If literary critics are to be believed when they say Shakespeare is the most important and influential writer of all time in English, and also that Milton is right after Shakespeare in rank, who would round out your top five and why?
I will be thinking about this and will have my reasons and answers that I will post after a while.
Anyone who wrote their major works in English are eligible, whether or not their native tongue was English. (e.g., Joseph Conrad is allowed because he wrote in English, his third language, but Dante Alighieri is not allowed because his works were translated into English after he wrote them in Italian.)
I forgot about the bulldog! And I have The Quiet American in my reading queue, which is about 20 books deep. I bet you can relate to that!
As far as I know, he didn't write any novels. But he was in a few, sort of. If you ever read Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, Dr. Watson's bulldog was named Gladstone :P
Greene's The Quiet American was great too. It's amazing that the best Vietnam War novel was written in 1955 by an Englishman.
Hi Bullwinkle---I love Greene. I finished The Heart of the Matter over the summer and wanted to start again at the beginning and read it again. With regard to Disraeli I only knew about his interaction with Queen Victoria and political career. I will definitely check out his novels. Did his rival Gladstone write any? :)
3. George Eliot
4. Thomas Hardy
5. Graham Greene
@Arwa and Sielwalll: Benjamin Disraeli was a politician who was a great English novelist. Sybil and Vivian Gray are very good novels, even if they aren't as well-known today.
Good list, Arwa! That's funny about politicians. I actually considered people like Hobbes and Paine. I think even though you were half-joking, you hit a major point!