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By: Allan Monkhouse (1858-1936)

Book cover Mary Broome

Before Downton Abbey, there was Mary Broome. In Allan Monkhouse's 1911 satire, when the son of a middle-class household gets their housemaid pregnant, the two families must try to combine their very different values.

By: Aristophanes (446-389 BCE)

Book cover Acharnians (Billson Translation)

Loaded with cryptic, nearly indecipherable inside jokes and double entendres, this early comedy of Aristophanes has a simple, anti-war premise that resounds down the centuries. On flimsy pretexts, greedy politicians have embroiled the nation of Athens in war after war after war. Dicæopolis is Everyman, an ordinary, plain-speaking citizen fed up with the bumbling, belligerence, and insincerity of the professional leaders. He decides on a whim to make a separate peace with Sparta all by himself, returning with a treaty good for thirty years...

By: Don Marquis (1878-1937)

Book cover Danny's Own Story

Danny is the proverbial basket-on-the-doorstep baby, found by Hank and Elmira Walters, a childless couple who welcome him into their home because they need a new topic over which to bicker. Bicker they do, and fight just as often, from the day they attempt to settle on a name, to the day eighteen years later, when Danny and Hank come to blows and Danny leaves home in company with Dr. Kirby, bottler and supplier of the miracle elixir, Siwash Indian Sagraw. For years Danny wanders aimlessly--from Illinois to Indiana to Ohio, back to Illinois, then into Tennessee and points south--sometimes in company with Dr...

By: George Calderon (1868-1915)

Book cover Cinderella

If you are expecting glass slippers and pumpkin coaches, look elsewhere... This is "a pantomime as Ibsen would have written it, if only it had occurred to him to write one." Set on a "bleak and cheerless heath overlooking the fjord" we meet Ibsenesque heroine Mrs. Inquest, her step-daughter Hilda, and her daughter Hedda, who is engaged to be married to the unfortunate Tesman. Thus begins Calderon's hilarious Ibsenesque version of Cinderella. NOTE from the editor of the volume, published in 1922 after Calderon's death: This play is hardly more than a rough draft, written when the idea was fresh and put aside to be worked on when the right moment should come...

By: Laurence Oliphant (1829-1888)

Piccadilly A Fragment of Contemporary Biography by  Laurence Oliphant Piccadilly A Fragment of Contemporary Biography

Laurence Oliphant, author, international traveller, diplomatist and mystic, who spent a decade in later life under the influence of the spiritualist prophet Thomas Lake Harris, writes here under the amusing guise of Lord Frank Vanecourt, bringing us a veritable pot-pourri of events from everyday life in 1865 as he moves amongst the great, the good, and not so good who reside in the exclusive area of London's Piccadilly W1 and its surroundings. (Introduction by Nigel Carrington)

By: Molière (1622-1673)

Book cover Learned Women

By: Plato (Πλάτων) (c. 428 BC - c. 347 BC)

Book cover Gorgias

This dialogue brings Socrates face to face with the famous sophist Gorgias and his followers. It is a work likely completed around the time of "Republic" and illuminates many of the spiritual ideas of Plato. The spirituality, as Jowett points out in his wonderful introduction, has many ideas akin to Christianity, but is more generous as it reserves damnation only for the tyrants of the world. Some of the truths of Socrates, as presented by Plato, shine forth in this wonderful work on sophistry and other forms of persuasion or cookery.

Book cover Gorgias

This dialogue brings Socrates face to face with the famous sophist Gorgias and his followers. It is a work likely completed around the time of "Republic" and illuminates many of the spiritual ideas of Plato. The spirituality, as Jowett points out in his wonderful introduction, has many ideas akin to Christianity, but is more generous as it reserves damnation only for the tyrants of the world. Some of the truths of Socrates, as presented by Plato, shine forth in this wonderful work on sophistry and other forms of persuasion or cookery.

By: Saki (1870-1916)

Book cover Unbearable Bassington

The Unbearable Bassington was the first novel written by Saki (H. H. Munro). It also contains much of the elegant wit found in his short stories. Comus (The Unbearable) Bassington, is a charming young man about town. His perversity however thwarts all his mother’s efforts to advance his prospects and lands him in hot water. Like many a “black sheep” he ends up being sent off to one of the colonies to fend for himself. This book showcases Saki’s wonderful writing and that ability to be so very funny and terribly sad at the same time.

Book cover Unbearable Bassington

The Unbearable Bassington was the first novel written by Saki (H. H. Munro). It also contains much of the elegant wit found in his short stories. Comus (The Unbearable) Bassington, is a charming young man about town. His perversity however thwarts all his mother’s efforts to advance his prospects and lands him in hot water. Like many a “black sheep” he ends up being sent off to one of the colonies to fend for himself. This book showcases Saki’s wonderful writing and that ability to be so very funny and terribly sad at the same time.

Book cover Westminster Alice

Published five years before John Kendrick Bangs had the same idea with Alice in Blunderland, Saki, in his 1902 series of satirical articles, takes an Alice in Wonderland view of British politics, which Alice finds even stranger than events in Wonderland.In all honesty, owing to its extremely topical nature this political satire hasn't worn well, which explains why it has virtually sunk without trace. To appreciate it at all, it's really rather necessary to understand the topical references. I am...

By: Aesop (620 BC - 563 BC)

Aesop's Fables by Aesop Aesop's Fables

As children, our first experience of the magic of talking animals, the conflict between good and evil, the battle of wits between the cunning and the innocent most probably came from Aesop's Fables. These delightful, pithy and brief narratives are simple, easy to understand and convey their message in a memorable and charming fashion. Aesop's Fables by Aesop consists of about 600 tales, some well-loved and familiar, others less known but just as entertaining and educative and help us map the perimeters of our moral universe...

By: Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley Crome Yellow

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: Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope The Rape of the Lock

The Rape of the Lock is a mock-heroic narrative poem written by Alexander Pope, first published anonymously in Lintot's Miscellany in May 1712 in two cantos (334 lines), but then revised, expanded and reissued under Pope's name on March 2, 1714, in a much-expanded 5-canto version (794 lines). The final form was available in 1717 with the addition of Clarissa's speech on good humour. The poem satirizes a petty squabble by comparing it to the epic world of the gods. It was based on an incident recounted by Pope's friend, John Caryll...

By: Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary

RESPECTABILITY, n. The offspring of a liaison between a bald head and a bank account. BEAUTY, n. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband. LITIGANT, n. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones. If these caustic definitions catch your fancy, you'd enjoy The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. He was a columnist with the San Francisco News Letter, a weekly paper which was a business publication aimed at the corporate sector. However, it had a column entitled Town Crier which featured satirical asides and comments in a lighter vein...

In the Midst of Life; Tales of Soldiers and Civilians by Ambrose Bierce In the Midst of Life; Tales of Soldiers and Civilians

These stories detail the lives of soldiers and civilians during the American Civil War. This is the 1909 edition. The 1909 edition omits six stories from the original 1891 edition; these six stories are added to this recording (from an undated English edition). The 1891 edition is entitled In The Midst Of Life; Tales Of Soldiers And Civilians. The Wikipedia entry for the book uses the title Tales of Soldiers and Civilians. Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – after December 26, 1913) was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist and satirist...

Book cover Cynic Looks At Life

Civilization, Immortality, the Death Penalty, these are just a few of the essays enclosed in this collection, A Cynic Looks At Life. Written by Ambrose Bierce, these essays continue to be thought provoking, offering a valid outlook on life.

By: Anatole France (1844-1924)

Penguin Island by Anatole France Penguin Island

An old monk is tricked by the Devil into undertaking a voyage to a remote island to save the souls of thousands who live there. He arrives on the island which is actually a desolate one, inhabited only by colonies of millions of penguins. The old monk whose eyesight and hearing are almost nonexistent, mistakes them for humans and begins baptizing them. In Heaven, God finds Himself in a dilemma; the old monk's unwavering faith compels him to regard the baptisms as genuine. However, in Christian theology, only humans have souls – hence God is forced to grant the thousands of newly baptized penguins with souls! This is the beginning of their journey into “civilization...

By: Anonymous

The Curtezan Unmasked by Anonymous The Curtezan Unmasked

"The Curtezan unmasked or, the Whoredomes of Jezebel Painted to the Life: With Antidotes against them, or Heavenly Julips to cool Men in the Fever of Lust" is a fire-and-brimstone polemic by "A Spiritual Physician" to persuade young men not to succumb to harlotry and its accompanying perils. (Introduction by Denny Sayers)

By: Anthony Trollope

The Warden by Anthony Trollope The Warden

Published in 1855, The Warden is the first installment in Trollope’s highly acclaimed series Chronicles of Barsetshire, and offers an enlightening insight into the life of the Victorian clergy, its gentry, politics, and social settings. The novel focuses on Mr. Harding, an elderly clergyman who finds himself in the center of a vehement dispute over his questionable position as warden of Hiram’s Hospital. Exploring various themes including human nature, morals, reform, and manners, The Warden is a perfect representation of the structure of Victorian society...

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope The Way We Live Now

The Way We Live Now is a scathing satirical novel published in London in 1875 by Anthony Trollope, after a popular serialization. It was regarded by many of Trollope’s contemporaries as his finest work. One of his longest novels (it contains a hundred chapters), The Way We Live Now is particularly rich in sub-plot. It was inspired by the financial scandals of the early 1870s, and lashes at the pervading dishonesty of the age, commercial, political, moral, and intellectual. It is one of the last memorable Victorian novels to have been published in monthly parts.

The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope The Eustace Diamonds

Lizzie Greystock, a fortune-hunter who ensnares the sickly, dissipated Sir Florian Eustace, is soon left a very wealthy widow and mother. While clever and beautiful, Lizzie has several character flaws; the greatest of these is an almost pathological delight in lying, even when it cannot benefit her. Before he dies, the disillusioned Sir Florian discovers all this, but does not think to change the generous terms of his will. The diamonds of the book’s title are a necklace, a Eustace family heirloom that Sir Florian gave to Lizzie to wear...

The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope The Small House at Allington

Fifth novel in the Barsetshire series, The Small House at Allington is largely focused on the Small House's inhabitants, Mrs. Dale and her two marriageable daughters, Lily and Bell. The two girls, of course, have suitors: their cousin, Bernard Dale, his friend Adolphus Crosbie, and the local boy, Johnny Eames, whose career in London is to mark him as far more than the "hobbledehoy" that he has earlier been considered. Crosbie is a social climber, and his connection with the dysfunctional de Courcys of Barsetshire give the author a chance for a splendid portrayal of an aristocratic family in decline...

Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope Orley Farm

Orley Farm is Trollope at his best (as good as the Barsetshire series), which means some of the best characterizations in the English language. Trollope's people are real; the beleaguered Lady Mason, charged with forging a will; the aged lover Sir Peregrine Orme; Madeleine Stavely, deeply but practically in love; the shallow, fickle Sophia Furnival and others are 3-dimensional figures that live and breathe. His satire of the so-called "justice" system is the best kind of satire: he just describes the court proceedings as they really are. The result is as up-to-date as today's newspaper. (Introduction by Leonard Wilson)

Book cover Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson

Billed as a satire concerning the dishonest advertising and business practices of the day, it tells the tale of an upstart clothing business doomed from the get-go to utter failure. Its senior partner (the elderly Brown, who provides the investment) is far too timid for business. His son-in-law (Jones, who runs the store) is stealing from the till, and the junior partner, Robinson (who writes advertisements for the store) is so obsessed with the idea that advertising alone will drive the business, he uses up every last penny of the capital investment in a series of increasingly ludicrous ad campaigns and publicity stunts...

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...

Book cover Ward No. 6

The line between sanity and insanity is blurred in this classic novella by Anton Chekhov. The disillusioned idealist Dr. Rabin is in charge of a provincial lunatic asylum, overseeing with weary, dubious policies a motley group of patients, a group that mirrors in microcosm all of human and especially Russian society. Seeking answers to profound questions, Dr. Rabin enters into dialogues with both staff members and patients, trying to make sense out of what has become of his life, until it becomes less and less clear who is the doctor and who is the patient...

By: Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)

Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett Anna of the Five Towns

The plot centers on Anna Tellwright, daughter of a wealthy but miserly and dictatorial father, living in the Potteries area of Staffordshire, England. Her activities are strictly controlled by the Methodist church. Having escaped her father by marrying the respectable and attractive Henry, she attempts in vain to help Willy, son of a drunken and bankrupt business associate of her father's.

Self and Self-management: Essays about Existing by Arnold Bennett Self and Self-management: Essays about Existing

Bennett's essays always provide food for thought and bring a wry smile to the lips. Human nature, it appears, changes little over the ages, and Bennett's writing stands the test of time, though in the case of some of the essays in this eclectic collection, it is well to remember that they were written at the time of the First World War and the fight for women's suffrage.

By: August Strindberg (1849-1912)

Book cover The Red Room

A young idealistic civil servant, Arvid Falk, leaves the drudgery of bureaucracy to become a journalist and author. As he explores various social activities — politics, publishing, theatre, philanthropy, and business — he finds more hypocrisy and corruption than he thought possible. He takes refuge with a group of "bohemians", who meet in a red dining room in Berns Salonger to discuss these matters. (Introduction adopted from Wikipedia)

By: Baron Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754)

Niels Klim's Journey Under the Ground by Baron Ludvig Holberg Niels Klim's Journey Under the Ground

Niels Klim’s Underground Travels, originally published in Latin as “Nicolai Klimii Iter Subterraneum” (1741) is a satirical science-fiction/fantasy novel written by Ludvig Holberg, a Norwegian-Danish dramatist, historian, and essayist, born in Bergen, Norway. It was his first and only novel. It describes a utopian society from an outsider’s point of view, and often pokes fun at diverse cultural and social topics such as moral, science, sexual equality, religion, governments, and philosophy.

By: Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

The Alchemist by Ben Jonson The Alchemist

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

Book cover Volpone, or, The Fox

Volpone is a comedy by Ben Jonson first produced in 1606, drawing on elements of city comedy and beast fable. A merciless satire of greed and lust, it remains Jonson's most-performed play, and it is among the finest Jacobean Era comedies. Volpone is a Venetian gentleman who pretends to be on his deathbed, after a long illness, in order to dupe Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino, three men who aspire to inherit his fortune. In their turns, each man arrives to Volpone’s house bearing a luxurious gift, intent upon having his name inscribed to the will of Volpone, as his heir...

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: Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens Our Mutual Friend

As the last published novel of a writer whose career spanned over a dozen novels, innumerable short stories, plays and nonfiction, Our Mutual Friend is indeed a great composition by Charles Dickens. Considered to be one of his most mature, insightful and refined works, Our Mutual Friend takes a long, hard look at what many Victorians loved but hated to admit they did—money. Dickens uses satire, irony, symbolism and biting wit to portray this unlovely picture of a society obsessed with material comforts and its hypocrisy about the means it uses to achieve its ends...

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit

Dickens thought it was “in a hundred points, immeasurably the best” of his stories. Yet it was also one of his greatest flops. Compared to his other novels, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit was a dismal failure in terms of sales and the main reason for Dickens falling out with his long term publisher Chapman & Hall. They invoked a penalty clause and demanded that he pay back a portion of the advance which he refused. Martin Chuzzlewit was also dimly received in Dickens friendly America...

Hard Times by Charles Dickens Hard Times

The shortest novel by far of Charles Dickens', Hard Times is also one of his most idea based works. In it, he launches a scathing attack on the prevailing fashion of believing in Utilitarianism, a philosophy that proposed the goal of society should be “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.” Dickens felt that such a philosophy saw people as mere statistics and not as individuals. The novel was published in serial form in his magazine Household Words. It is also the only novel where London is not featured...

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...

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens Little Dorrit

Originally published in monthly installments between 1855 and 1857, the novel focuses on the various forms of imprisonment, both physical and psychological, while also concentrating on dysfunctional family ties. Accordingly, Dickens avidly criticizes the social deficiencies of the time including injustice, social hypocrisy, the austerity of the Marshalsea debtors’ prison, and bureaucratic inefficiency. The novel kicks off with the introduction of William Dorrit, the oldest prisoner in the Marshalsea prison, who is also referred to as The Father of the Marshalsea...

By: Charles Macklin (1699-1797)

Book cover Will and No Will or a Bone for the Lawyers

This "Afterpiece" - a short play to follow a main production - was first produced in 1746. It was based on Regnard's five-act comedy le Legetaire Universel (1707), which is itself a composite of Italian comedy with echoes of Molière, moving from scene to scene with little effort at logical consistency or structure but treating each scene autonomously for its own comic value. The rather long Prologue to A WILL AND NO WILL (11 pages of manuscript) makes fun of the convention of the eighteenth century prologues by the familiar dodge of having actors chatting as though they were in the Pit waiting for the actors in the preceding main play to dress for the afterpiece.

By: Charles Miner Thompson (1864-1941)

The Calico Cat by Charles Miner Thompson The Calico Cat

The consequences of letting your irritation get the better of you are humorously portrayed in this story of a self-important man who fires a shotgun at an annoying cat on his fence.. and hits a man skulking in the bushes. What did the cat do to enrage him? Why was the man in the bushes? And how can the whole matter be covered up and done away with before the neighbors start gossiping?

By: Charlotte Lennox (1730-1804)

The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox The Female Quixote

The novel formally inverts Don Quixote: as the don mistakes himself for the knightly hero of a Romance, so Arabella mistakes herself for the maiden love of a Romance. While the don thinks it his duty to praise the platonically pure damsels he meets (such as the woman he loves), so Arabella believes it is in her power to kill with a look and it is the duty of her lovers to suffer ordeals on her behalf.

By: Christopher Morley (1890-1957)

Book cover In the Sweet Dry and Dry

Written just before Prohibition to entail the possible troubles that might happen en route. Both sides of the argument, or battle as the case may be, strike out with various over-top methods like legislating most fruits and vegetables as unsafe or intoxicating large groups with breathable alcohol.

Book cover In the Sweet Dry and Dry

Written just before Prohibition to entail the possible troubles that might happen en route. Both sides of the argument, or battle as the case may be, strike out with various over-top methods like legislating most fruits and vegetables as unsafe or intoxicating large groups with breathable alcohol.

By: Clarence Day, Jr. (1874-1935)

This Simian World by Clarence Day, Jr. This Simian World

Clarence Day, Jr., best known for his work Life with Father, presents a satirical speculation on how the world might be different if we apes had not risen to prominence, but rather one of the other species had become dominant in our place.

By: Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis (-2nd Cent.)

Book cover Satires

Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, known in English as Juvenal, was a Roman poet active in the late 1st and early 2nd century AD. The details of the author's life are unclear, although references within his text to known persons of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD fix his terminus post quem (earliest date of composition). The Satires are a collection of satirical poems by Juvenal written in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD. Juvenal is credited with sixteen known poems divided among five books; all are in the Roman genre of satire, which, at its most basic in the time of the author, comprised a wide-ranging discussion of society and social mores in dactylic hexameter...

By: Denis Diderot (1713-1784)

Rameau's Nephew by Denis Diderot Rameau's Nephew

Rameau's Nephew, or the Second Satire (French: Le Neveu de Rameau ou La Satire seconde) is an imaginary philosophical conversation written by Denis Diderot, probably between 1761 and 1772. It was first published in 1805 in German translation by Goethe, but the French manuscript used has subsequently disappeared. The German version was translated back into French by de Saur and Saint-Genies and published in 1821. The first published version based on French manuscript appeared in 1823 in the Brière edition of Diderot's works...

By: Desiderius Erasmus (1466/69-1536)

The Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus The Praise of Folly

The Praise of Folly (Greek title: Morias Enkomion (Μωρίας Εγκώμιον), Latin: Stultitiae Laus, sometimes translated as In Praise of Folly, Dutch title: Lof der Zotheid) is a satirical essay written in 1509 by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466/69-1536). It is considered one of the most influential works of literature in Western civilization and one of the catalysts of the Protestant Reformation.It starts off with a satirical learned encomium after the manner of the Greek satirist...

By: Edwin Abbott Abbott (1838-1926)

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

If you've never heard the term “Mathematical Fiction” before, Edwin Abbott Abbott's 1884 novella, Flatland can certainly enlighten you! Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions was published in 1884 and since then, it has been discovered and re-discovered by succeeding generations who have been delighted by its unique view of society and people. The plot opens with a description of the fictional Flatland. The narrator calls himself “Square” and asks readers to “Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Squares, Triangles, Pentagons, Hexagons and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about...

By: Edwin F. Benson (1867-1940)

Miss Mapp by Edwin F. Benson Miss Mapp

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: F. Anstey (1856-1934)

Bayard  from Bengal by F. Anstey Bayard from Bengal

The estimable gentleman, Chunder Bindabun Bhosh, ESQ., B.A., travels from his native India to England, with his impeccable English and manners, which immediately mark him as a foreigner, and embarks on an enviable program of escapades. These stories are the product of the fertile imagination of Hurry Bungsho Jabberjee, B.A., a nom de plume for the humorist F. Anstey, which is a further nom de plume for Thomas Anstey Guthrie. Whether rescuing a nubile maiden from a charging bull or falling in love with said nubile maiden, Mr. Bosh, B. A. cannot help but perform with the requisite humor to engage our attention.

Book cover Mr. Punch's Pocket Ibsen
Book cover In Brief Authority

Satiric comedy from 1915 about a nouveau riche British family and their nanny who get whisked off to Maerchenland ('the land of Fairy Tales') one evening in a car drawn by storks. The matron of the family, a thorough snob, is crowned Queen of the country by mistake. She is quick to accept her new position and is determined to introduce British social niceties in her realm. And this really is the land of Fairy Tales, with gnomes, giants, a dragon, magic, a fairy godmother and more. Trouble quickly starts to brew as the royal couple and their son introduce things like capitalism and golf...

By: Francis Coventry (1725-1754 or 1759)

The History of Pompey the Little by Francis Coventry The History of Pompey the Little

"Pompey, the son of Julio and Phyllis, was born A.D. 1735, at Bologna in Italy, a place famous for lap-dogs and sausages." At an early age he was carried away from the boudoir of his Italian mistress by Hillario, an English gentleman illustrious for his gallantries, who brought him to London.The rest of the history is really a chain of social episodes, each closed by the incident that Pompey becomes the property of some fresh person. In this way we find ourselves in a dozen successive scenes, each strongly contrasted with the others...

By: Gaius Petronius Arbiter

Book cover The Satyricon

Satyricon (or Satyrica) is a Latin work of fiction in a mixture of prose and poetry. It is believed to have been written by Gaius Petronius, though the manuscript tradition identifies the author as a certain Titus Petronius. As with the Metamorphoses of Apuleius, classical scholars often describe it as a "Roman novel", without necessarily implying continuity with the modern literary form.The surviving portions of the text detail the misadventures of the narrator, Encolpius, and his lover, a handsome sixteen-year-old boy named Giton...

By: George Barr McCutcheon (1866-1928)

Book cover Yollop

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: George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Book cover Widowers' Houses

This is one of three plays Shaw published as Plays Unpleasant in 1898; they were termed "unpleasant" because they were intended, not to entertain their audiences—as traditional Victorian theatre was expected to—but to raise awareness of social problems and to censure exploitation of the laboring class by the unproductive rich. In this play, Dr. Harry Trench becomes disillusioned when he discovers how his fiancee's father, Mr. Sartorius, makes his money. However, it is soon revealed that Trench's own income is far from untainted.

By: George Gascoigne (1535-1577)

Book cover Adventures of Master F.J.

This story presents through letters, poems and third-person commentary the love affair between a young man named Freeman Jones and a married woman named Elinor, lady of the castle he is visiting in Scotland. Events in the affair are traced from initial attraction through seduction to (somewhat) graphic sexual encounters and their aftermath. (Allegedly based on a real-life scandal, the author, in re-issuing his story two years later, transplanted the action to Italy, renaming the principals Fernando Jeronimi and Leonora.)

Book cover Adventures of Master F.J.

This story presents through letters, poems and third-person commentary the love affair between a young man named Freeman Jones and a married woman named Elinor, lady of the castle he is visiting in Scotland. Events in the affair are traced from initial attraction through seduction to (somewhat) graphic sexual encounters and their aftermath. (Allegedly based on a real-life scandal, the author, in re-issuing his story two years later, transplanted the action to Italy, renaming the principals Fernando Jeronimi and Leonora.)

By: H. G. Wells (1866-1946)

The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells The First Men in the Moon

Written nearly seven decades before Neil Armstrong's historic “Giant leap for Mankind” this book by one of the most influential sci-fi writers in English is an interesting read. The First Men in the Moon by Herbert George Wells, the English author who is today called the Father of Science Fiction, describes a strange and fantastic voyage. Businessman and budding playwright, John Bedford takes a sabbatical from his work and decides to write a play. He moves to a lonely cottage in Kent where he hopes to come up with a theatrical masterpiece...

Book cover 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.

Book cover Wonderful Visit

An other-worldly creature visits a small English village, and H. G. Wells uses humour and satire to convey some of the imperfections of Victorian society, as ‘angel’ and humans view each other with equal incomprehension.(

By: Henry Fielding (1707-1754)

Book cover Journey from this World to the Next

The narrator dies in the first sentence. Through relating his travels in the afterlife, Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones and Joseph Andrews, gently satirizes life here on earth.

The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great by Henry Fielding The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great

This novel is sometimes thought of as [Fielding's] first because he almost certainly began composing it before he wrote Shamela and Joseph Andrews. It is a satire of Walpole that draws a parallel between Walpole and Jonathan Wild, the infamous gang leader and highwayman. He implicitly compares the Whig party in Parliament with a gang of thieves being run by Walpole, whose constant desire to be a “Great Man” (a common epithet for Walpole) should culminate only in the antithesis of greatness: being hanged.

Book cover 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...

The Old Debauchees by Henry Fielding The Old Debauchees

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

By: Henry L. Mencken

Damn! A Book of Calumny by Henry L. Mencken Damn! A Book of Calumny

Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken (1880 – 1956) was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a student of American English. Known as the “Sage of Baltimore”, he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the 20th century. Mencken is perhaps best remembered today for The American Language, a multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States, and for his satirical reporting on the Scopes trial, which he named the “Monkey” trial.”

By: Herbert George Jenkins (1876-1923)

John Dene of Toronto; a Comedy of Whitehall by Herbert George Jenkins John Dene of Toronto; a Comedy of Whitehall

John Dene comes to England with a great invention, and the intention of gingering-up the Admiralty. His directness and unconventional methods bewilder and embarrass the officials at Whitehall, where, according to him, most of the jobs are held by those "whose great-grandfathers had a pleasant way of saying how-do-you-do to a prince." Suddenly John Dene disappears, and the whole civilised world is amazed at an offer of £20,000 for news of him. Scotland Yard is disorganised by tons of letters and thousands of callers...

By: Herman Melville (1819-1891)

The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade

The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade was the last major novel by Herman Melville, the American writer and author of Moby-Dick. Published on April 1, 1857 (presumably the exact day of the novel's setting), The Confidence-Man was Melville's tenth major work in eleven years. The novel portrays a Canterbury Tales-style group of steamboat passengers whose interlocking stories are told as they travel down the Mississippi River toward New Orleans. The novel is written as cultural satire, allegory, and metaphysical treatise, dealing with themes of sincerity, identity, morality, religiosity, economic materialism, irony, and cynicism...

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: Israel Zangwill (1864-1926)

The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill The Big Bow Mystery

Regarded as the first full-length locked room mystery, the novel focuses on a murder that has occurred inside a locked room, with no clear indication as to the weapon used, the perpetrator of the horrendous crime, or a possible escape route. Needless to say, The Big Bow Mystery has all the elements necessary to engage its audience and encourage them to look between the lines in an attempt to unravel the complex murder. Set in Bow, east London, the novel opens when Mrs. Drabdump, a widow who rents out rooms, panics when one of her lodgers does not respond to her fervent attempts to wake him...

By: Ivan Goncharov (1812-1891)

Book cover Oblomov

Oblomov is the best known novel by Russian writer Ivan Goncharov, first published in 1859. Oblomov is also the central character of the novel, often seen as the ultimate incarnation of the superfluous man, a symbolic character in 19th-century Russian literature. Oblomov is a young, generous nobleman who seems incapable of making important decisions or undertaking any significant actions. Spoiled as a child to the point of not even being able to put on his own socks, Oblomov is unprepared to deal with the smallest difficulty of adult life...

Book cover Common Story

Alexander Fedoritch Adouev is the naïve, pampered son of Anna Pavlovna, a provincial landowner. He decides to go off to Saint Petersburg, not only to make his mark upon society but also to fulfill his two rosy romantic dreams of becoming a great writer and finding a great love. He is taken under the reluctant wing of his uncle, Piotr Ivanitch Adouev, a pragmatic, hard-headed businessman who scorns everything romantic and tries to cure Alexander Fedoritch of his sentimental, youthful illusions. The...

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: James De Mille (1833-1880)

A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder by James De Mille A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder

A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder is the most popular of James De Mille’s works. It was serialized posthumously in Harper’s Weekly, and published in book form by Harper and Brothers of New York City in 1888. This satirical romance is the story of Adam More, a British sailor. Shipwrecked in Antarctica, he stumbles upon a tropical lost world of prehistoric animals, plants, and a cult of death-worshipping primitives. He also finds a highly developed human society which has reversed the values of Victorian society...

By: James Thomson (1834-1882)

Book cover Satires and Profanities

"Believing as I do that James Thomson is, since Shelley, the most brilliant genius who has wielded a pen in the service of Freethought, I take a natural pride and pleasure in rescuing the following articles from burial in the great mausoleum of the periodical press. There will doubtless be a diversity of opinion as to their value. One critic, for instance, has called “The Story of a Famous Old Jewish Firm” a witless squib; but, on the other hand, the late Professor Clifford considered it a piece of exquisite mordant satire worthy of Swift...

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...

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen Mansfield Park

One of the most controversial novels written by Austen, Mansfield Park follows the life of the young heroine Fanny Price as she searches for her place in society. Set in early 19th century England, the classic novel depicts the social issues of the time including marriage, social mobility and morality. The classic centers on the life of the poor young girl Fanny Price, who is the oldest daughter of nine siblings. Her father is a former naval officer and a heavy drinker, while her mother has married beneath her and is undeniably the black sheep in the family when compared to her two sisters, Mrs...

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...

Love and Friendship by Jane Austen Love and Friendship

Begun when she was just eleven years old, Love and Friendship is one of Jane Austen's stories that very few readers may have encountered before. Austen experts feel that this story was written, like many others, only for the pleasure of her family and friends. It is scribbled across three notebooks, in childish handwriting, and the complete work is thought to have been written over a period of six or seven years. It is dedicated to one of her cousins, whom she was very close to, Eliza de Feuillide...

Lady Susan by Jane Austen Lady Susan

An epistolary novel, Lady Susan is an early work by Austen that was posthumously published in 1871. The short novel focuses on the self-serving eponymous anti-heroine, as she cunningly maneuvers her way through society in search of a wealthy husband for both her daughter and herself. Disregarding anything but her own selfish goals, Susan employs her charms to lure men and draw them into her web of deceit, no matter their age or status. Exploring issues including morals, manners, self-indulgence, malevolence, and social machinations, the relatively short novel is sure to fascinate with its atypical form...

By: John Dryden (1631-1700)

Book cover Absalom and Achitophel

John Dryden published Absalom and Achitophel: A Poem in 1681. It is an elaborate historical allegory using the political situation faced by Kind David (2 Samuel 14-18) to mirror that faced by Charles II. Each monarch had a son whom a high-ranking minister attempted to use against him. James Scott, first Duke of Monmouth, Charles II's illegitimate son, was detected planning a rebellion late in 1681, supposedly instigated by the Earl of Shaftesbury, who was tried for high treason, and it is believed that Dryden wrote the poem in an effort to sway the jury in his trial...

Book cover Dryden vs Shadwell - a Poetic Duel

Throughout history there have been many creative artists whose fame depends largely on their association with a much greater artist. Such the case of Thomas Shadwell, poet and prolific writer of low brow comedies, who is today most famous as the butt of satire by one of greatest and most influential English poets, John Dryden. Shadwell and Dryden were at first colleagues and collaborators, but later fell out over some sharp divergences of opinion. In particular, Dryden disagreed with Shadwell's high estimation of Ben Jonson, and even more of the latter's claim to be be Jonson's artistic heir...

By: John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922)

Alice in Blunderland: an Iridescent Dream by John Kendrick Bangs Alice in Blunderland: an Iridescent Dream

John Kendrick Bangs (May 27, 1862 – January 21, 1922) was an American author and satirist, and the creator of modern Bangasian Fantasy, the school of fantasy writing that sets the plot wholly or partially in the afterlife. (Wikipedia)Plot summary: J K Bangs has taken Alice from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and lets her on a boring day travel with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat and the other of Carroll’s familiar characters to Blunderland. The story is a well written Satire, a witty, humorous tale of adventure and city politics, a tale of Alice in a land where nothing is as it should be. (Summary by Lars Rolander)

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.

The Autobiography of Methuselah by John Kendrick Bangs The Autobiography of Methuselah

A satirical look at early biblical events from the point of view of someone who was there to witness most of them: the oldest man in recorded history.

By: John Wight (1866-1944)

Mornings at Bow Street by John Wight Mornings at Bow Street

This is a collection of various articles found in Morning Herald columns. Some are found interesting, some may be hilarious! The 84 pieces of this book are actual reports throughout the 1870s newspaper written by the reporter, John Wight and Illustrated by George Cruikshank

By: Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift Gulliver's Travels

Comprised of four parts, Gulliver’s Travels documents the bizarre, yet fascinating voyages of Lemuel Gulliver as he makes his way through several uncharted destinations, experiencing the lives of the small, the giant, the scientific, and downright eccentric societies. Narrated in first person, Swift successfully portrays Gulliver’s thoughts and reactions as he faces struggles of integration throughout his travels. Beginning with the introduction of Gulliver, an educated ship’s surgeon, who after a series of unfortunate events is victim to repeated shipwrecks, desertions, and set adrift...

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift A Modest Proposal

A satirical essay written by one of the most renowned satirists, Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal expresses the author’s exasperation with the ill treatment of impoverished Irish citizens as a result of English exploitation and social inertia. Furthermore, Swift ventilates the severity of Ireland’s political incompetence, the tyrannical English policies, the callous attitudes of the wealthy, and the destitution faced by the Irish people. Focusing on numerous aspects of society including government exploitation, reckless greed, hypocrisy, apathy, and prejudice, the essay successfully exemplifies Swift’s satirical skills...

Book cover Tale of a Tub

A Tale of a Tub was the first major work written by Jonathan Swift, composed between 1694 and 1697, that was eventually published in 1704. It is arguably his most difficult satire, and perhaps his most masterly. The Tale is a prose parody which is divided into sections of "digression" and a "tale" of three brothers, each representing one of the main branches of western Christianity. A Tale was long regarded as a satire on religion itself, and has famously been attacked for that, starting with William Wotton...

By: Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut 2 B R 0 2 B

In this chilling short-story by a master of the craft, Kurt Vonnegut creates a fictional world of the future where life and death are no longer matters of individual choice or destiny. The title refers to the famous quote from Hamlet, “To be or not to be....” with “0” being pronounced as “naught.” It also refers to the eternal dilemma of life and death that face every human being at some point in their lives. Written in 1962 it is set in some unspecified time in the future, when earth has become a Utopia...

By: Lord Dunsany (1878-1957)

Book cover Fifty-One Tales

Very brief, well-crafted stories, many having surprise endings, all steeped in the dye of myth and calling to every reader's neglected imagination.

By: Lucian of Samosata (120—180)

Trips to the Moon by Lucian of Samosata Trips to the Moon

The endeavour of small Greek historians to add interest to their work by magnifying the exploits of their countrymen, and piling wonder upon wonder, Lucian first condemned in his Instructions for Writing History, and then caricatured in his True History, wherein is contained the account of a trip to the moon, a piece which must have been enjoyed by Rabelais, which suggested to Cyrano de Bergerac his Voyages to the Moon and to the Sun, and insensibly contributed, perhaps, directly or through Bergerac, to the conception of Gulliver’s Travels. The Icaro-Menippus Dialogue describes another trip to the moon, though its satire is more especially directed against the philosophers.

By: Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849)

Book cover Castle Rackrent

By: Mark Twain (1835-1910)

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...

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

When Hank Morgan, a practical, no-nonsense Yankee who works in an ammunition factory as a head superintendent gets into a fight with an aggressive employee, little does he know what's in store for him. The bully lays Morgan low with a skull-crushing blow delivered with a crowbar and knocks him out. When Morgan regains consciousness, he finds himself transported back in time, to the sixth century. From here on, the story describes the travails of a hard-boiled, true blue American with strong democratic values who has to deal with medieval feudalism and ancient customs! A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was published in 1889...

The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson

It was published in 1893–1894 by Century Magazine in seven installments, and is a detective story with some racial themes. The plot of this novel is a detective story, in which a series of identities — the judge’s murderer, Tom, Chambers — must be sorted out. This structure highlights the problem of identity and one’s ability to determine one’s own identity. Broader issues of identity are the central ideas of this novel. One of Twain’s major goals in this book was to exploit the true nature of Racism at that period...

Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven by Mark Twain Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

This was the last story published by Twain, a few months before he died. The story follows Captain Elias Stormfield on his extremely long cosmic journey to heaven. It deals with the obsession of souls with the "celebrities" of heaven, like Adam and Moses, who according to Twain become as distant to most people in heaven as living celebrities are on Earth. Twain uses this story to show his view that the common conception of heaven is ludicrous and points out the incongruities of such beliefs.A lot of the description of Heaven is given by the character Sandy McWilliams, a cranberry farmer who is very experienced in the ways of heaven...

The Gilded Age, A Tale of Today by Mark Twain The Gilded Age, A Tale of Today

The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today is an 1873 novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner that satirizes greed and political corruption in post-Civil War America. The term gilded age, commonly given to the era, comes from the title of this book. Twain and Warner got the name from Shakespeare's King John (1595): "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily... is wasteful and ridiculous excess." Gilding a lily, which is already beautiful and not in need of further adornment, is excessive and wasteful, characteristics of the age Twain and Warner wrote about in their novel...


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