Bookmakers installed Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as the front-runner in the hunt for Britain's favourite novel, after the shortlist of 21 books was unveiled yesterday.
But according to the book-buying public, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird appears to be the preferred choice from the BBC's Big Read shortlist of the country's favourite novels.
Over the next seven weeks, all 21 shortlisted novels taken from an original list of 100 books nominated by the public in April will be championed on BBC2 by a celebrity advocate, who will compete for viewers' votes to win the competition.
Of those on the list, Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice is 4/1 favourite with Ladbrokes to win the contest, ahead of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, J R R Tolkien's epic Lord of the Rings, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace and George Orwell's 1984.
A Ladbrokes spokesman said: "The Mr Darcy factor is likely to play a big part in this contest and we laid bets weeks ago on a Jane Austen triumph. However, there is no way we are going to underestimate the power of Pottermania." The bookmaker is offering odds of 7/1 on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth instalment in J K Rowling's series.
The winner will be announced in December.