What the Dickens? Britain's reluctant readers can't name Great Expectations author

Some 31 per cent of people don't know that Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations, while one in six clueless over origins of Hamlet

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The Independent Culture

His works are an integral part of our literary canon, but a third of British people were unable to name Charles Dickens as the author of Great Expectations in a new survey.

Thirty-one per cent of adults were clueless as to the authorship of the Victorian classic, while one in six were unable to identify William Shakespeare as the writer of Hamlet.

The Da Vinci Code was the most widely-read contemporary novel among Britons, followed by Harry Potter, Adrian Mole, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Bridget Jones’s Diary.

More than a quarter of the 2,000 respondents had not read any of the books on a list of classics comprising: Animal Farm, Great Expectations, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Pride and Prejudice, Of Mice and Men, Catcher in the Rye, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Much Ado About Nothing.

The report, conducted by Opini um Research, found men read less than women, with 21 per cent admitting to not reading a single book in the last 12 months, compared to 10 per cent of women.

The average Briton was found to read seven books a year, with a quarter of UK adults having read fewer than five books in the last year.

Half of respondents said a lack of time was the biggest hurdle preventing them from reading.

A quarter said they prefer to do things they find more interesting, while 15 per cent would rather watch the film version of a book.

The most popular time to read is before bed, followed by on holiday. Only five per cent said they read a book on their way to work.

James Endersby, managing director of Opinium Research, said: "Unfortunately for many people reading is now a luxury and something which they cannot commit a great deal of time to.

"Over the summer many will have taken the opportunity to relax with a good book and have hopefully reminded themselves how much they enjoy reading.

"What would be great is if everyone decided to pick one classic book to read during the winter months. My favourite classic is Cannery Row by John Steinbeck."

QUIZ: can you name the authors of these classics?