George Orwell’s Animal Farm has been voted the nation’s favourite ever school book in new research from Oxford Home Schooling.
The independent survey of 2,000 adults asked which books they read and enjoyed at school and the dystopian novella won out against several plays by William Shakespeare and gothic horrors Frankenstein and Dracula.
Dickens’ classic Great Expectations came in second, as selected by 20% of respondents, followed by William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.
Nation’s Top Five Favourite School Books
Animal Farm 27%
Great Expectations 20%
Lord of the Flies 20%
To Kill a Mockingbird 19%
Wuthering Heights 18%
The Bard’s plays missed out on a place in the top five, but Macbeth earned sixth place on the list, followed by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Honorable mentions were also made for Julius Caesar, Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night, while Much Ado About Nothing featured in the top 20 with 5% of votes.
Animal Farm proved most popular book with men, earning 33% of the male vote, followed by Lord of the Flies (23%) and Great Expectations (20%).
However, Emily Bronte’s dark romance Wuthering Heights topped the female’s list, alongside the Orwellian masterpiece and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
The sexes also showed different tastes when it comes to Shakespeare, with the Bard’s tale of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet making the top five of the women’s list, while bloody tragedy Macbeth was the most popular Shakespeare play for male respondents.
Dr Nick Smith, Principal at Oxford Home Schooling, said: “It is not easy to pick a favourite ‘school’ book but I think the public has judged well. Animal Farm made a huge impact on me when I was a schoolboy and made political ideas accessible to a wide audience with the apparent simplicity of its story. Great Expectations is a worthy silver medallist. I studied Dickens for my doctorate and the experience left me even more convinced that Pip’s suspenseful narrative was the greatest of his novels. If, for some reason, you have not read any of the books on this list, you have a treat in store!”
Other popular secondary school books mentioned in the poll include An Inspector Calls (10%), which was recently the subject of a TV adaptation featuring David Thewlis and Miranda Richardson, and Steinbeck’s classic Of Mice and Men.