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The Britain Society

Do you love British or Irish history or literature?

Are you a fan of William Shakespeare? Charles Dickens? C.S. Lewis? J.R.R. Tolkien? Jane Austen?

Would you enjoy tea (or hot chocolate) and biscuits (cookies) while discussing your British or Irish historical or literary interests?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, join us for Scriptorium’s club, the Britain Society.


  1. Choose a work of British or Irish literature (must be a primary source –> no contemporary historical fiction…) or a work on British history or politics; note that if you are already reading a work of British history or literature for a Scriptorium course you are currently taking, you may not read it for the Society also
  2. Read a portion of your book each week and come to our meetings prepared to tell, briefly, about what you read; please bring a key quotation from the work to include in your talk
  3. Enjoy authentic teas and biscuits as you listen to fellow members tell about their readings
  4. When you finish your book, write a brief summary/review or essay for publication in our society journal
  5. Complete projects to make a notebook of information about British history, literature, geography, art, and culture


  • The Britain Society will not meet during the spring 2020 semester. You may join at any time. We do not meet during Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Holy Week breaks.
  • The Society is open to students in 6th through 12th grade.


You can choose a book from the lists below or another. If you are already reading a book of British history or literature for a Scriptorium course that you are currently taking, you may not also read it for the Society.


  • Any work by William Shakespeare (Henry V, Henry IV parts 1 and 2, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, A Winter’s Tale, King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet, All’s Well That Ends Well . . . . )
  • Any work by C.S. Lewis (If you’ve already read The Chronicles of Narnia, try: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength, Screwtape Letters, Till We Have Faces . . . or re-read Narnia!)
  • Any work by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings . . . )
  • Any work by Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickleby, Little Dorrit, Our Mutual Friend, Oliver Twist . . . )
  • Any work by Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, The History of England by a Partial, Prejudiced, and Ignorant Historian)
  • trans. Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
  • trans. Kevin Crossley-Holland, The Anglo-Saxon World (anthology of Anglo-Saxon literature)
  • ed. A.C. Cawley, Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays
  • trans. Brian Stone, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, trans. Nevill Coghill, The Canterbury Tales
  • Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur
  • Sir Thomas More, Utopia
  • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (Books 1 and 2 are in modernized editions, Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves, ed. by Roy Maynard; and The Elfin Knight, ed. by Toby Sumpter)
  • John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress
  • Jonathan Swift, ed. Dutton Kearney, Gulliver’s Travels
  • Samuel Johnson, Rasselas and essays
  • Joseph Addison, Cato: A Tragedy
  • eds. Robert Asch and Joseph Pearce, The Romantic Poets: Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge
  • Robert Burns, Poems
  • Mary Shelley, ed. Joseph Pearce, Frankenstein
  • Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, Rob Roy
  • Jane Porter, The Scottish Chiefs
  • Frederick Marryat, Percival Keene, Mr. Midshipman Easy, Peter Simple
  • Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters, Cranford, North and South
  • Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
  • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
  • George Eliot, Silas Marner
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, Kidnapped
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins, Poems
  • Robert Browning, Poems
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Poems
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poems
  • R.D. Blackmore, Lorna Doone
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company, Sir Nigel, any of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries
  • G.A. Henty, St George for England, In Freedom’s Cause, Bonny Prince Charlie, or any of his other works
  • Anthony Hope, The Prisoner of Zenda
  • Baroness Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday, or any of the Father Brown mysteries
  • Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
  • Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night, The Nine Tailors, Clouds of Witness
  • Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express, Mousetrap, They Do It With Mirrors, And Then There Were None
  • P.G. Wodehouse, Leave It to Jeeves, Joy in the Morning, Stiff Upper Lip Jeeves, Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, and any of the other Jeeves or Psmith series
  • George Orwell, Animal Farm, 1984


  • Winston Churchill, The History of the English-Speaking Peoples (any of the four volumes)
  • Rebecca Fraser, The Story of Britain: From the Romans to the Present
  • Lawrence James, Warrior Race: A History of the British at War
  • eds. Lacey Baldwin Smith and Jean Reeder Smith, The Past Speaks: Sources and Problems in English History
  • Daniel Hannan, Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World
  • eds. Thomas Bartlett and Keith Jeffery, A Military History of Ireland
  • Arthur Herman, How the Scots Invented the Modern World
  • Magnus Magnusson, Scotland: The Story of a Nation
  • Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain
  • trans. Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge, Alfred the Great: Asser’s Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources
  • Benjamin Merkle, The White Horse King
  • Andrew Bridgeford, 1066: The Hidden History of the Bayeux Tapestry
  • R. Andrew McDonald, The Kingdom of the Isles: Scotland’s Western Seaboard, c. 1100-c.1336
  • Christopher Allmand, Henry V
  • Juliet Barker, Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle that Made England
  • Christina Hardyment, Malory: The Knight Who Became King Arthur’s Chronicler
  • Elizabeth I, Collected Works
  • Daniel Defoe, A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain
  • Richard Holmes, Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket
  • Bruce Lenman, The Jacobite Risings in Britain, 1689-1746
  • Christopher Duffy, The ’45: Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Untold Story of the Jacobite Rising
  • Karen Swallow Prior, Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More – Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist
  • General Lord George Paget, The Light Cavalry Brigade in the Crimea
  • Melvin Charles Smith, Awarded for Valour: A History of the Victoria Cross
  • Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not
  • Stanley Weintraub, Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce
  • A.N. Wilson, Victoria: A Life
  • Marina Warner, Queen Victoria’s Sketchbook
  • David McCasland, Pure Gold: Eric Liddell – A New Biography of the Olympic Champion Who Inspired Chariots of Fire
  • Dilip Sarkar, The Few: The Story of the Battle of Britain in the Words of the Pilots
  • Winston Churchill, Thoughts and Adventures, Great Contemporaries
  • Paul Johnson, Churchill
  • ed. Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill: The Power of Words
  • Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life
  • Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother

Image: (c) 2017 Grace Hughbanks – Magdalen College, Oxford, UK