o Several British writers have won the Nobel Prize, including:
Sir William Golding (novelist)
Seamus Heaney (poet)
Harold Pinter (playwright)
o Authors well known for popular fiction are:
Agatha Christie (detective novels)
Ian Fleming (James Bond)
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings)
o The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a British literary award given each year to the best fiction novel written by an author from the UK, Ireland or Zimbabwe. It was first awarded in 1968. Recipients have included:
o Important British writers through history
Jane Austen (18th century)
- Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Primarily wrote about marriage and family. Many of her works have been adapted for television and film.
Charles Dickens (19th century)
The names of some of his characters are sometimes used in regular speaking to describe people of the same character traits. An example is Scrooge, who was a strict, mean person.
Robert Louis Stevenson (19th century)
- Treasure Island
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- His books are enjoyed by both adults and children.
Thomas Hardy (19th century)
- Far From the Maddening Crowd
- Jude the Obscure
- His most popular novels focused on rural society.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (19th – 20th centuries)
- Sherlock Holmes series
- Sherlock Holmes was one of the first fictional detectives.
Evelyn Waugh (20th century)
- Decline and Fall
- Brideshead Revisited (most popular)
- Wrote mainly satirical novels.
Sir Kingsley Amis (20th century)
- Lucky Jim
- Wrote more than 20 novels.
- Was also a poet
Graham Greene (20th century)
- The Heart of the Matter
- The Honorary Consul
- Brighton Rock
- Our Man in Havana
- His work was influenced by his religious beliefs.
J.K. Rowling (20th century)
- Harry Potter series
- The Harry Potter books were a huge success world-wide.
- Rowling is now writing fiction for adults as well as children.
o British poetry
- Britain has a rich history of poetry which goes back to ancient times. Some of the best known poets are buried or remembered in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.
- Shakespeare Wrote plays and poetry, including sonnets, which are poems that are a minimum of 14 lines long.
Was influenced by his Protestant religious beliefs. Most famous work was Paradise Lost
- William Wordsworth
Wrote mostly about nature
- Sir Walter Scott
- His poetry was inspired by Scotland
- Wrote poems based on the traditional stories and songs from thelands around the Scottish/English border.
- Also wrote novel, often set in Scotland.
19th century poets
- William Blake
- John Keats
- Lord Byron
- Percy Shelley
- Alfred Lord Tennyson
- Robert and Elizabeth Browning 20th century poets
Wilfred Owen – wrote about his experiences in World War I Siegfried Sassoon – wrote about his experiences in World War I Sir Walter de la Mare
Sir John Betjeman
o Many Britons have gardens and will spend their free time cultivating them.
o Some people rent additional land to grow fruit and vegetables.
o There are garden and flower shows of various sizes throughout the country. – Famous public gardens
o Kew Gardens (England)
o Sissinghurst (England)
o Hidcote (England)
o Crathes Castle (Scotland)
o Inveraray Castle (Scotland)
o Bodnant Gardens (Wales)
o Mount Stewart (Northern Ireland)
– National flowers
o Each country has a national flower, which is sometimes worn on national saints’
- England – rose
- Scotland – thistle
- Wales – daffodil
- Northern Ireland – shamrock
o Most towns and cities have a central shopping area.
o Most shops are open seven days a week, although times may be reduced on
Sundays and holidays.
o There are also undercover shopping areas in which several stores share space in a
o Many towns also have weekly markets in which vendors come to sell their wares – Cooking and Food
o Cooking is a leisure pastime for many people.
o Britain has a wide variety of foods because of its rich cultural history and immigration patterns.
- England – Roast beef with vegetables, Yorkshire pudding (baked in the oven). Fish and chips
- Wales – Welsh cakes, which consist of flour, dried fruits, and spices.
- Scotland – Haggis – sheep’s stomach stuffed with offal, suet, onions and oatmeal.
- Northern Ireland – Ulster fry – bacon, eggs, black pudding, white pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms, soda bread and potato bread.
o Films were first shown in Britain in 1896.
o British actors worked at home and abroad.
o Some notable Britons in the film industry are:
- Sir Charles (Charlie) Chaplin – actor, famous for his “little tramp” character.
- Sir Alexander Korda – director
- Sir Alfred Hitchcock – director of horror/mystery films
- Sir David Lean – directed Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge Over the River Kwai, both of which won Oscars.
- Ridley Scott – director, Thelma & Louise, Alien, Gladiator
- Nick Park – director, animated films
- Sir Lawrence Olivier – actor
- David Niven – actor
- Sir Rex Harrison – actor
- Richard Burton – actor
o British Comedy was popular in the 1950s – 1960s. Some notable films include Passport to Pimlico
o Many films are now produced in the UK by foreign companies seeking British
expertise. Two of the highest grossing film series, Harry Potter and James Bond, have been produced in the UK.
o Ealing Studios may be the oldest continuously working film studio in the world. o Some recent British Oscar winners are
Colin First – actor
Sir Anthony Hopkins – actor
Dame Judi Dench – actress
Kate Winslet – actress
Tilda Swinton – actress
o The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) hosts the annual British Academy Film Awards, which are the British equivalent of the Oscars.
o Some notable British films are:
The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (1935)
Brief Encounter, directed by David Lean (1945)
The Third Man, directed by Carol Reed (1949)
The Belles of St Trinian’s directed by Frank Launder (1954)
Lawrence of Arabia, directed by David Lean (1962)
Women in Love, directed by Ken Russell (1969)
Don’t Look Now, directed by Nicolas Roeg (1973)
Chariots of Fire, directed by Hugh Hudson (1981)
The Killing Fields, directed by Roland Joffé (1984)
Four Weddings and a Funeral, directed by Mike Newell (1994) Touching the Void, directed by Kevin MacDonald (2003)
– British Comedy
o The traditions of comedy and satire in Britain date back to medieval times. Kings
and nobles had jesters who told jokes and made fun of people at Court.
o Shakespeare included some comic characters in his plays.
o Political cartoons gained popularity in the 18th century. These cartoons poked fun at
politicians and sometimes the monarch or members of the Royal Family.
o Satirical magazines were first published in the 19th century. The most famous of
these was Punch, which debut in the 1840s. Magazines and cartoons continue to be
o Before television was available, comedians performed in British music halls as part
of a variety theatre program. Some of the stars of comedic theatre performed on
television shows as they became popular.
o Television comedy developed several styles:
- Situation comedies, or sitcoms, looked at family life and workplace relationships.
- Satire remained popular, with shows like “That Was The Week That Was” and “Spitting Image”
- Monty Python’s Flying Circus debuted in 1969, with a new type of progressive comedy.
o Stand-up comedy, in which a solo comedian performs in a theatre, has regained popularity.
– Television and Radio o Television
- Many television channels are available in the UK. Some are free and others require a paid subscription.
- British television has a wide variety of content. Soap operas are popular, including Coronation Street and East Enders.
- Scotland has some Scotland-specific programming, including a channel in the Gaelic language.
- There is a Welsh language channel in Wales.
- Northern Ireland has an Irish Gaelic channel, and some Northern Irelandspecific programming.
- In order to watch television in your home you must have a television license. One license will cover all of the equipment in one home, except in the event that one home is divided into multiple rental units. In that case, each renter must have their own license.
- People over the age of 75 can apply to get a free license.
- Those that are blind can apply to get a 50% discount.
- If you are found to be watching television without a license you can be fined up to ₤1,000.
- The money from TV licenses is used to pay for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). This is a British public service broadcaster that provides television and radio programs. It is the largest broadcaster in the world.
- The BBC independent of the government, even though it is wholly state funded. Other UK channels are primarily funded by subscriptions and advertisements.
- British radio is funded in the same way as television. BBC radio programming is funded through television licenses. Private radio stations are funded through advertising.
- There are many different kinds of radio stations for almost every musical interest. Some broadcasts are in regional languages such as Welsh or Gaelic.
o Social Networking
Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are popular in the UK. People can stay in touch with friends and colleagues, organize events and share information.
o Pub and Nightclubs
- Public houses (or pubs) have long been an important part of UK socialculture. Many communities will have a local pub that is a natural meeting
- Pubs usually serve alcohol. To buy alcohol in the UK you must be 18 orolder. If you are 16 you may drink wine or been with a meal if you are
accompanied by someone over 18.
- There are common types of pub games, such as darts or pool. Pub quizzesare also popular.
Nightclubs usually have dancing and music. While pubs open around 11am (12 noon on Sundays) nightclubs usually open later and close later. The licensee decides the hours for the pub or nightclub.
o Betting and gambling
- Gambling is legal in the UK for those 18 and over.
- People may gamble on sports or other events at a betting shop or gambling club. There are also casinos in many places.
- There is a National Lottery, for those 16 and over.
Many people in the UK have pets for company or because they enjoy looking after them.
- Cats and dogs are popular pets.
- It is against the law to treat an animal cruelly or to neglect an animal.
- Dogs must wear collars in public places. The owner must keep their dog under control in public and clean up after them.
- Veterinary care is available for pets. There are charities set up to assist in paying for treatment for those who cannot afford it.
o There are 15 national parks in England, Wales and Scotland.
o The UK has a large network of public footpaths, and many areas for mountain biking, mountaineering and hill walking. Museums
o The UK contains many museums of various sizes.
o Most are open to the public for a fee. Other places of interest
o There are famous landmarks throughout the towns, cities and countryside. Many of these are also open for public viewing.
Much of the countryside and places of interest are kept by the National Trust in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and by the National Trust for Scotland. These are charities that work to preserve important pieces of British culture in the UK.
The National Trust was founded in 1895 by 3 volunteers. There are now more than 61,000 volunteers in the organization.
o Big Ben (London) – This is the nickname for the large clock tower at the Houses of Parliament. It is over 150 years old.
o The Eden Project (Cornwall) is a series of greenhouses which house plants from all over the world.
o Edinburgh Castle (Edinburgh, Scotland) was built in the Middle Ages.
o The Giant’s Causeway (Northern Ireland) – a land formation created by columns of volcanic rock. It is approximately 50 million years old.
o Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park (Scotland) This is the largest area of fresh water in Britain. The Park and Loch cover 720 square miles (1,865 square km)
o The London Eye (England) is a Ferris wheel that was built as part of the celebration for the new millennium. It is 443 feet tall.
o Snowdonia (Wales) is a national park, most well-known for Snowdon, which is the highest mountain in Wales.
o Tower of London (England) was built by William the Conqueror in 1066. Tours are given by the Yeoman Warders, more commonly known as Beefeaters. The Crown Jewels are housed here.
o The Lake District (England) is England’s largest national part at 885 square miles (2292 square km). It is famous for its lakes and mountains.