LifeAleksandr Orlov

Prick up Your EarsJoe Orton

21 Years GoneJack Osbourne

ExtremeSharon Osbourne (volume 1)

Survivor – Sharon Osbourne (volume2)

Loitering With IntentPeter O’Toole memoir

Off the RecordMichael Owen

Diaries 1969 – 1979: The Python YearsMichael Palin

Between the LinesVictoria Pendleton

KP: The AutobiographyKevin Pietersen

A Lifetime in a RaceMatthew Pinsent

Growing PainsBillie Piper

Seeing ThingsOliver Postgate

Great Hatred, Little RoomJonathan Powell, who was Tony Blair’s principal adviser on Northern Ireland

The Confessions of a RevolutionaryPierre-Joseph Proudhon, the first person to call himself an ‘anarchist’

Who Ate All the PiesMick Quinn

Margrave of the MarshesJohn Peel and Shiela Ravenscroft

My Story So FarPaula Radcliffe

Humble PieGordon Ramsay

Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceAron Ralston

Colditz: The Colditz StoryPat Reid

UnsinkableDebbie Reynolds autobiography

LifeKeith Richards

Farewell But Not GoodbyeBobby Robson

Why Do I Say These ThingsJonathan Ross

What if I Had Never Tried ItValentino Rossi

Known and UnknownDonald Rumsfeld

A Champion’s MindPete Sampras

Memoirs of a Professional Cad – memoirs of George Sanders

Bonkers: My Life in LaughsJennifer Saunders

Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life StoryArnold Schwarzenegger

SouthErnest Shackleton. Account of the Endurance expedition

WarriorAriel Sharon

An Honourable DeceptionClare Short

Kiss and Make-UpGene Simmons

I Put a Spell on youNina Simone

Strange Place, Questionable People, News From No Man’s LandJohn Simpson memoirs

Put Me Back on My Bike – biography of Tommy Simpson

High SpiritsJoan Sims

ToastNigel Slater

Sailing Alone Around the WorldJoshua Slocum

Stori TellingTori Spelling

Winning is Not EnoughJackie Stewart

Last Man Standing – Jack Straw

What You See Is What You GetAlan Sugar

The Breaks are OffGraham Swann

If I Don’t Write It, Nobody Else WillEric Sykes

The Downing Street Years, The Path to PowerMargaret Thatcher

Rising from the AshesGraham Thorpe

Bad IntentionsMike Tyson

Calling the ShotsMichael Vaughan

Unforgivable Blackness – biography of boxer Jack Johnson by Geoffrey Ward, which won the 2006 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award

The Hare with Amber Eyes is a family memoir by Edmund de Waal and tells the story of his family the Ephrussi, who were once a very wealthy European Jewish banking dynasty

Unless I’m Very Much MistakenMurray Walker

Heart of the LionCourtney Walsh

Will This Do?Auberon Waugh

Goodness Had Nothing to Do with ItMae West

The Other Side of NowhereDaniella Westbrook

Still DiggingMortimer Wheeler

In Pursuit of Glory, My Time – Bradley Wiggins

Camp DavidDavid Walliams

Brian Clough: The BiographyJonathan Wilson

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?Jeanette Winterson

Mustn’t Grumble, Is it me?Terry Wogan

A Writer’s DiaryVirginia Woolf

Rolling with the StonesBill Wyman


The TS Eliot Prize for Poetry is awarded by the Poetry Book Society, of which TS Eliot was a founding member. First awarded in 1953. Prize – £10,000

Costa Book Awards (known as the Whitbread Awards until 2005) – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry, Children’s Book

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (previously called Women's Prize for Fiction (2013), Orange Prize for Fiction (1996–2006 and 2009–12) and Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction (2007–08)) is one of the United Kingdom's most prestigious literary prizes. The winner of the prize receives £30,000, along with a bronze sculpture called the Bessie created by artist Grizel Niven

Joseph Pulitzer – newspaper publisher, born in Hungary. Pulitzer Prizes first awarded in 1917. Pulitzer Prizes are administered by Columbia University in New York City

Forward Prize – for contemporary poetry

The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in honour of the children's illustrator, Kate Greenaway. The medal is given annually to an outstanding work of illustration in children's literature. It is awarded by CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. The first award was made to Edward Ardizzone for Tim All Alone in 1956

The Carnegie Medal in Literature was established in the UK in 1936 in honour of Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It is awarded to an outstanding book for children and young adult readers

The WH Smith Thumping Good Read award ran from 1992 to 2003

The O. Henry Prize is the only yearly prize given to short stories of exceptional merit. The award was first presented in 1919

Founded in 1919, the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes are among the oldest and most prestigious book prizes awarded for literature written in the English language and are Britain's oldest literary awards. Based at the University of Edinburgh

The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry is awarded for a book of verse published by someone from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth realm

Samuel Johnson Prize is one of the most prestigious prizes for non-fiction writing, and is currently managed by the BBC

Prix Goncourt – a prize in French literature, given by the academie Goncourt to the author of ‘the best and most imaginative prose work of the year’. First awarded in 1903

Caine Prize for African Writing is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original short story by an African writer

Miguel de Cervantes Prize, established in 1976, is awarded annually to honour the lifetime achievement of an outstanding writer in the Spanish language

Diagram Prize is a humorous literary award that is given annually to the book with the oddest title

Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize is the UK's only literary award for comic literature

Ignatz Awards are intended to recognize outstanding achievements in comics and cartooning. The Ignatz Awards are named in honour of George Herriman and his strip Krazy Kat

Gold Dagger Award is an award given annually by the Crime Writers' Association for the best crime novel of the year

John Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The award is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children

PEN/Pinter Prize is an annual literary award launched in 2009 by English PEN in honour of the late Harold Pinter, who had been an active member of PEN's Writers in Prison Committee

Benson Medal is a medal awarded by the Royal Society of Literature

Wellcome Trust Book Prize is awarded annually for the best fiction or non-fiction book centred around medicine

Orwell Prize is for political writing of outstanding quality. Three prizes are awarded each year: one for a book, one for journalism and another for blogging. In each case, the winner is the short-listed entry which comes closest to George Orwell's own ambition to 'make political writing into an art'

Each year since 1993, Literary Review presents the annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award to the author who produces the worst description of a sex scene in a novel. First winner was Melvyn Bragg, with A Time to Dance

Folio Prize is a literary award sponsored by the London-based publisher The Folio Society. It is given to an English-language book of fiction published in the UK by an author from any country. The first award was in March 2014

Premio Planeta de Novela is a Spanish literary prize, awarded since 1952 for a novel written in Spanish. Financially, it is the second most valuable literary award in the world after the Nobel Prize for Literature

Miles Franklin Award is an annual literary prize awarded to an Australian novel

British Book Awards or Nibbies are literary awards for the best UK writers and their works, administered by The Bookseller

Booker Prize

Booker Prize was formerly known as the Booker Prize for Fiction (1969–2001) and the Man Booker Prize (2002–2019)

The prize is now sponsored by Crankshaft, and the winner receives £50,000

In 1992, after the prize was shared for a second time, a rule was introduced that made it mandatory for the appointed jury to make the award to just a single author/book. This rule was broken in 2019 when the prize was again shared

Historically, the winner of the Booker Prize had been required to be a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe. It was announced in 2013 that future Booker Prize awards would consider authors from anywhere in the world, so long as their work was in English and published in the UK

Lost Man Booker Prize was a special edition of the Man Booker Prize awarded by a public vote in 2010 to a novel from 1970 as the books published in 1970 were not eligible for the Man Booker Prize due to a rules alteration. Won by Troubles by JG Farrell

International Booker Prize was sponsored by the Man Group from 2005 to 2015. Switched from body of work to a specific novel in 2016. The 2005 inaugural winner of the prize was Albanian writer Ismail Kadare

A ‘Best of Beryl’ prize was set up in 2006 for Beryl Bainbridge, who had been nominated five times without winning. The prize was won by Master Georgie

In 1993 and 2008, the Best of the Booker prizes were both won by Midnight’s Children

In 2018, the Golden Man Booker was won by The English Patient

Most nominations – Iris Murdoch, Margaret Atwood (6)


1969 PH Newby Something to Answer For Inaugural winner
1970 Bernice Rubens The Elected Member First female winner
1971 VS Naipaul In a Free State Born in Trinidad and Tobago
1972 John Berger G.
1973 JG Farrell The Siege of Krishnapur
1974 Nadime Gordimer

Stanley Middleton

The Conservationist


First time prize is shared
1975 Ruth Prawer Jhabvala Heat and Dust Born in Germany
1976 David Storey Saville
1977 Paul Scott Staying On
1978 Iris Murdoch The Sea, the Sea
1979 Penelope Fitzgerald Offshore Shortest work (141 pages) to win
1980 William Golding Rites of Passage
1981 Salman Rushdie Midnight’s Children
1982 Thomas Keneally Schindler’s Ark
1983 JM Coetzee Life & Times of Michael K
1984 Anita Brookner Hotel du Lac
1985 Keri Hulme The Bone People
1986 Kingsley Amis The Old Devils
1987 Penelope Lively Moon Tiger
1988 Peter Carey Oscar and Lucinda
1989 Kazuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day
1990 AS Byatt Possession
1991 Ben Okri The Famished Road Born in Nigeria
1992 Michael Ondaatje

Barry Unsworth

The English Patient

Sacred Hunger

Prize shared
1993 Roddy Doyle Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
1994 James Kelman How Late It Was, How Late Rabbi Julia Neuberger, one of the judges, said that the book was "crap"
1995 Pat Barker The Ghost Road
1996 Graham Swift Last Orders
1997 Arundhati Roy The God of Small Things
1998 Ian McEwan Amsterdam
1999 JM Coetzee Disgrace First person to win the prize twice
2000 Margaret Atwood The Blind Assassin
2001 Peter Carey True History of the Kelly Gang
2002 Yann Martel Life of Pi First winner of Man Booker Prize
2003 DBC Pierre Vernon God Little
2004 Alan Hollinghurst The Line of Beauty
2005 John Banville The Sea
2006 Kiran Desai The Inheritance of Loss
2007 Anne Enright The Gathering
2008 Aravind Adiga The White Tiger
2009 Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall
2010 Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question
2011 Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending
2012 Hilary Mantel Bring up the Bodies
2013 Eleanor Catton The Luminaries Longest work (832 pages) to win

Youngest author (28) to win

2014 Richard Flanagan The Narrow Road to the Deep North
2015 Marlon James A Brief History of Seven Killings Born in Jamaica
2016 Paul Beatty The Sellout First American to win
2017 George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo
2018 Anna Burns Milkman
2019 Margaret Atwood

Bernadine Evaristo

The Testaments

Girl, Woman, Other

Oldest author (79) to win

First black female winner

2020 Douglas Stuart Shuggie Bain
2021 Damon Galgut The Promise

Literary groups

Thirties poets – included Louis MacNeice, W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender and C. Day Lewis. They were also known as MacSpaunday, and the Pylon Poets, for their use of industrial imagery. The actual term 'pylon' was derived from Spender's 1933 poem The Pylons

The Generation of '27 was an influential group of poets that arose in Spanish literary circles between 1923 and 1927

Cavalier poets – a school of English poets of the 17th century, who came from the classes that supported King Charles I during the English Civil War. The best known of the Cavalier poets are Ben Jonson, Robert Herrick, Richard Lovelace, Thomas Carew, and Sir John Suckling

The Petrashevsky Circle was a Russian literary discussion group organized by Mikhail Petrashevsky. The purpose of the circle was to discuss Western philosophy (specifically Hegel and others) and literature which was officially banned by the Imperial government of Nicholas I. Nicholas, worried that the revolutions of 1848 would spread to Russia, mistook the group (which included Fyodor Dostoevsky) for a subversive revolutionary organization. He closed the circle in 1849 and arrested its members

The Inklings was a literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford. Its members, mostly academics at the university, included J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams. It met between the 1930s and the 1960s at the Eagle and Child pub

The Fireside Poets (also known as the Schoolroom or Household Poets) were a group of 19th century American poets from New England. The group is usually described as comprising Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes

Metaphysical poets – a loose group of British lyric poets of the 17th century, who shared an interest in metaphysical concerns and a common way of investigating them. Included John Donne and Andrew Marvell

The Movement was a term coined by J. D. Scott, literary editor of The Spectator, in 1954 to describe a group of writers including Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin

Nicolas Bourbaki is the collective pseudonym under which a group of (mainly French) 20th century mathematicians wrote a series of books presenting an exposition of modern advanced mathematics

Gruppe 47 (Group 47) was an influential literary association in Germany after World War II

Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Wordsworth and Shelley – The Romantic Poets


Ezra Pound founded the Imagist movement in poetry

Sturm und Drang – means ‘storm and stress’. 18th century German literary movement. Chief exponents were Goethe and Schiller. Chief works are Goethe’s play Gotz von Berlichingen, his epistolary novel The Sorrow of Young Werther and the poem Prometheus

Stream of consciousness is a literary technique which seeks to portray an individual's point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character's thought processes. Stream-of-consciousness writing is strongly associated with the modernist movement. Its introduction in the literary context, transferred from psychology, is attributed to May Sinclair. Examples – Ulysses, To the Lighthouse, The Sound and the Fury

Imagism was a movement in early 20th century Anglo-American poetry that favored precision of imagery, and clear, sharp language. The Imagists rejected the sentiment and discursiveness typical of much Romantic and Victorian poetry. This was in contrast to their contemporaries, the Georgian poets, who were by and large content to work within that tradition

Dirty Realism – a North American literary movement born in the 1970s in which the narrative is stripped down to its fundamental features. Dirty realism authors include the movement ‘godfather’ Charles Bukowski and Cormac McCarthy

Scandinavian noir or Scandinavian crime fiction, also called Nordic noir, is a genre comprising crime fiction written in Scandinavia with certain common characteristics, typically in a realistic style with a dark, morally complex mood

Early literature

Kalevala – epic poem of Finland

Beowulf – a heroic epic poem (3182 lines). In the poem, Beowulf, a hero of a Germanic tribe from southern Sweden called the Geats, travels to Denmark to help defeat a monster named Grendel. Beowulf’s sword is called Hrunting

Grendel is one of three antagonists, along with Grendel's mother and the dragon, in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf (c. 700–1000 A.D.). In the poem, Grendel is feared by all but Beowulf

The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Ancient Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known literary works. Scholars surmise that a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the mythological hero-king Gilgamesh, thought to be a ruler in the 3rd millennium BC. It includes the Gilgamesh flood myth. The first half of the story discusses Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods to stop him oppressing the people of Uruk

I Ching, also known as the Classic of Changes or Book of Changes in English, is an ancient divination text and the oldest of the Chinese classics

Zhuangzi is an ancient Chinese text from the late Warring States period (3rd century BC) which contains stories and anecdotes that exemplify the carefree nature of the ideal Daoist sage. Named for its traditional author, "Master Zhuang" (Zhuangzi)

Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, in chronological order, are: Romance of the Three Kingdoms (14th century), Water Margin (also known as Outlaws of the Marsh) (14th century), Journey to the West (16th century), Dream of the Red Chamber (also known as The Story of the Stone) (first block print 1791)

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is based upon events in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era, starting in 168 and ending with the reunification of the land in 280

Water Margin details the trials and tribulations of 108 outlaws during the mid Song Dynasty

Originally published anonymously in the 1590s during the Ming Dynasty, and even though no direct evidence of its authorship survives, Journey to the West has been ascribed to the scholar Wú Chéng'ēn since the 20th century. In western countries, the tale is also often known simply as Monkey

Dream of the Red Chamber is believed to be semi-autobiographical; mirroring the fortunes of author Cao Xueqin's own family

La Chanson de Roland – oldest major work of French literature. The story told in the poem is based on a minor historical incident, the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778

Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye – first book printed in the English language by William Caxton, 1474

Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers – printed by Caxton in 1477

Encyclopedia – edited by Diderot and d’Amelbert. Published in France between 1751 and 1772

Prose Edda is an Old Norse compilation made in Iceland in the early 13th century. Together with the Poetic Edda, it comprises the major store of pagan Scandinavian mythology. The work is often assumed to have been written, or at least compiled, by the Icelandic scholar and historian Snorri Sturluson

Codex Argenteus, ‘Silver Book’, is a 6th century manuscript, originally containing bishop Ulfilas's 4th century translation of the Bible into the Gothic language

Only four great codices have survived to the present day: Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus

Codex Sinaiticus or ‘Sinai Bible’ is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible

Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. It may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance

The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana. With more than 74,000 verses, long prose passages, and some 1.8 million words in total, it is the longest epic poem in the world. Epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Tells the life story of Krishna

Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to the Hindu sage (maharishi) Valmiki and an important part of the Hindu canon. It consists of 24,000 verses in seven books, and 500 cantos and tells the story of Rama, whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon (Rakshasa) king of Lanka, Ravana

The Metamorphoses of Lucius Apuleius, which according to St. Augustine was referred to as The Golden Ass by Apuleius, is the only Latin novel to survive in its entirety

One Thousand and One Nights (is a collection of stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights. The ruler is Shahryar and his wife Scheherazade

Ali Baba, Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor are all characters in The Arabian Nights

The Perfumed Garden is a fifteenth-century Arabic sex manual and work of erotic literature

Dresden Codex is a pre-Columbian Maya book of the eleventh or twelfth century of the Yucatecan Maya in Chichen Itza. This Maya codex is believed to be a copy of an original text of some three or four hundred years earlier. It is the oldest book written in the Americas known to historians

Bedford Hours is a French late medieval book of hours. It dates to the early fifteenth century

The book of hours is a Christian devotional book popular in the Middle Ages. It is the most common type of surviving medieval illuminated manuscript

Mabinogian is a collection of eleven prose stories collated from medieval Welsh manuscripts. Translated into English by Lady Charlotte Guest

Popol Vuh is a corpus of mytho-historical narratives of the K'iche' Mayan kingdom in Guatemala's western highlands. The title translates as ‘Book of the People’

The Song of the Nibelungs is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th century Middle English alliterative romance outlining an adventure of Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table

Diamond Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist sutra, the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book

Nag Hammadi library is a collection of Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. Twelve leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local farmer


Penguin Books was founded in 1935 by Sir Allen Lane. First book was Ariel: a Shelley Romance by Andre Maurois

Pelican Books – part of Penguin Books. Designed to educate the reading public rather than entertain. George Bernard Shaw's The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism was the first Pelican book, published in 1937

Puffin Books is the children's imprint of British publishers Penguin Books. First book was Worzel Gummidge, published in 1941

Pocket Books – US equivalent of Penguin books

Ian Allan Publishing is a UK publisher, established in 1942, which specializes in transport magazines and books

Translation of Homer’s Odyssey was the first Penguin Classic, published in 1946

Harry Potter books are published by Bloomsbury

Nigel Newton is the founder and head of Bloomsbury

Black Lace – specializes in erotica and erotic romance written by female authors. Part of Virgin Books

The Observer's Books were a series of small, pocket sized books, published by Frederick Warne & Co in the United Kingdom from 1937 to 2003

Poet laureate

John Dryden – first poet laureate (1668)

1692: Nahum Tate

Thomas Gray was offered the position in 1757, but he declined

1813: Robert Southey, after Walter Scott refused the post

1843: William Wordsworth

1850: Alfred, Lord Tennyson, on the refusal of Samuel Russell

Alfred Lord Tennyson served the longest time in office as Poet Laureate (1850–1892)

1896: Alfred Austin, on the refusal of William Morris

1913: Robert Bridges

1930: John Masefield

1967: Cecil Day-Lewis

1972: Sir John Betjeman

1984: Ted Hughes, on the refusal of Philip Larkin

1999: Andrew Motion

2009: Carol Ann Duffy

2019: Simon Armitage

The current salary is £5,750 and a barrel of sherry (originally known as a ‘butt of sack’)


Aga Saga – fictional family sagas dealing with British ‘middle-class country or village life’. The term was coined in 1992 by novelist Terence Blacker to describe specifically the work of Joanna Trollope

Great American Novel – the concept of a novel that is distinguished in both craft and theme as being the most accurate representative of the zeitgeist in the United States at the time of its writing, e.g. The Great Gatsby

Parallel novel – a subset of metafiction. Parallel novels exist within or derive from the framework of another work of fiction and so refer to it in a meta-fashion, but they are distinct in that they always refer to a previous work, typically by another author, e.g. Wide Sargasso Sea parallels Jane Eyre

Picaresque novel – a genre of prose fiction which depicts the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. Picaresque novels typically adopt a realistic style, with elements of comedy and satire

Slash fiction – a genre of fan fiction. It focuses on the depiction of sexual or romantic relationships between two or more male characters, who are not necessarily engaged in relationships in the canon universe

Dime novels – the antecedent of today’s mass market paperbacks, comic books, and even television shows and movies based on the dime novel genres. In the modern age, dime novel has become a term to describe any quickly written, lurid potboiler

Hardboiled crime fiction – refers to a literary style pioneered by Dashiell Hammett in the  late 1920s and refined by Raymond Chandler beginning in the late 1930s. Hardboiled fiction, most commonly associated with detective stories, is distinguished by an unsentimental portrayal of crime, violence, and sex

Bildungsroman – a genre of the novel which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood, and in which character change is thus extremely important, e.g. Anne of Green Gables

Roman fleuve – a French novel in the form of a long chronicle of a family or other social group

Parnassianism – a French literary style which began during the positivist period of the 19th century. The style was influenced by the author Theophile Gautier (first person to use ‘art for art’s sake’) as well as the philosophical work of Arthur Schopenhauer

Wuxia (‘martial hero’) – a broad genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists

Hunter Stockton Thompson is credited as the creator of Gonzo journalism, a style of reporting in which the reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become the central figures of their stories

A book comprising previously published, related works is often called an omnibus edition of those works, or simply an omnibus

Purple prose – a term of literary criticism used to describe passages, or sometimes entire literary works, written in prose so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself. The term is derived from a reference by the Roman poet Horace Canon, in the context of a fictional universe, comprises those novels, stories, films, etc., that are considered to be genuine or officially sanctioned, and those events, characters, settings, etc., that are considered to have existence within the fictional universe

in Ars Poetica

Blank verse – unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter

Hexameter – a metrical line of verse consisting of six feet. It was the standard epic metre in classical Greek and Latin literature, such as in the Iliad and Aeneid

Iambic pentameter – the most common verse line in English poetry. Shakespeare’s plays are written almost exclusively in iambic pentameter

A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode

There are three typical forms of odes: the Pindaric, Horatian, and irregular

UNESCO's City of Literature program is part of its Creative Cities Network which was launched in 2004

World Book Capital is a title bestowed by UNESCO to a city in recognition of the quality of its programs to promote books and reading and the dedication of all players in the book industry

William Smellie – first editor of Encyclopaedia Britannica

After Ian Fleming's death in 1964, subsequent James Bond novels were written by Kingsley Amis (as Robert Markham), John Pearson, John Gardner, Raymond Benson and Charlie Higson

Simonides was the first poet to write poetry for payment

The three great Athenian tragedians – Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides

The ‘big three’ of 17th century France were Moliere, Racine and Corneille

Sons of Ben – the dramatists who were overtly and admittedly influenced by Ben Jonson's drama

‘Queens of Crime’ – Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh

Harry Turtledove – dubbed ‘The Master of Alternative History’. Within that genre he is known both for creating original alternative history scenarios such as survival of the Byzantine Empire or an alien invasion in the middle of the Second World War

Kalidasa is widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language. Known as the ‘Shakespeare of Sanskrit’

Ian McMillan – poet, is known as the ‘Bard of Barnsley’

Ellery Queen is both a fictional character and a pseudonym used by two American cousins from New York: Daniel (David) Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay and Manford (Emanuel) Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee, to write detective fiction. In a successful series of novels that covered forty-two years, Ellery Queen was not only the name of the author, but also that of the detective-hero of the stories. The Roman Hat Mystery was the first Ellery Queen novel

C.K. Scott Moncrieff was a Scottish writer, most famous for his English translation of most of Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu, which he published under the Shakespearean title Remembrance of Things Past

Polybius and Livy wrote of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps

The Rambler was a periodical by Samuel Johnson

Who's Who has been published since 1849 by A & C Black

Angry Young Men – is thought to be derived from the autobiography of Leslie Paul. Leading members included John Osborne and Kingsley Amis. The phrase was originally coined by the Royal Court Theatre's press officer to promote John Osborne's 1956 play Look Back in Anger

Russell Blake is a leader self-publisher. Books include the JET series

Austen Project – six novelists have been asked to rewrite the six finished novels of Jane Austen – Sense and Sensibility – Joanna Trollope; Emma – Alexander McCall Smith; Northanger Abbey – Val McDermid; Pride and Prejudice – Curtis Sittenfeld; Mansfield Park - ?; Persuasion - ?

Originally, Janet and John stories were published by Row Peterson and Company as the Alice and Jerry books in the USA

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African – Olaudah Equiano, who was a former slave, and a leading influence in the abolition of slavery

Larousse Gastronomique is an encyclopedia of gastronomy. The majority of the book is French cuisine

Lyrical Ballads – written by Coleridge and Wordsworth

Newgate novels (or Old Bailey novels) were novels published in England from the late 1820s until the 1840s that were thought to glamorize the lives of the criminals they portrayed. Among the earliest Newgate novels were Thomas Gaspey's Richmond (1827) and History of George Godfrey (1828), Edward Bulwer-Lytton's Paul Clifford (1830) and Eugene Aram (1832), and William Harrison Ainsworth's Rookwood (1834), which featured Dick Turpin as its hero