Pete Doherty is best known for being the frontman of the legendary band The Libertines, a band that typifies an indie boom of wreckless live shows coupled with rock and roll excesses. While the negative headlines surrounded Doherty to an unfortunate degree, the poetry of his lyricism has been left as backburning talking point amid celebrity controversy.
Doherty was so inspired by literature that he became a poet and writer himself, releasing his journals of drawings and poems in his book The Books of Albion: The Collected Writings of Peter Doherty. It is not surprising that Pete drew inspiration from some of the best writers, poets and even philosophers, given his desire to infiltrate strong themes within his music. From poverty to war, this list allows fans to decipher some of the thoughts running through Doherty’s creative mind, allowing a look behind the curtain of how deeply he thinks.
The first thing that sticks out is the abundance of works from Oscar Wilde, including his complete collection, as well as Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. The book famously follows Dorian Gray’s story, a man who gets a portrait of himself painted by his friend Basil Hallward, who later introduces him to Lord Henry Wotton. From there, he is soon enthralled in the aristocrat’s hedonistic worldview in which beauty is the only thing worth pursuing. Opting to sell his soul in a bid to continue looking young forever, Dorian’s plot backfires. Instead, the portrait itself begins to age, recording every sin Dorian commits in a metaphor Doherty could find parallels with his own life.
As part of his list, Doherty also included essays by Wilde, including ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’, where Wilde condemns charity. It’s clear that Doherty doesn’t sit down for a light-hearted escape from the real world; he sees books as a platform to explore and discover deeply rooted issues in the human psyche. It’s also evident from the list that Doherty holds a deep love for George Orwell. More specifically, in the book Down and Out in Paris, a memoir published in 1933 in which Orwell lives the life of the lowest people in society.
It wasn’t just novels and philosophical essays that got Doherty’s attention; poetry also appeared several times on the list, including Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est, a poem written by a soldier in World War One and the complete poem collection of Emily Dickinson.
See the full list, below.
Pete Doherty’s favourite books:
- Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell
- Oscar Wilde, Complete Collection – Oscar Wilde
- The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
- Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est: An Appreciation
- Our Lady of the Flowers – Jean Genet
- 1984 – George Orwell
- Flowers of Evil – Charles Baudelaire
- Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
- The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
- The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon
- Arthur Rimbaud: Complete Works
- The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen
- Keep the Aspidistra Flying – George Orwell
- Billy Liar – Keith Waterhouse
- Salome – Oscar Wilde