On St. George’s Day we celebrate some of England’s finest and most renowned writers.

William Shakespeare

No list of English writers would be complete without one of the greatest playwrights and poets of all time. It would be insulting your intelligence to list the best of his works, everyone knows his genius. His writing has found its way into our everyday speech, his characters unforgettable templates for many writers who have followed and his works still provide inspiration for modern day adaptations and interpretations.
To quote the great man himself, “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” For Shakespeare, all three apply equally.

The Brontë Sisters

I know this is a bit of a cheat but to pick one of these remarkable women would be very difficult. Anne, Emily and Charlotte were the daughters of an Anglican vicar who lived in the village of Haworth in Yorkshire. In Victorian England being a writer was regarded as an unworthy pursuit for young women. The three sisters published their works under the pseudonyms Acton, Ellis and Currer respectively. Anne’s ‘Agnes Grey’; Charlotte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ were hugely successful and showed the incredible writing skills of each woman.
I was introduced to ‘Wuthering Heights’ in school but the forensic analysis of every chapter spoiled the experience. It wasn’t until I left school that I read the book again and realised what a fantastic novel it is.

Charles Dickens

Like Shakespeare, Dickens has taken on a deserved legendary status in the literary world. His novels are regarded by many as the best of the Victorian era and they have stood the test of time well into the 21st Century. From my perspective, his greatest strength was the ability to create incredible characters. Fagin, Miss Haversham, Ebeneezer Scrooge, Mr Micawber, and many more are some of the most memorable fictional people ever to be committed to paper. ‘Great Expectations’ is my personal favourite and I’m sure that many of you will have your own.

Agatha Christie

As a crime writer, I had to add Agatha Christie to this list. Although as a young man I didn’t appreciate just how brilliant she was, I discovered that in terms of plotting a crime novel she has never been beaten and there are very few who can match her. Her ability to create layers of motives with shoals of red herrings meant that trying to guess the murderer before the final reveal is virtually impossible. In Poirot and Miss Marple, she created detectives who are instantly recognisable and perfect for film and TV producers to adapt. I think as long as people love crime novels they will be reading Agatha Christie.

John Le Carré

Like Ms Christie in her genre, John Le Carré stands head and shoulders above anyone else writing in his. Since ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’ in 1963 he has produced a series of spy thrillers that not only tell authentic stories but capture beautifully the human frailties of ordinary people doing a job that requires lies and deception. If you haven’t read the George Smiley novels you should. They are the finest example of Cold War spy novels that have ever been written.

Of course there are many more writers that we could mention. Let me know in the comments who are your favourite writers from England.

To all our English friends, have a happy St. George’s Day.