The Best Literature Quiz

The best and most fiendishly difficult literature quiz – can you answer all the questions?

We’ve put together an interesting literature quiz – and we think it’s the best literature quiz around (but then we would say that). It might be considered a long-awaited sequel (long-awaited by whom we’re not sure) to our ‘true or false’ quiz compiled for April Fools’ Day in 2014. Below are 20 questions, each of which is accompanied by three possible answers. There, it’s a multiple-choice quiz – surely it can’t be that difficult! But beware: there may be a few traps waiting for the unsuspecting book fan. Indeed, virtually every question is potentially a trick question, so tread carefully…

The answers to the quiz can be found here.

1. The word ‘trilby’, ultimately derived from the name of the title character of an 1894 novel, originally referred to which of these?

a) A hat
b) Shoes
c) Feet

2. What was the name of the real-life inspiration for ‘Alice’ in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass?

a) Alice Liddell
b) Alice Raikes
c) Alice Springs

3. According to the earliest medieval ballads about him, where did Robin Hood live?

Wilde3a) Barnsdale Forest
b) Sherwood Forest
c) The New Forest

4. Which actor first played Hamlet on film?

a) Henry Irving
b) Sarah Bernhardt
c) Charlie Chaplin

5. What did Oscar Wilde die of?

a) Typhus (i.e. gaol fever)
b) Meningitis
c) Syphilis

6. Which writer first gave the King Lear story a happy ending?

a) William Shakespeare
b) Geoffrey of Monmouth
c) Nahum Tate

7. Who coined the phrase ‘Wars of the Roses’?

a) William Shakespeare
b) Sir Thomas More
c) Sir Walter Scott

8. Who came up with the name Gotham City?

a) Washington Irving
b) Bill Finger
c) Tim Burton

9. What surname appears on George Eliot’s tombstone?

a) Evans
b) Lewes
c) Cross

10. Who coined the word ‘robot’?

Peter Pan 1915 covera) Karel Čapek
b) Josef Čapek
c) Isaac Asimov

11. Which of these names did J. M. Barrie invent?

a) Never-Never Land
b) Quality Street
c) Wendy

12. Who was the first person to say ‘f*ck’ on British television?

a) Brendan Behan
b) Kenneth Tynan
c) Stephen Fry

13. Which modernist writer was the first to have her writing style described as ‘stream of consciousness’?

a) Dorothy Richardson
b) Katherine Mansfield
c) Virginia Woolf

14. Who was the author of the novel The Siege of Malta, first published in 2008?

a) Bernard Cornwell
b) Hilary Mantel
c) Sir Walter Scott

15. Who was the author of a 1984 novel about dinosaurs run amok which became a film in 1993?

a) Michael Crichton
b) Harry Adam Knight
c) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

16. What is the name of the world in which The Lord of the Rings is set?

Hobbit2a) Middle-Earth
b) Arda
c) Boxen

17. Which of these phrases was first used in English by George Orwell?

a) Cold War
b) Thought crime
c) Thought police

18. In which war did writers first associate poppies with the memory of dead soldiers?

a) The Napoleonic Wars
b) The Second Boer War
c) The First World War

19. Which Scottish author first killed off Sherlock Holmes?

a) J. M. Barrie
b) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
c) Robert Louis Stevenson

20. Which writer first used the word ‘muggle’?

a) Layamon
b) J. K. Rowling
c) Thomas Middleton
Whether you agree that that was the best literature quiz in the world, we hope you enjoyed it and found the questions interesting. The answers can be found here.

Image (top): Oscar Wilde (author: anonymous), Wikimedia Commons, public domain. Image (middle): Cover of Peter Pan and Wendy, 1915, Wikimedia Commons; public domain. Image (bottom): The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Teaser (author: BagoGames on Flickr), Creative Commons.


  1. Pingback: The Answers to the Best Literature Quiz | Interesting Literature

  2. So difficult! I’m surprised by how many answers I didn’t know. Those multiple choice answers mixed me up. Still, I probably managed to get at least three correct, I think.

    • I’m leaving my answers here so I can compare it with the answers that will come out on Wednesday.

  3. Fiendish! But I probably got a couple right. Maybe.

  4. My that was hard:)).