The Greatest British Writers Since 1945


The end of World War II was a kind of turn in the direction towards new times and new world. Diversity is the motto of the British postwar novel. An immeasurable amount of books were published the last sixty years or more, and, of course, they examine the relevant issues of the day and are still able to capture the reader.

The creation of the world’s socialist system, the growth of democratic movements in Western Europe and the national liberal movements in the colonial countries – all these factors have determined the policy of the imperialist circles of Britain in the postwar period. Very soon the Democrat masses of Great Britain experienced a strong disappointment with social reforms.

The political situation, which was extremely complicated after the war, and especially by the middle ’50s, influenced directly or indirectly the mood of the intelligentsia, and it has reflected in the English literature of these years. Many authors have discovered and described new subjects and problems to discuss. Here is the list of the most notable and innovative figures of British literature of postwar period:

Philip Larkin

He was named by the Times in 2008 as Britain’s greatest post-war writer, but he was also a librarian at Hull University from 1955 until his death 30 years later.

Charles Percy “C. P.” Snow

An English novelist and physical chemist, he also served in several important positions in the UK government. In his works, he often depicted intellectuals in different social situations.

Best works: “Strangers and Brothers”, “The Masters”, “Science and Government”.

Anthony Powell

A British author, whose primary works about the life of upper classes and bohemian marriages or affairs has remained in print continuously.

Best works: “A Dance to the Music of Time”, “Afternoon Men”, “Agents and Patients”.

Evelyn Waugh

The novels by Waugh include the reflection of the principle events of his life combining with the elegant writing style.

Best works: “Brideshead Revisited”, “Sword of Honour”.

Graham Greene

One of the greatest writers of the 20th century who received both literary acclaim and widespread popularity during his lifetime.

Best works: “The Quiet American”, “The Human Factor”, “The Heart of the Matter”.

John Braine

A famous novelist, usually listed among Angry Young Men, an influential group of English writers who emerged in the 1950s.

Best works: “Room at the Top”, “The Void”, “Life at the Top”.

Agatha Christie

Crime novelist and short story writer, mostly revolving around the characters who were detectives. She was made a Dame for her valuable contribution to literature; her play “The Mousetrap” holds the record for the longest initial run.

Best works: “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd”, “Murder on the Orient Express”, “Evil under the Sun”. You can see the list of her best novels here.

Ian Fleming

An author of legendary James Bond series of spy novels, his works rank among the best-selling fictional books.

Best works: James Bond series.

J.R.R. Tolkien

One of the creators of the high fantasy genre, a talented writer, poet, and philologist. His books series have been made into movies several times, and they made our top movie charts as well.

Best works: “The Lord of the Rings“, “The Hobbit”, “The Silmarillion”.

J.K. Rowling

An author of a legendary story about a young wizard Harry Potter that will remain forever in the hearts of its devoted admirers.

Best works: Harry Potter series, “The Casual Vacancy”.

C.S. Lewis

His series of 7 high fantasy novels is classic of children’s literature. It is a fascinating story about the adventures in the magic world with mythical beasts and talking animals.

Best works: “The Chronicles of Narnia”, “The Screwtape Letters”.

Samuel Beckett

An avant-garde novelist, a master of black comedy, he is best-known for his absurdist plays.

Best works: “Waiting for Godot”, “Human Wishes”.

Kingsley William Amis

A comic writer whose works are masterpieces of the satirical genre, he experimented a lot with content and style.

Best works: “Lucky Jim”, “That Uncertain Feeling”, “I Like It Here”. He also wrote one of the James Bond series “Colonel Sun” that has not been made into a movie.

John Barrington Wain

Mostly associated with the literary group “The Movement”, he was a famous author of comic picaresque stories, and also prolific poet and critic.

Best works: “Hurry on Down”, “Strike the Father Dead”.

John James Osborne

His excoriating prose and intense critical stance towards social norms have gained him a glory and recognition, and his plays have transformed English theater considerably.

Best works: “Look Back in Anger”, “The Entertainer”.

Alan Sillitoe

Another representative of “Angry Young Men” whose novels combine autobiographical elements with unique style.

Best works: “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”, “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”.

Sid Chaplin

His works are classics of “working class existentialism”; the action in his novels takes place mostly in the North East England of the 1950s.

Best works: “The Day of the Sardine”, “The Watchers and the Watched”.

Stan Barstow

An author of several stories about mere men who are making their way up in society, also translated into films and TV series.

Best works: “A Kind of Loving”, “Ask Me Tomorrow”.

James Aldridge

An Australian-British writer, a master of good fiction with the colorful background.

Best works: “The Last Exile”, “The Sea Eagle”.

J.G. Ballard

His numerous novels are based on the Ballard’s experience in World War II. He is often associated with the New Wave of science fiction.

Best works: “Empire of the Sun”, “The Burning World”.

John Boynton Priestley

Many his works are structured around a time slip; he has brought an original view of past, present and future timelines in literature.

Best works: “Bright Day”, “The Magicians”, “Jenny Villiers”.

John Fowles

A person of international stature, his debut “The Collector” has become a bestseller and successfully adapted into a feature movie of the same name.

Best works: “The Collector”, “The Magus”, “Shipwreck”.

Julian Barnes

A winner of Man Booker Prize for satirical postmodern novels with dystopian and farcical elements reflecting England, he also wrote crime fiction.

Best works: “England, England”, ‘The Sense of an Ending”.

Robert Nye

Starting as a story writer for children, he has become famous for his best-selling novel “Falstaff”.

Best works: “Falstaff”, “Merlin”, “Faust”.

William Golding

A Nobel Prize-winning author who was also knighted by Elizabeth II, he will undoubtedly remain one of the best English writers.

Best works: “Lord of the Flies”, “Rites of Passage”.


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