This holiday, we proudly present to you this unique collection of the greatest Christmas stories. Over 250 of them are included by your favourite authors:Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Willa Cather, Beatrix Potter, Louisa May Alcott, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Hans Christian Andersen, E.T.A. Hoffmann, O. Henry, Mark Twain and many more!
- Classic fiction
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A.A. Milne is quite simply one of the most famous children's authors of all time. He created 'Winnie-the-Pooh' and his friends 'Piglet', 'Eeyore', 'Tigger', 'Kanga' and 'Roo' based on the real nursery toys played with by his son, Christopher Robin.
And those characters not only became the stars of his classic children's books, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, and his poetry for children, they have also been adapted for film, TV and the stage.
Through his writings for Punch magazine, A.A. Milne met E.H. Shepard. Shepard went on to draw the original illustrations to accompany Milne's classics, earning him the name "the man who drew Pooh".
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), Russian physician, dramatist and author, is considered to be one of the greatest writers of short stories and modern drama. Born in Taganrog, a port town near the Black Sea, he attended medical school at Moscow University.
He began writing to supplement his income, writing short humorous sketches of contemporary Russian life. A successful literary careered followed, before his premature death of TB at the age of 44. He is best-remembered for his four dramatic masterpieces: The Seagull (1896), Uncle Vanya (1899), Three Sisters (1901) and The Cherry Orchard (1904).
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859 and died in 1930. Within those years was crowded a variety of activity and creative work that made him an international figure and inspired the French to give him the epithet 'the good giant'.
He was the nephew of 'Dickie Doyle' the artist, and was educated at Stonyhurst, and later studied medicine at Edinburgh University, where the methods of diagnosis of one of the professors provided the idea for the methods of deduction used by Sherlock Holmes. He set up as a doctor at Southsea and it was while waiting for patients that he began to write.
His growing success as an author enabled him to give up his practice and turn his attention to other subjects. His greatest achievement was, of course, his creation of Sherlock Holmes, who soon attained international status and constantly distracted him from his other work; at one time Conan Doyle killed him but was obliged by public protest to restore him to life.
And in his creation of Dr Watson, Holmes's companion in adventure and chronicler, Conan Doyle produced not only a perfect foil for Holmes but also one of the most famous narrators in fiction.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in 1785 and 1786 near Frankfurt, Germany. Their collections of folk and fairy tales have stood the test of time and still influence literature today.
Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and became the most popular novelist of the Victorian era.
A prolific writer, he published more than a dozen novels in his lifetime, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and Hard Times, most of which have been adapted many times over for radio, stage and screen.
The brilliant Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–81) is celebrated for such classics as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov whose psychological examinations of the human soul had a profound effect on the 20th-century novel. His influence resonates in the works of such latter-day authors as Proust, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Kafka. Dostoyevsky also wrote many shorter works that are masterpieces in their own right.
Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, in 1805. His Fairy Tales, the first children's stories of their kind, which were published in instalments from 1835 until his death in 1875, have been translated into more than a hundred languages and adapted for every kind of media.
Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1811, the seventh child of a well-known Congregational minister, Lyman Beecher. The family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she met and married Calvin Stowe, a professor of theology, in 1836.
Living just across the Ohio River from the slave-holding state of Kentucky, and becoming aware of the plight of escaping slaves, led her to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in book form in 1842. She wrote the novel amidst the difficulties of bringing up a large family of six children.
The runaway success of Uncle Tom’s Cabin made its author a well-known publish figure. Stowe died in 1896.
John Milton (1608 74) is best known for his epic masterpiece Paradise Lost and for his commitment to the republican cause.
He wrote the crucial justifications for the trial and execution of King Charles I and was Secretary for Foreign Tongues, thus becoming the voice of the revolution. His influence on English literature can only be rivalled by Shakespeare.
Kenneth Grahame was born in 1859 and wrote fiction and fantasy for children.
He is most famous for The Wind in the Willows (1908), which is considered to be one of the greatest classics of children's literature.
He also wrote The Reluctant Dragon which was later adapted to a Disney movie.
Lyman Frank Baum, born May 15 1856, was an American author of children's books, best known for writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He wrote thirteen novel sequels, nine other fantasy novels, and a host of other works (55 novels in total, plus four "lost" novels, 83 short stories, over 200 poems, an unknown number of scripts, and many miscellaneous writings), and made numerous attempts to bring his works to the stage and screen.
His works anticipated such century-later commonplaces as television, augmented reality, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephones (Tik-Tok of Oz), women in high risk, action-heavy occupations (Mary Louise in the Country), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane's Nieces at Work).
On May 5, 1919, Baum suffered from a stroke. He died quietly the next day, nine days short of his 63rd birthday.His final Oz book, Glinda of Oz, was published on July 10, 1920, a year after his death. The Oz series was continued long after his death by other authors, notably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote an additional nineteen Oz books.
Russian author, a master of realistic fiction and one of the world's greatest novelists.
Tolstoy is best known for his two longest works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which are commonly regarded as among the finest novels ever written. War and Peace in particular seems virtually to define this form for many readers and critics. Among Tolstoy's shorter works, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is usually classed among the best examples of the novella. Especially during his last three decades Tolstoy also achieved world renown as a moral and religious teacher. His doctrine of nonresistance to evil had an important influence on Gandhi. Although Tolstoy's religious ideas no longer command the respect they once did, interest in his life and personality has, if anything, increased over the years.
Most readers will agree with the assessment of the 19th-century British poet and critic Matthew Arnold that a novel by Tolstoy is not a work of art but a piece of life; the 20th-century Russian author Isaak Babel commented that, if the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy. Critics of diverse schools have agreed that somehow Tolstoy's works seem to elude all artifice. Most have stressed his ability to observe the smallest changes of consciousness and to record the slightest movements of the body. What another novelist would describe as a single act of consciousness, Tolstoy convincingly breaks down into a series of infinitesimally small steps. According to the English writer Virginia Woolf, who took for granted that Tolstoy was “the greatest of all novelists,” these observational powers elicited a kind of fear in readers, who “wish to escape from the gaze which Tolstoy fixes on us.”
Those who visited Tolstoy as an old man also reported feelings of great discomfort when he appeared to understand their unspoken thoughts. It was commonplace to describe him as godlike in his powers and titanic in his struggles to escape the limitations of the human condition. Some viewed Tolstoy as the embodiment of nature and pure vitality, others saw him as the incarnation of the world's conscience, but for almost all who knew him or read his works, he was not just one of the greatest writers who ever lived but a living symbol of the search for life's meaning.
Louisa May Alcott was born on 29 November 1832 in Pennsylvania, and she grew up with plenty of books to read but seldom enough to eat. Louisa went to work when she was very young as a paid companion and teacher, but she loved writing most of all, and like Jo March she started selling sensational stories in order to help provide financial support for her family.
She worked as a nurse during the American Civil War but the experience made her extremely ill. Little Women was published in 1868 and was based on her life growing up with her three sisters. She followed it with three sequels, Good Wives (1869), Little Men (1871) and Jo's Boys (1886) and she also wrote other books for both children and adults. Louisa was also a campaigner for women's rights and the abolition of the slave trade. She died on 6 March 1888.
Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 1874. Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908, was her first novel and has remained in print across the world ever since. Montgomery died in Toronto in 1942.
Margery Williams was born in London in 1881. She moved with her family to the USA in 1890 and there started a career as a writer at the age of nineteen.
She wrote many stories for children, of which The Velveteen Rabbit is the most famous. William Nicholson was born in 1872 and was one of England's most prestigious still-life and portrait painters.
He also wrote and illustrated many children's books, including Clever Bill, which is now also available in this new hardback edition from Egmont.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, was born on November 30, 1835, in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri.
Writing grand tales about Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and the mighty Mississippi River, Mark Twain explored the American soul with wit, buoyancy, and a sharp eye for truth. He became nothing less than a national treasure.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, where he wrote the bulk of his masterful tales of American colonial history.
His career as a novelist began with The Scarlet Letter (1850) and also includes The house of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun.
Richmal Crompton was born in 1890 and is best known for her thirty-eight books featuring William Brown, which were published between 1922 and 1970. Born in Lancashire, Crompton won a scholarship to Royal Holloway in London, where she trained as a schoolteacher, graduating in 1914, before turning to writing full-time in 1923. Alongside the William novels, Crompton wrote forty-one novels for adults, as well as nine collections of short stories. She died in 1969.
Robert Frost is one of America's most beloved poets. Born in 1874 in San Francisco, California, he spent most of his life in rural New England.
His poems frequently drew on his rural surroundings to teach deeper principles on life. Some of his most famous poems include "Mending Wall," "Birches," "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," and "The Road Not Taken" featured in this book.
By his passing in 1963, Frost had been awarded four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry, received the Congressional Gold Medal, and been nominated thirty-one times for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He studied law but preferred writing and in 1881 was inspired by his stepson to write Treasure Island.
Other famous adventure stories followed including Kidnapped, as well as the famous collection of poems for children, A Child's Garden of Verses. Robert Louis Stevenson is buried on the island of Samoa.
Rudyard Kipling was born in India in 1865. After intermittently moving between India and England during his early life, he settled in the latter in 1889, published his novel The Light That Failed in 1891 and married Caroline (Carrie) Balestier the following year.
They returned to her home in Brattleboro, Vermont, where Kipling wrote the two Jungle Books and Captains Courageous.
He continued to write prolifically and was the first Englishman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907 but his later years were darkened by the death of his son John at the Battle of Loos in 1915. He died in 1936.
Hector Hugh Munro (1870 1916) was a British author best known by his pen name Saki.
Although he wrote two novels and several political sketches most notably The Westminster Alice, a parody authorized by Carroll's publishers it is his large output of satirical short stories for which he is remembered, and is still considered one of the masters of the genre.
Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset in 1840. His first published novel was Desperate Remedies in 1871. Such was the success of these early works, which included A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) and Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), that he gave up his work as an architect to concentrate on his writing.
However, he had difficulty publishing Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1889) and was forced to make changes in order for it to be judged suitable for family readers. This, coupled with the stormy reaction to the negative tone of Jude the Obscure (1895), prompted Hardy to abandon writing novels altogether and he concentrated on poetry for the rest of his life. He died in January 1928.
Washington Irving was born in 1783 in New York City. In addition to writing fiction, Irving studied law, worked for his family's business in England and wrote essays for periodicals.
Some of his most famous tales, including Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, were first published under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon.
Willa Cather was born in Virginia in 1873 and moved to Nebraska, with its wide open plains and immigrant farming communities, at the age of nine.
This landscape would deeply affect her later writing. She attended university and became a journalist and teacher in Pittsburgh, and then a magazine editor in New York.
Her first major novel, O Pioneers!, appeared in 1913, and was followed by two more in her prairie trilogy: The Song of the Lark and My Antonia. She lived with the editor Edith Lewis for thirty-nine years until her death in 1947.
William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Calcutta in 1811. On his way to England from India, the small Thackeray saw Napoleon on St Helena.
In 1837, Thackeray came to London and became a regular contributor to Fraser's Magazine. From 1842 to 1851, he was on the staff of Punch, and this was when he wrote Vanity Fair, the work which placed him in the first rank of novelists. He completed it when he was thirty-seven.
In 1857, Thackeray stood unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate for Oxford. In 1859 he took on the editorship of the Cornhill Magazine. He resigned the position in 1862 because kindliness and sensitivity of spirit made it difficult for him to turn down contributors.
Thackeray drew on his own experiences for his writing. He had a great weakness for gambling, a great desire for worldly success, and over his life hung the tragic illness of his wife Isabella, with whom he had hree daughters, one dying in infancy.
Thackeray died December 24, 1863. He was buried in Kensal Green, and a bust by Marochetti was put up to his memory in Westminster Abbey.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, in 1564. The date of his birth is unknown but is celebrated on 23 April, which happens to be St George's Day, and the day in 1616 on which Shakespeare died.
Aged eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. They had three children. Around 1585 William joined an acting troupe on tour in Stratford from London, and thereafter spent much of his life in the capital. By 1595 he had written five of his history plays, six comedies and his first tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. In all, he wrote thirty-seven plays and much poetry, and earned enormous fame in his own lifetime in prelude to his immortality.
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