The 50 Greatest British Novels of the 19th Century

In the 19th century, authors in the United Kingdom (we are counting authors from Ireland and Scotland here) produced novels that challenged class systems, trained an eye on the deplorable living conditions of the working class, gave us some of the earliest works of feminist literature, invented many of the tropes used and reused in modern literature, and created some of the most unforgettable characters ever. It may be silly and futile to argue that the literature of Great Britain in the 1800s was more important or of higher quality than writing from different periods and parts of the world — but these 50 novels do prove that it was (for better or for worse) a very English century, and one that left a massive mark on everything that came after.

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50. The Wanderer or, Female Difficulties, Fanny Burney

William Hazlitt said of the book, “The difficulties in which [Burney] involves her heroines are indeed, ‘Female Difficulties;’ — they are difficulties created out of nothing.” Not only is this a great historical novel written during a tumultuous time on the European continent, but it’s also evidence that Burney was one of earliest female authors to get mansplained by a famous critic.