In Our Time: 25 Classic Novels

In Our Time: 25 Classic Novels

A BBC Radio 4 Collection


Melvyn Bragg and guests tell the story of the novel over 400 years, via key literary works and movements

'One of Radio 4's quiet jewels in its crown' The Guardian

In 1998, a brand new culture show was launched on Radio 4, featuring Melvyn Bragg and a panel of leading academics discussing the ideas, individuals and events that have shaped our world. In Our Time rapidly became one of radio's most well-loved programmes, regularly attracting over 2 million listeners eager to learn more about the topic of the week - which could be asteroids, Zoroastrianism or anything in between.

This specially curated collection charts the evolution of the novel as a literary form throughout the past four centuries, analysing 25 works ranging from Cervantes' 17th century epic Don Quixote to George Orwell's 1945 political fable Animal Farm. Some of the best books of all time are examined and elucidated here, including Robinson Crusoe, Tristram Shandy, Emma, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, Crime and Punishment, Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway. Three additional programmes, on 'The Novel', 'Victorian Realism' and 'Literary Modernism', set these masterpieces in their historical context.

Devotees of fiction, In Our Time fans and the intellectually curious will love these dynamic, stimulating discussions, which open the door to a whole world of classic literature and invite us to venture in.

Production credits
Presented by Melvyn Bragg
Produced by Olivia Seligman, Natalia Fernandez, Thomas Morris, Simon Tillotson, Julia Johnson, Luke Mulhall

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on the following dates:

Part I: The Early Novel

The Novel 11 November 1999
With D J Taylor and Gillian Beer

Don Quixote 16 March 2006
With Barry Ife, Edwin Williamson and Jane Whetnall

Robinson Crusoe 22 December 2011
With Karen O'Brien, Judith Hawley and Bob Owens

Voltaire's Candide 3 May 2012
With David Wootton, Nicholas Cronk and Caroline Warman

Tristram Shandy 24 April 2014
With Judith Hawley, John Mullan and Mary Newbould

Emma 19 November 2015
With Janet Todd, John Mullan and Emma Clery

Frankenstein 16 May 2019
With Karen O'Brien, Michael Rossington and Jane Thomas

Eugene Onegin 22 June 2017
With Andrew Kahn, Emily Finer and Simon Dixon

Part II: The Victorian Novel

Victorian Realism 14 November 2002
With Philip Davis, AN Wilson and Dinah Birch

A Christmas Carol 16 December 2021
With Juliet John, Jon Mee and Dinah Birch

Jane Eyre 18 June 2015
With Dinah Birch, Karen O'Brien and Sara Lyons

Wuthering Heights 28 September 2017
With Karen O'Brien, John Bowen and Alexandra Lewis

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall 30 September 2021
With Alexandra Lewis, Marianne Thormählen and John Bowen

Moby Dick 7 December 2017
With Bridget Bennett, Katie McGettigan and Graham Thompson

North and South 9 March 2017
With Sally Shuttleworth, Jenny Uglow and Dinah Birch

Aurora Leigh 24 March 2016
With Margaret Reynolds, Daniel Karlin and Karen O'Brien

Crime and Punishment 14 November 2019
With Sarah Hudspith, Oliver Ready and Sarah Young

Middlemarch 19 April 2018
With Rosemary Ashton, Kathryn Hughes and John Bowen

Tess of the d'Urbervilles 5 May 2016
With Dinah Birch, Francis O'Gorman and Jane Thomas

The Time Machine 17 October 2019
With Simon Schaffer, Amanda Rees and Simon James

Part III: The Modernist Novel

Literary Modernism 26 April 2001
With John Carey, Laura Marcus and Valentine Cunningham

Heart of Darkness 15 February 2007
With Susan Jones, Robert Hampson and Laurence Davies

James Joyce's Ulysses 14 June 2012
With Steven Connor, Jeri Johnson and Richard Brown

The Great Gatsby 14 January 2021
With Sarah Churchwell, Philip McGowan and William Blazek

Mrs Dalloway 3 July 2014
With Hermione Lee, Jane Goldman and Kathryn Simpson

Kafka's The Trial 27 November 2014
With Elizabeth Boa, Steve Connor and Ritchie Robertson

Decline and Fall 21 February 2013
With David Bradshaw, John Bowen and Ann Pasternak Slater

Animal Farm 29 September 2016
With Steven Connor, Mary Vincent and Robert Colls

© 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2022 BBC Studios
Distribution Ltd.

About the author

Melvyn Bragg

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