Footnotes: The Duchess of Cambridge’s viral bookshelf

Official photos from Kensington Palace revealed the books on Kate Middleton's office desk. It's a list stuffed full of classics.

Credit: Getty

What's the story?

Over the weekend, Kensington Palace released a series of intimate photographs of the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge (aka Kate and William) on lockdown and working from home as they discussed the importance of mental health during self-isolation.

But what struck many fans, aside from Kate's frankly gorgeous office décor, was the colourful collection of Penguin Clothbound Classics lined up neatly along her desk. And that, as you'd expect, got a lot of bookworms talking about her reading tastes.

Kate Middleton reading shelf
Credit: Twitter / @KensingtonRoyal

What's the book?

It is unclear if Kate is the kind of reader who reads one book at a time, or the kind who prefers to flit between a bundle on the bedside table (or in her case, on the lustrous mahogany escritoire). What is clear, however, is that she sure has a thing for Jane Austen, with no less than three of the 12 visible books on her desk by England's most-adored lampooner of late-18th-century gentry. Indeed, a close inspection of the books on the Duchess' desk provides a fascinating insight into her (it must be said, rather broad) reading tastes. So, in order from left to right, here is what they are:

1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

2. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust

3. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

5. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

6. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

7. Middlemarch by George Eliot

8. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

9. The Hound of the Baskervilles Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

11. The Odyssey by Homer

12. Bleak House by Charles Dickens

It's likely Kate didn't just line any old books along her desk for aesthetic effect, given there are 69 Penguin Clothbound Classics she could have chosen from, each colourfully designed by the designer Coralie Bickford-Smith to reflect motifs from the stories themselves. It certainly makes one wonder: what wouldn't one give to be a fly on the wall at Kate's private book club? 


Last February, William revealed that the Cambridges are devoted bookworms and that he reads to their three children 'all the time'. Their favourite books, he said, are Julia Donaldson's Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo. In fact, his family love the former Children's Laureate's poetry so much that, upon meeting her as she was awarded a CBE for services to literature, he gushed, 'Do you realise how many parents you have saved at bedtime?'

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