Birth of the British Novel 2011 Art Author Henry Hitchings explores the lives and works of Britain's radical and pioneering 18th-century novelists who, in just 80 years, established all the literary genres we recognise today. It was a golden age of creativity led by Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, Fanny Burney and William Godwin, amongst others. Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy are novels that still sparkle with audacity and innovation. On his journey through 18th-century fiction, Hitchings reveals how the novel was more than mere entertainment, it was also a subversive hand-grenade that would change British society for the better. He travels from the homes of Britain's great and good to its lowliest prisons, meeting contemporary writers like Martin Amis, Will Self, Tom McCarthy and Jenny Uglow on the way.