I have selected these 5 writers based on the topics they explore and their style of writing, two things that I think any young person will be compelled by, regardless of the era the writers are from.
Orwell’s books are unlike any other literary figures. His books are always politically charged and masterfully reveal and critique the aspects of society and politics that, when unacknowledged and uncontrolled, strip away the rights of freedoms of everyday people. His dystopian novel ‘1984’, which imagines a Totaletrian world that is constantly at war and controls the language and thoughts of its citizens through suppressing authority and ‘Animal Farm’ that reimagines the Russian revolution in the context of a group of farmyard animals and explores the problematic and complex nature of political revolution, are both literary triumphs and two texts that I think everyone should read. Orwell also elevates these layered and complex political texts into compelling and page-turning stories with his refined and precise writing skills. His works are about the mighty power of politics, the importance of fighting for what’s right and the need to stand up in a world of injustice; three things every young person should be committed to.
One of the wittiest, poetic and experimental writers I’ve ever read, Aldous Huxley is someone whose work every young person should know about. His works and the topics and ethics that inspired them are so varied and ranged that I’m positive he has something for everyone to enjoy. His most famous work ‘Brave New World’ is a triumph within the genre of dystopian. It depicts a world obsessed with, and utterly reliant on, science and technology where babies are only ever created in test tubes and prescribed drugs are available to citizens to boost or quash any mood or feeling they could want. ‘Crome Yellow’ his first novel is a playful and funny text about a gathering of quirky and upper-class friends in a stately home and his essay ‘The Doors Of Perception’ details an intense hallucinogenic trip that is described in real-time. Huxley is a master of words, using them to paint subtle and vivid imagery in all of his texts regardless of what topics they explore. Every young person would enjoy his work as it is so accessible and interesting yet also so poetic and artistic and expressive of his skills as a master wordsmith.
A champion of the literary genre “speculative fiction”, Margaret Atwood is a master of creating poetically written and beautiful to read stories that also warn us about the grave futures that may be ahead of us if we don’t carefully protect our rights and civil liberties. Her groundbreaking novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ details the fictional republic of Gilead, where all women are placed within categories and are forced to behave, dress and live accordingly. She is one of those writers that every young person should know about because through her masterful writing she guides and informs her readers about the importance of individual freedoms, a method of thinking every young person should adopt in our modern world of often extreme and divisive politics. Her works are fundamentally amazing stories to read but also excellent frameworks for thoughtful discussion and consideration, that’s why she should be in everyone’s library.
William Blake was a romantic poet who sought to both praise and admire the beauty within the natural world but also critique the injustices and evil of mankind. I think poetry can sometimes be an art that people are wary of due to its often artistically complex language and form but this is not the case with Blake’s poetry. It’s rhythmic, easy to follow and joyous to read. Yet this simple poetic style does not hinder the beautiful and emotional style of Blake’s writing. In one of his poems he writes:
To see the world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity for an hour.
If that doesn’t reveal what a master of words and evocative celebrator of life Blake is, I don’t know what will. He’s a revolutionary poet that every young person, and indeed everyone, should be aware of. For he is a writer who looks at the world and basques in the glory it provides but also when morals are abandoned, the horrors that arise when humans seek to tarnish it.
A poet, playwright, novelist, children’s writer and essayist are all roles that Oscar Wilde perfected in his life as a writer. What is so inspiring about him is that in, whatever form of text you read, all of them capture his humour, intelligence and fabulous outlook on the world and all the beautiful things within it. His novel ‘The Picture Of Dorian Gray’ is unlike any other book I’ve read, as its artistic language, complex literary style and interesting storyline about a man who makes a fatal choice to preserve his youthful beauty, is a text that is beautifully unique. He also the type of writer who is enticing and intriguing due to both his works and his personality and life. Wilde’s sarcastic wit and clever wordplay make him even more interesting as a writer, as well as his extremely dramatic personal life that entailed him being outed as a gay man and subsequently imprisoned for ‘gross indecency’ with a sentence of hard labour. An experience out of which came his vastly compelling and emotive poem ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’.Out of all the writers whose work I admire, Wilde’s work is a very specific and individual form of admiration. He uses words, imagery, irony and metaphor in a way that is so vivid and detailed. He is and will always be one of my favourite writers and one that everyone should give some time to look into.