Theatre / Feature

10 books to read to get your West End fix

Take a break from screens with these literary greats that inspired West End plays and musicals.

Need a reason to step away from the screen? Many of the world’s favourite West End plays and musicals were originally books long before they made it to the stage, so grab yourself a comfy chair and a cup of tea and dive into a world of inspiration.


Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Where to buy: Amazon Prime or Kindle Edition
“Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.”

When it was first published in 1862, little did Hugo know that not only would his novel become one of the greatest books of the 19th century, but also inspire the world’s longest running musical.

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

Where to buy: Amazon Prime or Kindle Edition
“But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

You won’t need Floo Powder to transport yourself into the wizarding world of Hogwarts with this magical series of seven books.

The Wizard Of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Where to buy: Amazon prime or Kindle Edition
“There’s no place like home.”

Before inspiring this colourful stage show, Baum’s The Wizard Of Oz inspired one of the most memorable films of all time with its dazzling use of technicolour. Read this classic story and realise that there truly is no place like home!

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Where to buy: Amazon Prime or Kindle Edition
“There was much to hate in this world, and too much to love.”

Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, Maguire tells the untold story of what really happened in the magical world before Dorothy arrived. See how this ingenious writing inspired what is now a hit, award-winning musical.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Where to buy: Amazon Prime or Kindle Edition
“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen.”

This story of a lovable schoolgirl who uses her tremendous powers to get her own back is bound to make you smile, no matter what your age. Pick up this Roald Dahl masterpiece and realise that every now and again, it’s ok to be a little bit naughty.

The Phantom Of The Opera by Gaston Leroux

Where to buy: Amazon Prime or Kindle Edition
“If I am the phantom, it is because man’s hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me.”

This story about a phantom ghost haunting a Paris opera house was inspired by Leroux’s belief that the ghost was in fact real. Many aspects of his novel are based on truth, including the famous underground lake and the falling chandelier. But do you believe in the Phantom Of The Opera?

Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

Where to buy: Amazon Prime or Kindle Edition
“Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush stumble and fall.”

Being one of the most famous pieces of writing of all time, Romeo & Juliet has been a huge inspiration for books, plays, movies and theatre, and the story remains timeless to this day. Who would have thought a 1594 masterpiece would have inspired a musical full to the brim of Max Martin’s pop anthems?

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

Where to buy: Amazon Prime or Kindle Edition
“With cats, some say, one rule is true: Don’t speak till you are spoken to.”

This collection of feline poems inspired one of Andrew Lloyd Webbers most lovable works of art for the stage. If you simply love cats, or just need a good a rhyme to pass the time, this one is for you.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Where to buy: Amazon Prime or Kindle Edition
“Lots of things are mysteries. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer to them. It’s just that scientists haven’t found the answer yet.”

Following a curious 15-year-old boy with autism who decides to investigate the mysterious murder of his neighbours’ dog, this story takes both Christopher and the book’s readers on an adventure they could never have imagined. With seven Olivier Awards and five Tony Awards, find out the reason why the stage show took the world by storm.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Where to buy: Amazon Prime or Kindle Edition
“Some people are nobody’s enemies but their own.”

Dickens is known as one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era. Consider yourself lucky that the popularity of his books has remained until this very day and inspired one of the greatest musicals of all time.


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Explore our West End Guide right here.


Words by Gabby Wallace

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