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On the Road

Jack Kerouac (Author)

On the Road by Jack Kerouac is the exhilarating novel that defined the Beat Generation and is a 2012 major motion picture starring Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Sam Riley, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range.

'What's your road, man? - holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow.'

Sal Paradise, young and innocent, joins the slightly crazed Dean Moriarty on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American Dream.

A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac's exhilarating novel defined the new 'Beat' generation and became the bible of the counter culture.

'On the Road sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines, and also sent countless kids on the road. The alienation, the restlessness, the dissatisfaction were already there waiting when Kerouac pointed out the road' William Burroughs

'Pop writing at its best. It changed the way I saw the world, making me yearn for fresh experience' Hanif Kureishi, Independent on Sunday

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922. Educated by Jesuit brothers in Lowell, he decided to become a writer at age seventeen and developed his own writing style, which he called 'spontaneous prose'. He used this technique to record the life of the American 'traveler' and the experiences of the Beat Generation, most memorably in On the Road and also in The Subterraneans and The Dharma Bums. His other works include Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Lonesome Traveler, Visions of Gerard, Tristessa, and a book of poetry called Mexico City Blues. Jack Kerouac died in 1969.

In Cold Blood

Truman Capote (Author)

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences is considered by many to be the first work of the true crime genre. In this groundbreaking book, Truman Capote reconstructs the murder of the Clutter family from information provided by newspaper articles and interviews.

'Dick became convinced that Perry was that rarity, "a natural killer" - absolutely sane, but conscienceless, and capable of dealing, with or without motive, the coldest-blooded deathblows'

On 15 November 1959, the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, a wealthy farmer, his wife and their two young children were found brutally murdered. Blood all over the walls, the telephone lines cut, and only a few dollars stolen. Heading up the investigation is Agent Al Dewey, but all he has are two footprints, four bodies, and a whole lot of questions.

Truman Capote's detailed reconstruction of the events and consequences of that fateful night, In Cold Blood is a chilling, gripping mix of journalistic skill and imaginative power.

'The American dream turning into the American nightmare. A remarkable book' Spectator

'One of the most stupendous books of the decade' Sunday Express

Truman Capote was one of the most significant American authors of the twentieth century, known for his highly acclaimed books, including: Breakfast at Tiffany's, A Tree of Night and Other Stories and The Grass Harp. In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's have been selected for the Penguin Essentials series of books considered some of the twentieth century's most important reads.

Goodbye to All That

Robert Graves (Author)

'There has been a lot of fighting hereabouts. The trenches have made themselves rather than been made, and run inconsequently in and out of the big thirty-foot high stacks of bricks; it is most confusing. The parapet of a trench which we don't occupy is built up with ammunition boxes and corpses . . .'

In one of the most honest and candid self-portraits ever committed to paper, Robert Graves tells the extraordinary story of his experiences as a young officer in the First World War. He describes life in the trenches in vivid, raw detail, how the dehumanizing horrors he witnessed left him shell-shocked. They were to haunt him for the rest of his life.

A Passage to India

E M Forster (Author) , E M Forster (Author)

Exploring issues of colonialism, faith and the limits of comprehension, E.M. Forster's A Passage to India is published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

When Adela Quested and her elderly companion Mrs Moore arrive in the Indian town of Chandrapore, they quickly feel trapped by its insular and prejudiced 'Anglo-Indian' community. Determined to escape the parochial English enclave and explore the 'real India', they seek the guidance of the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz, a cultivated Indian Muslim. But a mysterious incident occurs while they are exploring the Marabar caves with Aziz, and the well-respected doctor soon finds himself at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects. A masterly portrait of a society in the grip of imperialism, A Passage to India compellingly depicts the fate of individuals caught between the great political and cultural conflicts of the modern world.

'His great book ... masterly in its presence and its lucidity'
Anita Desai

Steppenwolf

Herman Hesse (Author) , Walter Sorell (Revised by), Basil Creighton (Translator)

'The unhappiness that I need and long for . . . is of the kind that will let me suffer with eagerness and die with lust. That is the unhappiness, or happiness, that I am waiting for.'

Alienated from society, Harry Haller is the Steppenwolf, wild, strange and shy. His despair and desire for death draw him into an enchanted, Faust-like underworld. Through a series of shadowy encounters, romantic, freakish and savage by turn, Haller begins to rediscover the lost dreams of his youth.

Adopted by the Sixties counterculture, Steppenwolf captured the mood of a disaffected generation that was beginning to question everything.

Cat's Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut (Author) , Benjamin Kunkel (Introducer)

Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle is an irreverent and highly entertaining fantasy about the playful irresponsibility of nuclear scientists, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range.

'All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.'

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding fathers of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he is the inventor of Ice-nine, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker's three eccentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness.

Will Felix Hoenikker's death wish come true? Will his last, fatal gift to humankind bring about the end that, for all of us, is nigh?

Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut's cult tale of global apocalypse preys on our deepest fears of witnessing the end and, worse still, surviving it . . .

'The time to read Vonnegut is just when you begin to suspect that the world is not what it appears to be. He is not only entertaining, he is electrocuting. You read him with enormous pleasure because he makes your hair stand on end' New York Times

'One of the warmest, wisest, funniest voices to be found anywhere in fiction' Daily Telegraph

'Vonnegut has looked the world straight in the eye and never flinched' J. G. Ballard

Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922. He studied at the universities of Chicago and Tennessee and later began to write short stories for magazines. His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1951 and was followed by The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), God Bless You Mr Rosewater (1964), Welcome to the Monkey House (1968); a collection of short stories, Slaughterhouse Five (1969), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Slapstick, or Lonesome No More (1976), Jailbird (1979), Deadeye Dick (1982), Galapagos (1985), Bluebeard (1988), Hocus Pocus (1990) and Timequake (1997). He is also the author of a number of collections of short stories and essays. Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Muriel Spark (Author)

Muriel Spark's classic The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie features a schoolmistress you'll never forget, in this beautifully repackaged Penguin Essentials edition.

'Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life . . .'

Passionate, free-thinking and unconventional, Miss Brodie is a teacher who exerts a powerful influence over her group of 'special girls' at Marcia Blaine School. They are the Brodie set, the crème de la crème, each famous for something - Monica for mathematics, Eunice for swimming, Rose for sex - who are initiated into a world of adult games and extracurricular activities they will never forget. But the price they pay is their undivided loyalty . . .

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a brilliantly comic novel featuring one of the most unforgettable characters in all literature.

'Muriel Spark's novels linger in the mind as brilliant shards' John Updike

'Spark's most celebrated novel' Independent

'There is no question about the quality and distinctiveness of her writing, with its quirky concern with human nature, and its comedy' William Boyd

'A brilliant psychological figure' Observer

Muriel Spark was born and educated in Edinburgh. She was active in the field of creative writing since 1950, when she won a short-story writing competition in the Observer, and her many subsequent novels include Memento Mori (1959), The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), The Girls of Slender Means (1963) and Aiding and Abetting (2000). She also wrote plays, poems, children's books and biographies. She became Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1993, and died in 2006.

Foe

J M Coetzee (Author)

Nobel Laureate and two-time Booker prize-winning author of Disgrace and The Life and Times of Michael K, J. M. Coetzee reimagines Daniel DeFoe's classic novel Robinson Crusoe in Foe. Published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

In an act of breathtaking imagination, J.M Coetzee radically reinvents the story of Robinson Crusoe.

In the early eighteenth century, Susan Barton finds herself adrift from a mutinous ship and cast ashore on a remote desert island. There she finds shelter with its only other inhabitants: a man named Cruso and his tongueless slave, Friday. In time, she builds a life for herself as Cruso's companion and, eventually, his lover. At last they are rescued by a passing ship, but only she and Friday survive the journey back to London.

Determined to have her story told, she pursues the eminent man of letters Daniel Foe in the hope that he will relate truthfully her memories to the world. But with Cruso dead, Friday incapable of speech and Foe himself intent on reshaping her narrative, Barton struggles to maintain her grip on the past, only to fall victim to the seduction of storytelling itself.

Treacherous, elegant and unexpectedly moving, Foe remains one of the most exquisitely composed of this pre-eminent author's works.

'A small miracle of a book. . . of marvellous intricacy and overwhelming power' Washington Post

'A superb novel' The New York Times

An Ice-cream War

William Boyd (Author)

An Ice-Cream War is William Boyd's sparkling debut novel on the grimly comic side of conflict, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

'What do you think would happen if I shot an elephant in the balls?'
'I think it would hurt a great deal.'

Millions die on the Western Front but in East Africa a quite different war is being waged - one with little point and which is so ignored that it will carry on after the Armistice because no one bothers to tell both sides to stop.

As the conflict sweeps up natives and colonials, so those left at home and those fighting abroad find themselves unable to escape the tide of history bearing down on them.

Dubliners

James Joyce (Author)

'Snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves.'

From a child grappling with the death of a fallen priest, to a young woman's dilemma over whether to elope to Argentina with her lover, to the dance party at which a man discovers just how little he really knows about his wife, these fifteen stories bring the gritty realism of existence in Joyce's native Dublin to life.

Regeneration

Pat Barker (Author)

Regeneration by Pat Barker is a classic exploration of how the traumas of war brutalised a generation of young - published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

'I just don't think our war aims - whatever they may be - and we don't know - justify this level of slaughter.'

The poets and soldiers Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen are dispatched to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland in 1917. There, army psychiatrist William Rivers is treating brutalised, shell-shocked men. It is Rivers' job to fix these men and make them ready to fight again. As a witness to the traumas they have endured, can he in all conscience send them back to the horrors of the trenches?

Hell's Angels

Hunter S. Thompson (Author)

Journalist, maverick, rebel and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Hunter S. Thompson offers another novel of American counterculture in Hell's Angels, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range.

'A phalanx of motorcycles came roaring over the hill from the west... the noise was like a landslide, or a wing of bombers passing over. Even knowing the Angels I couldn't quite handle what I was seeing. It was like Genghis Khan, Morgan's Raiders, the Wild One and the Rape of Nanking all at once.'

In September, 1964 a cavalcade of motorbikes ripped through the city of Monterey, California. It was a trip destined to make Hell's Angels household names across America, infamous for their violent, drunken rampages and feared for the destruction left in their wake.

Enter Hunter S. Thompson, the master of counter-culture journalism who alone had the ability and stature to ride with the Angels on their terms. In this brilliant and hair-raising expose, he journeys with the last outlaws of the American frontier.

A mixture of journalism, story-telling and sheer bravado, Hell's Angels is Hunter S. Thompson at full throttle.

'Excellent documentary non-fiction' Time Out

'The maverick voice of American counterculture' Guardian

'There are only two adjectives writers care about any more - "brilliant" and "outrageous" - and Hunter has a freehold on both of them' Tom Wolfe

'The book that made Thompson's name' Loaded

Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937. He began his writing career as a sports columnist in Florida and went on to work on newspapers and magazines in New York, San Juan and Rio de Janeiro. His articles appeared in Esquire, Rolling Stone magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the author of a number of books, including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Great Shark Hunt, Generation of Swine, The Curse of Lono, Songs of the Doomed, Better Than Sex, The Proud Highway and The Rum Diary. Hunter S. Thompson died in 2005.

Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis (Author)

'His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as a mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.'

Jix Dixon has a terrible job at a second-rate university. His life is full of things he could happily do without: the tedious and ridiculous Professor Welch, a neurotic and unstable girlfriend, Margaret, burnt sheets, medieval recorder music and over-enthusiastic students. If he can just deliver a lecture on 'Merrie England', a moderately successful career surely awaits him. But without luck, life is never simple . . .

Three Men in a Boat

Jerome K Jerome (Author)

'Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.'

Suffering from every malady in the book except housemaid's knee, three men and a dog decide to head for a restful vacation on the Thames. Anticipating peace and leisure, they encounter, in fact, the joys of roughing it, of getting their boat stuck in locks, of being towed by amateurs, of having to eat their own cooking and, of course, of coping with the glorious English weather.

The Lady in the Lake

Raymond Chandler (Author) , Jonathan Kellerman (Introducer)

The Lady in the Lake is a classic detective novel by the master of hard-boiled crime, available as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

Derace Kingsley's wife ran away to Mexico to get a quickie divorce and marry a Casanova-wannabe named Chris Lavery. Or so the note she left her husband insisted. Trouble is, when Philip Marlowe asks Lavery about it he denies everything and sends the private investigator packing with a flea lodged firmly in his ear. But when Marlowe next encounters Lavery, he's denying nothing - on account of the two bullet holes in his heart. Now Marlowe's on the trail of a killer, who leads him out of smoggy LA all the way to a murky mountain lake . . .

'Anything Chandler writes about grips the mind from the first sentence' Daily Telegraph

'One of the greatest crime writers, who set standards others still try to attain' Sunday Times

'Chandler is an original stylist, creator of a character as immortal as Sherlock Holmes' Anthony Burgess

The Mosquito Coast

Paul Theroux (Author)

The Mosquito Coast - winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize - is a breathtaking novel about fanaticism and a futile search for utopia from bestseller Paul Theroux. Published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

Allie Fox is going to re-create the world. Abominating the cops, crooks, junkies and scavengers of modern America, he abandons civilisation and takes the family to live in the Honduran jungle. There his tortured, messianic genius keeps them alive, his hoarse tirades harrying them through a diseased and dirty Eden towards unimaginable darkness.

'Stunning. . . exciting, intelligent, meticulously realised, artful' Victoria Glendinning, Sunday Times

'An epic of paranoid obsession that swirls the reader headlong to deposit him on a black mudbank of horror' Christopher Wordsworth, Guardian

'Magnificently stimulating and exciting' Anthony Burgess

The History of Love

Nicole Krauss (Author)

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006 and winner of the 2006 Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, The History of Love explores the lasting power of the written word and the lasting power of love. Published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

'When I was born my mother named me after every girl in a book my father gave her called The History of Love. . . '

Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer is trying to find a cure for her mother's loneliness. Believing she might discover it in an old book her mother is lovingly translating, she sets out in search of its author.

Across New York an old man called Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer. He spends his days dreaming of the love lost that sixty years ago in Poland inspired him to write a book. And although he doesn't know it yet, that book also survived: crossing oceans and generations, and changing lives. . .

'Wonderfully affecting...brilliant, touching and remarkably poised' Sunday Telegraph

'A tender tribute to human valiance. Who could be unmoved by a cast of characters whose daily battles are etched on out mind in such diamond-cut prose?' Independent on Sunday

'Devastating...one of the most passionate vindications of the written word in recent fiction. It takes one's breath away' Spectator

A Kestrel for a Knave

Barry Hines (Author)

The classic book that inspired Kes, the famous film, now published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

Barry Hines's A Kestrel for a Knave was published in 1968, and was made into one of the key British films of the sixties. Billy Casper is beaten by his drunken brother, ignored by his mother and failing at school. He seems destined for a hard, miserable life down the pits, but for a brief time, he finds one pleasure in life: a wild kestrel that he has raised and tamed himself.

Billy Liar

Keith Waterhouse (Author)

The classic comedy of a 50s youth trapped inside a Walter Mitty fantasy-world, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

Keith Waterhouse's Billy Liar was published in 1959, and captures brilliantly the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small town. It tells the story of Billy Fisher, a Yorkshire teenager unable to stop lying - especially to his three girlfriends. Trapped by his boring job and working-class parents, Billy finds that his only happiness lies in grand plans for his future and fantastical day-dreams of the fictional country Ambrosia.

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison (Author)

New Penguin Essentials edition of Ralph Ellison's blistering, impassioned novel of African-American lives in 1940s America, Invisible Man.

'I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.'

Defeated and embittered by a country which treats him as a non-being, the 'invisible man' retreats into an underground cell, where he smokes, drinks, listens to jazz and recounts his search for identity in white society: as an optimistic student in the Deep South, in the north with the black activist group the Brotherhood, and in the Harlem race riots. And explains how he came to be living underground . . .

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