Eighty years ago the Manchester Guardian (as this paper then was)
ran a poll to discover from its readers' votes the "novelists who may
be read in 2029".
George Simmers, on his literary
greatwarfiction blog, has jumped the gun by 20 years with some
satirical reflections on the top five novelists in that poll.
Only another 20 years to go, and the top five are already looking shaky:
They are John Galsworthy (1,180 votes), H. G. Wells (933), Arnold Bennett (654), Rudyard Kipling (455), J. M. Barrie (286).
of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, Henry Green, Ivy
Compton-Burnett, Agatha Christie, EM Forster, and Jean Rhys? This
distinguished crew either do not figure in the 1929 poll, or clock in
with derisory counts (Joyce gets fewer than 10 votes – alongside Max
Beerbohm, it's pleasing to note).
I love Galsworthy and for that matter Wells. Here is the article. Here is further commentary. By the way, no one back then voted for Agatha Christie, who is now probably the most frequently read of the British writers from that era.
For the pointer I thank the always-excellent Literary Saloon.