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By: Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Emma by Jane Austen Emma

A comedy of manners, Emma portrays the spoilt, snobbish, yet charming Emma Woodhouse as she delightfully interferes in the relationships of others without taking much notice of her own heart. Although quick to make prejudgments and decisions, Emma is eventually able to notice her mistakes, and it is this revelation that makes her an endearing heroine and an inspiration to women throughout. Austen has not only created, but also brought to life the world inhabited by her characters through her vivid depictions and clever use of wit...

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a book about the life of Catherine Morland and her romantic relationships. The novel is divided into two parts; the first part begins with Catherine’s visit to Bath and her relationship with Henry Tilney and the other people she met there, and the second part starts with the arrival of Frederick Tilney and her visit to Northanger Abbey. This book alongside Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility is considered one of the major works of Jane Austen. The novel had undergone many revisions before its publication and it was even originally titled “Catherine...

By: Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Regarded as the pride and joy of American literature, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a picturesque novel depicting Huck’s epic journey from boyhood to manhood and the struggles he must face living in a corrupt society. The novel serves as a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, another famous work by Mark Twain. The plot unfolds in several locations sometime before the Civil War. The book opens with a description of Huck’s new life as he undergoes a process of “civilization” while living with the Widow Douglas and her sister Miss Watson...

1601: Conversation, as it was by the Social Fireside, in the Time of the Tudors by Mark Twain 1601: Conversation, as it was by the Social Fireside, in the Time of the Tudors

An atypical piece of writing by Mark Twain, the short bawdy skit documents a conversion between Queen Elizabeth and several notable writers of the time, including Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Beaumont, Ben Jonson, and William Shakespeare. Despite first being published in 1880, the piece remained anonymous for a period of time, until it was later acknowledged by Twain in 1901 as his own. Comprised of humor, descriptive imagery, ribald connotations, and vulgar language, the faux conversation is simultaneously humorous and repulsing, but nonetheless a wonder for its satirical precision...

The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories by Mark Twain The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories

A collection of comical short stories by renowned American humorist and author Mark Twain, the compilation features 30 stories published in 1906. Presenting a colorful array of tales, the short stories cover various periods of Twain’s writing career, while also allowing him to revise and perfect each story. Exploring various topics including abusive hierarchical power, human recklessness, and backfiring expectations, the collection offers a sweet treat to satisfy every taste. The anthology begins with the story “The $30,000 Bequest” which introduces the married couple Electra and Saladin who live a modest yet comfortable life with their two daughters...

Extracts from Adam's Diary by Mark Twain Extracts from Adam's Diary

Get the true story of Adam and Eve, straight from the source. This humorous text is a day-to-day account of Adam’s life from happiness in the “GARDEN-OF-EDEN” to their fall from grace and the events thereafter. Learn how Eve caught the infant Cain, and Adam takes some time to learn exactly what it is.

A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain A Tramp Abroad

A Tramp Abroad is a work of non-fiction travel literature by American author Mark Twain, published in 1880. The book details a journey by the author, with his friend Harris (a character created for the book, and based on his closest friend, Joseph Twichell), through central and southern Europe. While the stated goal of the journey is to walk most of the way, the men find themselves using other forms of transport as they traverse the continent. The book is often thought to be an unofficial sequel to an earlier Twain travel book,The Innocents Abroad...

Eve's Diary by Mark Twain Eve's Diary

Eve's Diary is a comic short story by Mark Twain. It was first published in the 1905 Christmas issue of the magazine Harper's Bazaar, and in book format in June 1906 by Harper and Brothers publishing house. It is written in the style of a diary kept by the first woman in the Judeao-Christian creation myth, Eve, and is claimed to be "translated from the original MS." The "plot" of this novel is the first-person account of Eve from her creation up to her burial by, her mate, Adam, including meeting and getting to know Adam, and exploring the world around her, Eden...

The Awful German Language by Mark Twain The Awful German Language

This long essay is a work of mock philology, one of several appendices to Twain’s travel novel, A Tramp Abroad. In it, Twain explains, complains about, and shows how one might improve upon various aspects of the (awful) German language. His examples of precisely how the German language is awful include the famed “separable verb” – which allows one to put the first part of a given verb at the beginning – and its second part at the end – of a given clause or sentence (which may, indeed, be very long)...

The Stolen White Elephant by Mark Twain The Stolen White Elephant

"The Stolen White Elephant" was written by Mark Twain and published in 1882. In it, an Indian elephant, en route from India to Britain as a gift to the Queen, disappears in New Jersey. The local police department goes into high gear to solve the mystery but it all comes to a tragic end. Twain's satirical look at the police and newspaper worlds of the 1880's illustrates some of the more outrageous proclivities of each.

Book cover Mark Twain's (Burlesque) Autobiography and First Romance

Mark Twain's (Burlesque) Autobiography and First Romance, a short volume, published by Sheldon & Co., NY in 1871, is Mark Twain's third book. It consists of two stories - First Romance, which had originally appeared in The Express in 1870, and A Burlesque Autobiography (bearing no relationship to Twain's actual life), which first appeared in Twain's Memoranda contributions to the Galaxy. Rather, the content consists of a few short stories of fictional characters who are supposedly part of Twain's lineage...

The American Claimant by Mark Twain The American Claimant

The American Claimant is an 1892 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The story focuses on the class differences and expectations of monarchic, hierarchical Britain and the upstart, "all men are created equal" America. Twain wrote the novel with the help of phonographic dictation, the first author (according to Twain himself) to do so. This was also (according to Twain) an attempt to write a book without mention of the weather, the first of its kind in fictitious literature. Indeed, all the weather is contained in an appendix, at the back of the book, which the reader is encouraged to turn to from time to time.

Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion by Mark Twain Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion

Written for the Atlantic magazine in 1877, this is a collection of stories about a trip Mark Twain made with some friends to Bermuda. It contains fascinating descriptions of Bermuda the island, and some of its people as well as an explanation of why Bermuda's houses are "so white".

By: Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942)

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery Anne of Green Gables

Montgomery’s literary classic recounts the exciting adventures undertaken by the fiery eleven-year-old Anne Shirley, an orphan girl accidentally adopted by middle aged siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. A coming-of-age novel, Anne of Green Gables focuses on Anne’s new life at Green Gables farm in Avonlea and her adjustment into the Prince Edward Island community. The story launches when the aging siblings Matthew and Marilla decide that they could use an extra hand around their farm, and believe that adopting an orphan boy would be an appropriate solution...

By: William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's Dream

Summer nights, romance, music, comedy, pairs of lovers who have yet to confess their feelings to each other, comedy and more than a touch of magic are all woven into one of Shakespeare's most delightful and ethereal creations – A Midsummer Night's Dream. The plot is as light and enchanting as the settings themselves. The Duke of Athens is busy with preparations for his forthcoming wedding to Hippolyta the Amazonian Queen. In the midst of this, Egeus, an Athenian aristocrat marches in, flanked by his lovely daughter Hermia and her two suitors, Lysander and Demetrius...

As You Like It by William Shakespeare As You Like It

In a tiny French dukedom, a younger brother usurps his elder brother's throne. Duke Senior is banished to the Forest of Arden along with his faithful retainers, leaving his lovely daughter Rosalind behind to serve as a companion for the usurper's daughter, Celia. However, the outspoken Rosalind soon earns her uncle's wrath and is also condemned to exile. The two cousins decide to flee together and join Duke Senior in the forest. Meanwhile, a young nobleman, Orlando is thrown out of his home by his cruel older brother Oliver...

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice was probably written between 1596 and 1598, and was printed with the comedies in the First Folio of 1623. Bassanio, an impoverished gentleman, uses the credit of his friend, the merchant Antonio, to borrow money from a wealthy Jew, Shylock. Antonio pledges to pay Shylock a pound of flesh if he defaults on the loan, which Bassanio will use to woo a rich heiress, Portia. A subplot concerns the elopement of Shylock's daughter Jessica with a Christian, Bassanio's friend Lorenzo...

The Tempest by William Shakespeare The Tempest

Banished from his own lands by a usurping brother, Prospero and his daughter Miranda have been living on a deserted island for years, until fate brings the brother within the range of Prospero's powers. Will he seek revenge, or reconcilement?

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing

Written around the middle of his career, Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's great festive comedies. The men are back from the war, and everyone is ready for romance. The dashing young Claudio falls for Hero, the daughter of Leonato, governor of Messina, and his friend Don Pedro helps him secure her affection. These youthful lovers are contrasted with the more experienced (and more cynical) Benedick and Beatrice, who have to be tricked into falling in love. Don Pedro's bastard brother, Don John, provides the intrigue, and the dimwitted constable Dogberry provides the laughs.

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare The Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare's earliest comedies, and was inspired by classical Roman comedy and the Italian commedia dell'arte. Baptista Minola, a rich gentleman of Padua, has two daughters: Katherina, renowned for her sharp tongue, and Bianca, who is sought after by multiple suitors. Baptista decides that Bianca cannot marry until her elder sister finds a husband. Enter Petruchio, who has come to "wive it wealthily in Padua," and who is convinced by Bianca's suitors to woo Katherina. The play ultimately poses the question of who is the bigger shrew: Kate or Petruchio. The subplot involves the subterfuge employed by Lucentio to woo the lovely Bianca.

All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare All's Well That Ends Well

Despite its optimistic title, Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well has often been considered a "problem play." Ostensibly a comedy, the play also has fairy tale elements, as it focuses on Helena, a virtuous orphan, who loves Bertram, the haughty son of her protectress, the Countess of Rousillon. When Bertram, desperate for adventure, leaves Rousillon to serve in the King's army, Helena pursues him.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare Twelfth Night

Shakespeare's great festive comedy, probably written and first performed around 1601, follows the adventures of twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated from each other by a shipwreck. Viola, believing her brother dead, disguises herself as a page in order to serve the lovesick Duke Orsino, who has been rejected by the Countess Olivia. The ensemble cast includes a roster of wonderfully comic characters: Olivia's drunken uncle Sir Toby Belch, his foolish friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the witty serving woman Maria, the social-climbing steward Malvolio, and the clever, riddling clown Feste.

The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors is one of William Shakespeare's earliest plays, believed to have been written between 1592 and 1594. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humour coming from slapstick and mistaken identity, in addition to puns and word play. The Comedy of Errors tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus...

The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare The Winter's Tale

Mad with jealousy, King Leontes of Sicilia orders his best friend Polixenes killed, his child abandoned, and his wife put on trial for adultery. Sixteen years later, Perdita, raised as a shepherd's daughter, falls in love with Polixenes's royal son and returns to her father's kingdom.

Measure For Measure by William Shakespeare Measure For Measure

Generally considered one of Shakespeare's problem plays, Measure for Measure examines the ideas of sin and justice. Duke Vincentio turns Vienna's rule over to the corrupt Angelo, who sentences Claudio to death for having impregnated a woman before marriage. His sister Isabella, a novice nun, pleads for her brother's life, only to be told that he will be spared if she agrees to relinquish her virginity to Angelo.

Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare Love's Labour's Lost

Love's Labour's Lost is an early comedy by William Shakespeare. Ferdinand, the King of Navarre, and his three friends take a vow of study and seclusion for three years, during which they are forbidden to see or speak to women. Their vows are immediately tested by the arrival of the Pricess of France and her three ladies to the King's court.

Cymbeline by William Shakespeare Cymbeline

Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare's late romances, which (like The Tempest and The Winter's Tale) combines comedy and tragedy. Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline of Britain, angers her father when she marries Posthumus, a worthy but penniless gentleman. The King banishes Posthumus, who goes to Rome, where he falls prey to the machinations of Iachimo, who tries to convince him that Imogen will be unfaithful. Meanwhile, the Queen (Imogen's stepmother) plots against her stepdaughter by trying to plan a match between Imogen and her worthless son Cloten.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is the earliest comedy written by Shakespeare (and possibly his first play), probably written around 1590-91. It focuses on two friends, Valentine and Proteus, whose friendship is disrupted by their mutual passion for the lovely Silvia. Proteus jilts Julia in order to pursue Silvia; she responds by enlisting the help of her maid Lucetta to dress as a boy and go after Proteus. The play also includes some wonderfully comic supporting characters, particularly Launce and his scene-stealing dog Crab.

Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare Troilus and Cressida

Troilus and Cressida is Shakespeare's "problem" play about the Trojan War. As the opening Chorus tells us, the play "begins in the middle" of the epic conflict, and counterpoints the drama of battle with the romance of the title characters. Just as Agamemnon and his Greek forces (particularly the smooth-tongued Ulysses) attempt to woo the invincible Achilles to resume fighting on their side, the Trojan go-between Pandarus tries to bring together Troilus, a son of King Priam, with his niece, the lovely Cressida.

The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy by William Shakespeare, first published in 1602, though believed to have been written prior to 1597. It features the fat knight Sir John Falstaff, and is Shakespeare's only play to deal exclusively with contemporary Elizabethan era English middle class life.

By: Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Book cover The Pickwick Papers

A sportsman who doesn't hunt; a poet who doesn't write; a lover with no one to love; all three are devoted to their cheerful and benevolent leader, Mr. Pickwick. Join him and his friends, Winkle, Snodgrass, and Tupman, as they tour the country in search of adventures, knowledge, and stories. Along the way, they have their share of mishaps, and meet plenty of interesting characters, both the good and the not so good. (Mr. Pickwick's dedicated manservant, Sam Weller, is a scene-stealer sure to delight just about everybody...

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens Nicholas Nickleby

Nicholas Nickleby is a young Devonshire man of nineteen, handsome and hot headed, devoted to his sister Kate and his parents. Following the death of Nicholas’s father, they find themselves penniless, and travel to London to seek help from his uncle, Ralph Nickleby, a heartless, cunning rogue. He grudgingly finds employment for Nicholas in Dotheby Hall, a school in Yorkshire run by the brutal Mr. and Mrs. Wackford Squeers. Appalled at the condition and treatment of the school children, Nicholas rebels, escaping with Smike, a young man/child who has become devoted to him...

By: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde The Canterville Ghost

An American diplomat's family moves into an ancient stately mansion. They're warned by the owner that it is haunted by a most horrifying and gruesome spirit who had once cruelly murdered his own wife. The story progresses with creaking floor boards, mysterious passages, dark attics, clanking chains, and weird howling. Yet, the reader is totally unprepared for Oscar Wilde's brand of tongue in cheek humor as he takes all the ingredients of a traditional ghost story and turns it on its head, and creates a hilarious parody instead of a morbid saga! The Canterville Ghost was the first of Oscar Wilde's short stories to be published...

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde The Importance of Being Earnest

A wealthy philanthropist adopts an abandoned baby he finds in a railway station waiting room. The child grows into a fine, upstanding young man. When his benefactor dies, he is made the guardian of the old man's lovely young daughter. But unknown to everyone, he leads a double life that even his best friend knows nothing about... If you thought that this has all the makings of a most sinister and diabolical plot, you couldn't be more mistaken. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is a light as a feather confection, full of mischief, fun and laughter! Written in 1894, this was Wilde's last play...

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde An Ideal Husband

This story opens at a fashionable dinner party in Sir Robert Chiltern's home in the heart of London's stylish Grosvenor Square. One of Lady Chiltern's old school-friends, Mrs. Cheveley, a woman with a dubious past, accosts Sir Robert and threatens to expose a financial crime that he had once participated in, unless he agrees to finance a fraudulent construction project that she's promoting. Lady Chiltern is astounded when her husband who had been the severest critic of this project suddenly begins to speak in its favor...

Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde Lady Windermere's Fan

Lady Windermere’s Fan: A Play About a Good Woman is a four act comedy by Oscar Wilde, published in 1893. As in some of his other comedies, Wilde satirizes the morals of Victorian society, and attitudes between the sexes. The action centres around a fan given to Lady Windermere as a present by her husband, and the ball held that evening to celebrate her 21st birthday.

A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde A Woman of No Importance

A Woman of No Importance is a play by Irish playwright Oscar Wilde. The play premièred on 19 April 1893 at London's Haymarket Theatre. It is a testimony of Wilde's wit and his brand of dark comedy. It looks in particular at English upper class society and has been reproduced on stages in Europe and North America since his death in 1900.

By: P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)

Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves

If you're encountering the zany Bertie Wooster and his exceptionally astute Man Friday, Jeeves, for the first time, be assured that you're embarking on a lifetime of fun and laughter! On the other hand, for eternal Wodehouse fans, Right Ho Jeeves provides more glimpses of the delightful world created by one of the best loved English writers. It is the second in the series of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves novels and features some of the regular characters of Brinkley Court, the country seat ruled over by Bertie's much-loved Aunt Dahlia...

My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse My Man Jeeves

First published in 1919, My Man Jeeves is a collection of short stories featuring the well known fictional characters Jeeves and Bertie Wooster. The compilation consists of eight stories, of which four feature the popular duo while the other four stories feature Reggie Pepper, an early model of Bertie Wooster. Set in the early 20th century, the stories carry much humor, wit, and charming mischief as the characters seem to attract trouble wherever they go. Wodehouse sets the stories in the early 20th century and allows the audience to enter the world of the upper-class establishments, and experience the many awkward situations the characters find themselves in...

Love Among the Chickens by P. G. Wodehouse Love Among the Chickens

A young, but not too brilliant writer is conscripted by a ne'er-do-well friend to help out on a chicken farm in remote Dorset. While traveling to the country, the writer encounters a lovely young girl and her academician father on the train. He is delighted to discover that she is reading a copy of his latest book. In the countryside, he also discovers that the professor and his daughter are neighbors. However, over dinner one night, he gets into an acrimonious debate with the elderly scholar who storms out, furious with his daughter's potential suitor...

Something New by P. G. Wodehouse Something New

When the absent-minded Earl of Emsworth wanders off with the pride of his scarab collection, American millionaire J. Preston Peters is willing to pay $5000 to the person who can get it back for him. Discretion is necessary since Peters’ daughter is engaged to Emsworth’s son. Joan Valentine and Ashe Marson both decide to go after the reward—she as Aline Peter’s ladies maid, and he as Mr. Peter’s valet—and they all end up at Blandings Castle. But is it possible for anyone to steal back the scarab with The Efficient Baxter ever vigilant? This is, IMHO, one of Wodehouse’s funniest novels. –Debra Lynn

Psmith in the City by P. G. Wodehouse Psmith in the City

Mike’s dream of studying and playing cricket at Cambridge are thwarted as his father runs into financial difficulties. Instead, Mike takes on the job of clerk at the “New Asiatic Bank.” Luckily, school friend Psmith, with his boundless optimism and original views, soon joins his department, and together they endeavour to make the best of their new life in London.

A Wodehouse Miscellany; Articles and Stories by P. G. Wodehouse A Wodehouse Miscellany; Articles and Stories

Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was an English comic writer who enjoyed enormous popular success for more than seventy years. Best known today for the Jeeves and Blanding Castle novels and short stories, Wodehouse was also a talented playwright and lyricist who was part author and writer of fifteen plays and of 250 lyrics for some thirty musical comedies.

The Prince and Betty by P. G. Wodehouse The Prince and Betty

The Prince and Betty is a novel by P. G. Wodehouse. It was originally published in Ainslee's Magazine in the United States in January 1912, and, in a slightly different form, as a serial in Strand Magazine in the United Kingdom between February and April 1912, before being published in book form, in the UK only, by Mills & Boon, London, on 1 May that year. A substantially different version, which incorporated the plot of Psmith, Journalist, was published in the US by W. J. Watt, New York on 14 February 1912, and is the only version now widely available...

Their Mutual Child by P. G. Wodehouse Their Mutual Child

Their Mutual Child (aka The Coming of Bill and The White Hope) is full of the loveable characters, preposterous situations, and opportunities to chuckle, if not outright laughs, that we expect from PG Wodehouse. It lacks the frantic slapstick of some Wodehouse comedy, but has a quieter more reflective humour. Kirk, the erstwhile hero, is a typical Wodehousian hero. At the beginning of the story, he is thoroughly likeable, a healthy, but a somewhat weak and malleable fellow. He dabs at beings a painter for a living, and runs with a gang of hangers-on, who sponge off him...

By: Stephen Leacock

Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town

Known as the Canadian Mark Twain, Stephen Leacock was a humorist whose gentle parodies and spoofs still evoke a smile and a chuckle more than a hundred years after they were first published. Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town was published in 1912. Set in the fictional town of Mariposa in Canada, which is peopled by a delightful assortment of characters, the book has proved to be an enduring classic in the humor genre. Readers around the world continue to enjoy these little stories about the inhabitants of Mariposa because Leacock portrays people whom we have all met at some time or the other in our own lives...

Frenzied Fiction by Stephen Leacock Frenzied Fiction

From the cave man to Santa Claus; spies, know-it-alls, and journalists: all are fair game for Leacock’s special brand of humor. He touches on the changes time has brought about in the city, education, and work habits. Among the other topics in this work are nature, fishing, gardening, success, and spirits–both of the departed and of the variety Prohibition prohibited. Each chapter of this book is a standalone story and if you love a good laugh, these stories are for you. In me, Leacock’s wit produced the full range of laughter: smiles, chuckles, guffaws, and some uncontrollable giggles. Also, occasionally, I found myself shedding a tear or two. (Review by Debra Lynn)

Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich by Stephen Leacock Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich

“Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich” is a work of humorous fiction by Stephen Leacock first published in 1914. It is the follow-up to his 1912 classic “Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.” Like that work, it is a sequence of interlocking stories set in one town, but instead of focusing on a small Canadian town in the countryside, it is set in a major American metropolis and its characters are the upper crust of society. Although currently not as well-known as the earlier book, “Arcadian Adventures” was extremely popular in North America at the time of its publication and for a while was considered the greater success...

Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels by Stephen Leacock Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels

Eight silly stories by Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock.

By: F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

A life lived backwards, with events happening in reverse order forms the strange and unexpected framework of one of F Scott Fitzgerald's rare short stories. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was published in Collier's in 1927 and the idea came to Fitzgerald apparently from a quote of Mark Twain's in which he regretted that the best part of life came at the beginning and the worst at the end. Fitzgerald's concept of using this notion and turning the normal sequence of life on its head resulted in this delightful, thought provoking fantasy tale...

Porcelain and Pink by F. Scott Fitzgerald Porcelain and Pink

“Porcelain and Pink” is a comic one-act play from the 1922 short story collection Tales of the Jazz Age. The plot involves a young woman in a bathtub and a case of mistaken identity. Characters:Julie – Holly BlissLois – Jc GuanThe Young Man – mbNarration and audio editing – Laurie Anne Walden

The Offshore Pirate by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Offshore Pirate

This is a long short story in 6 parts from Fitzgerald’s 1920 short story collection, Flappers and Philosophers. It predates the screwball movie comedies of the 1930’s in that it features a determined young heiress trying to get what she wants out of life.

Bernice Bobs Her Hair by F. Scott Fitzgerald Bernice Bobs Her Hair

Pretty but socially clueless Bernice lets her know-it-all cousin push her around, but eventually, something's gotta give! (Introduction by BellonaTimes)

By: Henry James (1843-1916)

The Europeans by Henry James The Europeans

The Europeans: A sketch is a short novel by Henry James, published in 1878. It is essentially a comedy contrasting the behaviour and attitudes of two visitors from Europe with those of their relatives living in the ‘new’ world of New England. The novel first appeared as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly for July-October, 1878. James made numerous minor revisions for the first book publication.

By: Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1827)

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

If this is your first encounter with Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) you're certainly in for a treat! One of the most delightful examples of Victorian humor, this book by Jerome K Jerome is all the way a fun cruise down the Thames River with some funny characters for company. Three Men in a Boat was originally meant to be a serious piece of travel writing, full of local flavors, legends and folklore about England's mighty river. As it turned out, somewhere along the way, the author Jerome found himself catapulted into a madcap adventure...

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, published in 1886, is a collection of humorous essays by Jerome K. Jerome. It was the author’s second published book and helped establish him as a leading English humorist. The book consists of 14 independent articles arranged by themes.

Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome Three Men on the Bummel

Our Friends from Three Men in a Boat, to Say Nothing of the Dog, are back. In this funny sequel to Three Men in a Boat J., George, and Harris are out of the boat and on the land riding their bikes. Their lives are too stressful and they need a break from the daily mundane, so they put their heads together and come up with a brilliant idea they decide to travel through the Black Forest of Germany on a bicycling tour. Since two of our friends are now married it seems they will also have to convince...

Stage Land by Jerome K. Jerome Stage Land

A comic look at the curious habits and customs of the inhabitants of ‘Stage Land’. Dedicated to ‘that highly respectable but unnecessarily retiring individual, of whom we hear so much but see so little, “the earnest student of drama”

By: Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)

The Grand Babylon Hotel by Arnold Bennett The Grand Babylon Hotel

Theodore Racksole, a rich American multi-millionaire, buys the Grand Babylon Hotel, a luxurious hotel in London, as a whim – and then finds out there are strange things going on – a German prince is supposed to arrive but never turns up, someone is found murdered in the hotel, but then the body disappears. With the help of his independent daughter Nella and another German prince, Racksole sets out to solve the mystery.Bennett wrote this as a 15-part serial, for a lark, in 15 days, and sold it for 100 pounds. It first appeared in The Golden Penny in 1902, which described it as “the most original, amusing, and thrilling serial written in a decade”.

By: J. M. Barrie (1860-1937)

The Admirable Crichton by J. M. Barrie The Admirable Crichton

From the author of Peter Pan:Lord Loam, a British peer, considers class divisions to be artificial. He promotes his views during tea-parties where servants mingle with his aristocratic guests, to the embarrassment of all. Crichton, his butler, particularly disapproves of this.Loam, his family, a maid, and Crichton are shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. The resourceful Crichton is the only one of the party with any practical knowledge. Eventually, social roles are reversed, and Crichton becomes the governor.

By: Charles Lamb

Book cover Mr. H

Mr H is a farce that was first performed at Drury Lane in 1806. The plot is slender and revolves around a single rather feeble joke, but the characters are skilfully drawn and the sharp observations of contemporary fashion do much to divert the listener from the weakness of the central theme. More a comedy of manners rather than a true farce, this short play is best enjoyed as a gentle romp through the eccentricities of the Regency period.

By: John Galsworthy (1867-1933)

Book cover Skin Game

A small play in three acts. A kind of comic tragedy. The plot tells the story of the interaction between two very different families in rural England just after the end of the First World War. Squire Hillcrist lives in the manor house where his family has lived for generations. He has a daughter, Jill, who is in her late teens; and a wife, Amy, as well as servants and retainers. He is "old money", although his finances are at a bit of low ebb. The other family is the "nouveau riche" Hornblowers,...

Book cover Skin Game

A small play in three acts. A kind of comic tragedy. The plot tells the story of the interaction between two very different families in rural England just after the end of the First World War. Squire Hillcrist lives in the manor house where his family has lived for generations. He has a daughter, Jill, who is in her late teens; and a wife, Amy, as well as servants and retainers. He is "old money", although his finances are at a bit of low ebb. The other family is the "nouveau riche" Hornblowers,...

By: George Grossmith (1847-1912)

The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith The Diary of a Nobody

Grossmith’s comic novel unveils the daily chronicles of the pompous and clumsy middle-aged clerk Charles Pooter, who has just moved to the London suburb of Holloway with his wife Carrie. Nonetheless, the family’s fresh start is not quite what they had in mind. Set in the late Victorian era, the diary accurately documents the manners, customs, trends and experiences of the time. First appearing in Punch magazine through the years 1888-89, The Diary of a Nobody was first published in book form in 1892 and has entertained readers ever since...

By: Bill Nye

Comic History of the United States by Bill Nye Comic History of the United States

For American journalist and humorist Edgar Wilson Nye who wrote under the pen name Bill Nye in the late 19th century, facts are not to be presented in their newborn, bare state. They should be properly draped and embellished before they can be presented before the public. Hence, in the Comic History of the United States published in 1894, he gives his readers the facts. But in a bid to make the historical figures more human he describes them as “people who ate and possibly drank, people who were born, flourished and died, not grave tragedians posing perpetually for their photographs...

By: Saki (1870-1916)

Reginald by Saki Reginald

Saki was the pen name of the British author Hector Hugh Munro (1870 – 1916). His witty, biting and occasionally odd short stories satirised Edwardian culture. Saki is considered a master of the short story and has been compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker as well as Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde (who clearly influenced Saki). His first collection of short stories, Reginald, was published by Methuen Press in 1904 though these stories first appeared in the ‘Westminster Gazette’. The stories...

By: Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)

Free Air by Sinclair Lewis Free Air

This road trip novel is set in the early twentieth century and follows the experiences of an aristocratic New Englander and her father as they travel by automobile from Minneapolis to Seattle. She is wooed and won by a noble but simple commoner she meets along the way. Lewis is at his usual wryly humorous self, poking fun at the upper class and treating the common people only slightly better.

Our Mr. Wrenn, the Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man by Sinclair Lewis Our Mr. Wrenn, the Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man

"At thirty-four Mr. Wrenn was the sales-entry clerk of the Souvenir Company. He was always bending over bills and columns of figures at a desk behind the stock-room. He was a meek little bachelor--a person of inconspicuous blue ready-made suits, and a small unsuccessful mustache." Mr. Wrenn, however has a rich inner life embellished by his own imagination. When he comes into a modest inheritance, he feels he ought to learn to get out and wander a bit, and then his education begins. He finds life more "interesting", perhaps than he had "imagined". . . (Introduction by Don Jenkins)

By: P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)

The Clicking of Cuthbert by P. G. Wodehouse The Clicking of Cuthbert

The first of two books that he wrote on golfing themes, The Clicking of Cuthbert by PG Wodehouse sparkles with typical Wodehousian wit, humor and general goofiness! An avid golfer himself, Wodehouse published the ten stories in this volume in 1922. In 1924, an American edition titled Golf Without Tears was published. Since then it has enjoyed undimmed popularity among both Wodehouse fans and golfing enthusiasts. Nine of the stories contained in this book are narrated by the Oldest Member, a character who has become a cult figure among Wodehouse fans...

The Coming of Bill by P. G. Wodehouse The Coming of Bill

The Coming of Bill tells the story of Kirk Winfield, his marriage to Ruth, and their child called Bill. Bill's upbringing is threatened by the interference of Ruth's busybody writer aunt, Mrs Lora Delane Porter.

By: John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922)

The Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs The Idiot

The Idiot is anything but, yet his fellow boarders at Mrs. Smithers-Pedagog’s home for single gentlemen see him as such. His brand of creative thought is dismissed as foolishness yet it continues to get under their skin, because when you’re beneath contempt you can say what you please. – This is the first of John Kendrick Bangs' “Idiot” books and was published by Harper and Brothers in 1895.

Genial Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs Genial Idiot

John Kendrick Bangs once again takes us on a journey with the loveable, but somewhat self-opinionated and irritating Mr Idiot.

Genial Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs Genial Idiot

John Kendrick Bangs once again takes us on a journey with the loveable, but somewhat self-opinionated and irritating Mr Idiot.

By: Upton Sinclair (1878-1968)

Book cover Naturewoman

The Mastersons, a wealthy Bostonian family, await the arrival of their cousin Anna in the wake of her grandfather's death. Though born in Boston, Anna, who prefers the name Oceana, spent most of her life on a tropical island in the Pacific with her father. A free spirit, her practices and values surrounding proper dress, romance, and entertainment clash with those of her conservative relatives. What will happen as patience and tolerance wear thin for both parties when alluring Oceana catches the...

By: Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

The Proposal by Anton Chekhov The Proposal

The Proposal is a one act comic farce by Anton Chekhov. In Chekhov’s Russia, marriage was a means of economic stability for most people. They married to gain wealth and possessions. In this play, the concept of marriage is being satirized to show the real purpose of marriage – materialistic gain rather than true love.

The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's last play. It premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre 17 January 1904 in a production directed by Constantin Stanislavski. Chekhov intended this play as a comedy and it does contain some elements of farce; however, Stanislavski insisted on directing the play as a tragedy. Since this initial production, directors have had to contend with the dual nature of this play. The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to the family's estate (which includes a large and well-known cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage...

By: Robert Benchley (1889-1945)

Love Conquers All by Robert Benchley Love Conquers All

Sixty-three essays on a variety of topics as wide apart as Family Life in America, Opera Synopses, Bigamy, International Finance and many more, Love Conquers All by Robert Benchley strangely enough does not touch upon romance at all! However, these delightful notes provide hours of browsing pleasure for young and old readers alike. Robert Benchley was a well-known humorist and newspaper columnist, radio and television presenter, actor, scriptwriter and broadcaster. He is also credited with creating the first ever television entertainment show and one of his iconic short films, How to Sleep won an Academy Award in 1936...

By: Gelett Burgess (1866-1951)

More Goops and How Not to Be Them by Gelett Burgess More Goops and How Not to Be Them

Deep in the heart of every parent is the wish, the desire, to have other adults tell us, in an unsolicited way, just how very polite one’s child is! This perhaps was even more the case in 1903, when Gelett Burgess produced his second book on the Goops. With entertaining cartoons – cariacatures of misbehaving children – he described many different breaches of tact and good manners. Burgess wrote several books of poetry on the Goops, each poem describing some significant way in which an unthoughtful or unkind child could offend polite society and often offering the hope that the listener would never behave that way...

By: Douglas William Jerrold (1803-1857)

Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures by Douglas William Jerrold Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures

First serialized in Punch magazine in 1845, and officially published in book form in 1846, Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures presents a collection of 37 lectures delivered by Mrs. Caudle to her husband as a means of reproach for his trivial infractions. Also, the author marvelously incorporates typical elements responsible for disagreements between spouses including the antipathetic mother-in-law, the ne’er-do-well friends, and the jealous outbursts. Jerrold’s charming piece of satire introduces the Victorian married couple, Mr...

By: Booth Tarkington (1869-1946)

Gentle Julia by Booth Tarkington Gentle Julia

Penrod for girls in the form of Florence, the bratty younger cousin of luminous Julia Atwater, enlivens this romantic comedy set in Tarkington's Indiana of the early 20th Century.

By: Gideon Wurdz (b. 1875)

The Foolish Dictionary by Gideon Wurdz The Foolish Dictionary

“The Foolish Dictionary” was written by “Gideon Wurdz” and was published in 1904. According to the beginning of the book, it is “An exhausting work of reference to un-certain English words, their origin, meaning, legitimate and illegitimate use…” This a a short but amusing dictionary which “redefines” words in some interesting ways. Funny and sometimes bizarre observations are sprinkled throughout. In keeping with the policy to read, rather than attempt to rewrite, books – even those with offensive content – nothing has been omitted...

By: Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894)

Struwwelpeter: Merry Tales and Funny Pictures by Heinrich Hoffmann Struwwelpeter: Merry Tales and Funny Pictures

Struwwelpeter (Slovenly Peter) is an illustrated collection of humorous children’s poems describing ludicrous and usually violent punishments for naughty behavior. Hoffmann, a Frankfurt physician, wanted to buy a picture book for his son for Christmas in 1844. Not impressed by what the stores had to offer, he instead bought a notebook and wrote his own stories and pictures. While Struwwelpeter is somewhat notorious for its perceived brutal treatment of the erring children, it has been influential on many later children’s books, most notably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

By: George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw Pygmalion

If you've watched and loved the delightful musical My Fair Lady, then you'd love to read the wonderful play on which it is based. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw is equally engrossing and as full of charm, wit and underlying pathos. First performed on stage in 1912, Pygmalion takes its title from the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. In the ancient story, a brilliant sculptor, Pygmalion falls in love with one of his own creations, a ravishingly beautiful sculpture whom he names Galatea. He propitiates Aphrodite, who grants his wish that his statue would come to life and that he could marry her...

Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw Arms and the Man

Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw that takes place in 1885, during the Serbo-Bulgarian War. Raina Petkoff is engaged to the gallant Sergius Saranoff, hero of the recent Bulgarian victory over the Serbs. But she is distracted by the abrupt arrival of Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary who fought for the Serbian army. He takes refuge in her bedroom after the battle and although he is initially threatening, reveals that he carries chocolates instead of bullets. Will Raina marry the posturing Sergius or the chocolate cream soldier? Extra intrigue is provided by saucy servant girl Louka, her dour fiance Nicola, and Raina's hand-wringing parents.

Book cover The Doctor's Dilemma

The Doctor's Dilemma is about Dr. Colenso Ridgeon, who has recently been knighted because of a miraculous new treatment he developed for tuberculosis. As his friends arrive to congratulate him on his success, he is visited by two figures who present him with a difficult decision. He has room for one more patient in his clinic; should he give it to Louis Dubedat, a brilliant but absolutely immoral artist, or Dr. Blenkinsop, a poor and rather ordinary physician who is a truly good person? Dr. Ridgeon's dilemma is heightened when he falls for Jennifer Dubedat, the artist's wife, who is innocent of her husband's profligacy.

By: Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941)

The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight by Elizabeth von Arnim The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight

The Princess Priscilla of Lothen Kunitz finds court life stifling and runs away to England with the elderly court librarian. Her intention is to live a pure and simple life filled with good works. But life among ordinary people in an English village is not what she expects it to be... (Introduction by Tabithat)

By: Edna Ferber (1885-1968)

Roast Beef, Medium by Edna Ferber Roast Beef, Medium

This book follows the adventures of Emma McChesney, a smart and savvy divorced mother who travels the Midwest as a sales representative for a large skirt and petticoat manufacturer. Her many adventures with people, (including predatory salesmen and hotel clerks), are funny and poignant. She is hardworking and able to outsell the slickest of the men salesmen. She has learned to focus on her work and her seventeen-year-old son, Jock. Experience has taught her that it is usually best to stick to roast beef, medium and not get stomach ache with fancy sauces and exotic dishes...

By: Irvin S. Cobb (1876-1944)

Cobb's Anatomy by Irvin S. Cobb Cobb's Anatomy

Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb was born on June 23, 1876. At seventeen years of age, he began writing for the Paducah Daily News, his hometown paper. At nineteen he became the managing editor; up to that point, our nation’s youngest. He worked as a columnist, a humorist and an author. But ‘horror,’ and ’short stories,’ are not why he is remembered. He is remembered because he was, and still is, funny. And although he is now dead–he died March 11, 1944–this work “Cobb’s Anatomy,” among others, has left an indelible mark upon mankind: a smile.

By: C. J. Dennis (1876-1938)

The Glugs of Gosh by C. J. Dennis The Glugs of Gosh

First published in 1917, The Glugs of Gosh satirizes Australian life at the start of the twentieth century – but the absurdities it catalogs seem just as prevalent at the start of the twenty-first. The foolishness of kings, the arrogance of the elite, the gullibility of crowds, the pride of the self-righteous, the unthinking following of tradition – all find themselves the targets of C. J. Dennis’ biting wit.

By: G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Book cover Magic: A Fantastic Comedy

By: Edith Œnone Somerville (1858-1949)

Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. by Edith Œnone Somerville Some Experiences of an Irish R.M.

This is the first of three novels which Edith Somerville and her cousin Violet Martin wrote about the English Major Sinclair Yates who leaves the army to take up a position of Resident Magistrate in the West of Ireland in about 1895. The tales tell in a humorous way of his struggles with a new job, new culture, and with his landlord and neighbour Mr. ‘Flurry’ Knox whose prime, if not only, interest is in hunting, which forms the background to all the stories. Miss Somerville was herself the first woman anywhere to become an M.F.H.

By: Peter Newell (1862-1924)

The Slant Book by Peter Newell The Slant Book

The Slant Book is literally the shape of a parallelogram, with the spine of the book running down one side. When opened, facing pages form a “V” shape. All the pictures on the slanted recto pages show a way-too-precocious infant in a carriage [the "go-cart" of yesteryear] racing downhill who has somehow gotten away from his nanny, gleefully creating havoc all along the way! The facing verso pages contain two stanzas of commentary on the charming –if alarming!– illustrations. This book pioneered the “special format” children’s literature of today, such as pop-up books or cutout books like Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar...

By: Robert Williams Wood (1868-1955)

How to Tell the Birds from the Flowers by Robert Williams Wood How to Tell the Birds from the Flowers

How do you tell apart a parrot from a carrot? A plover from a clover? A bay from a jay? Although there are several ways of differentiating, R. W. Wood’s use of pun and rhyme is one of the most entertaining!

By: Herbert Jenkins (1876-1923)

Patricia Brent, spinster by Herbert Jenkins Patricia Brent, spinster

A romantic comedy, written in 1918, but with a modern feel to it. Patricia Brent one day overhears two fellow-boarders pitying her because she “never has a nice young man to take her out”. In a thoughtless moment of anger she announces that the following night she will be dining out with her fiance. When she arrives at the restaurant the next day, she finds some of the fellow-boarders there to watch her, so, rendered reckless by the thought of the humiliation of being found out, she goes up to a young man sitting alone at a table, and asks him to help her by “playing up”. Countless complications and adventures ensue…

By: George Bernard Shaw

Candida by George Bernard Shaw Candida

Candida, a comedy by playwright George Bernard Shaw, was first published in 1898, as part of his Plays Pleasant. The central characters are clergyman James Morell, his wife Candida and a youthful poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who tries to win Candida's affections. The play questions Victorian notions of love and marriage, asking what a woman really desires from her husband. The cleric is a Fabian Socialist, allowing Shaw—himself a Fabian—to weave political issues, current at the time, into the story.

Book cover Major Barbara

George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara focuses on the family of aristocratic Lady Britomart Undershaft and her estranged husband Andrew, a millionaire armaments manufacturer. Their daughters Sarah and Barbara are both engaged to be married, and Lady Britomart decides to ask Andrew for monetary support. Barbara is a Major in the Salvation Army, and agrees to let her father visit the mission in the East End of London where she works. In exchange, she agrees to visit his munitions factory. The conflict between Barbara's philanthropic idealism and her father's hard-headed capitalism clash when he decides he wants to fund the Salvation Army...

Book cover Heartbreak House

On the eve of World War I, Ellie Dunn, her father, and her fiancé are invited to one of Hesione Hushabye’s infamous dinner parties. Unfortunately, her fiancé is a scoundrel, her father’s a bumbling prig, and she’s actually in love with Hector, Hesione’s husband. This bold mix of farce and tragedy lampoons British society as it blithely sinks towards disaster.

By: Owen Wister (1860-1938)

The Dragon of Wantley by Owen Wister The Dragon of Wantley

A novel, The Dragon of Wantley, was written by Owen Wister (best known as the author of The Virginian) in 1892. Published by Lipincott Press, the story is a comic "burlesque" (in the author's words), concerning the "true" story of the Dragon. It is a romantic story set at Christmastime in the early 13th century. The book was a surprise success, going through four editions over the next ten years. This is the 1895 edition.

Philosophy 4: A Story of Harvard University by Owen Wister Philosophy 4: A Story of Harvard University

Owen Wister's wry humor enlivens this comedic story of three sophomores during exam week at Harvard.

By: Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)

Miss Civilization by Richard Harding Davis Miss Civilization

Miss Civilization, a one act comedy, tells the story of a young woman who matches wits with three burglars attempting to rob her house.


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