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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: Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897)

Tartarin of Tarascon by Alphonse Daudet 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: 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.

Mrs. Warren's Profession by George Bernard Shaw Mrs. Warren's Profession

The story centers on the relationship between Mrs Kitty Warren, a rich woman, described by the author as "on the whole, a genial and fairly presentable old blackguard of a woman" and her daughter, Vivie. Mrs Warren is a middle-aged woman whose Cambridge-educated daughter, Vivie, is horrified to discover the morally questionable way her mother acquired her fortune.

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: Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923)

At The Bay by Katherine Mansfield At The Bay

Katherine Mansfield was a prominent Modernist writer of short fiction, and one of New Zealand’s best-known authors. “At the Bay” is a story from her collection The Garden Party.

By: Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

A Calendar of Sonnets by Helen Hunt Jackson A Calendar of Sonnets

Helen Hunt Jackson is probably most famous for her work on behalf of Native Americans’ rights. However, this short volume presents a sonnet for each month of the year, devoted simply and beautifully to the shifting wonder of nature through the seasons.

Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson Ramona

Set in Old California in the wake of the Mexican-American War, Ramona is two stories at once. It is the story of the love between a part-Native American orphan girl, Ramona, and Alessandro, a young Indian sheepherder. It is also the story of racial prejudice and the clash between cultures as California changes from a Spanish colony to an American territory. Ramona is the ward of Señora Gonzaga Moreno, who despises the girl for her race but honors the dying wish of the Señora's sister, Ramona's foster-mother, to raise her as her own...

By: Isabella Alden (1841-1930)

The Chautauqua Girls at Home by Isabella Alden The Chautauqua Girls at Home

Sequel to Four Girls at Chautauqua. Ruth, Flossy, Eurie, and Ruth return home as new Christians, eager to begin working. Their new faith clashes with their old lives, which they must overcome, as well as the prejudices of friends and acquaintances.

By: W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham The Moon and Sixpence

The Moon and Sixpence is a 1919 short novel by William Somerset Maugham based on the life of the painter Paul Gauguin. The story is told in episodic form by the first-person narrator as a series of glimpses into the mind and soul of the central character, Charles Strickland, a middle aged English stock broker who abandons his wife and children abruptly to pursue his desire to become an artist.

By: Waldemar Bonsels (1880-1952)

The Adventures of Maya the Bee by Waldemar Bonsels The Adventures of Maya the Bee

A little bee is born in a large and busy hive. At that time, the hive is going through a period of unrest and there are fears that it will become subdivided into separate colonies. The little new-born, Maya, is under the care of a strict but loving teacher. One day, driven by curiosity and rebellion, Maya escapes from the safe environs of the hive and flies into the forest. Here, she encounters all sorts of interesting, exciting, frightening and funny things. The Adventures of Maya the Bee is the story of the intriguing days that follow...

By: James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)

Book cover Word of an Engineer

James Weldon Johnson was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and civil rights activist. Johnson is best remembered for his leadership within the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he started working in 1917, being chosen as the first black executive secretary of the organization, effectively the operating officer. He was first known for his writing, which includes poems, novels, and anthologies collecting both poems and spirituals of black culture.

By: Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893)

Ball-of-Fat by Guy de Maupassant Ball-of-Fat

The first significant published short story of French author Guy de Maupassant, and generally acknowledged as his greatest work, “Ball-of-Fat” (French title: Boule de Suif) is the touching story of an interrupted coach ride from Rouen to Le Havre during which occurs the corruption of a principled prostitute by immoral and hypocritical members of the upper class. The story is set during the occupation of Rouen at the time of the Franco-Prussian War.

Book cover Bel Ami, or The History of a Scoundrel

“He had faith in his good fortune, in that power of attraction which he felt within him - a power so irresistible that all women yielded to it.”Though firmly set in 1880s Paris, Maupassant's gripping story of an amoral journalist on the make could, with only slight modifications of detail, be updated to the 1960s, to the Reagan-Thatcher years, or maybe to the present day. Anti-hero Georges Duroy is a down-at-heel ex-soldier of no particular talent. Good-looking but somewhat lacking in self-confidence, he discovers an ability to control and exploit women - whereupon his career in journalism takes off, fuelled by the corruption of colleagues and government arrivistes...

Boule de Suif by Guy de Maupassant Boule de Suif

Boule de Suif (1880) is a short story by the late-19th century French writer Guy de Maupassant. It is arguably his most famous short story, and is the title story for his collection on the Franco-Prussian War, entitled "Boule de Suif et Autres Contes de la Guerre" ("Boule de Suif and Other Stories of the War"). John Ford said that his film Stagecoach was in many ways a western rewrite of Boule de Suif.

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

The Bab Ballads by W. S. Gilbert 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: Keith Laumer (1925-1993)

Greylorn by Keith Laumer Greylorn

Earth is threatened with destruction by a deadly alien plague. The planet’s only hope: Get help from the long-lost Omega Colony, somewhere in space. The fate of the Earth is in the hands of Lieutenant Commander Greylorn in charge of the search for Omega, and every decision he will make during Man’s first contact with an alien race…

Book cover Gambler's World & The Yillian Way

Here are two stores starring the always unconventional Terrestrial Diplomat, Retief. As a diplomat, Retief does not always follow procedure. Well the truth is that he almost never follows procedure but somehow his wit and strength manage to salvage most situations from the bumbling of his superiors. His sardonic approach to inter galactic negotiations in these two stories is a delight to hear. Despite everything, he manages to save the day and come out on top.

By: Fergus Hume (1859-1932)

The Secret Passage by Fergus Hume The Secret Passage

Excellent murder mystery. On September 9, 1905, the NY Times Saturday Review of Books described this book as follows: “That painstakingly ingenious person, Fergus Hume, has devised another of his hide-and-seek, jack-o’-lantern murder mysteries. It begins with a queer and rich old woman found stabbed to death in her chair and not a clue to the murderer. Then so many clues turn up that even the story-book detective is bewildered. Then nearly everybody turns out to be somebody else under an alias, and all the clues lead nowhere…”

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume The Mystery of a Hansom Cab

“The following report appeared in the Argus newspaper of Saturday, the 28th July, 18– “Truth is said to be stranger than fiction, and certainly the extraordinary murder which took place in Melbourne on Thursday night, or rather Friday morning, goes a long way towards verifying this saying. A crime has been committed by an unknown assassin, within a short distance of the principal streets of this great city, and is surrounded by an impenetrable mystery. … “On the twenty-seventh day of July, at the hour of twenty minutes to two o’clock in the morning, a hansom cab drove up to the police station in Grey Street, St...

Madame Midas by Fergus Hume Madame Midas

Madame Midas is a murder mystery, In the early days of Australia, when the gold fever was at its height. Fergus Hume was born in England, the second son of Dr James Hume. At the age of three his father emigrated with his family to Dunedin, New Zealand. He was admitted to the New Zealand bar in 1885. Shortly after graduation he left for Melbourne, Australia where he obtained a post as a barristers’ clerk. He began writing plays, but found it impossible to persuade the managers of the Melbourne theatres to accept or even read them...

The Silent House by Fergus Hume The Silent House

A mystery about a “locked door” murder committed in a house that has a reputation for being haunted. In the first half of the book, the murderer appears to be easy to figure out. The second half of the book, however, is filled with plot twists and mistaken identities and thus complicates the mystery much more.

Book cover Bishop's Secret

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

The Girl on the Boat by P. G. Wodehouse 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)

Book cover Little Nugget

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: Frank Pinkerton

Dyke Darrel the Railroad Detective by Frank Pinkerton Dyke Darrel the Railroad Detective

Dyke Darrel investigates an audacious train robbery that included the murder of a friend, and embarks on a man-hunt. High Victorian serial melodrama at its best!

By: Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945)

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser Sister Carrie

Published in 1900, Sister Carrie follows its protagonist, Carrie, as she resolutely makes her way through the bustling city of Chicago in the hope of achieving her ultimate goal of a securing a better and more glamorous life for herself. Effectively illustrating his reputation as one of America’s greatest naturalists, Dreiser deviates from the established norms and moral values present in the Victorian era, and instead focuses his attention on accurately portraying the basic instincts that influence human behavior...

The Financier by Theodore Dreiser The Financier

In Philadelphia, Frank Cowperwood, whose father is a banker, makes his first money by buying cheap soaps on the market and selling it back with profit to a grocer. Later, he gets a job in Henry Waterman & Company, and leaves it for Tighe & Company. He also marries an affluent widow, in spite of his young age. Over the years, he starts embezzling municipal funds. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire redounds to a stock market crash, prompting him to be bankrupt and exposed. Although he attempts to browbeat his way out of being sentenced to jail by intimidating Mr Stener, politicians from the Republican Party use their influence to use him as a scapegoat for their own corrupt practices...

Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser Jennie Gerhardt

This is a story of an innocent, caring, beautiful young girl from and extremely poor family who throughout her life is drawn into affairs with two different men from a much higher social class. How members of her family, the family of one of the wealthy men, and society in general react to her situation is the basis of this story.

By: Herbert Allen Giles (1845-1935)

China and the Chinese by Herbert Allen Giles China and the Chinese

Herbert Allen Giles (1845-1935) spent several years as a diplomat in China and in 1897 was appointed Cambridge University’s second professor of Chinese. His published works cover Chinese language and literature, history and philosophy. This series of lectures, published as “China and the Chinese”, was given at Columbia University in 1902, to mark the establishment of a Chinese professorship there. The lectures were not intended for the specialist, more to urge a wider and more systematic study of China and its culture, and to encourage new students into the field...

By: Sir Stephen King-Hall

Diary of a U-boat Commander by Sir Stephen King-Hall Diary of a U-boat Commander

The infamous U boats deployed by Germany in the two World Wars have spawned several works of fiction and non-fiction. These deadly vessels were not just efficient and lethal killing machines, but they were also used very effectively in economic blockades. They were positioned primarily to obstruct the conveyance of fuel, food and other essential supplies which the enemy needed to sustain the war effort. In the Diary of a U Boat Commander, the author, Stephen King-Hall draws upon his vast personal experiences as a naval officer in World War I...


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