Reading list: Introductory books

Some suggested reading for those new to Kleinian theory and technique. For a reading list of selected papers covering Klein’s main theoretical concepts, see Teaching in Ukraine.

Klein explains her concepts

Klein lays out her main ideas in a clear and straightforward way in her 1959 paper ‘Our adult world and its roots in infancy’. The paper, originally written as a talk for a non-expert audience, can be found in Envy and Gratitude (see Books by Klein for full details).

Overviews of Klein’s life and work

R.D. Hinshelwood, R.D., Robinson, S. and Zarate, O. (illustrator) Introducing Melanie Klein: A Graphic Guide. An illustrated introduction, ideal if you are completely new to Klein’s concepts.

Hinshelwood, R.D. and Fortuna, T. Melanie Klein: The Basics (Routledge) An accessible and concise book covering Klein’s life, work and legacy.

Klein’s ideas in a biographical context

The following books introduce Klein’s ideas in the context of her life story:

Segal, H. (1979) Klein. Fontana. Reprinted by Karnac, 1989. 

Likierman, M. (2002) Melanie Klein: Her Work in Context. Quantum.

Segal’s book was written for a general readership and Likierman’s is a more technical and scholarly work.

Kleinian perspectives on human development and behaviour 

The following books aim to make sense of human situations using a Kleinian frame of reference and are written in non-technical language:

Wittenberg, I. (1970) Psycho-Analytic Insight and Relationships (A Kleinian Approach). Routledge & Kegan Paul. A clear, jargon-free book originally written for social workers.

Tavistock Clinic ‘Understanding Your Child‘ series, published by Jessica Kingsley between 2004 and 2008. This series of books aims to to help parents, educators and carers understand more about their child’s development, and his or her relationships with their parents and the wider world. It follows children’s development year by year and includes:

Boswell, S. (2004) Understanding Your Baby 

Waddell, M. (2005) Understanding 12-14-Year-Olds 

Bartram, P. (2007) Understanding Your Young Child with Special Needs

Ideas in Psychoanalysis’ is a series of small books published by Icon and intended for a general readership. It includes the following titles by authors who draw predominantly from Kleinian theory:

Abel-Hirsch, N. (2009) Eros 

Barrows, K. (2002) Envy

Bell, D. (2003) Paranoia 

Roth, P. (2001) The Superego

Klein and clinical practice 

Hinshelwood, R. D. (1994) Clinical Klein. Free Association Books. This is the key text on the evolution and contemporary practice of Kleinian psychoanalysis. Hinshelwood is an excellent secondary source for Klein’s ideas, which he brings vividly to life. While nothing is simplified, Hinshelwood’s approach is less dense than Klein’s often is, and is therefore more accessible.

Kleinian theories in more depth 

The following multi-authored books are more technical than some of those listed above, but between them they give a contemporary perspective on all Klein’s ideas:

Steiner, J. (ed.) (1989) The Oedipus Complex Today: Clinical Implications. Karnac.

Anderson, R. (ed.) (1992) Clinical Lectures on Klein and Bion. Routledge.

Bronstein, C. (2001) Kleinian Theory. A Contemporary Perspective. Whurr.

Spillius, E., Milton, J., Garvey, P., Couve, C. and Steiner, D. (2011) The New Dictionary of Kleinian Thought. Routledge.