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Literature is GREAT - Part 2

Modern-day authors cast their own spells, too, and Richard visits a very magical place to find out about contemporary English writers.


The works of George Orwell, C.S. Lewis and Tolkien have arguably more influence today than when they were first published. 1984, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings have also been turned into movies as has that other icon of British fiction: Harry Potter.

This is Leadenhall Market, an old-fashioned Victorian market that's still popular today, and I've been told that if I walk over here, something rather magical will happen... because this is also the location of Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter films where wizards come shopping.



The Harry Potter films were adapted from the children’s novels of J.K. Rowling. She is a world-class leader in modern literature and one of the most successful authors of her generation. Over 450 million copies of the Harry Potter books have sold throughout the world. They’ve been translated into 72 different languages.

Amanda Craig is a novelist and The Times critic for children’s literature.

Richard: Amanda, what impact has J.K. Rowling had on literature?

Amanda: I think above all she's reminded the world that the British are great storytellers. She's made people in every country laugh, cry and sit on the edge of their seats.

Richard: What about other British authors, then?

Amanda: Well, there are fantastic children's authors, like Philip Pullman, whose Dark Materials trilogy I'm sure will be familiar, and Anthony Horowitz, who reinvented the James Bond spy novel for teenagers, and for younger children, there's Cressida Cowell's How to Train your Dragon. All of these are fantastic stories. 

Richard: Why is Britain such a breeding ground for writing talent?

Amanda: Well, we've had over 200 years of practice at the novel and 600 years at the play. We've got people like Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare to draw upon, we've got the wonderful English language and I think we are full of curiosity about other people. We want to entertain them, we want to make them laugh, we want to make them feel shivers up their spine. We just love literature.


Well, I’m excited about the classics and the future of modern British literature. They say there’s a book in everyone and I feel so inspired, I'm going to start writing straight away. I just need a pen...

Task 1

Which is the best summary of the video?


Task 2

Watch the video again, and choose the best answer.


Task 3

Drag and drop the words to complete the sentences.


Task 4

Complete the paragraph about Philip Pullman by typing the missing words into the spaces.




Language level

Advanced: C1
Upper intermediate: B2


Hello Nizam,

I'm afraid the version of the sentence you suggest is not correct, but if you really wanted to use a passive form you could say '15m copies have been sold to date'. In any case, I can see how the sentence from the video must look strange to you, but it actually is correct. The verb 'sell' (see the second definition in the first entry) can be used intransitively, and that is how it is used here. 

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I think that Harry Poter is so good because all the story happens in a parallel world, where i can see a mixture of fantasy and reality. These kind of story activate our imagination and brings more pleasure on the reading.
I think that i couldn't write a novel, because i am better with numbers than words.

Hello :)
I would like to know if the best French translation about " sit on the edge of their seats" would be "coller au siège"? I thought the way of these expressions are a bit different but have the same it right? or wrong?...

Hello gacir,

I'm afraid that this is a service we don't provide. In any case, there is no-one currently on our team who knows French well enough to help you with this. You might want to consider the Cambridge English-French Dictionary, which might have some useful examples in it for you.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team