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By: P. T. Barnum (1810-1891)

The Humbugs of the World by P. T. Barnum 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: Palmer Cox (1840-1924)

Book cover Frontier Humor in Verse, Prose and Picture

Also known for his "Brownies" books, Canadian humorist Palmer Cox give us a delightful collection of humorous verse and short prose vignettes. From the publisher's preface, "thrice happy is the man who, having seen, can tell the fun; and having told, can picture it for others’ eyes and so roll on the rollicking humor, for the brightening of a world already far too sad." - Summary by Larry Wilson

By: Pedro Carolino (1788-1866)

Book cover English as She is Spoke

English as She is Spoke is a 19th century Portuguese-to-English phrasebook that has become a classic of absurdist humor, owing chiefly to the apparent fact that its writer had absolutely no knowledge of English. It is thought that for utterly obscure reasons its unknown author, Pedro Carolino, used a dictionary to translate Portuguese words to French, then a second dictionary to convert French to English, producing an incoherent but hilarious result. Mark Twain said of this book, "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect." - Summary by J A Carter

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...

The Rocket Book by Peter Newell 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: Philander Misaurus

Book cover Honour of the Gout

This droll and 'enflammatory' pamphelet doth be a grondebreaking worke of musing upon a great aflicktion of Man, upon the better nature of that aflicktion, and upon the vain and mischievous cheats who affeckt to cure it. The gauntlet here so-toss'd by Philander Misaurus was later pick'd up by surgeon John Marten in his rejoinder, titled by the name–"The Dishonour of the Gout". Which seeketh to shew all minds swayed by Philander's prettie words that—indubitably—Gout is misfortune. - Summary by Alasdair

By: Q. K. Philander Doesticks (1832-1875)

The Witches of New York by Q. K. Philander Doesticks The Witches of New York

A humorous account of visits to various fortune tellers, card readers, seers, and other "witches" of New York. Written by Q.K. Philander Doesticks (a.k.a.Mortimer Thomson).

By: Ralph Keeler (1840-1873)

Book cover Vagabond Adventures

Ralph Keeler failed as a novelist, but this autobiography reflects a life well-lived with humor and adventure. Keeler was in the same literary circle as satirist Bret Harte, novelist Charles Warren Stoddard, editor Thomas Bailey Aldrich, and essayist William Dean Howells. He so impressed Mark Twain that Twain wrote an essay about him called "Ralph Keeler". In 1873, on his way to Cuba, he reportedly was thrown overboard by a Spanish loyalist who objected to his backing of the revolutionary, anti-Spanish movement. - Summary by John Greenman

By: Richard Barnum

Squinty the Comical Pig by Richard Barnum Squinty the Comical Pig

"This comical children's tale about the funny adventures of a funny pig written by an unknown author. The publisher has hired authors to write children's tales, and gave them "house names". The "name" of the author who wrote this tale is Richard Barnum. It became very successful, the most well known of Richard Barnum's tales. So, if you want to laugh a little, even if you are not a child, read this book".

By: Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816)

Book cover School For Scandal

Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy was first performed in 1777 and focuses on the intrigues and scandals of the British upper classes. Lady Sneerwell wants to marry Charles Surface, while Joseph Surface wants to marry Maria, an heiress and ward of Sir Peter Teazle. Maria, however, prefers Charles over Joseph. In order to detach her from Charles, Lady Sneerwell and Joseph spread rumors about an affair between Charles and Lady Teazle, Sir Peter's new young wife. Meanwhile, Sir Oliver Surface, newly returned from the East Indies, assumes various disguises to test his nephews' characters. Misunderstandings, mistaken identities, gossip, and bad behavior abound in this uproarious comedy.

By: Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)

Book cover The Make-Believe Man

Adventure was what our protagonist was looking for, when he boarded the steamer "Patience" for his holiday, and when one has a man with such a vivid imagination like Joseph Forbes Kinney as a travel companion, who seems to find adventures at every turn of the road (and if not, he manufactures them), the two travellers are sure to stumble into trouble...

The Princess Aline by Richard Harding Davis 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 by Richard Harding Davis 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: Richard Marsh (1857-1915)

Book cover Amusement Only

This is a collection of 12 short stories of mystery and humor, which are, as the title says, for amusement only.

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. (

Book cover Still - William

More humorous adventures by the world’s most misunderstood English boy. - Summary by david wales

Book cover William -- The Fourth

The world’s most confident, most chaos-creating eleven year old boy is at it again in these fourteen glorious and funny 1924 short stories. - Summary by David Wales

By: Ring Lardner (1885-1933)

Gullible's Travels, Etc. by Ring Lardner Gullible's Travels, Etc.

Humorous stories of social climbing in America's "classless" society.

By: Robert Barr (1850-1912)

The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont by Robert Barr 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]

Book cover 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: 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: Robert C. Benchley (1889-1945)

Book cover Of All Things

A collection of amusing essays satirizing serious consideration of topics including natural history, social etiquette, or indeed, civilized behavior (especially of the upper classes).

By: Robert Copland (fl. 1515)

Book cover Jyl of Breyntfords Testament

Introduction - This is a collection of ten comic pieces from the 16th century and earlier, as compiled and edited by Frederick Furnivall for private circulation in 1871. Only the first is by Copland. (Introduction by Grant Hurlock)

By: Robert Henry Newell (1836-1901)

Book cover The Orpheus C. Kerr Papers

These are a collection of humorous "letters" written by a fictional character to a relation in the north during the Civil War. They were published regularly in the New York Mercury Sunday newspaper for the four years of the war. In the letters, Newell pokes fun at northern generals, politicians, and has hard things to say about southerners. Although Newell is rarely serious, I imagine the letters reflect the bitterness and frustration of many northerners at the time. (Introduction by Margaret)

By: Robert J. Burdette (1844-1914)

Chimes From A Jester’s Bells by Robert J. Burdette Chimes From A Jester’s Bells

Part I. The Story of Rollo; Mr. Holliday knows all there is to know about raising children, or at least he thinks he does. His attempts to train his son, Rollo, "in the way he should go," are well-meant, but hilariously unsuccessful--or are they? I believe this is a sort of spoof of the “Rollo” series for children, that was written by Jacob Abbot in the mid 19th century. The characters have the same names and the chapters have a little Q&A at the end like the Abbot books, except these are definitely tongue-in-cheek...

By: Robert Jones Burdette (1844-1914)

Book cover Chimes From A Jester’s Bells

Part I. The Story of Rollo; Mr. Holliday knows all there is to know about raising children, or at least he thinks he does. His attempts to train his son, Rollo, "in the way he should go," are well-meant, but hilariously unsuccessful--or are they? I believe this is a sort of spoof of the “Rollo” series for children, that was written by Jacob Abbot in the mid 19th century. The characters have the same names and the chapters have a little Q&A at the end like the Abbot books, except these are definitely tongue-in-cheek...

By: Robert Louis Stevenson

The Wrong Box by Robert Louis Stevenson The Wrong Box

The Wrong Box is a comedy about the ending of a tontine (a tontine is an arrangement whereby a number of young people subscribe to a fund which is then closed and invested until all but one of the subscribers have died. That last subscriber then receives the whole of the proceeds). The story involves the last two such survivors and their relations, a train crash, missing uncles, surplus dead bodies and innocent bystanders. A farce really.

By: Robert Pitcher Woodward (1866-)

Book cover On A Donkey's Hurricane Deck

" A Tempestous Voyage of Four Thousand and Ninety-Six Miles Across the American Continent on a Burro, in 340 Days and 2 Hours - starting without a dollar and earning my way." The journey could be accomplished in 5 days by train, but the author took close to a year to work his way across the country. This is a witty and amusing account of one man (and his donkey)'s adventures crossing the American continent from New York to San Francisco.

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: Rudolf Erich Raspe (1737-1794)

The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen

The stories about Münchhausen were first collected and published by an anonymous author in 1781. An English version was published in London in 1785, by Rudolf Erich Raspe, as Baron Munchhausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia, also called The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchhausen. It is not clear how much of the story material derives from the Baron himself; however, it is known that the majority of the stories are based on folktales that have been in circulation for many centuries before Münchhausen's birth.

By: Rudyard Kipling (1868-1936)

Book cover Letters of Travel

By: Rupert Hughes (1872-1956)

Book cover Excuse Me! (Dramatic Reading)

What happens when a mix of lovers get stuck together on a coast-to-coast train? Mainly hilarity. There is every kind of couple imaginable. One serviceman and his bride-to-be are trying desperately to get married but can't find a clergyman to perform the rites. They don't know that right in their midst is a preacher disguised as a man of the world so he and his wife can enjoy a carefree vacation. Then there is a drunk mourning his separation from the wife who just happens to be on the same train. There is even a confirmed bachelor who discovers that a confirmed spinster is his long-lost love from years ago...


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