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By: Richmal Crompton (1890-1969)

Just William by Richmal Crompton Just William

William is a mischievous eleven year old who is puzzled by the adult world, which is no less puzzled by him. The humor is gentle and pleasing. The series of books is better known in the United Kingdom than in the U.S. (

By: Emily Eden

The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden The Semi-Detached House

If you're a Jane Austen fan, you'll enjoy Emily Eden's comic novels of manners, The Semi-Detached House (1859) and The Semi-Attached Couple (1860). At the opening of The Semi-Detached House, the beautiful (but rather petulant) Lady Blanche Chester, newly married and pregnant, is being installed in a suburban house while her husband is away. Her encounters with her neighbors, and the intrigues of the neighborhood, soon come to absorb and annoy her.

By: Owen Wister (1860-1938)

The New Swiss Family Robinson by Owen Wister The New Swiss Family Robinson

A parody of its famous predecessor, this short piece was written by Owen Wister for the Harvard Lampoon

By: Anonymous

Irish Wit and Humor by Anonymous Irish Wit and Humor

Excerpted anecdotes from the biographies of Swift, Curran, O'Leary and O'Connell, relating humorous snippets of politics in 18th and 19th century Ireland. For some these may be poignant in addition to being humorous and for others they may be humorous in addition to being poignant. (

By: Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

The Alchemist by Ben Jonson The Alchemist

An outbreak of plague in London forces a gentleman, Lovewit, to flee temporarily to the country, leaving his house under the sole charge of his butler, Jeremy. Jeremy uses the opportunity given to him to use the house as the headquarters for fraudulent acts. He transforms himself into 'Captain Face', and enlists the aid of Subtle, a fellow conman and Dol Common, a prostitute. In The Alchemist, Jonson unashamedly satirizes the follies, vanities and vices of mankind, most notably greed-induced credulity...

By: Herbert George Jenkins (1876-1923)

Book cover The Return of Alfred

The hero of the book is at a loose end, weary and bored of his old life after returning from the Great War. After an argument with his uncle and a railway strike he finds himself lost in the county of Norfolk at ten o’clock one night. When he seeks shelter in a country home, the butler immediately recognizes him as “Mr. Alfred”, the missing son of the house. From that point onwards, our hero, who gives his name as “James Smith”, finds himself in for an exciting time.Not only does he inherit the friends of “Mr...

By: Molière

Tartuffe by Molière Tartuffe

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molière's best-known works is Tartuffe or The Hypocrite, written in 1664. Though Tartuffe was received well by the public and even by Louis XIV, its popularity was lessened when the Archbishop of Paris issued an edict threatening excommunication for anyone who watched, performed in, or read the play.Tartuffe, a pious fraud who pretends to speak with divine authority, has insinuated himself into the household of Orgon...

By: Unknown (1622-1673)

Book cover The Middle-Class Gentleman

By: Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker

Book cover The Roaring Girl

The Roaring Girl is a rip-roaring Jacobean comedy co-written by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker and first published in 1611. The play is a fictionalized dramatization of the life of Mary Frith, known as "Moll Cutpurse", a woman who had gained a reputation as a virago in the early 17th century. (The term "roaring girl" was adapted from the slang term "roaring boy", which was applied to a young man who caroused publicly, brawled, and committed petty crimes.) The play combines the exploits of the cross-dressed Moll with the amorous adventures of a trio of merchants' wives, and the forbidden romance between Sebastian Wengrave and Mary Fitzallard.

By: Arthur Wing Pinero (1855-1934)

The Amazons: A Farcical Romance by Arthur Wing Pinero The Amazons: A Farcical Romance

This 1895 farce inspired by the outlandish idea of women wearing pants, centers around the predicament of the three daughters of the eccentric Marchioness of Castlejordan, who determined to have sons, raised them like boys. She encouraged them to dress and act like boys at home, yet dress like ladies when out. As the girls come of age, they are conflicted. They want to please mother by acting as her sons, but, suddenly smitten with three gentlemen, they are compelled to grow up and be ladies. When their suitors secretly come to woo, they aren’t sure what to do……and what will mother do if she finds out?

By: Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

The Strange Gentleman by Charles Dickens The Strange Gentleman

Before he became a novelist, Dickens wrote several successful plays. This one from 1836, his first, he called, "A Comic Burletta in Two Acts". Characters arrive at a village inn called "The St. James Arms" and much confusion ensues.

By: Cal Stewart (1856-1919)

Book cover Uncle Josh's Punkin Centre Stories

A collection of comedic short stories from the perspective of an old country man.

By: Moliere (1622-1673)

Book cover The Imaginary Invalid

The Imaginary Invalid is a three-act comédie-ballet by the French playwright Molière. It was first performed in 1673 and was the last work he wrote. The plot centers around Argan, the 'imaginary invalid' who is completely dependent on his doctors and wants to marry his daughter to a doctor against her will, so that he will always have medical care freely available to him. In an ironic twist of fate, Molière collapsed during his fourth performance as Argan on 17 February and died soon after.

By: Molière (1622-1673)

Book cover Miser

The Miser is a comedy of manners about a rich moneylender named Harpagon. His feisty children long to escape from his penny-pinching household and marry their respective lovers. Although the 17th-century French upper classes presumably objected to the play's message, it is less savage and somewhat less realistic than Molière's earlier play, Tartuffe, which attracted a storm of criticism on its first performance.

By: Henry Fielding

The Old Debauchees by Henry Fielding The Old Debauchees

Young Laroon plans to marry Isabel, but Father Martin manipulates Isabel's father, Jourdain, in order to seduce Isabel. However, other characters, including both of the Laroons, try to manipulate Jourdain for their own ends; they accomplish it through disguising themselves as priests and using his guilt to convince him of what they say. As Father Martin pursues Isabel, she is clever enough to realize what is happening and plans her own trap. After catching him and exposing his lust, Father Martin is set to be punished.

By: Unknown (446? BC - 385? BC)

Book cover Clouds
Book cover The Birds

By: John Fletcher (1579-1625)

Book cover The Woman's Prize, or The Tamer Tamed

John Fletcher's comedy (probably written and performed around 1611) is a sequel to Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, in which, as the title suggests, the tamer will be tamed. Petruchio, the shrew-tamer, has been widowed, and marries a second wife, Maria, a "chaste witty lady." At the instigation of her cousin Bianca, and with the fellowship of her sister Livia, Maria decides to go on strike for equal rights, refusing to behave as a proper 17th century wife. Fletcher's play addresses the issue of men and women's roles within marriage, a controversial issue for his day.

By: Aristophanes (446-389 BCE)

Book cover Frogs

Athens is in a sorry state of affairs. The great tragedian, Euripides, is dead, and Dionysus, the god of the theater, has to listen to third-rate poetry. So, he determines to pack his belongings onto his trusty slave, Xanthias, and journey to the underworld to bring back Euripides! Hi-jinks ensue.

By: William Shakespeare (1554-1616)

Book cover Two Noble Kinsmen

The Two Noble Kinsmen is a Jacobean tragicomedy co-written by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, first published in 1634. Set in ancient Greece during a war between Athens and Thebes, the narrative follows the title characters, Palamon and Arcite, noble youths whose friendship is destroyed by their mutual love for the beautiful Emilia. The subplot deals with the love and eventual madness of the Gaoler's Daughter, who falls hopelessly in love with Palamon. The play is based on "The Knight's Tale" by Chaucer, but also has echoes of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, as two of the major characters are Theseus and Hippolyta, who also appear in the earlier play.

By: Unknown (1622-1673)

Book cover The Impostures of Scapin
Book cover The Acharnians
Book cover The School for Husbands

By: Arthur Shirley (1853-1925)

Book cover Three Hats A Farcical Comedy in Three Acts

By: E. L. Blanchard (1820-1889)

Book cover Whittington and his Cat

Whittington and his Cat, or Harlequin Lord Mayor of London was the 26th Grand Comic Christmas Annual, written by E. L. Blanchard for performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London in 1875. Pantomimes are a favourite Christmas entertainment in England, and in Victorian times were usually written in rhyming couplets. They featured a Principal Boy (played by a girl) and a Dame (played by a man). Over the years they became ever more elaborate with fantastic costumes, huge casts and spectacular transformation scenes...

By: William Shakespeare (1554-1616)

Book cover As You Like It (version 2)

Shakespeare's pastoral comedy was written and first performed around 1599, and presents some of his familiar motifs: a cross-dressing heroine, a wise-cracking fool, brothers usurping their brothers' power, a journey from the court to the country, and various romantic entanglements.

Book cover As You Like It (version 2)

Shakespeare's pastoral comedy was written and first performed around 1599, and presents some of his familiar motifs: a cross-dressing heroine, a wise-cracking fool, brothers usurping their brothers' power, a journey from the court to the country, and various romantic entanglements.

By: Emily Eden (1797-1869)

Book cover Semi-Attached Couple

Young and beautiful Helen Eskdale and fabulously wealthy Lord Teviot seem to be the perfect match. But when they marry, they find that misunderstandings and jealousies continually drive them apart. The machinations and intrigues of a large supporting cast surround the central question of whether their marriage will survive. Emily Eden's comedy of manners is reminiscient of Jane Austen's witty and ironic novels.

Book cover Semi-Attached Couple

Young and beautiful Helen Eskdale and fabulously wealthy Lord Teviot seem to be the perfect match. But when they marry, they find that misunderstandings and jealousies continually drive them apart. The machinations and intrigues of a large supporting cast surround the central question of whether their marriage will survive. Emily Eden's comedy of manners is reminiscient of Jane Austen's witty and ironic novels.

By: William Davenant (1606-1668)

Book cover Law Against Lovers

The Law Against Lovers was a dramatic adaptation of Shakespeare, arranged by Sir William Davenant and staged by the Duke's Company in 1662. It was the first of the many Shakespearean adaptations staged during the Restoration era. Davenant was not shy about changing the Bard's work; he based his text on Measure for Measure, but also added Beatrice and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing — "resulting in a bizarre and fascinating combination." He made Angelo from the former play, and Benedick from the latter, into brothers.

By: William Shakespeare (1554-1616)

Book cover Much Ado About Nothing (version 2)

Much Ado About Nothing is generally considered one of Shakespeare’s best comedies, because it combines elements of robust hilarity with more serious meditations on honor, shame, and court politics. Much Ado About Nothing chronicles two pairs of lovers: Benedick and Beatrice (the main couple), and Claudio and Hero (the secondary couple). Benedick and Beatrice are engaged in a very "merry war"; they are both very witty and proclaim their disdain of love. In contrast, Claudio and Hero are sweet young people who are rendered practically speechless by their love for one another...

By: Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793)

Book cover Mistress of the Inn (La locandiera)

Mirandolina runs an inn in Florence alone with only the help of her loyal employee Fabricius, and all of her guests are in love with her. The wealthy but only newly aristocratic Count D’Albafiorita and the impoverished but noble Marquis di Forlipopoli vie for her affections while debating the respective value of wealth and nobility (and insulting each other a good deal along the way). The misogynistic Cavalier di Ripafratta scoffs at their shared infatuation and ridicules the idea of love, but will he too fall victim to the beautiful innkeeper’s charms? And can any of them win the heart of the independent Mirandolina?

By: W. S. Gilbert (1836-1911)

Book cover Patience (Bunthorne's Bride)

A comic operetta which is a satire on the themes of fashion and pretension and hero-worship. Bunthorne is a poet who pretends to be highly "idealised" in order to impress the ladies. They all worship him, except for Patience, the dairy maid, who is the only one he loves. However, his grand plan goes awry with the arrival of Grosvenor who is more idealised and more poetical then he is. The ladies all flock after Grosvenor instead, until Bunthorne curses him with poor fashion sense and stoutness! But will the curse bring Bunthorne his Patience?

By: Lording Barry (1580-1629)

Book cover Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks by Lording Barry

Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks, is a bawdy comedy by Lording Barry, a contemporary of Shakespeare. The production bankrupted Barry, landed him in debtor's jail, and set him off on a life of piracy. The action of Ram Alley takes place in a disreputable London lane where lawyers, lords, and ladies rub shoulders with prostitutes and vagabonds. One 19th century editor complained that it was "full of gross passages, allusions, and innuendoes," but more recent commentators have seen past the risque gags and recognised the play's wit, complexity, and intelligence...

By: Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Book cover Village Coquettes

Before he started writing novels, Charles Dickens tried his hand at theater. The Village Coquettes is a two act musical. Sadly the music was lost long ago so this will be a spoken version. This play completes the recording of the relatively unknown plays of Dickens in celebration of his 200th birthday!

By: William Rowley (1585-1626)

Book cover Changeling

The Changeling is a sensational 1622 tragicomedy by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley that comprises two intertwining plots. The first involves Beatrice-Joanna, daughter of the governor of Alicante, and her unruly passion for Alsemero, despite the fact that she is engaged to Alonzo de Piracquo. She enlists the aid of her father's servant De Flores to kill Alonzo so that she can marry Alsemero. However, she does not anticipate that De Flores, who is in love with her, will demand payment for the deed...

By: John Dryden (1631-1700)

Book cover Tempest

John Dryden and William D'Avenant's Restoration adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest preserves the main plot and characters of the original. Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, lives on an isolated island with his daughter Miranda, and plans to take revenge on his brother Antonio, who usurped his throne. He is aided by his servant, the airy sprite Ariel, and is hated by his other servant, the monster Caliban. Dryden and D'Avenant added in a number of characters: Dorinda, Prospero's other daughter, Hippolito, a young man who has never seen a woman, Sycorax, Caliban's sister, and more spirits and comic mariners...

By: W. S. Gilbert (1836-1911)

Book cover Pirates Of Penzance; Or The Slave Of Duty (Version 2)

In this recording, one person reads the entire play, all parts, including the stage directions. Even without the support of Arthur Sullivan’s music and the interpretation of actors, the consummate silliness of Gilbert’s libretto entertains. The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. The story concerns Frederic, who, having completed his 21st year, is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates...

By: Thomas Dekker (c.1572-1632)

Book cover Shoemaker's Holiday

The Shoemaker's Holiday is an Elizabethan play written by Thomas Dekker. It was first performed in 1599 by the Admiral's Men. It falls into the sub-genre of city comedy (depicting ordinary London life).Aristocrat Rowland Lacy falls in love with middle class girl Rose Oateley, but Rose's father and Lacy's uncle refuse to approve the match because of the class difference and Rowland's spendthrift lifestyle. Rowland is told to redeem himself by joining the army fighting in France. To avoid going, he persuades someone else to take his place and disguises himself as a Dutch shoemaker, Hans...


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