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The Novels That Shaped Our World - BBC2

Mariella Frostrup, Alexander McCall Smith and readers
(Image credit: BBC/David Emery)

The Novels That Shaped Our World is a major new series about the books that really made a difference

The first episode of this new series, The Novels That Shaped Our World, looks at a truly seminal work (Saturday, 9.45pm, see our TV Guide for full details).

In 1719 what’s often considered the first British novel – Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – was published.

Now, 300 years on, this new three-part series asks about the impact of that popular page-turner and others of its ilk.

Virginia Woolf

Iconic writer Virginia Woolf

It begins focusing on women and how the female novelist has shaped and informed the lives of ordinary women. Featuring comments from a plethora of writers and academics including Philippa Gregory, Victoria Hislop and Monica Ali, it highlights a selection of seminal novels.

MORE: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

Starting with the first ever book about women - Pamela - written by a man in 1740, it takes in the iconic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and classic titles from Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf as it journeys towards our modern age.

It also highlights the power of more modern classics like The Color Purple by Alice Walker and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

TV Times rating: ****