Reading with Rita

In Willy Russell’s contemporary classic Educating Rita, a hairdresser with a thirst for knowledge enrolls in a course at a university in northern England. When they first meet, Frank, Rita’s burnt-out, alcoholic professor, quickly understands that she is no ordinary student. Over the weeks the two meet, Frank introduces Rita to the classics, while Rita teaches Frank about pop novels. Through their eclectic reading list, a bond is formed. Audiences are not expected to have read the works discussed; Russell’s focus is always on the characters. But, for the curious, here is a list of the books and poems that Rita and Frank read, discuss, and rediscover.


  • Rubyfruit Jungle • by Rita Mae Brown 
  • Howards End • by E.M. Forster 
  • Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterly’s Lover • by D.H. Lawrence 
  • Of Human Bondage • by W. Somerset Maugham* 
  • A Stone for Danny Fisher • by Harold Robbins 
  • Frankenstein • by Mary Shelley*


  • The Seagull • by Anton Chekov 
  • Peer Gynt • by Henrik Ibsen 
  • Macbeth • by William Shakespeare 
  • The Importance of Being Earnest • by Oscar Wilde* 


  • Songs of Innocence and Experience: “The Sick Rose” and “The Blossom” • by William Blake 
  • “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” • by T.S. Eliot* 
  • “Funny Sort of Bloke” • by Roger McGough 
  • “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” • by Dylan Thomas* 
  • “The Wild Swans at Coole” • by William Butler Yeats


*Titles marked with an asterisk are mentioned in passing

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