By: Edward Lear (1812-1888)
Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets
A selection of nonsense poems, songs (not sung!), stories, and miscellaneous strangeness. The work includes the "Owl and the Pussycat" and a recipe for Amblongus Pie, which begins "Take 4 pounds (say 4½ pounds) of fresh ablongusses and put them in a small pipkin."Edward Lear was an English writer, poet, cat-lover, and illustrator (his watercolours are beautiful). This recording celebrates the 200th anniversary of Lear's birth.
By: George Barr McCutcheon (1866-1928)
He hosts an all expenses paid luxury cruise to Europe for fifty guests and showers them with expensive gifts. When he's mugged in a dark alley, he insists that the thugs also take the $300 stashed away in his back pocket. He flies into a rage whenever one of his employees suggests cutting costs. Every time he places a bet, he wins, causing him even more despair! In Brewster's Millions by George Barr McCutcheon, a classic riches-to-rags tale, Montgomery Brewster is bound by the terms of an eccentric uncle's will to spend one million dollars completely within a year so that he can lay claim to an even bigger fortune...
Mr. Crittenden Yollop makes friends with the man who came to burglarize his home and sets out to help him return to where he really wants to be...prison. This humorous satire takes a somewhat different look at prisons, criminals, the law and reformers.
By: Israel Zangwill (1864-1926)
The King of Schnorrers
Manasseh da Costa is a schnorrer (beggar) who lives on the charitable contributions of the Jews of late 18th-century London. But Manasseh is far from being a humble panhandler for, as every schnorrer knows, supporting the poor is a commandment from God (a mitzvah) not just a favour. And as the descendant of Portuguese Jews who had lived in England for many generations, Manasseh is the social superior of those newly arrived from Eastern Europe (called ‘Tedesco’), even his wealthy patron Joseph Grobstock...
By: Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)
Hedda Gabler is a play first published in 1890 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. In it, Hedda Gabler, daughter of an aristocratic General, has just returned from her honeymoon with George Tesman, an aspiring young academic, reliable but not brilliant, who has combined research with their honeymoon. The reappearance of Tesman’s academic rival, Eilert Lovborg, throws their lives into disarray.
By: Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
A shy, introverted young poet. A weekend in a magnificent English country house. A beautiful young lady whom the poet is secretly in love with. An assorted group of guests with varied interests, motives, ambitions and aspirations, and the complex web of history and events that connect all of them. Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley was his first book, published in 1921, when he was just 27 years old. It is typical of many books written during this period by writers like Thomas Love Peacock and Somerset Maugham, centered round a country mansion and the quaint, British tradition of being invited to spend a weekend with a group of people whom one may or may not know...
By: Robert Benchley (1889-1945)
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: John Habberton
Harry Burton, salesman of white-goods, bachelor of twenty-eight leads a charmed existence. A letter from his sister, Helen changes his life forever. She and her husband have been invited for a holiday but they can't find anyone to baby-sit their two toddlers, five-year-old Budge and three-year-old Toddie. Ever the gallant helpful, Harry steps in, foreseeing nothing but a relaxed vacation with lots of books to read and thinks baby-sitting's a breeze. But destiny has other plans. Harry has long adored a lovely lady from afar and hopes to convince her that he is marriage material by displaying his nurturing side...
By: L. A. Abbott (1813-??)
Seven Wives and Seven Prisons
This work the author claims is indeed a true story of how he happened to be married seven times to seven different women and the rollicking, hilarious events that led (or stumbled) to the marriages and the ah–disassembling/failing/failures of each said marriage which happened oftentimes to land him in prison. The summarist finds the work a very tongue-in-cheek diatribe/lament/account of his obsessive zeal in ‘marrying the right one’, but is also the mirthful chronicle of said author’s very unconventional adventures.
By: H. G. Wells (1866-1946)
Love and Mr Lewisham
The teaching profession, science and politics in late 19th century England. H.G.Wells’ humorous early novel, drawing on his own life, shows how these – as well as involvement in spiritualism – have to compete with love.
By: Booth Tarkington
A Tale of Youth and Summer Time and the Baxter Family Especially William
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.
Join Penrod Schofield and his wistful dog Duke, in a hilarious romp through turn of the century Indianapolis, chronicling his life, loves, and mostly the trouble he gets into.
Penrod and Sam
Follow more of the hilarious life of the boy Penrod Schofield, his friends Sam Williams, Herman, Verman, Georgie, Maurice, and the love of his life, Marjorie Jones.
By: Gideon Wurdz (b. 1875)
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: Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897)
Tartarin of Tarascon
It tells the burlesque adventures of Tartarin, a local hero of Tarascon, a small town in southern France, whose invented adventures and reputation as a swashbuckler finally force him to travel to a very prosaic Algiers in search of lions. Instead of finding a romantic, mysterious Oriental fantasy land, he finds a sordid world suspended between Europe and the Middle East. And worst of all, there are no lions left.
By: Irwin S. Cobb (1876-1944)
Irwin Cobb’s humorous Europe Revised is a travelogue and comedy almost in the style of Mark Twain. The dedication says it best, “To My Small DaughterWho bade me shed a tear at the tomb of Napoleon, which I was very glad to do, because when I got there my feet certainly were hurting me.”
By: W. S. Gilbert (1836-1911)
The Bab Ballads
The Bab Ballads are a collection of light verse by W. S. Gilbert, illustrated with his own comic drawings. Gilbert wrote the Ballads before he became famous for his comic opera librettos with Arthur Sullivan. In writing the Bab Ballads, Gilbert developed his unique “topsy-turvy” style, where the humour was derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences, however absurd. The Ballads also reveal Gilbert’s cynical and satirical approach to humour. They became famous on their own, as well as being a source for plot elements, characters and songs that Gilbert would recycle in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas...
By: P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)
The Girl on the Boat
Also published as "Three Men and a Maid". The maid of the title is red-haired, dog-loving Wilhelmina "Billie" Bennet, and the three men are Bream Mortimer, a long-time friend and admirer of Billie, Eustace Hignett, a lily-livered poet who is engaged to Billie at the opening of the tale, and Sam Marlowe, Eustace's dashing cousin, who falls for Billie at first sight. All four find themselves on an ocean liner headed for England together, along with a capable young woman called Jane Hubbard who is smitten with Eustace, and typically Wodehousian romantic shenanigans ensue. (Introduction by wikipedia)
Mrs Nesta Ford, in her London hotel room, reveals to her new friend Lord Mountry that she hopes to take her son Ogden on a yachting trip proposed by Mountry, despite her ex-husband having won custody of the boy. As Mountry leaves, Cynthia Drassilis arrives with Ogden, whom she has led away from his father's country house. Mrs Ford rewards Cynthia, but soon Mr Ford's secretary, a Mr Minnick, arrives to recover the stolen child. Cynthia tries to bribe his colleague, Mrs Sheridan, but to no avail, as she believes Nesta's influence has spoiled the boy...
By: Joseph Jacobs (1854-1916)
Indian Fairy Tales
This book is a fine collection of Indian fairy tales, some are folklore, some are from the Jataka tales, and some from panchatantra.
By: Frederick Marryat (1792-1848)
This is a quite amusing nautical tale of the British Navy of the around the year 1700. While, as with much early 'humor', it is somewhat heavy-handed, the sympathies of the author are clear and good, and cruelty is often averted by good fortune or background characters. First published under the title 'The Dog Fiend', the primary characters are an evil captain of a cutter and his dog. The dog seems indestructible, as is the poor cabin boy who is the butt of the captain's ill humor, and who often is chewed on by the dog...
By: Edna Ferber (1885-1968)
Dawn O'Hara, The Girl Who Laughed
Dawn O’Hara, the Girl Who Laughed was Edna Ferber’s first novel. Dawn, a newspaperwoman working in New York, finds herself back home in Michigan on doctor’s orders. Years of living in boarding-houses and working to pay for the care of her brilliant but mentally ill husband, Peter Orme, have taken their toll. At twenty-eight, Dawn feels like an old woman with no future. But, the loving care of her sister Norah and her family along with the attentions of the handsome German doctor, Ernst Von Gerhard, slowly bring Dawn back to life...
Buttered Side Down
"And so," the story writers used to say, "they lived happily ever after." Um-m-m—maybe. After the glamour had worn off, and the glass slippers were worn out, did the Prince never find Cinderella's manner redolent of the kitchen hearth; and was it never necessary that he remind her to be more careful of her finger-nails and grammar? After Puss in Boots had won wealth and a wife for his young master did not that gentleman often fume with chagrin because the neighbors, perhaps, refused to call on the lady of the former poor miller's son? It is a great risk to take with one's book-children...
By: Edwin F. Benson (1867-1940)
E. F. Benson (1867-1940) was born at Wellington College in Berkshire, where his father, who later went on to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, was the first Headmaster. He wrote 105 books in all. Queen Lucia (first published in 1920) was the first of Benson’s ‘Mapp and Lucia’ novels of which there were six. This first book is a comedy of manners based in the provincial village of Riseholme, where Emmeline Lucas (the Queen Lucia of the title) presides over the social and artistic universe of the gullible residents...
E. F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia series, consists of six novels and three short stories. The novels are: Queen Lucia, Lucia in London, Miss Mapp (including the short story The Male Impersonator), Mapp and Lucia, Lucia’s Progress (published as The Worshipful Lucia in the U.S.) and Trouble for Lucia. Most of these works are set in the fictional village of “Tilling”, which is based on the village of Rye, Sussex, England. “Mallards”, the house with the garden room inhabited by Miss Mapp, and later by Lucia, is based on Lamb House, Benson’s own home in Rye. Earlier, the house was the Sussex home of writer Henry James.
By: Henry Fielding (1707-1754)
The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling
Tom Jones is considered one of the first prose works describable as a novel. The novel is divided into 18 smaller books. Tom Jones is a foundling discovered on the property of a very kind, wealthy landowner, Squire Allworthy. Tom grows into a vigorous and lusty, yet honest and kind-hearted, youth. He develops affection for his neighbor’s daughter, Sophia Western. On one hand, their love reflects the romantic comedy genre popular in 18th-century Britain. However, Tom’s status as a bastard causes Sophia’s father and Allworthy to oppose their love; this criticism of class friction in society acted as a biting social commentary...
An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews
An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews, or simply Shamela, as it is more commonly known, is a satirical novel written by Henry Fielding and first published in April 1741 under the name of Mr. Conny Keyber. Fielding never owned to writing the work, but it is widely considered to be his. It is a direct attack on the then-popular novel Pamela (November 1740) by Fielding's contemporary and rival Samuel Richardson and is composed, like Pamela, in epistolary form. Shamela is written as a shocking revelation of the true events which took place in the life of Pamela Andrews, the main heroine of Pamela...
By: Irvin S. Cobb (1876-1944)
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.
One Third Off
Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb (June 23, 1876–March 11, 1944) was an American author, humorist, and columnist who lived in New York and wrote over 60 books and 300 short stories. Cobb has been described as “having a round shape, bushy eyebrows, full lips, and a triple chin. He always had a cigar in his mouth.” This book is a hilarious account of Cobb’s attempts at weight-loss.
J. Poindexter, Colored
This comic novel relates the first-person adventures in New York City of Jefferson Poindexter, personal assistant to Cobb's famous Judge Priest, while the judge is vacationing abroad. (Introduction by Grant Hurlock)
By: William Dean Howells (1837-1920)
Five O'Clock Tea
A light-hearted romantic comedy in twelve short scenes, set during a tea party in the home of Mrs. Amy Somers, a widow who is courted by the ingenuous and delightful Mr. Willis Campbell.
By: Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
Carl Sandburg is beloved by generations of children for his Rootabaga Stories and Rootabaga Pigeons (which is not in the public domain), a series of whimsical, sometimes melancholy stories he originally created for his own daughters. The Rootabaga Stories were born of Sandburg’s desire for “American fairy tales” to match American childhood. He felt that the European stories involving royalty and knights were inappropriate, and so populated his stories with animals, skyscrapers, trains, corn fairies, and other colorful characters.
By: Georgette Heyer
The Black Moth
Jack Carstares, oldest son of the Earl Wyncham, has been disgraced by his brother. Gone for six years, living the life a highwayman he meets the woman he will fall in love with. Saving her from being kidnapped by a dastardly blackguard he is injured and must stay with her family until he is able to return to his life…will she discovery his true identity? Will he be able to leave her when the time comes? Mystery and humor follow this intriguing cast of characters until the very end. (Summary by Terra Mendoza)
By: Mark Phillips (Randall Garrett and Laurence M. Janifer)
“Mark Phillips” is, or are, two writers: Randall Garrett and Laurence M. Janifer. Their joint pen-name, derived from their middle names (Philip and Mark), was coined soon after their original meeting, at a science-fiction convention. Both men were drunk at the time, which explains a good deal, and only one has ever sobered up. A matter for constant contention between the collaborators is which one. Originally published as That Sweet Little Old Lady, Brain Twister follows the adventures of FBI agent Kenneth J...
By: Robert Barr (1850-1912)
The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont
Short stories by a colleague of Jerome K. Jerome, and friend of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Barr probably wrote the first parody of Sherlock Holmes (included in this collection). He co-edited “The Idler” with Jerome. [written by Czechchris]
In a Steamer Chair and Other Stories
Thirteen short stories by one of the most famous writers in his day. Robert Barr was a British Canadian short story writer and novelist, born in Glasgow, Scotland. In London of the 1890s Barr became a more prolific author - publishing a book a year - and was familiar with many of the best selling authors of his day, including Bret Harte and Stephen Crane. Most of his literary output was of the crime genre, then quite in vogue. When Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories were becoming well known,...
By: Christopher Morley (1890-1957)
Mince Pie is a compilation of humorous sketches, poetry, and essays written by Christopher Morley. Morley sets the tone in the preface: "If one asks what excuse there can be for prolonging the existence of these trifles, my answer is that there is no excuse. But a copy on the bedside shelf may possibly pave the way to easy slumber. Only a mind "debauched by learning" (in Doctor Johnson's phrase) will scrutinize them too anxiously."
By: Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Russian writer, was first published in 1842, and is one of the most prominent works of 19th-century Russian literature. Gogol himself saw it as an “epic poem in prose”, and within the book as a “novel in verse”. Despite supposedly completing the trilogy’s second part, Gogol destroyed it shortly before his death. Although the novel ends in mid-sentence (like Sterne’s Sentimental Journey), it is usually regarded as complete in the extant form. In Russia before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, landowners were entitled to own serfs to farm their land...
By: Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)
Herland is a utopian novel from 1915, written by feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The book describes an isolated society comprised entirely of Aryan women who reproduce via parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction). The result is an ideal social order, free of war, conflict and domination. It first appeared as a serial in Perkin’s monthly magazine Forerunner.
By: Peter Newell (1862-1924)
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...
The Rocket Book
The Rocket Book begins when the son of a building superintendent sets a match to a rocket he discovered in the basement. Suddenly, the rocket blasts its way up through apartment after apartment in a high-rise, disrupting and transforming the humdrum goings-on of twenty families till it is finally stopped cold by something in the attic. An elliptical hole is punched in each of the book’s pages and illustrations to signify where the rocket passed through every apartment! As in all of Newell’s books, the verse on the verso-page provides commentary on the recto-page illustration...
By: Irwin Leslie Gordon (1888-1954)
Who Was Who: 5000 BC – 1914
A short, humorous biography of famous people from 5000 BC to 1914. — S. McGaughey From the Introduction, “The editor begs leave to inform the public that only persons who can produce proper evidence of their demise will be admitted to Who Was Who. Press Agent notices or complimentary comments are absolutely excluded, and those offering to pay for the insertion of names will be prosecuted. As persons become eligible they will be included without solicitation, while the pages will be expurgated of others should good luck warrant.”
By: Robert Williams Wood (1868-1955)
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: Albert Bigelow Pain
The Boys' Life of Mark Twain
Albert Bigelow Paine was Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ (Mark Twain’s) biographer. He lived with Twain, collecting ideas and material for a biography, for a few years before Twain’s death in 1910. Six years later Paine published this “story of a man who made the world laugh and love him.” For those who have read or listened to Mark Twain’s works, Paine’s work is an invaluable resource to better understand Twain, the stories behind his stories and his life with those he loved and with whom he worked.
By: Earl Derr Biggers (1884-1933)
Seven Keys to Baldpate
Dime-store novelist William Magee has gone to Baldpate Inn to do a little soul-searching in an attempt to write a serious work. Thinking he will be alone and uninterrupted, Magee arrives at the inn in the dead of winter. But he discovers that there are six other keys to Baldpate Inn, and the holders of those keys enliven his stay with bribery, shootings and plenty of mystery.
By: George Pope Morris (1802-1864)
Will Nobody Marry Me?
In addition to his publishing and editorial work, Morris was popular as a poet and songwriter; especially well-known was his poem-turned-song "Woodman, Spare that Tree!" His songs in particular were popular enough that Graham's Magazine in Philadelphia promised Morris $50, sight unseen, for any work he wanted to publish in the periodical.
By: Edward Ormondroyd
David and the Phoenix
David knew that one should be prepared for anything when one climbs a mountain, but he never dreamed what he would find that June morning on the mountain ledge. There stood an enormous bird, with a head like an eagle, a neck like a swan, and a scarlet crest. The most astonishing thing was that the bird had an open book on the ground and was reading from it! This was David’s first sight of the fabulous Phoenix and the beginning of a pleasant and profitable partnership. The Phoenix found a great...
By: Gerard Nolst Trenité
“The Chaos” is a poem which demonstrates the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation, written by Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946), also known under the pseudonym Charivarius. It first appeared in an appendix to the author’s 1920 textbook Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen.
By: Tobias Smollett
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker was the last of the picaresque novels of Tobias Smollett, and is considered by many to be his best and funniest work. Published in London on 17 June 1771, it is an epistolary novel, presented in the form of letters written by six different characters: Matthew Bramble, a Welsh Squire; his sister Tabitha; their niece and nephew, Jery and Lydia Melford; Tabitha’s maid Winifred Jenkins; and Lydia’s suitor, Wilson. Much of the comedy arises from differences in the descriptions of the same events by different participants...
By: Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)
The Princess Aline
Morton Carlton, an easy-going, rich young artist, has never taken the concepts of love and marriage all that seriously -- until by accident a copy of an English illustrated paper falls into his hands, which contains a photograph of the young Princess Aline of Hohenwald. Instantly, Carlton is captivated by the princess, and decides that he must meet her. But how to get close to a princess, who lives in a small German duchy well protected by guards and etiquette? Carlton decides to travel to Europe and try his luck...
My Buried Treasure
"This is a true story of a search for buried treasure. The only part that is not true is the name of the man with whom I searched for the treasure. Unless I keep his name out of it he will not let me write the story, and, as it was his expedition and as my share of the treasure is only what I can make by writing the story, I must write as he dictates. I think the story should be told, because our experience was unique, and might be of benefit to others. And, besides, I need the money." (From the text)
By: James Stephens
There is a Tavern in the Town
The soul of Irish wit is captured in this unique tale of a barstool philosopher, the concluding story from 'Here Are Ladies' by James Stephens. (Introduction by iremonger)
By: Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)
"Kashtanka," a shaggy-dog story penned by Anton Chekhov in seven parts and first published in 1887, relates the experiences of its eponymous heroine, a fox-faced, reddish dachshund-mix, whose name means 'little chestnut.' After her detestation of music causes her to become separated from the carpenter with whose family she had been living, Kashtanka finds herself taken up by an unusual vaudevillian and goes to live among an assortment of other intelligent animals, each of whom is observed with the characteristic empathy and humor that stamp Chekhov's work.
By: Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927)
Second Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow
A second volume of humorous essays on various subjects, following the success of Idle thoughts Of An Idle Fellow.
Diary of a Pilgrimage
A possibly fictionalised account by the comic novelist Jerome K. Jerome of a trip to Germany that he undertook with a friend in order to see the famous Passion Play at Oberammergau. The journey takes in London, Dover, Ostend, Cologne, Munich, Oberau, Oberammergau and then back to London via Heidelberg. As one might expect from the author of 'Three Men in a Boat', much goes wrong along the way, including seasickness, strange food, stranger beds, misleading guidebooks, bewildering train timetables, and numerous cultural and linguistic misunderstandings.
By: P. T. Barnum (1810-1891)
The Humbugs of the World
P. T. Barnum exposes some of the chief humbugs of the world with his usual entertaining style. He looks at medicine and quacks, ghosts, witchcraft, religious humbugs, money manias, adventurers, personal reminiscences, and much more.
By: Carolyn Wells (1862-1942)
The Jingle Book
A collection of silly poetry and limericks for children.
By: Daisy Ashford (1881-1972)
The Young Visiters, or Mr. Salteena's Plan
The Young Visiters is a comic romance novella that parodies upper class society of late Victorian England. Social climber Alfred Salteena introduces his young lady friend Ethel to a genuine gentleman named Bernard and, to his irritation, they hit it off. But Bernard helps Alfred in his plan to become a gentleman, which, Alfred hopes, will help him win back Ethel.