Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

People have always had trouble pronouncing his name. The 19th-century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, was once mocked in Parliament for getting it wrong. If you don’t speak German, it’s not…

Charles Dickens  

Charles Dickens was the most famous writer in the English language during the nineteenth century and he remains one of the best selling authors of all time. He can seem remote:…

Gustave Flaubert

Gustave Flaubert was a great French 19th-century (1821-1880) novelist who deserves our love and sympathy; as much for what he wrote as who he was. We can admire him for four…

Fyodor Dostoevsky

A good trick, with his name, is to say ‘toy’ in the middle: Dos-toy-ev-ski. He was born 1821 and grew up on the outskirts of Moscow. His family were comfortably off…

Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust was an early 20th-century French writer responsible for what is officially the longest novel in the world: À la recherche du temps perdu – which has 1,267,069 words in it; double…

Jane Austen

Jane Austen is loved mainly as a charming guide to fashionable life in the Regency period. She is admired for portraying a world of elegant houses, dances, servants and fashionable young…