Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

The 50 best literary put-downs

People like Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsay have built careers on the back of their infamous tongue lashings. But humans have had the capacity to be snarky, mean and downright insulting to one another way before the dawn of reality TV. What's more, a lot of them have committed their insults to print. From Dostoevsky to Charles Dickens and Grace Dent to Shakespeare, we present some of the wittiest and cruelest jibes ever to have graced the realm of literature. Who knew books could be quite so rude?

Click on an image below to launch the gallery. Do you agree with our choices? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.

Related

qhero.jpg

Celebrity special: opening lines from books

Best-closing-lines.jpg

The best 100 closing lines from books

banned.jpg

50 books that were banned

Comments

More

Love in books: put your romantic fiction knowledge to the test

Star-crossed lovers and Russian Counts by Cathy Rentzenbrink

09 Feb 2016

British women choose their most romantic lines from fiction and film

“My heart is, and always will be, yours.” by Harriet Hall

09 Feb 2016

War and Peace writer reveals his next TV adaptation

Prepare for even more tears by Harriet Hall

09 Feb 2016

The most exciting new books of February

From a heart-rending memoir to a WWI romance by Cathy Rentzenbrink

05 Feb 2016

How reading for pleasure could be key to a less stressed, happier life

And the one literary character most women can relate to by Harriet Hall

04 Feb 2016

The book everyone lies about reading is not War and Peace

Ever pretended to read a great work of literature when all you’ve done is watch it on TV? You’re not alone. by Charlotte Duck

04 Feb 2016

The latest cast member of the Fifty Shades trilogy has been announced

Now we simply can’t miss the film… by Harriet Hall

29 Jan 2016

10 favourite childhood reads as chosen by Stylist staff

Books to make you laugh, weep and eat your veg by Amy Swales

28 Jan 2016

Costa Book of the Year winner: get this on your to-read list

A children's novel wins for the second time in prize history

27 Jan 2016

Infographic helps you pick a novel for every mood, taste and interest

Can't find a book to read? by Sejal Kapadia Pocha

26 Jan 2016