Friday, May 12, 2017

A MIDDLEBROW SYLLABUS: the full list (in multiple forms)

It's appropriate that just as I'm coming to the end of this list, I came across a TLS piece from several months ago on the phenomenon of book lists. See here. Apart from being entertaining and informative (and despite the assurance that the ranking is more or less random) I was surprised and delighted to see their choice for #1...

At any rate, if you're coming to this list late, note that it was originally divided into ten posts, with a bit of commentary on each title. Please have a look at the first of those posts in particular, because it contains a lengthy explanation of the logic and goals of the list, without which it might be a bit bewildering (i.e. it is not a 100 "best" list). Below are links to all 10 individual sections, which in addition to my own comments often contain comments from readers with valuable suggestions of alternative books I should have chosen or additional books to be considered. I've also added all the links to each post for easy navigation:



Below, as promised, are short versions, without comments, of the complete list. I'm including three versions—ranked, alphabetical by author, and chronological by the date of each novel's first publication—because that's just how obsessive I am.

I found it particularly interesting to look at the list in chron order, which reveals a few interesting stats about the list that I hadn't considered in formulating it.

First, out of the 50 years from 1910 to 1960, the span covered by my blog, 44 are represented on the list. (This might inadvertently come in handy for bloggers doing century challenges or the like, where it's necessary to find works from a given year.) Five of those missing years fall in the first decade of my period, which is unsurprising since I know my reading and knowledge tends to focus a bit more on the later years. The other missing year, 1949, wouldn't have been missing at all if I could only have justified including The Matchmaker as my Stella Gibbons selection instead of Cold Comfort Farm, but alas…

Along the same lines, I had worried a bit about the list skewing too far toward the later years of my period, where a disproportionate amount of my reading takes me. But in fact the chron list shows that the halfway point falls in 1940, with 50 titles before and 50 titles after, so that's not too bad. And in addition to being the midway point, 1940 was, oddly (or not?), the best-represented year, with six of the titles published that year. It's probably not coincidental that that's the year that saw a rush of new fiction about the earliest days of World War II, and not yet affected by the paper shortages that would plague the publishing world later on.

If I had allowed myself, I could have continued to agonize about this list for several more months, switching out titles, raising the ranking of one book and lowering another, and generally fretting about trivial details (surely Enid Bagnold should have been in the top 20, perhaps another Ivy Compton-Burnett would have been better, etc. etc.). I could well have driven myself mad altogether and never got it posted at all. But all told I'm pleased with the results, and I hope you are too.

Thank you again for the warm reception you gave this list, and to everyone who commented, made suggestions, or provided additional information along the way!



RANKED

1) MARGHANITA LASKI, The Village (1952)
2) SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER, Lolly Willowes (1926)
3) BARBARA PYM, Excellent Women (1952)
4) E. M. DELAFIELD, Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930)
5) F. M. MAYOR, The Rector's Daughter (1924)
6) ELIZABETH TAYLOR, A Game of Hide and Seek (1951)
7) D. E. STEVENSON, Miss Buncle's Book (1934)
8) ELIZABETH BOWEN, The Heat of the Day (1948)
9) E. H. YOUNG, Miss Mole (1930)
10) DODIE SMITH, I Capture the Castle (1948)
11) DOROTHY L. SAYERS, Gaudy Night (1935)
12) MARGARET KENNEDY, The Feast (1950)
13) PAMELA FRANKAU, A Wreath for the Enemy (1954)
14) RUMER GODDEN, China Court (1960)
15) MOLLIE PANTER-DOWNES, One Fine Day (1947)
16) JOSEPHINE TEY, Miss Pym Disposes (1946)
17) LETTICE COOPER, The New House (1936)
18) NANCY MITFORD, The Pursuit of Love (1945)
19) ELIZABETH VON ARNIM, The Enchanted April (1922)
20) WINIFRED WATSON, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1938)
21) ANNA BUCHAN (as O. Douglas), The Proper Place (1926)
22) AGATHA CHRISTIE, The Hollow (1946)
23) EVADNE PRICE (as Helen Zenna Smith), Not So Quiet… (1930, aka Stepdaughters of War)
24) JAN STRUTHER, Mrs Miniver (1939)
25) ELIZABETH ELIOT, Alice (1950)
26) ENID BAGNOLD, The Squire (1938)
27) ANGELA THIRKELL, Cheerfulness Breaks In (1940)
28) MARY CHOLMONDELEY, Red Pottage (1899)
29) STELLA GIBBONS, Cold Comfort Farm (1932)
30) WINIFRED HOLTBY, South Riding (1936)
31) DOROTHY WHIPPLE, Someone at a Distance (1953)
32) ROSE MACAULAY, The Towers of Trebizond (1956)
33) IVY COMPTON-BURNETT, A House and Its Head (1935)
34) NOEL STREATFEILD, The Winter Is Past (1940)
35) ANTONIA WHITE, Frost in May (1933)
36) BARBARA COMYNS, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead (1955)
37) CICELY HAMILTON, William—An Englishman (1919)
38) VITA SACKVILLE-WEST, All Passion Spent (1931)
39) RUBY FERGUSON, Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary (1937)
40) MARGERY SHARP, The Nutmeg Tree (1937)
41) DIANA TUTTON, Guard Your Daughters (1953)
42) A. M. CHAMPNEYS, Miss Tiverton Goes Out (1925)
43) NGAIO MARSH, Surfeit of Lampreys (1940, aka Death of a Peer)
44) ROSAMOND LEHMANN, Invitation to the Waltz (1932)
45) EDITH NESBIT, The Lark (1922)
46) KATE O'BRIEN, The Land of Spices (1941)
47) SYBILLE BEDFORD, A Favourite of the Gods (1963)
48) NORAH LOFTS, The Town House (1959)
49) WINIFRED PECK, Bewildering Cares (1940)
50) MARGERY ALLINGHAM, The Tiger in the Smoke (1952)
51) MARY RENAULT, The Friendly Young Ladies (1943)
52) DAPHNE DU MAURIER, Rebecca (1938)
53) EDITH OLIVIER, The Love-Child (1927)
54) MURIEL SPARK, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)
55) BRYHER, Beowulf (1956)
56) JANE & MARY FINDLATER, Crossriggs (1908)
57) REBECCA WEST, The Return of the Soldier (1918)
58) DORA SAINT (as Miss Read), Thrush Green (1959)
59) JOSEPHINE ELDER, The Encircled Heart (1951)
60) SHEILA KAYE-SMITH, Joanna Godden (1921)
61) F. TENNYSON JESSE, The Lacquer Lady (1929)
62) OLIVIA MANNING, The Great Fortune (1960)
63) SUSAN TWEEDSMUIR, Cousin Harriet (1957)
64) JEAN RHYS, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)
65) RICHMAL CROMPTON, Family Roundabout (1948)
66) DAISY ASHFORD, The Young Visiters (1919)
67) ANN BRIDGE, Peking Picnic (1932)
68) ADA LEVERSON, Love's Shadow (1908)
69) GEORGETTE HEYER, The Grand Sophy (1950)
70) RACHEL FERGUSON, Evenfield (1942)
71) STELLA BENSON, Living Alone (1919)
72) ROSE ALLATINI (as A. T. Fitzroy), Despised and Rejected (1918)
73) AMBER REEVES, A Lady and Her Husband (1914)
74) JANE DUNCAN, My Friend Muriel (1959)
75) MARY BELL, Summer's Day (1951)
76) NAOMI MITCHISON, The Bull Calves (1947)
77) GLADYS MITCHELL, When Last I Died (1941)
78) SUSAN ERTZ, Madame Claire (1923)
79) JOANNA CANNAN, Princes in the Land (1938)
80) G. B. STERN, The Matriarch (1924, aka Tents of Israel)
81) DOROTHY EVELYN SMITH, Miss Plum and Miss Penny (1959)
82) BETTY MILLER, On the Side of the Angels (1945)
83) MONICA DICKENS, Mariana (1940)
84) LEONORA CARRINGTON, The Hearing Trumpet (1974)
85) STORM JAMESON, Company Parade (1934)
86) ELIZABETH CADELL, The Lark Shall Sing (1955)
87) E. ARNOT ROBERTSON, Ordinary Families (1933)
88) HELEN ASHTON, Bricks and Mortar (1932)
89) ELIZABETH GOUDGE, The Bird in the Tree (1940)
90) RADCLYFFE HALL, The Well of Loneliness (1928)
91) ELIZABETH JENKINS, The Tortoise and the Hare (1954)
92) NORAH HOULT, There Were No Windows (1944)
93) MARY STEWART, Nine Coaches Waiting (1958)
94) MOLLY KEANE (as M. J. Farrell), Full House (1935)
95) MARY WEBB, Precious Bane (1924)
96) CLEMENCE DANE, Regiment of Women (1917)
97) VIOLET TREFUSIS, Hunt the Slipper (1937)
98) RUTH ADAM, I'm Not Complaining (1938)
99) CELIA BUCKMASTER, Village Story (1951)
100) ELINOR MORDAUNT, The Family (1915)



ALPHABETICAL BY AUTHOR

RUTH ADAM, I'm Not Complaining (1938) (#98)
ROSE ALLATINI (as A. T. Fitzroy), Despised and Rejected (1918) (#72)
MARGERY ALLINGHAM, The Tiger in the Smoke (1952) (#50)
DAISY ASHFORD, The Young Visiters (1919) (#66)
HELEN ASHTON, Bricks and Mortar (1932) (#88)
ENID BAGNOLD, The Squire (1938) (#26)
SYBILLE BEDFORD, A Favourite of the Gods (1963) (#47)
MARY BELL, Summer's Day (1951) (#75)
STELLA BENSON, Living Alone (1919) (#71)
ELIZABETH BOWEN, The Heat of the Day (1948) (#8)
ANN BRIDGE, Peking Picnic (1932) (#67)
BRYHER, Beowulf (1956) (#55)
ANNA BUCHAN (as O. Douglas), The Proper Place (1926) (#21)
CELIA BUCKMASTER, Village Story (1951) (#99)
ELIZABETH CADELL, The Lark Shall Sing (1955) (#86)
JOANNA CANNAN, Princes in the Land (1938) (#79)
LEONORA CARRINGTON, The Hearing Trumpet (1974) (#84)
A. M. CHAMPNEYS, Miss Tiverton Goes Out (1925) (#42)
MARY CHOLMONDELEY, Red Pottage (1899) (#28)
AGATHA CHRISTIE, The Hollow (1946) (#22)
IVY COMPTON-BURNETT, A House and Its Head (1935) (#33)
BARBARA COMYNS, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead (1955) (#36)
LETTICE COOPER, The New House (1936) (#17)
RICHMAL CROMPTON, Family Roundabout (1948) (#65)
CLEMENCE DANE, Regiment of Women (1917) (#96)
E. M. DELAFIELD, Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930) (#4)
MONICA DICKENS, Mariana (1940) (#83)
DAPHNE DU MAURIER, Rebecca (1938) (#52)
JANE DUNCAN, My Friend Muriel (1959) (#74)
JOSEPHINE ELDER, The Encircled Heart (1951) (#59)
ELIZABETH ELIOT, Alice (1950) (#25)
SUSAN ERTZ, Madame Claire (1923) (#78)
RACHEL FERGUSON, Evenfield (1942) (#70)
RUBY FERGUSON, Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary (1937) (#39)
JANE & MARY FINDLATER, Crossriggs (1908) (#56)
PAMELA FRANKAU, A Wreath for the Enemy (1954) (#13)
STELLA GIBBONS, Cold Comfort Farm (1932) (#29)
RUMER GODDEN, China Court (1960) (#14)
ELIZABETH GOUDGE, The Bird in the Tree (1940) (#89)
RADCLYFFE HALL, The Well of Loneliness (1928) (#90)
CICELY HAMILTON, William—An Englishman (1919) (#37)
GEORGETTE HEYER, The Grand Sophy (1950) (#69)
WINIFRED HOLTBY, South Riding (1936) (#30)
NORAH HOULT, There Were No Windows (1944) (#92)
STORM JAMESON, Company Parade (1934) (#85)
ELIZABETH JENKINS, The Tortoise and the Hare (1954) (#91)
F. TENNYSON JESSE, The Lacquer Lady (1929) (#61)
SHEILA KAYE-SMITH, Joanna Godden (1921) (#60)
MOLLY KEANE (as M. J. Farrell), Full House (1935) (#94)
MARGARET KENNEDY, The Feast (1950) (#12)
MARGHANITA LASKI, The Village (1952) (#1)
ROSAMOND LEHMANN, Invitation to the Waltz (1932) (#44)
ADA LEVERSON, Love's Shadow (1908) (#68)
NORAH LOFTS, The Town House (1959) (#48)
ROSE MACAULAY, The Towers of Trebizond (1956) (#32)
OLIVIA MANNING, The Great Fortune (1960) (#62)
NGAIO MARSH, Surfeit of Lampreys (1940, aka Death of a Peer) (#43)
F. M. MAYOR, The Rector's Daughter (1924) (#5)
BETTY MILLER, On the Side of the Angels (1945) (#82)
GLADYS MITCHELL, When Last I Died (1941) (#77)
NAOMI MITCHISON, The Bull Calves (1947) (#76)
NANCY MITFORD, The Pursuit of Love (1945) (#18)
ELINOR MORDAUNT, The Family (1915) (#100)
EDITH NESBIT, The Lark (1922) (#45)
KATE O'BRIEN, The Land of Spices (1941) (#46)
EDITH OLIVIER, The Love-Child (1927) (#53)
MOLLIE PANTER-DOWNES, One Fine Day (1947) (#15)
WINIFRED PECK, Bewildering Cares (1940) (#49)
EVADNE PRICE (as Helen Zenna Smith), Not So Quiet… (1930, aka Stepdaughters of War) (#23)
BARBARA PYM, Excellent Women (1952) (#3)
AMBER REEVES, A Lady and Her Husband (1914) (#73)
MARY RENAULT, The Friendly Young Ladies (1943) (#51)
JEAN RHYS, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) (#64)
E. ARNOT ROBERTSON, Ordinary Families (1933) (#87)
VITA SACKVILLE-WEST, All Passion Spent (1931) (#38)
DORA SAINT (as Miss Read), Thrush Green (1959) (#58)
DOROTHY L. SAYERS, Gaudy Night (1935) (#11)
MARGERY SHARP, The Nutmeg Tree (1937) (#40)
DODIE SMITH, I Capture the Castle (1948) (#10)
DOROTHY EVELYN SMITH, Miss Plum and Miss Penny (1959) (#81)
MURIEL SPARK, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) (#54)
G. B. STERN, The Matriarch (1924, aka Tents of Israel) (#80)
D. E. STEVENSON, Miss Buncle's Book (1934) (#7)
MARY STEWART, Nine Coaches Waiting (1958) (#93)
NOEL STREATFEILD, The Winter Is Past (1940) (#34)
JAN STRUTHER, Mrs Miniver (1939) (#24)
ELIZABETH TAYLOR, A Game of Hide and Seek (1951) (#6)
JOSEPHINE TEY, Miss Pym Disposes (1946) (#16)
ANGELA THIRKELL, Cheerfulness Breaks In (1940) (#27)
VIOLET TREFUSIS, Hunt the Slipper (1937) (#97)
DIANA TUTTON, Guard Your Daughters (1953) (#41)
SUSAN TWEEDSMUIR, Cousin Harriet (1957) (#63)
ELIZABETH VON ARNIM, The Enchanted April (1922) (#19)
SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER, Lolly Willowes (1926) (#2)
WINIFRED WATSON, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1938) (#20)
MARY WEBB, Precious Bane (1924) (#95)
REBECCA WEST, The Return of the Soldier (1918) (#57)
DOROTHY WHIPPLE, Someone at a Distance (1953) (#31)
ANTONIA WHITE, Frost in May (1933) (#35)
E. H. YOUNG, Miss Mole (1930) (#9)



CHRONOLOGICAL BY PUBLICATION DATE

1899
MARY CHOLMONDELEY, Red Pottage

1908
JANE & MARY FINDLATER, Crossriggs
ADA LEVERSON, Love's Shadow

1914
AMBER REEVES, A Lady and Her Husband

1915
ELINOR MORDAUNT, The Family

1917
CLEMENCE DANE, Regiment of Women

1918
ROSE ALLATINI (as A. T. Fitzroy), Despised and Rejected
REBECCA WEST, The Return of the Soldier (1918)

1919
DAISY ASHFORD, The Young Visiters
STELLA BENSON, Living Alone
CICELY HAMILTON, William—An Englishman

1921
SHEILA KAYE-SMITH, Joanna Godden

1922
EDITH NESBIT, The Lark
ELIZABETH VON ARNIM, The Enchanted April

1923
SUSAN ERTZ, Madame Claire

1924
F. M. MAYOR, The Rector's Daughter
G. B. STERN, The Matriarch (aka Tents of Israel)
MARY WEBB, Precious Bane

1925
A. M. CHAMPNEYS, Miss Tiverton Goes Out

1926
ANNA BUCHAN (as O. Douglas), The Proper Place
SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER, Lolly Willowes

1927
EDITH OLIVIER, The Love-Child

1928
RADCLYFFE HALL, The Well of Loneliness

1929
F. TENNYSON JESSE, The Lacquer Lady

1930
E. M. DELAFIELD, Diary of a Provincial Lady
EVADNE PRICE (as Helen Zenna Smith), Not So Quiet… (aka Stepdaughters of War)
E. H. YOUNG, Miss Mole

1931
VITA SACKVILLE-WEST, All Passion Spent

1932
HELEN ASHTON, Bricks and Mortar
ANN BRIDGE, Peking Picnic
STELLA GIBBONS, Cold Comfort Farm
ROSAMOND LEHMANN, Invitation to the Waltz

1933
E. ARNOT ROBERTSON, Ordinary Families
ANTONIA WHITE, Frost in May

1934
STORM JAMESON, Company Parade
D. E. STEVENSON, Miss Buncle's Book

1935
IVY COMPTON-BURNETT, A House and Its Head
MOLLY KEANE (as M. J. Farrell), Full House
DOROTHY L. SAYERS, Gaudy Night

1936
LETTICE COOPER, The New House
WINIFRED HOLTBY, South Riding

1937
RUBY FERGUSON, Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary
MARGERY SHARP, The Nutmeg Tree
VIOLET TREFUSIS, Hunt the Slipper

1938
RUTH ADAM, I'm Not Complaining
ENID BAGNOLD, The Squire
JOANNA CANNAN, Princes in the Land
DAPHNE DU MAURIER, Rebecca
WINIFRED WATSON, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

1939
JAN STRUTHER, Mrs Miniver

1940
ELIZABETH GOUDGE, The Bird in the Tree
MONICA DICKENS, Mariana
NGAIO MARSH, Surfeit of Lampreys (aka Death of a Peer)
WINIFRED PECK, Bewildering Cares
NOEL STREATFEILD, The Winter Is Past
ANGELA THIRKELL, Cheerfulness Breaks In

1941
GLADYS MITCHELL, When Last I Died
KATE O'BRIEN, The Land of Spices

1942
RACHEL FERGUSON, Evenfield

1943
MARY RENAULT, The Friendly Young Ladies

1944
NORAH HOULT, There Were No Windows

1945
BETTY MILLER, On the Side of the Angels
NANCY MITFORD, The Pursuit of Love

1946
AGATHA CHRISTIE, The Hollow
JOSEPHINE TEY, Miss Pym Disposes

1947
NAOMI MITCHISON, The Bull Calves
MOLLIE PANTER-DOWNES, One Fine Day

1948
ELIZABETH BOWEN, The Heat of the Day
RICHMAL CROMPTON, Family Roundabout
DODIE SMITH, I Capture the Castle

1950
ELIZABETH ELIOT, Alice
GEORGETTE HEYER, The Grand Sophy
MARGARET KENNEDY, The Feast

1951
MARY BELL, Summer's Day
CELIA BUCKMASTER, Village Story
JOSEPHINE ELDER, The Encircled Heart
ELIZABETH TAYLOR, A Game of Hide and Seek

1952
MARGERY ALLINGHAM, The Tiger in the Smoke
MARGHANITA LASKI, The Village
BARBARA PYM, Excellent Women

1953
DIANA TUTTON, Guard Your Daughters
DOROTHY WHIPPLE, Someone at a Distance

1954
PAMELA FRANKAU, A Wreath for the Enemy
ELIZABETH JENKINS, The Tortoise and the Hare

1955
ELIZABETH CADELL, The Lark Shall Sing
BARBARA COMYNS, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead

1956
BRYHER, Beowulf
ROSE MACAULAY, The Towers of Trebizond

1957
SUSAN TWEEDSMUIR, Cousin Harriet

1958
MARY STEWART, Nine Coaches Waiting

1959
JANE DUNCAN, My Friend Muriel
NORAH LOFTS, The Town House
DORA SAINT (as Miss Read), Thrush Green
DOROTHY EVELYN SMITH, Miss Plum and Miss Penny

1960
RUMER GODDEN, China Court
OLIVIA MANNING, The Great Fortune

1961
MURIEL SPARK, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

1963
SYBILLE BEDFORD, A Favourite of the Gods

1966
JEAN RHYS, Wide Sargasso Sea

1974
LEONORA CARRINGTON, The Hearing Trumpet

6 comments:

  1. What a fantastic list of lists. I was intrigued by the year of publication list - so many different years covered.
    I shall now print off list one and see how many I've read.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great compilation, it's interesting to see how they stack up by year. I counted and I've read 35 of these, plus I have another 8 or 10 unread (this includes all the books I've ordered since you started posting the syllabus!). And I liked the article you linked to about lists -- that was another great list of books by women I must add to my TBR pile. It will never end.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the multi-formatted list versions. The alphabetical by author makes searching easier, the year of publication is a fun and interesting version.

    Fun list. When my life settles down I will have to double check for those I want to add and also read those I have obtained already based on your mention.

    And, of course, re-read Miss Buncle's Book once again.

    Jerri

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for all this, Scott. What an immense amount of work (though no doubt a labour of love). Now, why don't you go and have a nice sit-down with a book.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, a quibble - no Patricia Wentworth? So minor, as I busy reading lots of the other titles!
    Tom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the alphabetical by author list does make it easy for us to nit-pick, since how can one limit something to just 100. My quibble is probably Miss Read, so very middle brow, and some of her work much deeper than appears on the surface. Rather than her "normal" school and village based titles, I might suggest No Holly for Miss Quinn, which addresses issues like family ties vs independence, career vs marriage, and more tied up in a Christmas feel good package.

      Delete

NOTE: The comment function on Blogger is notoriously cranky. If you're having problems, try selecting "Name/URL" or "Anonymous" from the "Comment as" drop-down (be sure to "sign" your comment, though, so I know who dropped by). Some people also find it easier using a browser like Firefox or Chrome instead of Internet Explorer.

But it can still be a pain, and if you can't get any of that to work, please email me at furrowed.middlebrow@gmail.com. I do want to hear from you!