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Yes, it’s like the old joke of ‘colour radio’. What we’re trying to develop is programming you can watch as well as hear. If it works we’ll do more and you’ll certainly see them here on this part of the website. In today’s multi platform, converging, mobile – probably simpler to just say ‘complicated’ world – many of the authors, publishers and programme makers we work with video tape their shows, so where we can we’ll bring them to you. This will also be the place to view live web streams when we can make them happen.

Meanwhile, here are some Talking Classics as we all have a bucket list of books that we feel we should have read but sometimes the spirit isn’t willing. So here’s a short cut. The first part of many of our classic books abridged and beautifully read to tempt you further. A bluffer’s guide if nothing else!

Videos

Winston S. Churchill; The History Of The Second World War. Volume 1 — The Gathering Storm. In the Second World War every bond between man and man was to perish. Crimes were committed by the Hitler regime which find no equal in scale and wickedness with any that have darkened the human record. It was a simple policy to keep Germany disarmed after the struggle of the First World War and the Victors adequately armed in vigilance. But errors were soon made. The tragedy of America’s failure to enter the League Of Nations; the weakness and lack of resolution of the Democracies to confront the growing strength, reach and ambition of the Fascist dictators in Germany, Italy and Japan; the economic turmoil that allowed these events to spark and build. In this first volume it is all too easy to see and understand how this immense tragedy could have been avoided, how the malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous. We shall hear how the counsels of prudence and restraint became the prime agents of mortal danger in this The Gathering Storm. The overview is read by Winston S Churchill MP and the volume narrated by Michael Jayston. The complete volume and five others in the Series are available for purchase at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. In the second half of Tolstoy’s masterly novel War and Peace, Napoleon’s dramatic military invasion of Russia seems to overwhelm the private lives of all the characters. But it is precisely these private lives which in the end survive the clash of armies and emperors. Tolstoy sets out to show that however momentous the events of history, it is the finer details of day-to-day existence, encompassing joys, sorrows and surprises, that engage and fascinate the reader and provide the book’s narrative power. The full volume, read for you by Edward Petherbridge can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.
Talking Classics are pleased to bring you this preview. When seven year old Alice cannot resist following an unusual rabbit down a hole, she enters the dream like world of Wonderland. Here, everything is extraordinary — rabbits talk, cats materalise from nowhere, babies turn into pigs, and even Alice herself changes at times. Furthermore, an entire magisterial court, led by the King Of Hearts, proves to be nothing but a pack of cards. However, Alice, a courageous and polite heroine, overcomes all the obstacles presented to her in the bizarre world in which she finds herself. The full volume, read for you by Roger Blake can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics are pleased to bring you this preview. Les Miserables is part thrilling narrative and part social document of life in early 19th-century France. With Valjean, the reader descends into a human hell where suffering and injustice are a way of life. Through his characters, Hugo graphically details the plight of the wretched and the vulnerable. He writes with insight and passion, like that equally great 19th-century commentator and novelist, Charles Dickens. But regardless of its grim subject, Hugo’s book is one of hope, a means of proclaiming his belief in the innate goodness of humanity, despite all. The full volume, read for you by Michael Jayston can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics are pleased to bring you this preview. This epic work is one of the most tragic of Thomas Hardy’s stories. The novel comes full circle as Michael Henchard rises from poverty and drunkenness to wealth and position, ultimately to die poor and bitter. The Mayor’s own story is linked to the almost mythological struggle of the old with the new, as his power, his business and even his love for a woman are challenged by the young and thrusting Donald Farfrae. Progress must ultimately triumph over the old way of life, leaving Henchard defeated and disgraced. The full volume, read for you by Martin Shaw can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Francis Osbaldistone, in disgrace with his father for refusing to join the family bank, travels north to his cousins’ remote house in Northumberland. There, he finds himself caught up in a vicious plot to bankrupt his father which has startling consequences. At the centre of the action are three very different figures − Francis’s treacherous cousin Rashleigh Osbaldistone, who ruthlessly tries to destroy all who interfere in his schemes, the beautiful yet enigmatic Diana Vernon, who adds a romantic element to the story, and Rob Roy, the irrepressible Highland outlaw, who is the ultimate hero of Sir Walter Scott’s gripping novel. The full volume, read for you by David Rintoul can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Stevenson’s classic tale of 18th-century intrigue, conspiracy and piracy has everything an adventure story should have, especially a resourceful young hero in Jim Hawkins. From the moment a drunken sailor arrives to menace the tranquillity of his father’s inn, Jim is caught up in a web of plots. By chance rather than design, he finds himself the central figure in an attempt to recover the buried treasure of a pirate named Flint. Long John Silver’s villainy and the search for this booty spark off skulduggery, murder and betrayal. The full volume, read for you by Roger Blake can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. The Bostonians is set ten years after the end of the American Civil War. The North had been victorious because of its industrial strength, but could not live up to the ideals for which it fought. James satirizes the North’s moral decline in Olive Chancellor’s fervent idealism and Basil Ransom’s reactionary stance, both of which are equally inappropriate. When first published the novel was a resounding failure. The Americans could not accept such criticism and many were offended by the latent lesbianism in Olive’s relationship with Verena. The full volume, read for you by Bill Hootkins can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Lawrence’s style is bold, intimate and inventive and he always has the capacity to shock. His great strength comes from the realism of the characters he portrays and the play on tension — first seen in the exchanges between Gertrude and Morel and continuing with Paul, his Mother and his two women — which never lets up. Then marvel at the depth and quality of the writing as the story moves relentlessly towards its conclusion. The full volume, read for you by Robert Powell can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Set in the heart of the windswept Yorkshire moors, Emily Bronte’s one and only novel Wuthering Heights is one of literature’s greatest love stories. Discover how the gypsy foundling Heathcliff grows up to become consumed with an unearthly passion for the wild and headstrong Catherine. Then learn how he embarks on a demonic course of revenge that wreaks destruction on all around him. The full volume, read for you by Hannah Gordon can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Yet another masterpiece from the pen of Charles Dickens. It is perhaps his most thrilling novel contrasting peaceful London with revolution torn Paris. Underlying its action packed plot are the deeply moving themes of sacrifice and honour. Between the two cities the French and English characters pursue their often troubled lives. The terrible Bastille and guillotine cast their shadows over them all, although for a time the exiled Manettes and Charles Darnay appear safe from their threat in England. Once back in France however they face immense danger and, ironically, only the good for nothing idler, Sidney Carton can save them. His heroic act of self-sacrifice is the true climax of the story. The full volume, read for you by Anthony Valentine can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Edmond Dantès, an innocent young sailor, falls into despair when he is arrested on a false charge of treason and thrown into prison without a trial. He learns of his friends’ betrayal from the Abbé Faria, an equally innocent prisoner, and plots his revenge following a daring, if nightmarish escape from the Chateau d’If. After becoming a wealthy man, he assumes the guise of the urbane Count of Monte-Cristo and begins to entrap his enemies one by one. However, a chilling realization finally dawns – that he is also harming those he loves. The full volume, read for you by Anthony Valentine can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Fast paced and nightmarishly vivid, this greatest of Gothic tales propels the reader into the heart of darkness from its opening pages. Stoker increases the tension and mystery of his masterpiece by setting it in the form of different journal entries and letters by various characters. Only gradually does the full horrifying picture emerge: Dracula, far from being merely an eccentric foreigner, is a threat to all mankind. But this is not discovered until it is too late for some. Storms and wolves, shipwrecks and gypsies, haunted castles and graveyards: the horrors pile up until the final moment of triumph seconds before sunset. The full volume, read for you by Anthony Valentine can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. It is strange to consider that, although The Hound Of The Baskervilles is Conan Doyle’s most popular novel, his hero is absent for much of the time. Notice how he sets up an atmosphere of supernatural horror right from the start through Dr Mortimer’s reading of the ancient curse, and how he then presents as assortment of bizarre clues — in particular, the riddle of the missing boots — which Holmes will have to unravel. As the story progresses, red herrings are thrown up to put Holmes and Watson — and the listener — off the scent, so that interest is sustained throughout. The full volume, read for you by Peter Egan can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Pride and Prejudice is a masterpiece of wit and perception, ridiculing the superficial manners of Jane Austen’s time. But it is more than just social satire. Notice, in particular, how the author’s close attention to detail makes the events and characters so true to life. Above all, enjoy the story — its sheer narrative force and humour — and enter a world of snobbery, romance and uncertainty, in which people behave casually, indifferently or even cruelly — in short just like people behave everywhere in the world today. The full volume, read for you by Joanna Lumley can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. When The Great Gatsby was published, commercially it was a failure but critically it was a success. It is still the most admired and well read of all Scott Fitzgerald’s novels and it is considered a handbook of the ‘Jazz Age’. Scott Fitzgerald put much of himself and his life into the book. He created the character of Jay Gatsby to illustrate his own experiences of the illusory and morally bankrupt aspects of 1920s’ America, and the character of Nick Carraway to show his disapproval of its destructive effects. The full volume, read for you by William Roberts can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores but is unfortunately not for sale in the USA. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. The story of Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss scientist, starts and ends in the frozen wastes of the Arctic. There, he tells Robert Walton, his English rescuer, about his obsessive quest to create life and its disastrous results. He has attempted to make a superhuman and succeeded in producing a terrible monster instead. The being is physically repulsive and Frankenstein, terrified by what he has done, abandons him. Neglected and uncared for, the creature turns to evil. Many of the other characters, from the angelic Elizabeth to the faithful friend Henry Clerval, innocently face their violent dooms because of Frankenstein’s quarrel with his creature. The full volume, read for you by David Rintoul can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is an unusually complex novel. The reader is left guessing as to the true nature of the evil Mr Hyde, and what his hold over the benevolent Dr Jekyll may be, until almost the end. Then the truth is revealed in retrospect, by letter, and a number of baffling events are finally explained. Acting as a backcloth to the character’s confusion and despair are the foggy, sinister streets of Victorian London. The full volume, read for you by Tim Pigott-Smith can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Little Women is constructed as a series of episodes which are almost complete stories in their own right. Incidents in the lives of the March sisters act as fables, each illustrating a moral point. In her novel, Louisa May Alcott describes her characters’ daily lives, creating a patchwork picture of genteel poverty in mid-19th-century America. Meg works as a governess, Jo as a companion and all the women of the family sew, knit, mend and engage in charitable works. So, Alcott creates a true-to-life backdrop to her engaging tale. The full volume, read for you by Lorelei King can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Talking Classics is pleased to bring you this preview. Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South is the story of Margaret Hale, the daughter of a local priest in Hampshire, whose father decides to leave his country church after a serious crisis of faith. All the events that follow happen in the fictional industrial English town named Milton to which the Hale family has moved. Thus, part of the narrative focuses on the juxtaposition between industrial areas and the countryside. Margaret is very critical of the massive industrialization swallowing English rural landscapes and the whole family is disgusted with the dirt and9 pollution caused by the mushrooming mills and factories. However, Margaret soon starts to like her stay in Milton, especially after making friends among the mill workers and owners of the town. Her father, Mr. Hale, now works as a tutor and one of his pupils, Mr. Thornton, becomes interested in Margaret. However, Thornton, who is a wealthy mill-owner, is often criticized by Margaret for the way he treats his employees. When one day his workers organize a strike, she advises him to go and negotiate with the mob. He is nearly attacked by them when she interferes to be hit herself. The incident has just intensified Thornton’s love for Margaret and after some ups and downs, they finally decide to get married. The full volume, read for you by Jenny Agutter can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

Word Of Mouth is pleased to bring you this preview. PSYCHO by Robert Bloch. Norman Bates seems a nice enough fellow and his Bates Motel the salvation from a heavy storm. However, all is not as it seems and Mary Crane’s stay at the hotel becomes a terrifying writer. Robert Bloch’s bestseller creates a disturbing atmosphere and masterfully relates this frightening tale that became the archetypal horror movie under Alfred Hitchcock’s direction. The full volume, read for you by William Hootkins can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores. Our sister company Deadtree Publishing also publishes e-books on this and other classic stories.

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‘Live’ single reading performances and theatre especially welcome.


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